October 19, 2006

Photo Gallery: 2006 Acura TSX w/Navi

Specifications: 2006 Acura TSX w/Navi

The Guide: 2006 Acura TSX w/Navi

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It’s no secret that Acura builds some terrific cars, and while the engineers at Honda’s upscale division no doubt spend a lot of time making sure the brand’s products look, feel and drive like a high-end car should, we doubt they gave much thought to making sure its TSX sports sedan would be well-suited to, say, camping excursions.

Truth is, though, that many buyers might purchase a car like this as their only vehicle, to be used as a daily driver, grocery getter, family schlepper and, in our case, camping conveyance.

With some trepidation, we began loading coolers, tents and sleeping bags into the TSX’s trunk. We were leery of its cargo carrying abilities because to the naked eye, the trunk looks to be only average in size and the trunk-mounted DVD player that’s part of the optional navigation system is perfectly positioned to be a perfect pain in the ass.

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We were surprised, then, that even with said pain in the posterior placed just so, the TSX’s trunk still swallowed more than half of the stuff we were bringing along for our weekend in the woods. The rest, of course, wound up in the back seat, but the pile didn’t even come up as high as the windows, preserving open sightlines in all directions. That’s better than we can do with many small hatchbacks, which when loaded with our gear, are packed to the rafters, leaving no rearward visibility whatsoever.

With our cargo carrying concerns allayed, we set off for Ontario’s Silver Lake Provincial Park, about 120 kilometres southwest of Ottawa. We quickly discovered that the TSX’s front seats are very comfortable, as we’ve found to be the case in other Honda-built vehicles. In fact, the rest of the interior, both in look and feel, is very similar to what you’ll find in other Hondas and Acuras – this is a company that has made establishing consistency across all of its model lines an art form.

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The back seats are comfortable, though not the most spacious around. There’s more room in the back of an Accord, which isn’t surprising given that it’s the larger car: the TSX’s 2,670 mm wheelbase and 4,660 mm overall length are 80 mm and 194 mm shorter, respectively, than the Accord’s. The TSX is actually sold as the Accord in European markets, where its tidier dimensions are better suited to that continent’s tighter roads.

Speaking of tight, that’s what the TSX’s ride and handling are. The TSX’s suspension toes the line between just right and a touch too firm, but it’s generally good at smoothing out all but the worst of pavement imperfections. In turns, the car responds eagerly and corners can be taken at speed without drama.

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Our test car’s interior was free of squeaks and rattles, and the cabin is made up of Honda’s typically high-grade materials. Fit and finish were good except for a piece of what looked like noise-deadening material that appeared to be trying to escape from between the centre stack and the surrounding dash panel.

The TSX’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine makes 205 horsepower, enough to move this sedan with some verve, but it’s not quite up to the performance snuff of some of its competitors, many of which can be had with 250 to 300 horsepower, albeit often for more money than the $40,000 Acura asks for a TSX with the optional navigation system, which our car had. In fact, the nav system is the only option available, and the package includes voice-activated climate and audio system controls for a $4,100 premium over the price for the base TSX.

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Short gearing makes the most of the TSX’s power in acceleration, and as a result, the car feels quicker than expected. Some of the credit goes to the turbine-smooth engine, which revs eagerly to its 7,000 rpm redline, but that short gearing shows up in highway driving, where 100 km/h in sixth gear has the motor singing happily at just under 3,000 rpm. We’d be happier with a taller top gear, as it would make the TSX a more frugal highway driver. As it stands, the TSX is rated at 10.8 L/100 km (city) and 7.2 L/100 km (highway) with the manual transmission. That’s not terrible in itself, but a four-cylinder Accord, which uses a less-powerful 2.4-litre engine, is rated at 9.1 L/100 km (city) and 6.4 L/100 km (highway). Our TSX averaged just over 10 L/100 km during its week with us.

Certainly, we like the TSX quite a lot, but we still miss that intangible teutonic quality the Germans surely have a patent for. An Infiniti G35 has more power and a larger back seat for a few thousand dollars more, but we’d still have no trouble recommending the TSX for its near-flawless reliability and high value quotient.


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