The TSX is one of Acura’s sportiest models with European suspension tunes keeping the front-drive sedan interesting to drive. It competes with low-spec Lexus IS models, base Audi A4 s, the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 , as well as numerous mid-size cars, like the Hyundai Sonata Turbo .
The big news for the model is that last year’s Special Edition model continues into 2013 packing a deeper front bumper, some tasteful side skirts and a new rear bumper that emphasizes the TSX’s dual exhaust pipes. The SE is one of the cheapest trims and is offered on the four-cylinder models only. Coming with either a six-speed manual or no-cost automatic transmission, the Special Edition also dresses up the interior with unique lighting, red stitching and some great-looking aluminum pedals.
The TSX has been Acura’s cheapest model since its 2003 introduction, but the bottom rung is now occupied by the Civic-based ILX sedan. The TSX is not much larger inside than the ILX but packs more refined driving manners, better handling, and an optional V-6 that dramatically improves performance, but it comes with some drawbacks versus the high-revving four that powers most TSX’s.
Refreshed in 2011, the TSX is looking very familiar and tired in standard trims, making the Special Edition more desirable than ever. The TSX’s primarily German competitors have all moved up a size and price class in the 10 years since the TSX debuted, soon to be replaced by future compact sedans from Audi and BMW .
Click past the jump for the full review of the Acura TSX Special Edition.
The TSX shares nearly all key styling elements with the first-gen car. The 2009 styling revision brought the TSX into the latest Acura styling themes with a large shield grille taking the place of the old nose. Overall, it’s a tasteful design that’s not as affected by the ugly stick as other modern Acura’s.
The proportions show a striking sports profile with a strong swage line starting in the lower front bumper. The shoulder-line graphic extends up the body-sides and though the door handles before finishing just above the taillights. The brightwork on the TSX shares some of the stainless steel style from the TL , and the door handles look sharp and expensive.
The latest TSX, minus Special Edition trim, looks very conservative with the oversized fender flares making the car look cartoon-ish and small-wheeled.
Overall, the style conveys the car’s sporty driving characteristics but is missing numerous exterior features from the latest BMW, Audi and Mercedes sedans, including LED lighting. The new Special Edition package makes some meaningful increases in style that help keep the TSX looking current.
While little more than a body kit, the door sill extensions in particular help add some dynamism to a stale design. They sweep upward toward the rear door area and lighten the car’s appearance. This is a theme also seen on the newest Lexus sedans like the ES350 and the forthcoming IS250 and IS350.
2013 Acura TSX Exterior Dimensions:
|Overall length||185.6 in.|
|Overall width||72.4 in.|
|Overall height||56.7 in.|
|Track||62.2 inches (front) / 62.2 inches (rear)|
|Weight||3,400 pounds (Manual), 3,470 pounds (Automatic), 3,680 (V-6 Automatic)|
2013 Acura TSX Exterior Features:
- Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights (with Auto on/off feature) and integrated Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
- Front bumper-integrated halogen fog lights
- Dual exhaust outlets with polished tips
- Folding side mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators and heaters
- Driver-side rearview mirror Reverse gear tilt down function
- Speed-sensing windshield wipers with mist feature
- Heat-rejecting window glass along with auto-timer defroster for rear glass
- Electronic trunk release (TSX Sedans)
- Sport-minded front spoiler (TSX Sedan SE)
- Sport-minded rear bumper fascia (TSX Sedan SE)
- Sport-minded lower side sills (TSX Sedan SE)
- Sport Edition badge on trunk (TSX Sedan SE)
2013 Acura TSX Dealer-installed Exterior Options:
- 18-inch diameter 10-spoke aluminum wheels with ebony or chrome-look finish
- Wheel locks
- Sport Package with unique front underbody, side sills and rear bumper and 18-inch 10-spoke aluminum wheels (bodywork available painted in factory TSX colors)
- Rear bumper appliqué
- Rear deck lid spoiler (available painted in factory TSX colors) (TSX Sedan only)
- Wing spoiler (available painted in factory TSX colors) (TSX Sedan only)
- Front and rear splash guards (available painted in factory TSX colors)
- Body side protection molding (available painted in factory TSX colors)
- Door edge guards (available painted in factory TSX colors)
- Car cover
- Nose mask
- Door visor
- Moon roof visor
- Back-up sensors
- Engine block heater
- Remote engine starter
The interior of the TSX is well-built and features a great driving position, via low-mounted sports seats and a compact steering wheel. The car is responsive and offers good driver feedback on the road.
