2009 Acura TSX – Wheels.ca

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Acura TSX – Wheels.ca
Acura TSX

2009 Acura TSX

Auto journalists often whine that Japanese and some domestic makers never bring the better-handling Japanese or European models to North America. They feel that our fat butts and poor driving skills wouldn#039;t appreciate the firmer ride and sportier performance associated with such models.

KELOWNA, B.C.–Auto journalists often whine that Japanese and some domestic makers never bring the better-handling Japanese or European models to North America. They feel that our fat butts and poor driving skills wouldn#039;t appreciate the firmer ride and sportier performance associated with such models.

One happy exception is the Acura TSX.

The first-generation car, launched in 2002, was essentially the British Accord, tarted up with the mod-cons our market insists upon. Acura Canada reached its 4,000-unit-a-year sales total almost immediately and maintained that throughout most of its life cycle.

The new, second-generation TSX is based on the Accord platform used both in Japan and Europe. Somewhat ironically, perhaps, most of the changes for 2009 are aimed at characteristics typically associated with North American preferences.

But I doubt even Japanese or European enthusiasts ever ask their carmakers for less ride comfort, less room, more road noise or a lousier sound system.

As long as objectives like these can be met without compromising performance or nimbleness, and with the added benefit of improved fuel consumption, well, what#039;s not to like?

The new TSX hits showrooms later this month, Pricing hasn#039;t been released, but the base car will start around $33,000, the Premium around $36,000, and the Tech Package just under $40,000.

Current TSX owners expressed a desire for more unique, emotive and brand-specific exterior styling. I#039;ll leave it to them and other TSX prospects to decide if this objective has been achieved.

For example, every carmaker admires, and is trying to emulate, BMW#039;s ability to maintain styling themes from generation to generation, and across the entire spectrum of the product line, without making them all look the same, and without getting trapped in their history, as has happened to a couple of companies.

Personally, I find the new TSX a handsome, modern-looking car, but I don#039;t know without the badging whether I#039;d identify it as an Acura. For example, much is made of the trapezoidal grille, but has anyone else looked at any new Mazda recently? As for the flat planes and sharp creases, has anyone looked at any new Cadillac recently?

Dimensionally, you could borrow mid-#039;60s domestic car ads to describe the new TSX: longer, lower, wider, by 66, 17 and 78 mm respectively, with wheelbase also up by 35 mm.

This translates into the expected interior dimensional changes: slightly less headroom, slightly more legroom, but significantly greater hip and shoulder room, which gives a more spacious subjective appearance as well. Thinner front windshield pillars augment this further.

The trunk is slightly smaller but more usable, thanks to a wider opening.

A stiffer body structure promises improved chassis and crash performance.

The TSX is the rare and welcome car in this class that offers cloth seats. Sadly, you can only get them on the base model, so you can#039;t get them with most of the other desirable stuff like SatNav.

That said, even the base car is well-equipped, with sunroof, power everything including eight-way driver and four-way front passenger seats (both heated), a 360-watt seven-speaker premium sound system and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity.

The premium package adds the dreaded fog lights (you don#039;t have to turn on the stupid fog lights), the even more dreaded leather upholstery, XM Satellite radio, USB connectivity for your downloaded music, and automatic High-Intensity Discharge headlights.

The Technology package adds the SatNav, which includes a rear back-up camera, voice recognition, and the 10-speaker 415-watt Panasonic surround sound system, designed in conjunction with famed music producer Elliot Scheiner (Fleetwood Mac, among others).

Never mind all the airbags; the two most important features are electronic stability control, which helps prevent crashes in the first place; and the active front seat head restraints, which greatly reduce whiplash resulting from rear-end collisions. I mention these every time a car has them to try and embarrass every carmaker who does not offer them. Shame on them; whiplash is among the most painful, most expensive type of car-related injury, yet it can largely be so easily eliminated.

The engine remains a 2.4 L four-cylinder with Honda#039;s VTEC variable valve lift and cam timing. Most cars in this segment use sixes, or at least turbo fours. Still, performance is more than competitive, with peak torque up by 8 lb.-ft. and the torque curve beefier in the mid range, accomplished by a higher compression ratio, revised valve timing and internal air flow improvements.

Despite the better performance, the engine uses slightly less (premium) fuel, and emits slightly fewer emissions. Dual balance shafts have been added for smoother high-speed running.

A six-speed manual is standard; a five-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle override is optional.

Double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspensions add dual-mode dampers, said to improve ride quality at both low and high speeds.

Assist for the steering is now provided by an electric motor rather than a hydraulic pump, which enables a quicker ratio and more precise control of steering effort. Uses less power too.

The Okanagan Valley apparently is the healthiest place to live in Canada – life expectancy is two years greater than anywhere else. Maybe it#039;s because they have more fun driving as there are some neat roads around here.

Acura TSX

Green Mountain Road, west out of Penticton, is one such. This twisty two-lane blacktop showed that despite its added size, the new TSX hasn#039;t lost the nimbleness of its predecessor.

The steering is light and direct, the car turns in very well for a front-driver, and the engine is eager. It does get a bit noisy as revs rise, but mechanical smoothness is okay.

The manual gearbox shifts well, and clutch take-up is excellent.

Ride quality is on the firm side, but nicely controlled. I#039;ll have to wait and see how it will fare on Toronto#039;s potholed pavement.

We drove an automatic back from lunch. It takes away a bit of the performance edge, but will probably be the choice of the majority of TSX buyers.

Honda is slowly coming around to the rest of the world on shift linkage: the TSX has a straight gate (no more serpentine or staged pattern) and the lever stops by default at the Drive position. Squeeze the shift knob and you can pull it back into Sport.

When Sport is initially selected, the transmission starts in first, and shifts automatically up through to fourth. From that point, you use the steering column paddles to upshift or downshift.

You can also use the paddles while in Drive, should you suddenly need a different ratio. Leave them alone for about five seconds, and the transmission reverts to automatic mode, which makes some sense.

Both test cars had the Elliot Scheiner surround sound system. This is the only way you can get a multi-CD changer in this car, so you pretty much want it.

But I don#039;t think the sound is any better, and for sure you can#039;t crank it all that high. My hearing is still pretty good, and even at the maximum, it was just barely giving Beethoven#039;s Seventh Symphony a fair shake.

The interior quality is decent, but because this car competes with, among others, the Audi A4, it cannot claim top spot.

Oh yes, the sunroof switch is on the ceiling – Honda can learn.

The TSX sits at the entry level of the Acura product continuum.

Compared to the customer who might prefer the larger, more expensive, V6-powered Acura TL sedan, the TSX intender probably won#039;t mind the noisier four-cylinder engine or the firmer ride, given that he/she gets the precise handling and sportier experience in return.

Travel was provided to freelance auto reviewer Jim Kenzie by the automaker. jim@jimkenzie.com

Acura TSX
Acura TSX
Acura TSX
Acura TSX

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