First Impresion: 2010 Acura TSX V6
When the Acura TSX first hit U.S. shores, it was immediately branded as Acura's entry-level sport sedan. As with any new car, reviews blanketed magazines and internet sites and the nit picking began. While most writers praised the new offering, citing its long list of positive attributes, the negative points seemed to echo one another. Many would complain of a lack of torque and what they refer to as "peaky" performance. There's no question that most of the Honda engines introduced over the last fifteen years have revolved around high revving screamers, and that's what makes them so unique. Nevertheless, there's a sea of potential buyers in America who are looking for the low-end grunt they probably grew up with. Add to that a growing number of sport sedan consumers who begin salivating at the very thought of more muscle under the hood and you can understand why the TSX received two more cylinders for its spec sheet.
With the 2009 model came a complete redesign. A larger, bulkier, yet very sleek new body style made its way to dealer show rooms. As with many new offerings, Honda fans needed a moment to get used to the new look. At first glance, the silver front grill draws your attention away from the sharp sculptured lines of the exterior. The HID-equipped headlights, much like with the older model, carry an aggressive stare, and flow very well with the front bumper and fenders. The wheel arches and rear bumper take their time growing on you, but once they do, thoughts of aftermarket wheel combinations and a healthy drop aren't far behind.
Love at first seat
When I first arrived to pick up the TSX, it was parked right next to a 2010 Acura TL. The similarities in outward appearance as well as the cabin layout are obvious, as is the increased size of the flagship Acura in comparison to the smaller TSX. As I jumped inside our test car, the very first thing I noticed were the comfortable seats. A slightly sporty feel with the cushiest headrest I've ever leaned into. I can only imagine how comfortable these seats would be on a five hour cruise to Vegas. During the week of testing, I found myself answering emails from my blackberry while parked in the garage, subconsciously not wanting to leave my new leather-wrapped home. Dimensionally, the interior is much larger than the previous generation. The TSX's dash layout and location of the major user controls are ergonomically superior to its predecessor. Navigation, satellite radio, and traffic updates are all controlled by a main dial and a few surrounding buttons. Under the navigation screen is a small digital strip that relays radio and temperature info to eliminate jumping back and forth between screens.
As I left the parking lot at the pickup point, I headed straight to the busy 405 freeway. I made my way to the on-ramp with only a few cars behind me, and could resist the urge no longer. I decided to get a feel for the power of the V6. A quick click of the automatic shifter to "S" mode and my right foot stiffened up and headed south. The 3.5L, feeling the prod, rubbed all of its 254 lbs-ft of torque right in my face. Even with the modern day standard drive-by-wire mechanics, the acceleration was immediate and rushed me up to (and slightly past) the speed limit in the blink of an eye. The paddle shifters mounted just behind the steering wheel are convenient and quite simple to locate under acceleration. With the rising weight of today's vehicles due to safety regulations and increased rigidity, the "pull" generated by the V6 is remarkable. Commuting from San Diego to Anaheim (approx. 90 miles) each day gave me plenty of freeway time with the test mule. The extra power on tap was more than enough to scoot around those text messaging zombies that seem to clog the busy lanes on my daily path. Giving a nod to the boy racer in all of us, from stoplight to stoplight, few sedans in this class would have enough torque to overpower this car. On the handling side, as expected, the car's curb weight is lofty. Though the power increase more than makes up for it, I wondered if perhaps pushing a car of this weight would induce the understeer blues.
As with most front wheel drive Honda platforms, the TSX is well balanced, and the expected margin of error is included, though I wouldn't expect to see too many TSX registrants on track day.
EPA estimates the TSX V6 gas mileage at a very respectable 18/27. With multiple selections provided by the in-dash metering system, I was able to easily track my mileage on a daily basis. The first day the car was in my possession proved to be the worst in terms of gas mileage. This is likely due to the lead foot that mysteriously unveiled itself the moment I received the keys and felt that unmistakable rumble that can only come from the purr of a V6. As the week progressed, I began experimenting with more refined driving techniques, and ended up with a best average of 30.1 mpg on my most humble trip. If the TSX V6 ever crosses my path again under terms of ownership, I'm confident that number could be further improved with a free-flowing exhaust and intake system. That is, if I had the willpower to keep my right foot in check.
If you're a hardcore Honda project builder like most of our readers, and you're looking for an upscale daily driver that won't bore you to death, the TSX V6 is your guy. Or if you're a new car buyer and you're searching for something that will safely transport your better half and the little ones to their destination, then deliver a mountain of torque for your evil enjoyment with just a slight stab of your right foot, you've met your match. The TSX V6 is violent elegance cloaked in a Clark Kent-like exterior.