It is far less refined or stylish inside versus the brand-new competition from Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. On the Special Edition, the changes are deeper than expected, including:
- Red LED-lit gauges, overhead lighting and foot-well lighting
- Red stitching for seats, wheel and gear knob
- Metal-trimmed steering paddles on the automatic model
- Perforated Lux Suede seat inserts backed in red
- Dark charcoal headliner versus grey as standard
Overall, the change to red LEDs is the most noticeable change, but it’s a subtle red that looks better than it sounds. Another smart change is the dark headliner, long a trademark upgrade on the BMW 3 series versus the M3. It darkens the mood of the cabin as well as resists stains better than the lighter-colored headliners.
Tech-wise, the TSX packs numerous extras as standard for all models, including: leather seats and a moonroof. Most of these are cost options on competing cars.
As the $32,000 price point for the TSX, this might be the nicest cockpit available and it certainly offers better materials than any midsize car from non-luxury manufacturers. While the German cars are unquestionably nicer inside, they are generally at least $5,000 more expensive and come poorly equipped when priced under $40,000.
The TSX offers an upgraded stereo and nav system for $2,100 as part of the Tech package. Versus a $31,000 ILX with Tech package, the TSX is far superior in every refinement criteria, offers far better seats and is quieter on the highway. The nav system is not a touchscreen and is mounted high up on the dash. It’s nicely integrated design-wise, but functionally, the TSX’s central control knob is a pain to use.
2013 Acura TSX Interior Dimensions:
|Headroom (Front/Rear)||37.6/37.0 in.|
|Legroom (Front/Rear)||42.4/42.4 in.|
|Hip Room (Front/Rear)||55.6/54.2 in.|
|Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)||57.8/56.1 in.|
|EPA Passenger Volume||94.5 cu. Ft.|
|EPA Cargo Volume||14 cu. Ft.|
2013 Acura TSX Interior Features:
- Leather-wrapped sport-style steering wheel
- Perforated leather trimmed seating surfaces with contrast-color stitching
- Power-actuated, 8-way adjustable driver seat (with adjustable lumbar support and two-position memory function)
- Power-actuated, 4-way adjustable front passenger seat
- Heated front seats
- Driver and front passenger seat back pockets
- Locking 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with center armrest
- Carpeted floor mats
- Custom seat upholstery with red colored perforated suede inserts (TSX Sedan SE)
- Red stitching for seats and shift knob (TSX Sedan SE)
- Special black colored headliner material (TSX Sedan SE)
- Sport-minded aluminum pedal covers (TSX Sedan SE)
- Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters with bright silver plating (TSX Sedan SE)
- Unique red lighting for instrument cluster, overhead lighting and footwell lighting (TSX Sedan SE)
- Dual-zone automatic climate control system with micron air-filtration
- Bluetooth HandsFreeLink cellular telephone interface
- Premium sound system with AM/FM tuner, in-dash CD/MP3/WMA player, Radio Data System (RDS), speed-sensitive volume control, 7-speakers, 8-inch subwoofer and 360-watt amplifier
- XM Radio with Note function music reminder
- USB port and AUX jack connectivity for external music players
- Steering wheel-mounted illuminated controls (cruise control, audio, telephone, multi-information display and available voice recognition)
- Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
- Power-operated glass moonroof with tilt feature and sliding sunshade
- Auto-up/down driver and passenger power windows, power door mirrors and power door locks
- Remote activated, auto-open side windows and moonroof “quick vent” function
- Remote entry system with Acura personalized settings for driver’s seat
- Leather-covered front center console with sliding arm rest
- Door storage compartments
- Front and rear dual beverage holders
- Overhead storage compartment for sunglasses
- Overhead map lights
- Multi-Information Display (MID)
- Dual trip meters
- Maintenance Minder system
- HomeLink remote control system
- Auto-dimming day/night rearview mirror
- Illuminated driver and passenger vanity mirrors
- Two 12-volt power outlets
- Rear window defogger
- Blue LED interior lighting
- Digital clock
- Active Sound Control system (TSX V-6 Sedan)
2013 Acura TSX Tech Package Features ($2,100):
- Acura/ELS Surround 415-watt (460-watt with Sport Wagon) Premium -* Audio System with 10 speakers, DVD-Audi o, CD, DTS, AM/FM radio, XM -* Satellite Radio with Note function music reminder, 15 GB hard disk drive memory (HDD) media storage system, Song By Voice and Dolby Pro Logic II
- Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition and rearview camera
- AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting
- AcuraLink Real-Time Weather
- AcuraLink Satellite Communication System with Automated Appointments
2013 Acura TSX Dealer-installed Interior Options:
- Sport-style steering wheel with perforated leather
- Sport-style transmission shift knob with perforated leather
- Interior trim kit with Dark Metallic color
- Steering wheel trim with Dark Metallic color
- All-season floor mats
- Trunk tray
- Cargo organizer
- Cargo Net
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
The key difference between the TSX sedans available are the engine and transmission, as the base and Special edition models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 201 horsepower through a five-speed auto or six-speed manual. The V-6 model is powered by the TL ’s base engine: a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque.
