We’ve always applauded Acura‘s decision to stick with a high-revving, high-personality, high-efficiency four-cylinder in the TSX. For 2010, Acura’s smallest sedan gains an optional V-6, but we’re not complaining. So what gives?
Simply put, the market has changed. Once upon a time, twenty percent of TSX buyers opted for a manual transmission. Now, fewer than one in twenty does. The larger and more grown-up second-generation TSX is appealing to a different crowd–and doing so at a very respectable pace despite our disastrous economy–and these buyers are cross-shopping competitors with powerful six-cylinder engines.
Power-hungry buyers can now opt for a TSX with the base TL‘s 3.5-liter V-6. It produces more torque off idle than the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder does at its peak, so keeping up with brisk traffic no longer requires repeated forays to the high end of the tachometer scale. According to Acura, the V-6’s extra 79 hp is sufficient to knock two seconds off the four-cylinder TSX automatic’s nine-second 0-to-60-mph sprint.
Acura maintains that this V-6 model is the sportier version of the TSX, but it’s not. Instead, its added speed and refinement make it more luxurious. To wit, springs and dampers have been retuned to cope with the driveline’s extra 210 pounds, but the result is a more supple–not firmer–ride. There are minimal brake upgrades and no supersupportive seats. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available, and it shifts even more smoothly than when paired with the four-banger. The TSX V-6 will easily light up the front tires off the line, but torque steer is admirably well controlled, and the transmission’s long fourth- and fifth-gear ratios help provide relaxed, quiet cruising and account for the mere 3-mpg penalty in combined fuel economy (EPA ratings are 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway).
In fact, the only drawbacks attributable to the V-6 are a larger turning radius and handling that now falls into the Terminal Understeer category. Oh, and there’s the price. A $5540 premium is a product-planning faux pas, as it bumps the TSX up to within $105 of the larger TL. We’re still not complaining, though, since the four-cylinder version is still around for those who don’t need the extra go. And owners of the previous-generation TL now have another option when it comes time for a new car–the TSX V-6 is similar to their car in size, refinement, and performance. So the engine isn’t the only part of this new TSX taken from the TL; some of the buyers will come from the TL, too.
On Sale: Now
Engine: 3.5L V-6, 280 hp, 254 lb-ft