Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Acura RSX Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Acura RSX Overview

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Over The Counter Adrenaline Rush

Looking for more thrills in life without having to risk life and limb to get them? Then consider a change of transportation, something a bit snug, a bit more rowdy and a lot more fun to drive than a monstrous SUV. We're talking about the Acura RSX, an affordable dose of go-kart like fun with all the quality and attention to detail for which Acura cars have become legend.

If you're not familiar with the name, it's because the RSX tag has been in existence for only a few years. Touted as the replacement for the long-running Integra, the RSX remains true to the two-door hatchback theme but ratchets up the horsepower and handling to a level that rivals cars such as the Porsche Boxster and Audi TT.

Now consider this: for just a hair over $20K, the base RSX gives you a 160-horsepower engine, a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission, sport bucket seats, automatic air conditioning, power windows, power locks, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, dual heated outside mirrors, power glass moonroof, cruise control, AM/FM stereo with CD, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with touch controls, 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear wiper/washer. And all this with the Acura four-year/50,000 mile warranty to boot! The RSX base model is also the only one you can get with an optional automatic, but at least it's Acura's wickedly fun five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic that allows you the excitement of changing your own gears without the need for a clutch.

If true performance is what you crave, then you'll want to step up one level to the Type-S. Though it may appear similar to the base RSX, the Type-S is outfitted with a potent 200-horsepower version of the base car's 2.0-liter engine that absolutely screams when pressed. Acura equips the Type-S with a high-flow intake and exhaust system teamed to their sophisticated i-VTEC variable valve timing technology. The VTEC system alters the valve timing so that when the rpms are low, the engine puts out more force-moving torque. The i-VTEC system also improves fuel economy while simultaneously reducing the amount of emissions emitted from the tailpipe.

The Type-S comes only with a six-speed manual, which should tell you it's all business. Plop yourself down in the form-fitting sport bucket seats and your hand seems to fall intuitively to the shifter. Turn the key and the sweet high-pitched sound from the engine compartment fills your ears; though you hear the Type-S' engine, you wont feel it—at least not until you lay on the gas. With one quick flick of the wrist the six-speed glides into first, the clutch engages so effortlessly that it seems almost like child's play and the Type-S rockets forward, instantly begging you to shift to second and then third and so on. At speeds over 55-mph, the Type-S seems happiest when shuffled between its fourth and fifth gear; sixth simply is used to save some fuel when cruising at steady speeds.

The handling characteristics on the Type-S are, in a word, phenomenal. Turn-in is instantaneous and even when accelerating through tight curves the front-wheel drive Type-S shows only the faintest sign of understeer. All the while you'll notice that though tuned to be stiff, the suspension returns a surprisingly civilized ride. Only when you hit a serious bump, pothole or distortion does the Type-S send a sharp message to your backside to keep it on the smooth.

Both the RSX and Type-S are tall cars, which adds a feature not usually found in this segment: abundant headroom. Tall drivers will rejoice at their ability to keep the driver's seat fully upright and still clear the roof—even with the standard moonroof. The seats are some of the most comfortable and form fitting we've tested, though some drivers found that the side bolster somewhat forced their shoulders to hunch forward. You'll also really appreciate the RSX's hatchback design that allows it to swallow all manner of cargo, such as mountain bikes, snowboards and golf clubs.

There were no complaints when it came to the RSX's dash, which is modern and clean with simple controls and a set of big round instruments highlighted by a 9000- rpm tachometer. Standard safety equipment onboard the RSX includes front side-impact airbags with a minder system that can detect when a small child is in the seat and determine if it is safe to deploy the airbag.

In all, the RSX presents a tempting package. Its affordable, livable and so much fun to drive you may never again want to climb into anything with four doors.

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