The four is actually a far more sophisticated engine, using chains to drive the dual overhead camshafts versus the V-6’s belt-driven SOHC configuration. The four also features i-VTEC and VLC versus the TL V-6’s older VTEC setup.
The V-6 model destroys the four on standard sprint tests by dropping the time from about 8.2 seconds down to 6.2. There is a major weight penalty for the V-6, however, as it adds nearly 300 pounds of flab under the hood. This is certainly noticeable during fast driving, as the TSX V-6 is much more prone to wheel spin and under-steer.
The V-6 also has a wider turning radius than the four or from other competing sedans. Blame this on the tighter engine compartment. As expected, fuel economy also suffers when moving to the V-6, dropping by 3 mpg in both city and highway tests to 19 city and 28 highway.
Both numbers are near the bottom of their class and ripe for improvement via a more modern automatic with more gears.
2013 Acura TSX Mechanical Specs:
|Trim Level||TSX Sedan – Manual||TSX Sedan – Automatic||TSX V-6 Sedan|
|Engine Size and Type||2.4-liter 16-valve I-4 i-VTEC VTC, chain-driven DOHC||2.4-liter 16-valve I-4 i-VTEC VTC, chain-driven DOHC||3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 VTEC, belt-driven SOHC|
|Peak power||201 horsepower||201 horsepower||280 horsepower|
|Peak torque||172 pound-feet||170 pound-feet||254 pound-feet|
|Transmission||6-speed manual||5-speed auto available||5-speed automatic as standard|
|0 to 60-mph||7.8 seconds||8.3 seconds||6.2 seconds|
|Top Speed||138 mph, limited||138 mph, limited||138 mph, limited|
The 2013 Acura TSX is an IIHS Top Safety Pick with Good scores across the board. In the new small-offset frontal collision, there’s still major foot-well intrusion and the door frame is crushed but the crash looks slightly better than Acura TL ’s crash performance in the same test.
The TSX benefits from its roots as a global model also sold in Japan and Europe under the Honda brand. By designing the car to pass all three types of crash tests, the result is a solid performer across the board.
2013 Acura TSX Safety Features:
- Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure
- Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control
- Collapsible steering column
- Driver and front passenger dual-stage, multiple-threshold front air bags, and front side airbags with passenger side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
- Two row side curtain air bags
- Adjustable-height front seat head restraints with active head restraint system
- Driver and front passenger seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load-limiters
- 3-point seatbelts for all five seating positions
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child seat mounting system for outboard rear seats
- Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual location indicators
- Theft-deterrent system with electronic immobilizer
The 2013 TSX line kicks off with at $30,510 and goes up to $39,150 for the V-6 model, which now packs the Tech package as standard equipment.
2013 Acura TSX Sedan Prices:
|TSX Special Edition||5AT||$31,510|
|TSX Special Edition with 6-speed Manual||6MT||$31,510|
|TSX w/ Technology Package||5AT||$33,610|
|TSX V-6 w/ Technology Package||5AT||$39,150|
The TSX is fighting a one-man battle for sports sedan sales in the low-$30,000 price bracket. Based on its overly sporty credentials, the Lexus CT200h hatchback is disqualified, as is the BMW 128i , which comes in coupe form only in the United States.
