Road Test - 2004 Acura TSX

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 21, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Born in Japan, reared in Europe, and, thankfully, blessed for America.

    [​IMG]

    BY RON KIINO
    July 2003

    Referring to the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California he “borrowed” from his best friend’s father, the somehow sagacious and always rash Ferris Bueller eloquently proclaimed in the 1986 flick, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

    Trying to apply that drooling dialogue to anything but a sexy exotic becomes a stretch. In the Acura lineup, the only candidate for this sort of lust is the NSX sports car. Not that all premium Hondas aren’t “choice” automobiles—it’s just that none but the NSX delivers the prestige and performance comparable to a Ferrari’s.

    But today, when so many cars are well beyond good (trust us—narrowing down a 10Best ballot is painful), the term “choice” seems appropriate not just for exotics but also for those select cars that deliver something special, something intangible.

    Take Acura’s new sports sedan, the TSX. It’s a car that distances itself from its rivals not by performance numbers (although they’re generally as good) but rather by how it performs. The TSX goes about its business so smoothly and so silkily that precision could be its middle name. And it is targeted squarely at those Gen Xers who so fondly remember the words of the wise Ferris.

    That now 30-something demographic—a majority married, more than half males, pulling in about $80,000 a year, according to Acura—is whom the brand is missing with the just-out-of-college RSX and the wife-and-kids TL. So enter the gap-filling TSX, a $26,990 rebadged European-market Honda Accord equipped with either the six-speed manual tested here or a five-speed automatic with a manual-control feature. At that price, Acura’s demographic prediction makes sense. TSX buyers won’t be the same guys dropping 30 large on Mitsubishi Evos or Subaru STis—what wife would allow her husband to buy a car with a wing the size of an ironing board? We all know who makes those calls.

    Rather, the 15,000 TSXs allotted for the U.S. in the first year will likely be cross-shopped with the V-6–powered Mazda 6 s and, if the “A” badge holds the elite kind of water Acura believes it does, the Lexus IS300 and the European status symbols, the Audi A4 1.8T, the BMW 325i, the Saab 9-3, and the recently introduced Mercedes C230 Kompressor sedan. But only the Mazda can match the Acura’s equipment level at a similar price.

    For just under $27,000, the TSX comes loaded. That means perforated leather seats (heated up front), dual-zone automatic climate control, a power sunroof, a 360-watt stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, high-intensity-discharge headlights, and 17-inch wheels. Tack those features onto an Audi or BMW, and you’ll understand the meaning of base price. The only option on the TSX is a $2000 navigation system with voice recognition.

    Sit behind the TSX’s leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel, and it appears as if all the money went into the materials and the fluidity of the parts. The sumptuous leather, the tasteful metallic accents, the LED gauges, and the top-grade plastics are befitting a car costing twice as much. The dash covering is made sans PVC, a material that can wreak havoc on quality control, and instead is manufactured using a high-caliber spray-formed urethane skin technology. All the materials scream luxury, and all the parts whisper smooth. Every knob, switch, and moving part seems to be glazed with Teflon. In fact, the moving parts of the tilting and telescoping steering wheel are coated with a resin for ease of operation.

    Put the TSX in motion, and it quickly becomes evident that Acura allocated plenty of money elsewhere. An epitome of refinement, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC (Honda’s latest variable-valve-timing system) generates Put the TSX in motion, and it quickly becomes evident that Acura allocated plenty of money elsewhere. An epitome of refinement, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC (Honda’s latest variable-valve-timing system) generates 200 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 166 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. Similar to other high-revving Honda four-bangers, the TSX mill doesn’t deliver much grunt below 3000 rpm, but as the tachometer creeps toward peak torque, the engine pulls strongly to 6000 rpm, at which point the cam profiles go long for the 1100-rpm sprint to the redline. Never does the engine feel as if it’s working hard. Even when i-VTEC kicks in at six grand, the engine spins like an athlete “in the zone.” It offers maximum performance with little sweat.

