I'm never psyched to see a new car get bigger and heavier than its predecessor, as is the case with the new TSX. In this instance, the bloat seems particularly ridiculous because Acura is moving away from the compact arena just when it appears that premium-brand compacts might finally gain acceptance in America. The outgoing TSX, after all, was the bigger, more grown-up replacement for the Integra, and now the new TSX is bigger still, to the point where it's moved more than halfway to the size of the Acura TL. What's the point of that?
The TL, though, is itself about to be replaced; we drive the new one in July, and perhaps the new TL will reveal itself to be somehow vastly different than the TSX. We'll see.
If you can set aside the car's lineage, though, the TSX is really quite nice. Climb in, and the car makes a great first impression. The lightweight door swings open easily and slams with a solid thud. Leather interiors have become commonplace, but the hides in the TSX really announce their presence with a great smell. The dash is a little over-styled, but the logic of the navigation, the stereo, and the climate controls is impeccable. The seats feel great and there are no evident shortcuts in the cabin materials. I was also pleased to see a manual gear lever poking up from the console (I wonder if the new TL will maintain that option). The big 2.4-liter four in the TSX is so smooth, well-mannered, and potent that it could easily be mistaken for a six. It shrugs off the car's roughly 150-lb weight gain. I drove the TSX in the rain, and torque steer was kept under control only because the traction control system is hyper intrusive. I was mostly on the freeway, where the ride was quiet and far more comfortable than an RDX, but I was disappointed that the steering is a little dead and too quick just off center.
Overall, my first drive impression is that the TSX is still a very pleasant car, if no longer a compact car. Maybe Acura can bring back the Integra to fill the vacuum at the base of its lineup.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor