2003 Acura RSX Review & Ratings | Automotive.com

19 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2003 Acura RSX Review & Ratings | Automotive.com
Acura RSX

2003 Acura RSX Review

Dual-purpose hatchback that is perfect for everyday driving or weekend cruising.

Reviewed by Automotive on 1/28/2003

The 2003 Acura RSX hatchback is a refined and comfortable car that combines everyday drivability with weekend warrior fun. It may not be a class leader for power, handling, or luxury, but it offers a nice combination of those attributes, along with a fine level of safety. The Type-S trim is the top-performer in the line-up, and offers even more driving excitement. This trim is considered a race-bred hatchback, thereby creating a nice combination of utility and driving pleasure.

It’s a good choice for hatchback drivers who want a little fun along with a higher level of safety.

The Range

Body Styles: hatchback

Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder

What’s New

The 2003 Acura RSX now comes in Redondo Red Pearl. Also new is a dealer-installed option group called the Factory Performance package, which adds high-performance suspension components, better brakes, larger wheels and tires, and a body kit.


The 2003 Acura RSX hatchback is available in two trims: the base level and the performance-oriented Type-S. The base model comes standard with a fair amount of gear, including 16-inch alloy wheels, intermittent wipers, rear wipers, a rear defroster, a power glass sunroof, power door mirrors, and four-wheel independent suspension. Stand-alone options available for both trims include a spoiler, front fog lights, and an engine block heater.

The 2003 Acura RSX has a curvy profile with a grille that resembles other Acura models. Large multi-reflector headlights and a beveled chin spoiler finish out the front-end. With chiseled accent lines, the body features short rear and front overhangs.

Compound-curved window glass in conjunction with thin A- and B-pillars improves visibility. It has a 101.2-inch wheelbase and is 172.2 inches long overall.

Acura RSX


The 2003 Acura RSX’s cabin is filled with standard features. The base trim starts off with cloth seats, power door locks, power windows, speed-sensing power steering, speed control with steering-wheel-mounted controls, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, interior air filtration, climate control, alloy and leather trim on the shift knob, leather trim on the steering wheel, and a six-speaker audio system with AM/FM and an in-dash CD-player.

The Type-S trim includes a cassette player, a premium Bose audio system, and leather upholstery. Furthermore, the interior is comfortable and sensibly designed. It seats only four passengers, and offers 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

The headroom and legroom are sufficient and, while the interior isn’t posh, there is some luxury to be had, especially in the Type-S. Build and material quality is solid, but unfortunately includes cheap-looking interior components.

Performance Handling

The 2003 Acura RSX base model is powered by a 2.0-liter, 16-valve, i-VTEC, four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower (hp) and 141 lb-ft of torque. The Type-S gets a stronger four-cylinder that produces 200 hp and 142 lb-ft of torque and requires premium fuel. The base model uses a standard five-speed manual transmission.

An optional five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic unit incorporates Grade Logic Control, a feature that holds the proper gear and decreases unnecessary shifting on steep grades. A close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox is the only available gearbox for the Type-S coupe. It is front-wheel drive only.

Performance is enough to handle traffic situations and offer a bit of driving fun. Low-end torque is lacking, so performance off the line suffers some.

The handling in the 2003 Acura RSX is impressive, even on the base model. Steering is tight, precise, and well weighted. It uses variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering, the body lean is minimal, and the grip is assured.

Be aware of torque steer in the Type-S – it has some power and front-wheel drive, but braking is good. The firm and athletic ride is never harsh or punishing. While the engine sounds refined, there is wind noise at highway speeds, and constant tire noise.

These sounds can make it a bit trying for long trips.


The 2003 Acura RSX has standard safety equipment that includes all-disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, dual front-impact airbags, side-impact airbags, occupant-position and height sensors for the front passenger, front seat belt pre-tensioners, and a LATCH system for child-safety seats. In NHTSA testing, it earns five-out-of-five stars for driver and passenger protection and four stars in all other tests. The IIHS has not conducted crash safety tests on this vehicle.

Acura RSX
Acura RSX
Acura RSX
Acura RSX
Acura RSX
Acura RSX
Acura RSX
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