2012 Acura TSX V6-Tech
2012 Acura TSX V6-Tech. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s web site
Acura Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2012 Acura TSX

To the target market for a sport sedan – as in, those buying it for the sport it promises – nailing the basics is arguably the most important thing to focus on. Stick a nice motor under the hood, tune the chassis for entertaining handling and sit the driver in a supportive seat.

Acura got most of that stuff right in the TSX, and I’ll elaborate shortly. First, though, what’s most striking about this car is what it doesn’t offer. To wit: no intelligent keyless access; no one-touch turn signals; no all-wheel drive option; and the optional automatic transmission remains a five-speed.

The TSX arrived in 2004 as a dressed-up version of the Honda Accord sold in Europe and other overseas markets. This is a much smaller car than the Accord that Honda builds for North America, being sized and priced to compete with a fleet of sport sedans that includes the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Infiniti G and Cadillac CTS. A redesigned, second-generation TSX came in 2009, and continued to make do with naught but a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine for horsepower until the addition of a 3.5-litre V6 option in 2010.

2012 Acura TSX V6-Tech
2012 Acura TSX V6-Tech
2012 Acura TSX V6-Tech. Click image to enlarge

Here we are in 2012, with another drive of a car that shows, in some ways, that Honda knows exactly how to build a good sport sedan, and in others, seems totally clueless.

That Honda waited until 2010 to offer a V6 option in this car is a head-shaker, considering the company it runs with. This engine, the same one used across the Honda and Acura ranges, is a good one. It runs smoothly no matter how much of its 280 hp and 252 lb.-ft. of torque it’s being asked to deliver, and provides a decent soundtrack when working hard. But it always seemed to me that what this car really wanted was the peaky turbocharged four-cylinder that wound up in the little RDX crossover, a motor that would have turned the TSX into a more playful car; instead, the V6 makes it feel just a little too grown up.

Contributing to that grown-up notion is the five-speed automatic transmission that comes bundled with the V6. This isn’t the smoothest gearbox in the world, but the small amount of “shift shock” that accompanies gear changes provides some mechanical interest, especially when the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles are used for manual control. I’m of the opinion that there is such a thing as too many gears (BMW’s eight-speed works well, but with that many ratios, it seems like it’s always shifting), so while this Honda five-speed is one, two or three gears behind the times (depending on what it’s being compared to; I think a six-speed automatic is ideal in most cars), it’s well-matched to the engine, whose torque helps offset the large gaps between the ratios.

Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency estimates the TSX’s fuel consumption at 10.7 L/100 km (city) and 7.0 L/100 km (highway) when powered by the V6 (a four-cylinder/automatic version is the most efficient, at 9.3/6.2 L/100 km). My tester averaged 10.5 L/100 km in city driving that included a handful of crosstown freeway jaunts. That result is notable, too, as my right foot got along well with the deeper reaches of this car’s gas pedal.

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