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#7

in 2009 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $14,454 - $14,759
Original MSRP: $29,160 - $32,260
MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
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2009 Acura TSX Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Although the new steering system provides little road feel and the four-cylinder engine provides little excitement, auto writers give favorable reviews to the 2009 Acura TSX's overall performance.

  • "How much 'fun to drive' quotient can you dial into a 3,419-pound front-drive sedan powered by a 201-horsepower 4-cylinder gasoline engine? … The TSX, which is now the entry-level model in Acura's lineup, does the best it can given those engineering parameters." -- The New York Times
  • "We could hardly ask for a better balance of fun and comfort from a sporty, front-wheel drive, entry-premium sedan than that delivered by the 2009 Acura TSX. It encourages a quicker pace when the road begins to meander, and adequate absorbs surface irregularities and external roars when cruising." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Zippy and with a nod to the environment, the TSX impresses the boss and pleases the performance soul without bragging or brawling." -- MSN
  • "Does it drive well? Absolutely. …But is the TSX interesting, compelling or unforgettable in some emotional way? Will it wake you out of a dead sleep with asphalt-gnawing desire? Will you lie and embezzle or pimp out your dog to get one? Probably not." -- Los Angeles Times

Acceleration and Power

With a four-cylinder that makes 201 horsepower, the 2009 Acura TSX doesn't have oomph reviewers are looking for. The most praise is reserved for the six-speed manual transmission, but reviews also like the automatic transmission for its fuel economy.

For the 2010 model year, Acura introduced a new trim of the TSX with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque.

According to the EPA, the 2009 TSX should achieve 21/30 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission, and 20/28 mpg with the manual.

  • "The car is certainly quick -- around 6.5 seconds to 60 mph -- but you really have to wring the tachometer to get it moving. ... Fine for a Civic, OK for an Accord, but lacking in that gratifying quality of effortlessness that luxury cars have, even entry-luxury cars." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "The 5-speed automatic transmission isn't aggressively geared or tuned for any type of racing, but a downshift using the wheel-mounted paddles yields reasonable oomph to pass a slowly-climbing VW loaded with surf gear." -- Jalopnik
  • "Its 2.4-liter i-VTEC-modulated inline-4 receives only Oliver Twist-like bumps to its power and torque curves, just enough to offset its 140-lb. weight gain over the last-generation car. … The TSX's acceleration is adequate, yet your throttle foot (assuming for a moment that it could talk) might say, "Please sir, I want some more." -- Road and Track
  • "We can report that the pleasure of controlling the four-cylinder engine with a manual transmission is by far the best part of driving the 2009 Acura TSX. ... Heel-and-toe downshifts are rewarding, and the engine makes good sounds when you get it right. You can't pretend it's not fun, and before long your passenger wants to drive, too." -- Edmunds

Handling

Previous TSX models have received kudos for crisp handling, and this 2009 version carries on the tradition. Acura modified the chassis and stretched the wheelbase of the new TSX, and reviewers commend the ride as more stable.

  • "The wider stance as well as new dual-mode dampers provide a comfortable ride at pretty much any speed, but also allow for a quick and direct turn-in." -- Autoblog
  • "The longer wheelbase adds stability to the firm, well-dampened ride. The TSX handles corners with little body lean; it remains well planted in high-speed maneuvers." -- The New York Times
  • "Handling does not take a back seat to ride comfort in the 2009 TSX. This premium compact carves corners with grippy assurance and little body lean." -- Consumer Guide

Steering

Several comment on improvement in the TSX's electric rack and pinion steering, but not enough of it. Test drivers notice that the front-wheel drive vehicle still has the tendency for understeer.

  • "A new electric-assist steering, while one of the best examples of the breed, doesn't quite offer the road feel of the outgoing model's hydraulic system." -- Road and Track
  • "The steering, if you're hanging in there with the movie analogy, is an unwelcome facet on the order of Dom DeLuise in Smokey and the Bandit II or Jar Jar Binks. The mount for the steering rack is stiffer, the ratio has been quickened, and the motor for the electronic power assist is larger." -- Car and Driver

Braking

Most test drivers have confidence in the 2009 Acura TSX's brakes, but a vocal minority expresses concern.

  • "The TSX's four-wheel disc brakes have no trouble slowing the car, and the response from the brake pedal is very linear. It hardly requires any effort to apply the brakes; all it takes is a light touch of your foot. Even when braking hard you don't have to apply much pressure to the pedal." -- Cars.com
  • "On a good day in normal traffic, there's no problem, and the pedal feel is solid and linear. But when we apply full braking power at our instrumented testing facility, it gets ugly. … The TSX's brakes fade dramatically after just one stop, and there's smoke coming off the rotors by the third run. The car isn't happy. We're not happy." -- Edmunds
  • "Braking action is drama-free, but some test cars suffered from slightly dull pedal action." -- Consumer Guide