    The engine wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying if not for the gem of a gearbox. Housed in a magnesium case for weight reduction, the six-speed manual features multicone synchronizers on all gears and 45-millimeter (about 1.75 inches) shift throws (an S2000’s are about 35mm) that result in a pleasingly light, crisp action; a flick of the wrist is all that’s required to row from gear to gear. Consequently, the powertrain harmony makes for brisk acceleration: 0 to 60 mph takes 7.2 seconds, which is as swift as the Lexus IS300, quicker than the Saab 9-3 Vector (7.3), but a few ticks slower than the BMW 325i (7.0) and Mazda 6 s (6.8). It should be noted, too, that the TSX’s 5-to-60-mph street-start time (7.7)—a more realistic indication—is only half a second slower than the clutch-burning launch, indicating that the closely spaced gear ratios make the most of the 2.4’s power band. The quarter-mile time of 15.6 seconds at 91 mph is quick as well, and a mere 0.2-second behind the torquier Bimmer, Lexus, Mazda, and Saab.

    The TSX’s four-wheel independent suspension employs unequal-length control arms aided by a 25.4mm (one inch) hollow anti-roll bar and strut-tower brace up front and a five-link independent setup with a 15mm bar in back. Compared with the four-cylinder mass-market U.S. Accord, which has no strut-tower brace and a smaller (14.0mm) rear bar, the TSX is tuned stiffer and exhibits less body roll. Despite this firmness, the ride hasn’t really suffered. The TSX doesn’t feel as soft as the Accord, but it somehow soaks up the bumps just as well. If anything, the ride could be a step firmer—the Subaru WRX’s comes to mind.

    On the skidpad, the TSX pulled 0.85 g, which easily tops its four-cylinder Accord sibling (0.77) and bests adhesion numbers from competing front-drivers—the Saab 9-3 Vector (0.83) and the Mazda 6 s (0.84)—as well as the rear-drive Lexus IS300 (0.78). The only car the Acura couldn’t outgrip is the BMW 325i (0.86).

    A higher skidpad number is plausible if Acura were to fit the TSX with softer-compound summer rubber. The standard 215/50VR-17 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tires mounted on seven-spoke, 17-inch alloys provide commendable performance, but all-season tires are a year-round compromise. We’d gladly welcome a stickier summer tire such as the Yokohama AVS ES100 offered on the RSX Type-S Factory Performance.

    With a chassis as good as the TSX’s, the car is begging for more than just grippier shoes. Another 20, 30—Do we hear 40?—horsepower would really show off the chassis’s capabilities. But remember that the TSX is young, and Acura is bound to spice it up as it ages. Otherwise, there’s little to criticize about the TSX dynamically. The steering, à la Audi’s A4, is light, direct, and precise from lock to lock and exhibits a firm on-center feel with zero play. The brakes, with pie-size 11.8-inch vented front discs and 10.2-inch solid rear discs, furnish sure stopping power and direct progression, decelerating the 3246-pound TSX from 70 to 0 mph in 185 feet.

    When driven near the limit, the TSX is a very predictable car. It has no surprises in store, delivering only what you’d expect in a well-balanced (60/40-percent front-to-rear weight distribution) front-driver. That means some understeer and body roll when rapid entry speeds and acute corners are unwilling to cooperate, but like we said, the dynamics are predictable. As is the remedy: Ease up on the throttle, allow the tires to scrub speed, and then show the throttle more love once the nose tucks in. As far as handling characteristics, the TSX is reminiscent of the dearly departed Honda Prelude, a multiple 10Best winner and champion of our “Best Handling Car Under $30,000” (June 1997). Each possesses a point-and-shoot mentality that allows you to drive the snot out of it with little fear of getting bit in the ass, and each inspires more confidence the faster and harder it’s driven.

    Our advice is this: If you’re in the market for a less-than-$30-grand sports sedan, check out the TSX. It’s not the quickest to 60, or the fastest around the skidpad, or the shortest stopper, but it’s the purest form of precision in its class.

    In a segment where choices abound, the TSX is “choice,” indeed. Your keys, Mr. Bueller.

    Highs: Engine to copy, transmission to envy, craftsmanship to benchmark.

    Lows: Perfectionists might want better tires, more power.

    The Verdict: A precision piece to desire.

    [​IMG]

    COUNTERPOINT

    The TSX is no head turner, and it doesn’t look all that impressive on paper, either. Its test numbers are about the same as those we chalked up for an Integra GS-R four-door in March 1997, even though the TSX has a 30-hp edge over the Integra. But test data don’t necessarily tell the whole story, and this car is a case in point. Acura’s small four-door fits like a custom-made driver’s suit and delivers the precise shifting, athletic feel, and quick steering of a Euro sport such as the Audi A4. It’s also smooth and quiet, with lots of luxo goodies baked into its attractive price. The lesson: You don’t always have to hit home runs to win the game. —Tony Swan

    This one actually had me pawing my own checkbook. The roomy cabin is trimmed with executive-suite materials and squeezed into a taut body of just-right dimensions. The controls feel Vaseline-coated and ball-bearing supported. The steering wheel carves the asphalt like a surgeon’s scalpel, the finger-touch shifter seems ripped right from an S2000 along with all six of its gears. The big four whips up big torque. It sounds serious, vibrates little, and drinks less. The suspension sops up road clatter but obeys orders with Germanic discipline. If Acura sends us a haul-more body style (wagon, anyone?), the dealer can expect my call. —Aaron Robinson

    The TSX is essentially the European version of the Honda Accord—it shares much with its larger American cousin—trimmed in Acura livery. Despite that genealogy, this TSX feels nothing like an Accord. The big, high-revving four-banger in the TSX creates a more overtly energetic ambience than the slick V-6 does in the Accord—even though the V-6 is quicker! The TSX chassis delivers a more athletic flavor, with greater grip than an Accord coupled to a sharper bite when you turn its steering wheel. It may share an Accord platform, but the buff and nimble TSX is very much its own car. —Csaba Csere

    C/D TEST RESULTS

    ACCELERATION (Seconds)
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.5
    40 mph: 3.9
    50 mph: 5.5
    60 mph: 7.2
    70 mph: 9.5
    80 mph: 11.8
    90 mph: 15.3
    100 mph: 19.0
    110 mph: 24.4
    120 mph: 34.0
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 7.7
    Top-gear acceleration, 30—50 mph: 10.2
    50—70 mph: 9.7
    Standing 1/4-mile: 15.6 sec @ 91 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 133 mph



    BRAKING
    70—0 mph @ impending lockup: 185 ft
    Fade: none light moderate heavy

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.85 g
    Understeer: minimal moderate excessive

    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 21 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 29 mpg
    C/D-observed: 24 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 38 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 74 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 67 Dba

    Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    Price as tested: $28,990

    [​IMG]

    ENGINE
    Type: 4-in-line, aluminum block and head
    Bore x stroke: 3.43 x 3.90 in, 87.0 x 99.0mm
    Displacement: 144 cu in, 2354cc
    Compression ratio: 10.5:1
    Engine-control system: Honda PGM-FI with port fuel injection
    Emissions controls: 3-way catalytic converter, feedback air-fuel-ratio control
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing and lift
    Power (SAE net): 200 bhp @ 6800 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 166 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
    Redline: 7100 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 6-speed manual
    Final-drive ratio: 4.70:1
    Gear ... Ratio ... Mph/1000 rpm ... Max. test speed
    I ... 3.27 ... 4.8 ... 34 mph (7100 rpm)
    II ... 1.88 ... 8.4 ... 60 mph (7100 rpm)
    III ... 1.36 ... 11.7 ... 83 mph (7100 rpm)
    IV ... 1.03 ... 15.4 ... 109 mph (7100 rpm)
    V ... 0.83 ... 19.2 ... 133 mph (6950 rpm)
    VI ... 0.66 ... 24.0 ... 133 mph (5550 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
    Wheelbase: 105.1 in
    Track, F/R: 59.6/59.6 in
    Length: 183.3 in
    Width: 69.4 in
    Height: 57.3 in
    Ground clearance: 6.2 in
    Curb weight: 3246 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 59.9/40.1%
    Fuel capacity: 17.1 gal
    Oil capacity: 5.3 qt
    Water capacity: 7.4 qt

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction with 2 rubber-isolated subframes
    Body: material welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 51 cu ft
    rear seat: 39 cu ft
    luggage space: 13 cu ft
    Front seats: bucket
    Seat adjustments: fore and aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags rear manual 3-point belts, outboard curtain airbags
    General comfort: poor fair good excellent
    Fore-and-aft support: poor fair good excellent
    Lateral support: poor fair good excellent

    SUSPENSION
    F: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    R: ind, 3 lateral links and 2 diagonal links per side, coil springs, anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.7
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 40.0 ft

    BRAKES
    F: 11.8 x 1.1-in vented disc
    R: 10.2 x 0.4-in disc
    Power assist vacuum with anti-lock control

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size: 7.0 x 17 in
    Wheel type: cast aluminum
    Tires: Michelin Pilot HX MXM4, 215/50VR-17
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 32/30 psi

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,153
    Likes Received:
    3,099
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I saw one on the road yesterday. It is an attractive but somewhat bland vehicle.
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Sounds like a Honda product.
     
  4. Untouchable1

    Untouchable1 Guest

     
  5. Praezision

    Praezision Guest

    It looks like a great 4 cylinder vehicle....it's just missing one key element...

































































    [​IMG]
     
  6. court-jester

    court-jester I love dykes

    Joined:
    May 5, 2000
    Messages:
    18,166
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    toronto registered: March 1998
    it looks better in person.
     
  7. a red heart

    a red heart Guest

    and thankfully so, id rather put a hairdryer on my car than that POS
     
  8. Praezision

    Praezision Guest

    :ugh: it's a fucking example..... i'm not saying that specific turbocharger
     
  9. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2001
    Messages:
    54,454
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    I have those tires and they're fucking horrible. Props to Honda for making a nice car though.
     
  10. CopenKagan

    CopenKagan OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2003
    Messages:
    72,639
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Looks like a Honda Oddesy Sedan. :ugh:
     
  11. realest00

    realest00 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2002
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston
    The specs make it like a 4 door, luxury Prelude.
     
  12. iCEgECKO

    iCEgECKO Ballin' at 5'2''

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    14,091
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Toronto
    Looks nice
     
  13. Jefferson Darcy

    Jefferson Darcy Ol' shit chest

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2002
    Messages:
    11,550
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nice looking car, saw one when I was working at the Puerto Rucan Parade aftermath in sunset park a few weeks ago. It had a bodykit, looked real nice.

    I'm sure performance wise its crap tho, "refined" or not. I'd take the STi or EVO for a little more, or a regular WRX for a little less.
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Bump for the day crew.
     
  15. mads.

    mads. OT Supporter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    26,805
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    that's sad. for 30 K or 50 K Canadian you can get a 4 cyl honda !!


    i saw a few on the street. meh
     
  16. Mr.Fusion

    Mr.Fusion feast upon my magnificence

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Messages:
    43,024
    Likes Received:
    82
    Location:
    Austin,Texas
    G35 > That
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Apparently it doesn't need a V6 to stay with the competition.
     
  18. crotch

    crotch BONE PUPPET LLC.

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    140,802
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I REALLY like that car and before it even came out I knew I wanted one after I graduated college. Now after reading that, Trishield, I think I have my heart set on it. Such a great car for such a small price. I :love: that car. Thanks Trishield for the post!
     
  19. crotch

    crotch BONE PUPPET LLC.

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    140,802
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    ;) I noticed that also :big grin:
     
  20. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,751
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    For $27k, you probably won't get a more refined or luxurious new sedan, and it performs well to boot.

    What's wrong with that?
     
  21. crotch

    crotch BONE PUPPET LLC.

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    140,802
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Preach it brother!
     
  22. Supreme Allah

    Supreme Allah The terrorists won.

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2001
    Messages:
    9,235
    Likes Received:
    0

    not much. one of my co-workers has one. a lot of people didnt even notice he got a new car, it doesnt stand out at all.

    i'd pimp a Mazda6 and save a couple grand.
     
  23. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2002
    Messages:
    31,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    Very nice, and probably built solid as a rock, knowing Acura's reputation.

    Definitely something I'd consider, but probably not what I'd go with. I'd take a G35 or an A4 over that.
     
  24. SCIronMike

    SCIronMike OT Health Guru

    Joined:
    May 17, 2001
    Messages:
    24,217
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Unfortunately car enthusiasts gotta look at it. The new A4 is a pig.
     
  25. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2002
    Messages:
    31,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    STi and Evo are more expensive anyway.

    The TSX is a marvelous value.
     

Share This Page