2013 Acura TSX Road Test and Review: Driving Impressions
The great thing about Acuras, as well as the Hondas upon which they are frequently based, is that the engineering intended to make them durable, safe, and fuel-efficient often has the unintended consequence of making them entertaining to drive.
Of course, in the Acura TSX’s case, part of the enjoyment that the driver experiences is the direct result of the car’s European tuning characteristics, particularly with regard to the suspension. The TSX delivers a taut ride quality combined with excellent communication from the tires’ contact patches, and while Active Noise Cancellation quiets the car’s cabin when underway, it is tuned to permit aural confirmation of road surface textures, in addition to tactile information. This clarity of communication instills confidence in the TSX’s driver, and while the front-wheel-drive car isn’t necessarily a sport sedan, it is a sporty sedan, thanks in part to these traits.
The TSX displayed impressive dynamic competence when I flung it down Latigo Canyon Road, a writhing, twisted, serpentine mess of tight curves and crappy pavement running along steep cliffs in Malibu, Calif. Limited only by a set of P225/50R17 all-season tires and the fact that 59% of the car’s weight sits over the front wheels, the TSX remained utterly calm, cool, and collected while ripping across pavement heaves and around off-camber corners.
The 5-speed automatic transmission also plays a part in making the TSX fun to drive. Geared to make the most of the 4-cylinder engine’s limited oomph, the transmission gives the TSX a sprightly feel in city traffic, and its Grade Logic Control system automatically holds a lower gear to provide improved hill climbing capability as well as engine braking on downgrades. The transmission is also equipped with a Sport mode to hold engine revs longer, and paddle shifters that are actually more like buttons are located on the steering wheel. Most of the time, I drove the car around in Drive, and that was fine.
Offering just enough horsepower and torque to make the Acura TSX feel quick, the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is a refined engine, one that revs willingly and smoothly when the accelerator pedal is mashed. I’ve driven the TSX V6 model, and if that more powerful engine were offered as a $1,500 upgrade, I would recommend it. The V-6 makes the TSX downright fast, without much of a fuel economy penalty. At almost four times that amount, however, I can’t. So stick with the 4-cylinder engine, which, during my week behind the wheel, returned exactly what Acura claimed in terms of gas mileage.
Bringing the Acura TSX to a halt is no problem for its 4-wheel-disc braking system, which employs ventilated front discs. Granted, it was a cool 62 degrees in local mountains when I conducted my testing, but the TSX’s brake pedal delivered an impeccable performance, making it incredibly easy to fine-tune brake pressure and response.
If there is room for improvement with regard to the TSX’s driving dynamics, it is related to the steering. Around town and when driving down the highway in a straight line, the steering is well weighted on center and easy to twirl for parking. Fly around a freeway ramp, however, and a hint of light disconnectedness chips away at driver confidence. On twisty roads, the steering also proves a bit slow, forcing the driver to saw at the wheel if not shuffle steering.