The upcoming Lexus IS250 and Mercedes-Benz CLA250 are closest in mission to the Acura as sport sedans with a tight cockpit.
The new Lexus IS arrives in dealers this July in its IS250 or IS350 trim. Priced from the mid $30,000 mark, the IS packs fresh looks, a totally redesigned interior and more active safety technology than the Acura. Even the base IS250s are rear-drive and handle better than the Acura, despite similar sprint times.
The Lexus’s back seat is tighter than the Acura, due to the tall transmission tunnel invading the rear foot-well area. The previous IS250 was also offered in all-wheel drive and the new model is expected to offer this a few months after the primary models.
Gallery Lexus IS
The upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is expected in U.S. showrooms late fall 2013 or early 2014 and offers dramatic, CLS-inspired styling in a compact, front-drive package. The CLA250’s turbo 2.0-liter four packing 211 horsepower is the main engine coming across the pond. Overall, the handling focus is sharper than even the sportiest TSX models but rides firmly versus the base Mercedes C300 Sport .
AMG styling packages preview the forthcoming CLA45 AMG model that includes AWD and a 345 horsepower engine.
Gallery Mercedes CLA-Class
The TSX offers a good balance of handling finesse and respectable performance even from the base models. The interior quality of the TSX sets it apart versus both the smaller ILX as well as well-equipped mainstream models. The trade-off for this quality are the tight interior dimensions and lack of the latest tech.
As far as exterior style, the TSX is very stale but still offers a handsome shape and a sporty silhouette.
The future of the TSX is in question since the release of the overlapping ILX model. For sophisticated drivers, there is no question that the TSX is much more fun than the ILX.
If Acura replaces the TSX, its replacement is likely to adopt all the styling details of the ILX , but in a far lower and wider package. This would be the best-case scenario versus making the TSX a smaller clone of the hideous TL or RLX .
The TSX Special Edition model is the best of the current line due to its sharper looks and reasonable price. The no-cost auto transmission helps keep the prices very competitive.
|Driving||B+||Responsive Handling; Great Body Control|
|Performance||C||Manual Transmission Makes TSX Much More Fun But Still Much Slower Than V-6|
|Look||C-||Not As Awkward As TL and RLX; Good Proportions|
|Value||B||The TSX Special Edition Delivers Good Style/Performance/Handling Compromise|
|Overall||C+||Needs Updated Styling Inside and Out To Compete|
- Remains stylish but urgently needs updates versus brand-new competition
- Lack of exterior LEDs is a big fault in this segment
- Good handling in four-cylinder model
- Acceleration only good in V-6 models; manual is not offered on V-6
- The TSX would greatly benefit from a turbocharged four and an eight-speed auto
- Lively platform would be better as a new RSX coupe
- Tiny back seat
Acura Announces Special Edition Model for TSX Sports Sedan
Exterior and Interior Upgrades Make for an Even Sportier TSX
Designed to evoke the fun-to-drive 4-cylinder Acuras of the past, the TSX Special Edition will add even more sportiness to the TSX lineup thanks to numerous exterior and interior upgrades for Acura’s entry-level sedan.
"The Acura TSX has long been known for its high-revving 4-cylinder engines and sporty driving nature," said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales. "With the new Special Edition, the TSX becomes even more youthful and sporty in character, furthering its appeal to performance-minded buyers."
The TSX Special Edition package consists of numerous upgrades to the exterior including a more aggressive front spoiler, a new rear bumper fascia, unique side sills and an exclusive "Special Edition" badge on the trunklid. Finally, the TSX’s 17x7.5-inch, 5-spoke aluminum wheels will feature a polished finish with dark grey background, unique to the Special Edition model.
Inside, the TSX Special Edition makes use of sport-minded appointments including exclusive seating surfaces with perforated black Lux Suede® inserts with red backing. Unique red stitching, used for the seats, steering wheel and the shift knob, combines with red lighting for the instrument cluster gauges, overhead lighting and footwell lighting. Adding more appeal to the driver’s footwell are aluminum pedal covers with a race-inspired look. Rounding out the Special Edition’s interior upgrades is the use of bright silver plating for the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters along with black headliner material (standard TSX have grey headliner material).
The TSX Special Edition package makes use of Acura’s acclaimed K24 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and will be available with either the close-ratio 6-speed manual or Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmissions.