Along with hard-drive storage and iPod connectivity, the stereo also offers satellite radio and Bluetooth audio streaming. But the two former audio sources offer the best indexing and voice command capabilities. The car's disc player also reads DVDs.
The TSX Sport Wagon, with the tech package, also gets Acura's ELS audio system, which includes a 360-watt amp and eight speakers. This system produces a rich sound and is capable of delicate high frequencies, such as acoustic guitar strumming or satisfying bass. Cranking up both the subwoofer and the bass levels delivers chest-thumping sound.
Eager to run
The engine, a 2.4-liter four cylinder, is less cause for chest thumping. With 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, it doesn't offer much in the way of bragging rights, but from behind the wheel it feels surprisingly eager. Put the five-speed automatic transmission in Drive, and it feels like the brakes can barely hold the TSX Sport Wagon back.
Beyond Acura's i-VTEC variable valve timing, this is not a technically advanced engine. There is no direct injection or turbocharger, but it offers reasonably efficient operation and no-fuss acceleration. The EPA rates it at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, not exactly reaching for the stars but within most drivers' expectations.
Acura has just begun to increase gears in its other models, but the TSX Sport Wagon lags behind the pack with its five-speed automatic. With the engine running above 3,000rpm at freeway speeds, the car could use a sixth gear. This transmission features Sport and Manual modes along with standard Drive mode. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel make for easy manual shifting.
In keeping with its model name, the TSX Sport Wagon does drive with sporty flair, but it falls short of hard-core performance. Casual drivers will enjoy its acceleration and the transmission's readiness to downshift under braking while in Sport mode. Manual shifting turns in satisfying gear changes that are quick enough to keep the power up while cornering.
As one advanced piece of performance tech, the TSX Sport Wagon uses an electric-power-steering unit, making for uninterrupted power assist no matter at what speed the engine is running. Acura tunes this steering unit exceptionally well, giving it plenty of road feel and tight response.
The suspension is tuned to a compromise between comfort and sporting capability. Never soft, the suspension damps out bumps reasonably and never suffers from oscillation. When putting the TSX Sport Wagon into a corner at speed, the suspension allows a limited amount of body roll.
The 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon's cabin tech, with its hard-drive-based navigation, advanced voice command, and ELS audio system, earns the car an excellent score for electronics. The car offers a full range of audio sources and external data including traffic and weather.
The performance tech is mostly average, although we do like how well the engine and suspension are tuned. The car earns extra credit for just being easily drivable. But its electronic-power-steering unit is the most advanced feature when it comes to driving gear.
The electronics interface is very refreshing, especially after having recently tested the Acura RL. Acura still overdoes it with the buttons. The exterior aesthetics are quite nice, although the car falls short of stunning. Its wagon body style is what really earns it design points.
|Model||2011 Acura TSX|
|Powertrain||2.4-liter four cylinder, five-speed automatic transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||22 mpg city/30 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||24.1 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard-drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single CD/DVD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB drive, satellite radio|
|Audio system||ELS 360-watt eight speaker audio system|
|Driver aids||Rearview camera|
|Price as tested||$35,470|