2006 Acura TSX
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The compact 2006 TSX sports/luxury sedan from Honda's upscale Acura division seemingly provides more of everything, with revised styling, additional power and new features.
There's nothing "entry level" about the TSX convenience, luxury and safety equipment list. It includes leather upholstery, power heated front seats and mirrors, power sunroof, automatic climate control, the usual power accessories and a premium sound system with a new auxiliary jack for playing MP3 and other music devices.
Safety items include anti-lock disc brakes with a new electronically controlled Brake Assist feature for surer sudden stops. There's also a vehicle stability system, front-seat side airbags and head-protecting side-curtain airbags.
The only option is a navigation system with voice recognition. It's been enhanced with expanded memory and a faster processor to provide quicker start-up and route search times, more points of interest and additional features, including access to the Zagat Survey Restaurant Guide.
The MSRP for the TSX starts at under $28,000 for the 5-speed automatic and 6-speed with manual transmission. With the navigation system, it is $2,000 more.
Up front is a new bumper, a redesigned grille and bumper-integrated fog lights. The rear bumper and taillights have been restyled to provide a more aggressive appearance.
The front-wheel-drive TSX hasn't been around all that long, but has become Acura's second bestseller here, behind the larger TL sports/luxury sedan. It fits between the less practical front-wheel-drive 2-door RSX coupe and midsize TL. At the top is Acura's flagship RL sedan.
An early 2004 model, the TSX arrived to America as a shorter, narrower version of the Honda Accord sold in Europe and was given more power and equipment for the U.S. market. Major competitors include the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series.
The biggest advantage of the TL over the TSX is its 3.2-liter 258-horsepower V6. The TSX has a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which has a horsepower increase from 200 to 205 for 2006.
Otherwise, both cars look pretty much alike and have the same wealth of standard equipment.
Lots of Shifting
An available 5-speed automatic transmission stifles performance a little, but is responsive and allows brisk acceleration. Still, it seems out of place in the sporty TSX, despite a manual shift feature.
Gasoline may top $3 per gallon again, so the TSX 4-cylinder engine should be comforting to owners of the car. After all, four cylinders usually translate to better fuel economy. The TSX provides an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 30 on highways with the manual transmission. Figures with the automatic are even better, at 22 city and 31 highway.
Helping agility are low-profile 50-series tires on 17-inch wheels. The ride is firm, but not harsh, and stopping distances are short.
Fairly Roomy Interior
However, the short rear seat cushion needs to provide more thigh support, and rear door openings should be wider for easier entry and exit.
The leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel has been made thicker to provide a sportier feel and has wheel-mounted audio, cruise control and—for 2006—voice recognition and HandsFreeLink switches.
To make a telephone call, drivers use the wheel-mounted HandsFreeLink button, which connects their phone to the Bluetooth-based hands-free phone system.
The backlit gauges are easy to read, and major controls and cupholders are conveniently located. However, speedometer and tachometer markings are set at rather offbeat angles. For instance, the "20 mph" mark is where the "10 mph" mark is on most speedometers.
New Maintenance Reminder
The TSX is aimed at the young and young-at-heart. It combines value, practicality and—very importantly—driving fun.