I still don't understand why Acura has decided to completely vacate the niche it once served so well with the Integra and later on, the RSX and TSX in favor of a half-hearted assault on mainstream luxury sedans.
As Joe Lorio noted, there's nothing overtly wrong with the TSX V-6 - it's plenty good-looking, comfortable, and pleasant to drive. Acceleration is suitably swift and nearly devoid of torque steer. The 3.5-liter V-6 is muted in normal driving, and emits a pleasing, high-tech burble when pushed. What's missing, compared to the old TSX, is that extra bit of sharpness. The TSX used to turn-in better than any front-wheel-drive car had business doing, and made you feel like you could place it exactly where you wanted to. This new car has no obvious dynamic flaws, but never does anything to grab the driver's attention.
The interior is likewise a strong, but not exemplary effort. I love the chronograph-like gauges, and the ELMS stereo is good enough to make even satellite radio sound pretty decent. But I'll never understand Acura's obtuse and, at this point, outdated navigation/radio interface. (In fact, several Hondas I've driven recently could stand updates in this area.)
The real issue comes into play when you start thinking of what else you can buy for nearly $40,000. I'd test-drive an Infiniti G37, Cadillac CTS, Audi A4 and BMW 3-series before heading over to an Acura dealer. Every one of those cars offers rear- and/or all-wheel-drive as well as a decidedly more premium image (yes, even the Cadillac). Those more interested in luxury, meanwhile, might do well to check out the Buick LaCrosse or Hyundai Genesis V-6, both of which offer similar power and feature content as the TSX for a bit less money. Whereas the TSX was once in a league of its own at around $30,000, it's now arguably out of its league.
If Acura really wants to play with the big boys, it will at the very least need to give the TSX all-wheel drive. Of course, at that point, there really would be nothing left for the TL to call its own. Meanwhile, as Joe Lorio noted, the market again seems ripe for exactly the sort of reasonably priced, fun, and small luxury cars that Acura used to build.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor