More Expert Reviews
|2008 Acura TSX
|2008 Acura TSX
- Shifter feels like it’s greased with Crisco
- Excellent fuel economy
- High fun-to-drive factor
- Luxurious and high tech interior
- Comes standard with everything but navigation
- Vague clutch pickup in first gear
- Four cylinder is a little lacking in grunt
Verdict: The car that Mr. Miyagi would drive until the end of time.
You wouldn’t know who Mr. Miyagi was without having watched the 1980′s blockbuster The Karate Kid. But to understand the analogy here, you don’t have to. The concept is simple. Mr. Miyagi, an Okinawan martial arts master, teaches a high school boy, Daniel San, the craft of Karate. One of Mr. Miyagi’s most important lessons to Daniel San was that he “musta finda balance”. Physical balance, emotional balance, mental balance – balance absolute. It is central to the mastery of Karate.
Balance is also central to making a successful entry-level luxury sedan, or any car for that matter. It must possess physical balance in its handling characteristics, emotional balance in its mechanical heart – the engine – and mental balance in the way its controls interact with the driver. But achieving the zen of balance in the automotive world is as challenging as it is in martial arts. It is a rare occasion to drive a car so balanced in everything it does that you must nitpick to find any shortcomings. The Acura TSX is exactly this kind of machine.
Honda has perfected the front-wheel-drive, four cylinder drivetrain platform. No matter the car’s purpose; performance, fuel-economy, luxury or otherwise, Honda figures out a way to make it’s venerable platform work. Although other entry-level luxury sedans in the $30,000 range boast a six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel-drive, the TSX doesn’t even flinch. After all, it has found the ever-elusive balance. Based on the European Accord – a smaller version of the domestic namesake – the TSX makes you feel like you’re driving a rear-wheel-drive car. There is virtually no torque steer, running the shifter through its six gears is absolutely addictive and the car’s suspension has poise that far outperforms its all-season tires.
The 2.4 liter, four-cylinder i-VTEC engine with dual overhead cams produces 205 horsepower and 164 lb. ft. of torque. With a 0-60 time just a shade under 7 seconds, the TSX isn’t a pavement brute, which some Americans may find unattractive, but for those seeking the balance, it’s perfect. The engine is also in equilibrium with the environment, producing up to 30 MPG on the highway and 26 MPG in our observed mix of city and highway driving.
But the pinnacle of the TSX driving experience has to be the shifter. The leather-wrapped knob with a brushed aluminum cap and CNC’d shift pattern looks alluring enough, but the second you shift from first to second gear, you’re hooked. Rarely will you ever find a shifter more buttery smooth than the TSX. It doesn’t matter if you can’t drive a manual, if you’re considering the TSX for your next car, learn. You won’t be disappointed, even if it means your daily commute consists of sitting in gridlock.
The only fault we could find in the TSX’s performance was its somewhat vague clutch pickup. Because the car is so smooth and the engine so quiet, it was sometimes hard to know exactly where the clutch engaged. But seriously, we’re really digging for faults here.
Another winning aspect of the TSX is its build quality. From a safety perspective, the NHTSA awarded the TSX with a 5-star frontal and driver’s side impact rating and a 4-star passenger and rollover rating. Anti-lock brakes and Vehicle Stability Assist – which adjusts brake pressure and engine power to prevent over or understeer – both come standard on the TSX.
On the inside, quality can be seen in the brushed metal accents and electroluminescent instrument cluster, felt and smelled in the comfortable leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and heard in the solid, yet not too Germanicly heavy thunk of the doors. We hate to hackney a term, but it’s for a good cause – balance abounds.
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