2013 Acura TSX
2013 Acura TSX
2013 Acura TSX. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

A trip to Mid-Ohio for an IndyCar race gave me a great opportunity to get comfortable with Acura’s cushy TSX. I was expecting a soft, relaxing ride with plenty of interior niceties and not much else. My first reaction to the car was one of complete surprise.

The TSX has one of the best gearboxes around – its short throw, snug gates and positive action make changing gears a joy. The engine is well suited to the gearbox too. Buzzy – like all Honda power plants – but engaging and fun. The engine revs happily and never gets that strung-out, flustered grinding sound that other inline-fours get high in the rev range. The result is a pleasing “brrrrrmmmmmm” through the passenger compartment when cruising – and a more energetic experience when accelerating or maneuvering in the city. Even in low speed situations every bit of acceleration was punctuated by my daughter’s cheerful “Broom broom!”

I think we’ve found the new way to grade engines – if you get a pre-schooler to giggle “broom broom!” with a grin on her face, then you’ve got a four-star engine at least. Especially when you get that reaction from a wee little naturally aspirated inline-four!

This particular four-star engine is a 2.4L, 16-valve, DOHC with i-VTEC that really kicks in (yo) at 4,300 rpm – the point where all 172 lb-ft of torque becomes available. About one broom-Mississippi later 7,000 rpm arrives and all 201 hp is unleashed. This is where the little red area begins on the tach, so you don’t get to play with all 201 horses for long before changing gears. Frankly, I enjoyed the gearbox so much I always changed early – so I really only got to hang out with 175 of those horses.

There is also a 280-hp, 252 lb-ft, 3.5L V6 available but that one is saddled with an automatic transmission – and I would never give up a chance to play with that trick Acura cog box!

2013 Acura TSX2013 Acura TSX2013 Acura TSX
2013 Acura TSX. Click image to enlarge

Before my tales of engine noise in the cabin fool, let me point out this is no flimsily dressed rattle-box. Acura is a luxury brand after all – the faux wood-grain panelling says so. But there is a little bit of noise intrusion. In fact, when we encountered a particularly nasty rainstorm on the way to Mid-Ohio, the maelstrom outside was translated directly into the cockpit – which put that 15 minutes among the most exciting of the entire road trip.  I like storms. But the tires don’t drone, the suspension doesn’t clunk, and nothing on the interior rattles. So, yes, there is noise, but it is all “driving noise” and zero “um, what was that?” noise.

The materials in the interior were excellent five years ago, but nowadays don’t set the TSX apart from any of the top-trim offerings from Hyundai, Mazda and the like. There is the above-mentioned faux wood grain in splashes, including on three separate doors in the console that open to reveal cup holders, the power outlet and a coin storage bin labelled “NOT AN ASHTRAY”. One final door is coated in the same drab plastic as most of the dashboard and opens to reveal a truly cavernous cubby for wallets, keys, phones, makeup etc. There are some small pockets either side of the centre stack for additional at-hand storage – I put a bag of sour key lollies in mine and ate them all on the Peace Bridge.

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