The world of luxury automobile ownership often starts with a gateway vehicle. A car which gets to sit with the more upscale members of the family for photographs but is then quickly relegated out of the garage, into the driveway. A proper entry-level luxury sedan should serve to entice a younger generation with hints of what could be in store down the road. As a car owner grows and becomes more successful, he or she will want their automobile to be a reflection of that growth.
The vehicle pictured above is the 2010 Acura TSX V6 in top-trim Tech Package guise. It is the gate-keeper for the Acura family, and it’s welcoming me in with open arms and a fold-out key fob.
The 2010 Acura TSX is a five-passenger, entry-level luxury sedan available in two flavors; 201 hp 2.4L four-cylinder Vanilla or 280 hp 3.5L V6 Rocky Road. Vanilla is fun every now and then, especially since Acura offers a close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox. However, Rocky Road wins me over and I am driving the V6 equipped TSX. Unfortunately, it is only available with front-wheel drive and Acura’s 5-speed automatic transmission. Thankfully, the steering wheel sports a set of paddles so I can maintain some sense of dominant master while behind the wheel. The engine has a pleasant exhaust note which is not too quiet or too loud. The paddle-shifters work surprisingly well with a quicker response time than I assumed they would have. This is a VTEC car, so keep the revs high and you will be rewarded. However, it pulls surprisingly well for an engine with the full 254 lb-ft of torque brunt arriving at 5,000 rpm. I wouldn’t take this car to an autocross event yet I could take on a curvy stretch of road with vigor and not get that queasy sensation. You know the one…when you overcook a corner and may introduce fender to guardrail? That didn’t happen. The front double-wishbone and rear multi-link (as well as the front shock tower brace) worth together to maintain a level of stiffness that makes for a ride with the right balance between sport and comfort.
The TSX is already fitted with a slew of great standard features such as power-adjustable heated seats, heated side mirrors, bluetooth, steering-wheel mounted controls for the audio and phone, and a driver recognition memory system. The Tech package (which is also available on the four-cylinder TSX) adds voice-recognition, a rearview camera, real-time traffic and weather monitoring, a GPS-linked dual-zone climate control system, and a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system which sounded crisp even at high volume. If this is the entry-level vehicle, then the rest of the fleet must come with HD flat screens and a back-seat beer, wine, and spirits dispersal system. To put it quite simply, the Acura TSX is loaded with stuff. The control system for all that stuff is via a knob in the center stack and the various buttons that surround it. It looks out of place in the otherwise stylish interior and takes some getting used to. I expected the learning curve to be shorter but I kept pushing wrong buttons or trying to use the knob when it wasn’t an option for a particular screen. The tech works quite well in the TSX, I just wish the interface was a little more clear. It would be nice if you could purchase a stripper version of the V6 with a manual trans but the days of ordering a car the way you want it are dead for the average consumer.
The tech is nice but the real star on the inside of the Acura TSX is … well, the interior. Prior to the TSX, I spent a week with the Buick LaCrosse. A car which I thoroughly enjoyed and found quite comfortable – until I sat in the TSX. I am still puzzled as to why this car was so comfortable. The first time I slipped into the front seat, I could feel myself making a weird face. Every part of that seat supports the back perfectly. It felt bespoke. Back seat legroom was acceptable for a car this size, but I did’t care – that front seat was magical.
The 2010 Acura TSX Tech V6 is all Acura on the outside. However, it takes the family cues and presents them in a more palatable, softer manner. The silver-colored grille nose is present but it flows better than the one found on the polarizing beak on the TL. The TSX may be the best looking vehicle in the current Acura lineup. It has a nice aggressive shoulder line, a stylish lower-front fascia, and a subtle rise at the rear into the decklid. The design of the TSX is that of an upscale Honda Accord, which is perfect for what the car is. It is the vehicle that bridges the gap and it does so with familiar style from both Honda and Acura.
The base four-cylinder TSX comes well-equipped with a starting price of $29,310. The base price of the V6 is $34,850 and the V6 equipped with the Tech package you see here will ring the register at $38,760. This is about $1,000 less than a FrontTrak Audi A4 and nearly $5,000 less than a comparably equipped Lexus IS 350. It beats up on the A4 but it is down on power compared to the RWD IS 350, however that IS 350 has a far less interesting paddle-shiftable automatic gearbox. If you throw the BMW 328i into the competition mix, you save even more money, make 50 more horses and 54 more lb-ft of torque, have more interior space, and have more standard amenities. The TSX V6 is the better buy when compared to most of the competition…why then do I get the sense this car is being overlooked?
I think the reason comes in the way the market is receiving its automotive information. Enthusiasts get their modern car know-how from various points across this industry. There are multiple sources on and offline which provide a wealth of knowledge. This information is then filtered to the friends, family, and co-workers of enthusiasts around the country. The reason a car like the TSX may get overlooked is that there is this constant feeling I get from many automotive journalists regarding their “attack”, so to speak, on the press cars in their driveways and garages.
I am sure I could have pushed the TSX harder but what’s the point? It is not a true sports sedan but an enjoyable starting point to more well-appointed automotive siblings. You can drive it and have fun but I never felt a desire to reach the limits of my skill with this car. Those skills would probably run out more quickly than I would like and the average person buying this car doesn’t own a race helmet anyway. So what would be the point?
I have been reading a glut of reviews lately that describe the thrill of pushing vehicles to 10 or even the illustrious 11 tenths. I don’t think you can look at every car in the same manner yet I believe there are writers out there which do. If this review were about a muscle car, then I would do a few burnouts and cruise around while enjoying the sweet grumble of the exhaust. If I had the keys to a Nissan GT-R, I would be alternating between curvy roads and the gas station while my wife declares me a missing person. The keys I held during the course of this review belonged to the 2010 Acura TSX V6. It’s everything I thought it would be; a great entry-level luxury sedan with a good level of technological interior features. It possesses a driving characteristic which will keep you happy on a mountain road, your family and friends happy on any other road, yet you know it’s not a sports car. You know what? That’s OK. Not every car is designed to teach the tires a lesson.
My rambling point here is that I tried to review this car they way I would treat it if it were my own. I would occasionally drive it hard and it would respond in a manner where I would be happy with its performance. I would also be more than happy to pick up someones grandmother at the airport and have her enjoy a comfortable ride. If the 2010 Acura TSX V6 is the gate-keeper, as I mentioned at the start, then the automotive enthusiast is the key-master. This is a luxury sedan with nearly 300 hp which gets close to 30 mpg on the highway and is priced and equipped better than its competition. It is up to you, the reader, to let the average consumer know that. If you promise to do that, I will promise to line up a vehicle which makes no sense to the average consumer and we both can enjoy on a different level. The only way vehicles like that get made is when ones like the car here get purchased.