Thursday, March 18, 2010

A bit bigger: 2010 Acura TSX Tech V6—More technology, more power, more money

2010 Acura TSX Tech V6 - Subcompact CultureThe previous-generation Acura TSX was a smaller mid-size sedan with a great chassis, a very nice interior, and an eager-to-rev 2.4-liter engine—which was the only engine buyers could get in the car—there was no turbo or V6 option. As a Honda enthusiast, this didn't surprise me, though. Honda sometimes takes the “who needs a V6 if your four cylinder is great?” approach.

The TSX was redesigned in 2009. It got a bit bigger and heavier than the past generation, and had all the amenities to make it a luxury sports sedan. However, continuing tradition, a four cylinder was the only engine. For 2010, Acura broke the four-cylinder cycle and is offering a V6-powered TSX.

Luckily, a tradition that continues is the vehicle's rock-solid feel. The doors close like vaults. There isn't a rattle to be found. All of the switchgear feels refined. Plus, in typical Honda/Acura-ness, ergonomics are great.

Yes it's faster than the past four-cylinder TSX, but it's also quite a bit pricier, and isn't as exciting as some of its competitors, even with the six.

2010 Acura Tech V6 - Subcompact Culture
The TSX's styling is typical Honda/Acura understatement. Simple and classy, sans that chrome grille piece, of which I am not a fan. The TSX is sophisticated, clean, and attractive. Although not the most exciting to me, it isn't offensive, either.

2010 Acura Tech V6INTERIOR
The TSX's interior is well appointed and well made; all of the expected luxury accouterments are there. One unexpected feature that I loved was the auto-tilting passenger's side mirror. When you put the car into reverse, the passenger's side mirror tilts down so you can see the curb when parallel parking. A thoughtful, simple touch—all cars should come with this!

The leather front seats are supportive and comfortable. The thick leather-wrapped steering wheel is a sporting touch. Amazingly, there are more than a dozen total buttons on it to control Bluetooth, cruise control, stereo, and trip computer functions.

Unlike the comfortable front seats, the back seat is small. In fact, I was surprised at how little room there was back there. I'm 5' 7”, and my knees hit the seat backs; my size 9 shoes were nearly all the way under the seats, too.

2010 Acura TSX Tech V6TECHNOLOGY
My TSX came with the “Tech Package,” which includes navigation with voice recognition, rear-view camera, Acura-Link Communications system (with traffic and weather); a surround sound system with 10 speakers and USB, a six-disc in-dash CD player, and GPS-linked automatic climate control system, among other things.

Like the steering wheel, the dashboard houses a plethora of buttons: climate control buttons, stereo buttons, navigation buttons. Main control of the GPS/Acura-Link center is handled by a knob mounted in the center of the dash. To make your selections, the knob twists; to make your selection you press the center. And there are a lot of selections to choose from: GPS, traffic, weather, Bluetooth, address books, and the list goes one.

In contrast to the large, easy-to-read color LCD display for the GPS/Acura-Link, however, is a narrow, not-as-easy-to-read digital display that shows the climate control's info as well as the stereo. I was told, however, the radio display could be moved up to the color screen. I didn't figure it out, though. Regardless, it was difficult to read, especially since there are so many things on this dashboard.

Another thing: I'm a stickler for easy Bluetooth phone connectivity, but the this system was far from intuitive. Once I figured out how to pair my Samsung phone, every time the Acura-Link system connected to it, my phone's music player to come on and wouldn't allow me to access my phone book using my phone. I tried to download my phone book, but it only downloaded two numbers. Ah, modern technology.

There is no doubt that the introduction of a V6 engine in the TSX will silence the cries for more performance. The car's smooth 3.5-liter DOHC V6 with VTEC makes 280 horsepower and 254 pounds-feet of torque through a five-speed automatic transmission with sport mode and paddle shifters. This thing really moves out. Plus, it sounds good, and is smooth and powerful up to its red line.

Punch the throttle and the front wheels will be clawing for grip, and the traction control light will be flickering. You'll also want to have a tight grip on the steering wheel, since all that power put to the front wheels creates a decent amount of torque steer. As a side note, the paddles shifters were among the best I've used thus far; very responsive.

The TSX V6 is a quick ride, with 0-60 figures at 6 seconds. On the highway, the car rides firmly as expected from a sports sedan, and cruises effortlessly at speed. In the curves, the car holds its own even with FWD, thanks to a front double-wishbone suspension, a rear multi-link setup, and precise electronically boosted steering. Rolling stock is composed of 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45/18 tires, and grip (sans full-throttle launches) was above average. I wouldn't call the TSX nimble; but it does handle well.

The premium-fuel-drinking TSX V6 is rated at 18 city, 27 highway, and I got 19 in mostly city driving. Fuel misers might want to consider the four cylinder, rated at 21/30; it also imbibes premium gas.

There's no doubt the new TSX V6 is an upgrade from the four cylinder, and the Tech package is laden with the latest techno-gadgetry. However, it all comes at a price: $38,760, which includes the $810 destination fee. Something to consider: For nearly the same price, buyers can get into a larger Acura TL with AWD, or a FWD TL for $35,105 plus destination.

Yes, the TSX is smaller dimensionally, but according to the curb weights, the front-drive TL is only 19 lbs. heavier than the TSX V6. So when it comes down to it, you have to decide whether bigger is better.

As a whole, the TSX Tech V6 isn't as intriguing as I thought it would be. Sure it's fast, yes it's luxurious, but there just didn't seem to be a whole lot of chutzpah. It does everything well, but isn't chocked full of excitement. However, it is of the highest quality, will undoubtedly have exceptional reliability, and stellar resale.

2010 Acura TSX Tech V6 - Subcompact Culture

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