The Bottom Line
I love station wagons, but I've never really loved the TSX, Acura's smallest and least-expensive sedan. So what happens when the two meet? Will my love for wagons win over my distaste for the TSX? Read on.
- Beautiful styling
- Big, well-shaped cargo bay
- Powertrain provides nice balance of power and economy
- Reasonable prices
- Unrefined ride
- Doesn't feel as luxurious as a premium-brand car should
- New wagon version of Acura's European-engineered TSX
- Price range: $31,820 - $35,470
- Powertrain: 2.4 liter inline 4, 201 hp, 170 lb-ft; 5-speed automatic; front-wheel-drive
- EPA fuel economy estimates: 22 MPG city/30 MPG highway
- Best rivals: Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, Saab 9-3 SportCombi, Audi A4 Avant
Guide Review - 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon
For the most part, Acura has done an excellent job turning the TSX into a station wagon. (No big surprise; the TSX is actually the European version of the Honda Accord -- Acura is a division of Honda -- and Europeans take their wagons seriously.) The TSX Sport Wagon delivers 25.8 cubic feet of cargo space, not far behind the Volvo V50 (27.5) and Saab 9-3 SportCombi (29.4) and well past the Audi A4 Avant (17.3), though it still trails the boxy Volkswagen Jetta (32.8). Spacious it is, but frumpy it ain't; at the risk of sounding crude, the TSX Sport Wagon has a great-looking rear end.
The wide cargo bay (link goes to photo) has a hard floor and thick, durable carpets, along with tie-down hooks and a bit of under-floor storage. There's even an (optional) power-operated tailgate, a nice touch. About the only glaring omission is the lack of a scuff plate to cover the painted rear bumper.
Putting the "sport" in Sport Wagon
Acura has chosen a single powertrain for the TSX: The 201 hp 2.4 liter four-cylinder with a 5-speed automatic. (I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was disappointed that neither the 6-speed stick nor the 280 hp V6 from the TSX sedan made it to the wagon, but Honda only plans to build about 4,000 TSX wagons for 2011, so multiple powertrains didn't make financial sense.) The 2.4/automatic gets decent fuel economy and accelerates strongly, although passing power is marginal, especially with a heavy load.
Handling is quite good; the wagon weighs only 130 lbs more than the sedan, and its springs are slightly stiffer to boost carrying capacity. The result is great grip and minimal body roll accompanied by excellent steering feel. But the ride is nothing to write home about: It's too busy on bumpy roads and the TSX leaps and wallows over big bumps.
Near luxury -- but not near enough
The rest of the TSX Sport Wagon is pretty much the same as the TSX sedan, for better or for worse. Better: Comfortable seats, good visibility, and a quality feel. Worse: Too many buttons on the center stack and a cabin that's not quite up to proper luxury car standards. The trim bits are nice, but the black plastic on the dash looks a bit cheap. I blame the TSX's Euro-Honda roots, although there's no excuse for the cheap-o LCD display in TSXs without navigation. (Scotty, beam me back to 1982!) Overall, the TSX's interior just doesn't have the ambiance of a Lexus or an Infiniti.
That said, the TSX isn't priced like a Lexus or an Infiniti, either: $31,820 gets you heated leather power-adjustable seats with driver's memory, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, HID headlights, even an auto-dimming rear view mirror. That's a lot of stuff for the money. The $3,650 Technology Package adds navigation with real-time traffic and weather (and a big, bright color screen in place of that stupid LCD Speak-N-Spell display), an upgraded stereo with voice-recognition (similar to Ford's SYNC), a rear-view camera and the aforementioned power tailgate.
How the TSX Sport Wagon stacks up
So should you buy a TSX Sport Wagon? That's a tough call. Good looking as it is, the TSX isn't the sexiest wagon out there; that title goes to the Audi A4 Avant, which is fantastic to drive but doesn't carry anywhere near as much cargo as the TSX. It's also a lot more expensive, as is the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, which offers similar amenities and capacity. The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is cheaper and more practical than the TSX; it also has a 5-cylinder engine that copes better with heavy loads. Then again, the VW's build quality can't touch the TSX's. I love the Saab 9-3 SportCombi, which is both capacious, good looking, and fun to drive, but as with the Jetta, the build quality can't match Acura. Buy a TSX Sport Wagon to haul your infant's stroller, and chances are you'll be teaching her to drive in it 16 years later.
As a luxury car the TSX falls down a bit, but as a wagon, it does the job exceptionally well. You know, now that I think about it, maybe this isn't such a tough call. The TSX has its foibles, but most are minor and easily overlooked. If a station wagon is what you need, then the TSX is the one to buy. -- Aaron Gold