Let’s be honest. We can be a jaded bunch at times. Having the privelidge of driving various makes and models of cars goes a long way in not being impressed by a lot of things automotive. But every so often, an unexpected surprise arrives at our doorstep and we find ourselves wondering why a certain manufacturer hadn’t done something earlier. This was certainly the case with the 2010 Acura TSX V6. We’ve had plenty of exposure to the TSX – our Feature Editor Daniel Lewis owns a 2004 edition – and although it is a dependable, well-built car, the 200hp K24 engine in stock trim does not elicity the kind of rise in blood pressure we relish.
The 2010 Acura TX V6, however, is a completely different kind of vehicle. Whereas the inline-4 version is in the same segment as many of the most popular mid-sized 4-door sedans in the market, the addition of the bigger engine elevates the TSX into a completely differentsegment altogether. We’re talking about Audi A4 3.2, BMW 328 and Lexus IS350 territory. So does the V6 have what it takes to compete head to head with these luxury sport sedans?
Whereas the previous generation TSX possessed bodylines unlike any in sister brand Honda’s line up – although it was known as the Honda (Euro) Accord on the Continent – the current generation’s design bear closer resemblance to the very popular Accord. Dimensions have increased as well, providing a much more spacious cabin than the previous generation. Leg room, shoulder room and head room all have gone up, coming close to the dimensions of the previous generation Acura TL.
- The interior space seems cavernous by the previous generation TSX standards and fit two 6+ footers in the front quite comfortably with decent leg room left for rear passengers
- The dash, instrument cluster and center console were constructed of quality materials; fit and finish was excellent and really on-par with those of Audi, a make that’s well known for their excellent interior finishing
- One of the biggest changes is the steering wheel – gone is what seemed like a 380mm unit in the previous generation TSX; the new steering wheel is smaller – probably about a 350mm from what we could tell – thick and solid, really communicating a very sporty vibe
- Our tester, with the optional technology package, offered virtually every in-car convenience known to man – satellite radio, satellite-based traffic routing & information, Bluetooth hands-free calling, Bluetooth A2DP stereo output (so that you can play tunes directly from your iPhone without using a cable) and more
- The short-side to all that technology is that you have a pretty steep learning curve involved in figuring out the controls – there is a button practically for every control, making especially the center console look more like the Kennedy Space Center
- We did appreciate the matte, slightly textured finish on all the buttons – great tacticle feedback – but wondered if that finish would wear off with use
- We would have appreciated a keyless entry and start system to elevate the level of convenience – and frankly, a car at $38,760 should come with one
- The sound system is GREAT – as Feature Editor Daniel Lewis noted; unlike TSX’s of the past, the new generation seems to have gotten it perfect according to him
- Speaking of the sound system, we appreciate having the thin strip of LED-based radio and temp control information that is separated from the navigation screen; not having to switch back and forth between the navi and radio just to figure out which song is playing is a great idea
The TSX’s 3.5L SOHC V6 is silky smooth even under wide open throttle conditions. Stoplights are disposed with ease with a stab of the throttle, eliciting an acceleration that is quick but not abrupt nor harsh. Even with the right foot buried deep under the dash, there wasn’t any noticeable torque steer or drama through front wheel hop. We surprised more than a few drivers with quick getways and passing speed. Perhaps they should have taken greater notice of the discrete V6 badging out back.
It’s safe to say that the addition of the V6 has completely changed the character of the TSX. Whereas we would have viewed it as the now-defunct RSX’s 4-door brother in the past, the bigger engine changes things completely. Smaller displacement Honda / Acura engines have been traditionally known for their high-revving nature, producing horsepower figures that belie their displacement, but the weak link has always been torque. But with an available 254lb-ft of torque on tap, the TSX doesn’t need to rev very high to attain the level of acceleration to put smiles on our faces.
The 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting is a perfect compliment to the V6. Although we have never been big fans of automatic slushboxes with wanna-be manual shifting, the TSX’s unit does an admirable job with quick shifts and engagement, even blipping the throttle on downshifts. The paddles on the steering wheel reminded us of those found in DSG-equipped Audis with its feel and design. Imitation, in this case, was a great call to make.
Taking the V6 around bends and corners was pretty eventless. Although it is a front-wheel drive car, we never noticed any significant understeer that took us outside of where the steering wheel was pointed. We suspect that most TSX V6 owners will never take their cars to the limit, but it’s certainly reassuring that there is a margin of error built into the car.
On the fuel economy end of things – sure to come up when you consider the large difference in displacement between the standard 4 cylinder engine and our TSX V6 – we achieved a combined average of 21.8mpg, which is slightly above the EPA estimate 21mpg. When we took our lead foot off the throttle and practiced smooth acceleration with minimal braking , however, we were able to generate 30.8mpg on freeway-only driving. Even a V6 can be quite the gas miser when driven efficiently.
There’s really not much to say. The 2010 TSX V6 handily beat our expectations and solidly convinced us that something good is going on at Acura. When stacked against its primary rivals from Europe, we feel it stands up pretty darn well. Sure, Audi might edge ahead slightly in brand cache, but Acura is honestly darn close. Putting product against product, the TSX V6 represents a pretty convincing argument and we consider it a legitimate contender for your purchase and ownership consideration.
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