May 21, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 21 April 2011 09:57
The sport wagon is a design that has waxed and waned in the U.S. market since Volvo introduced the concept with its popular 740 turbo wagon. The idea was to bring together the functionality of the station wagon with the economy of a compact sedan, and to give the car enough power and handling panache to make people actually want to drive it.
It worked for Volvo in the 1980s and ’90s, and continues to work for other automakers, especially the major European nameplates. Acura, Honda’s premium brand, enters the fray with a near-luxury midsize sport wagon, the TSX.With a sleek shape, long, flat cargo deck, and impressive driving characteristics, the TSX is a worthy competitor to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 wagons. The Acura’s major disadvantages are its rear seat, which is less spacious than those of the other popular sport wagons, and the lack of optional all-wheel drive. All TSX sedans and wagons have front-wheel drive.
Of course, we were tooling around western Connecticut in our Premium White Pearl 2011 TSX during early April, so the lack of extra drive wheels was not a cause for concern. Still, BMW’s and Audi’s excellent AWD systems give them an advantage in the Snow Belt. Moreover, Acura doesn’t bring the same driver’s-car reputation to the table that BMW, in particular, enjoys.
What the TSX delivers is superb reliability, sharp looks, a long list of standard features and a price thousands less than the class-leading BMW and Audi. It costs $2,000 more than the impressive Volkswagen Passat but has a longer standard-equipment list.
Our TSX’s technology package — navigation system, rear-view camera, AcuraLink communication system with real-time traffic and weather, stereo upgrade, hard disk drive, dual-zone climate control and power tailgate — brought its sticker price to $35,470. Without this package, the only one available on the TSX, the base price is $30,960.
One of the TSX’s strengths is its 201-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. The drive-by-wire throttle system and responsive five-speed automatic transmission were confidence-inspiring. Handling was crisp and reassuring; it didn’t leave us wishing we were at the wheel of a BMW. In fact, the TSX more than met the requirement that sport wagons be fun to drive.
Unlike many Honda products we’ve driven, the TSX does a good job of sealing off the passenger compartment from mechanical, road and wind noise. And the ride was impressively smooth despite the measures Acura has taken to sharpen the TSX’s handling.
Fuel economy was respectable, given the TSX’s luxury features and high power: 22 mpg city, 30 highway, with premium fuel recommended. (The premium penalty has diminished with $4-a-gallon gasoline, at least as a percentage of the price of regular.) We achieved about 29 mpg in mostly highway driving.
The TSX wagon has not undergone government crash tests but was rated “Good,” the top rating given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline Four, 201 horsepower, 170 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 5-speed automatic with sequential SportShift
Weight: 3,599 lb.
Suspension: Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 17x7.5-inch alloy
Tires: P225/50R17 93V all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 25.8 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 60.5 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel type: Premium (recommended)
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