2010 Acura TSX V6 and TL SH-AWD 6M first drive
Acura dials up drivetrain choices for new TSX and TL
Pebble Beach, Calif. - This year is shaping up to be the year of the ZDX for Acura, Honda's premium brand.
If you haven't already read the previews or seen the ads, Acura's take on a "crossover coupe" is a big deal. Based on the larger MDX, it's the first production Acura designed from scratch using the new Keen Edge design philosophy. And in a lineup of rational sedans and crossovers, it's a niche vehicle that's about "want" instead of "need."
But Acura still wants (and needs) to sell some good old-fashioned sedans. Two of which -- the compact TSX and midsize TL -- receive upgrades to cater to a wider audience.
2010 Acura TSX V6
From its inception, we've always liked the European Honda Accord-based TSX. Despite being a front-driver in a sea of rear and all-wheel-drive entry-level sports sedans (like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Infiniti G37 and Mercedes-Benz C Class,) the TSX offers a nice blend of fun and frugality with its high-revving four-cylinder engine, crisp-shifting manual gearbox, and nimble handling.
Redesigned last year, the second-generation TSX grew a bit in size. And some critics wondered if its 201-hp, 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine was substantial enough to compete with some of the above-mentioned rivals that offer more power and more cylinders. Someone at Acura must have been listening. For 2010 a retuned version of the base six-cylinder engine from the larger TL sedan is now available in the TSX.
You pay for the V6, in more than one way
On sale now, Acura wants $6,800 more for the V6 than a base $32,990 four-cylinder TSX. You're obviously paying for more juice (280 hp and 254 lb.-ft. of torque) and a mandatory five-speed automatic transmission that's otherwise optional in the four-cylinder model. But you also get on top of the TSX's generous amount of standard kit (leather, power front seats, power moonroof, premium seven-speaker sound system) a one-touch ignition key starter system and an updated tachometer with a V6-specific rpm redline range.
Popping for the V6 means you'll also pay more at the gas pumps. The TSX's four is rated at 11.2 L/100 km city, 7.8 L/100 km highway versus 13.0 L/100 km city and 8.7 L/100 km highway for the six.
Except for a discreet V6 badge on its trunklid, bigger wheels and tires, and new front fascia, there's little to distinguish four- and six-cylinder TSXs. Inside you still get a comfortable front cockpit with an excellent driving position, though the centre stack is still festooned with too many buttons. But its interior is very nicely put together and feels like it would stay that well after the lease payments have stopped.
If you're paying more money and getting a bigger, more powerful engine, you would think the TSX V6 would be an obvious improvement over the four-cylinder from the driver's seat. After some time running along the Pacific Ocean here on California's twisty Highway One, though, the definite answer is "yes," and "no."
On the positive side, the less frenetic V6 and autobox combo make the TSX a much nicer highway car than the base model. It's quieter, and having more torque available at lower revs always makes for a more relaxed driving experience. Although most rivals offer at least one more ratio in their automatics, the Acura five-speeder is fairly responsive and smooth in its shifts. However, with more weight hanging over the front wheels (62-38 per cent front-to-rear weight distribution) it's no surprise the TSX V6 understeers more than we remember in the four-cylinder model.
Which type of TSX driver are you?
If you lean towards the sports side of the luxury sports sedan equation, it's hard to argue with the original four-cylinder TSX's recipe. It's much more eager to jump into corners. Plus you have the option of the super-slick six-speed manual gearbox. And did we mention it's less expensive and gets better fuel economy as well?
Oh well. The good news for Acura dealers is they now have some choice to offer customers in the TSX lineup. Which one you pick is solely up to you.
2010 Acura TSX V6
Base price: $39,790
Type of vehicle: FWD compact premium sedan
Engine: 3.5-litre, 24-valve SOHC V6
Power/Torque: 280 hp / 254 lb.-ft.
Transmissions: Five-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (city/hwy) 11.2 / 7.8 L/100 km
Competition: Audi A4 3.2 FSI, BMW 335i, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G37, Lexus IS 350, Mercedes-Benz C 350
Relaxing, quiet highway ride
Excellent build quality.
Extra weight dulls driving experience
More luxury than sports sedan
Questionable value over four-cylinder model
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