When thinking about what makes a "good" car, we must examine what the purpose of said car will be. The kind of vehicle we may pick as a potential track monster is probably not going to be the same car we would choose as a comfy city cruiser. A rugged sport utility would have entirely different requirements to fill, as would a small economy car, so where do we begin? Even though we here at Modified put an emphasis on performance above all else, the reality is that we appreciate all sorts of cars. No matter how hardcore you may be about performance, there are always times when it's nice to just lean back, crank up the A/C and cruise. If this sounds like what you're looking for, we can say that for the price, there aren't a lot of cars in which we would rather do exactly that than the '10 Acura TSX.
The car we received for testing was a 3.5-liter V-6 model in Palladium Metallic silver with black leather interior that came equipped with Acura's Technology Package. This interior upgrade package features a few very cool tidbits that make us really enjoy the ride - things you simply don't have on many performance-oriented cars (especially those priced around $30,000). The rearview camera seems like a novelty, but it's actually quite useful, not to mention the navigation system, which shares a home screen mounted in the center of the dashboard. If you're in a strange city trying to find your way to a hotel or event, or if you live somewhere with unpredictable traffic patterns, the value of a navigation system is a no-brainer. Why suffer when it's so easy to help yourself in this modern era of real-time traffic and weather-sensing in-car navigation? A fully integrated Bluetooth setup makes driving and talking an easy (and street legal) hands-free experience, and the voice recognition for nearly all interior functions gave us a good first impression. The comfy leather seats are nicely designed and ergonomic, as is the gauge console and steering wheel. We feel right at home in the driver seat of this car; the TSX is doing all the right things so far
We don't typically touch on the in-car audio side of things, but the upgraded stereo in our test vehicle was nothing short of breathtaking. The 415-watt Dolby 5 ProLogic II system extracts deep, powerful bass and crisp highlights that are rarely associated with OEM stereos.
As we headed north on the highway, the 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control snapped through the 280hp motor's powerband quickly and easily. Acura has done a very good job designing the gearbox of the TSX - it rarely lags, and although the car lacks a certain top end punch, the torquey V-6 did an excellent job of getting us to speed in and around town. On the highway we found ourselves wishing the car had more top-end power, but then again as a cruiser-type car, it suited its duties perfectly well. The TSX is a bit fat like most modern cars, but it carries itself well.
After cruising for a while, we found a nice twisty road to throw the car around on and were immediately reminded that we weren't driving Project EVO or Project DC2. The TSX showed its weight in the corners; the car is definitely not setup for spirited driving (let alone any sort of track use). However, the chassis showed promise. If we had our way and were allowed to tinker with the TSX's setup, we would stiffen it up with a usual array of springs, shocks and sway bars (and a stickier set of tires). We can't stress how much of a difference tire selection can make in the feel of a vehicle. Keep in mind, though, as you increase performance in your tire choice, you generally end up sacrificing some ride quality and quiet operation, so choose carefully. Honda Tuning is actually building one of these up as a project car, so if you're interested in seeing what some modifications can do, be sure to check them out.
As time passes, we've witnessed the increasing popularity of the last generation TSX as a track car, and with the highly acclaimed and widely loved 2.4-liter Honda K-series powerplant proving itself over and over again in many different types of cars, we can't help but wonder what can be milked out of the new V-6. Stock for stock, the new TSX is definitely a more well-rounded car than the previous generation TSX, but it lacks a bit of that good old fashioned raw Honda flavor. Whether or not that can be rediscovered by the right tuners remains to be seen. We certainly have high hopes!
Once we had a good appreciation for the performance characteristics of the car, we took a long, hard look at the exterior. Looks are important, and we are not 100 percent sold on Acura's new front-end scheme. We think the TSX would look better with a black or color-matched center grille, but alas, the Acura brand identity is going toward that gaudy chrome piece. Aside from the front end, the sedan's lines are beautifully sculpted, making us wonder who called in sick the day the front fascia was drawn up.
Our final conclusion is that what the car lacks in high performance, it more than makes up for in creature comforts. It looks good, drives smoothly and has good pickup for normal commuting and daily duty. We would be happy to drive one to and from the office every day, take a cross-country road trip and do so without worrying about anything going wrong mechanically.
Specs & Details
'10 Acura TSX
Engine 3.5-liter 24-valve SOHC V-6
Torque 254 ft-lbs
Transmission 5-speed automatic w/ sequential paddle shifters & Grade Logic Control
Price $34,850 (6-cylinder)