Review: 2009 Acura TSX
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2013.
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
What to wear when you’re up and coming? If it’s automotive fashion, Acura’s TSX sports sedan is a chic pick. Natty. Lean. Electronically savvy. Zippy and with a nod to the environment, the TSX impresses the boss and pleases the performance soul without bragging or brawling. Acura’s carefully rendered second generation TSX retains all the performance while adding better handling, electronics and sophistication.
Aside from the Technology Package, TSX buyers need to choose between the equally priced manual or optional automatic transmissions — a surprisingly close choice as we’ll see. Another is to run with the standard 17 x 7.5-inch 5-spoke aluminum alloy wheels and P225/50R-17 all-season Michelin Pilot tires, or opt for the 18-inch wheel upgrade.
Don’t worry if the Technology Package is out of reach. Standard audio is a 7-speaker sound system with CD, XM radio, Bluetooth for hands-free connectivity, MP3 and USB music interfaces. HomeLink remote control is also standard, as is a power moonroof, heated leather seating, HID headlights, fog lights, heated side mirrors, plus front, side and curtain airbags. Base TSXs really aren’t.
Under the Hood
That’s no loss, since the 4-cylinder’s sophistication and light weight make a formidable combo. A die-cast aluminum block with iron liners and dual balance shafts is just the beginning. Breathing is via 4-valves per cylinder, optimized by variable valve lift, duration, and intake-cam timing. For 2009 the intake tract has been enlarged and the compression ratio raised to a sporting 11.0:1. The only downside is a premium-fuel requirement.
It’s worth noting the automatic transmission offers paddle shifting and actually nips the manual gearbox in fuel mileage ratings. The EPA says the manual gearbox box scores 20/28 mpg (city/hwy), while the automatic is rated at 21/30. A lower final drive ratio for the manual (4.764 vs. 4.438:1) is the likely culprit.
Increased shoulder room, freshened instrument graphics and a thicker, leather-wrapped steering wheel represent some of the detail improvements, but the major upgrades are in the optional Technology Package’s electronic aids. Three interior colors — Ebony, Taupe and Parchment — are offered.
On the Road
Another improvement is the electrically assisted power steering. It gives intuitive feel and quick response, greatly aided by the inherently light 4-cylinder engine sitting atop the front axle.
As a sports sedan with luxury intentions, the TSX deftly walks a narrow line between handling and a plush ride. New dual-mode shocks seem to do an especially good job soaking up sharp impacts. The latest TSX corners a pinch flatter, with more accurate steering, yet rides at least as well as the earlier-generation TSX.
The new TSX’s underhood personality remains willingly revvy, but is considerably smoother and slightly meatier in the mid-range. The old car’s distinctive jump in power at very high rpm is gone, replaced by a silky tear up to redline. Combined with the chassis’s increased accuracy, the TSX is a thrill to whip through tight turns, yet relaxing on straight stretches.
We sampled both the manual and automatic transmission and couldn’t decide which we enjoyed more. Urban commuters can opt for paddle shifting knowing they aren’t giving up a hint of performance; in fact the automatic feels faster than the manual. Of course, the manual-transmission buyer maximizes the interaction and total control of conventional shifting.
Our final powertrain thought is that the TSX is not really any faster than before — but it didn’t need to be. It is more refined, however, and now gets up to 2 mpg better mileage.
Right for You?
Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson’s credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundreds of freelance articles.
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