Somewhere between sensible and luxurious, the 2012 Acura TSX has found a home. With a sprinkling of sporty athleticism thrown in for good measure, the TSX is the epitome of the multi-talented entry-level luxury car.
Within the Acura TSX lineup, buyers can choose varying degrees of performance and utility. The base models run with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which we've found to be merely adequate. Fortunately, there's also a higher-output 3.5-liter V6 that we prefer in this large sedan. Prospective owners may select the standard sedan or opt for the more utilitarian TSX Sport Wagon, which boasts cargo capabilities that rival a crossover SUV.
Occupying this middle ground between common and special has its drawbacks. While the Acura TSX models are certainly pleasant to drive, they're not as sporty as some other choices, nor are they as opulent as models that make luxury more of a priority. When compared to the established Audi A4 and the segment-leading BMW 3 Series, the TSX's shortcomings become readily apparent, though it's worth noting that these German competitors will end up costing you more. The Volvo S60 might be another possibility given its more expressive Swedish flair.
However, if you find yourself shopping for a car that's both sensible and luxurious, we see no reason why the 2012 Acura TSX shouldn't be at the top of your list.
The 2012 Acura TSX is a compact entry-level luxury sedan available in base, wagon and V6 sedan trim levels. New for 2012 is a Special Edition package that is offered only on the four-cylinder sedan.
The base TSX and TSX Sport Wagon standard equipment list includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated outside mirrors, a sunroof, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an eight-way power driver seat with memory, a four-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 60/40-split-folding rear seatback. Also standard are Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. In addition to more horsepower and displacement, the V6 adds a firmer suspension, 18-inch wheels and a road-noise-cancelling feature for the sound system.
The TSX Special Edition package (base sedan only) adds a more aggressive front spoiler, a new rear bumper fascia and unique side sills and wheel treatments. Within the cabin, upgrades include faux-suede seat inserts, red interior stitching, red cabin illumination, aluminum pedals, bright silver trim elements and a black headliner.
The optional Technology package adds a rearview camera, a hard-drive-based navigation system, voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather forecasting, a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound system with single-CD player, digital music storage and, for the wagon, a power liftgate.
While the 2012 Acura TSX's interior is on par with other entry-level sport sedans as far as design and quality are concerned, there are a few sticking points to take into account. The cockpit has an overabundance of knobs and buttons, which can be daunting at first. With some time and familiarity, though, most operations can become intuitive, thanks to a logical layout of controls. The optional navigation system, on the other hand, is fairly easy to use from the get-go, with voice commands, real-time traffic, weather forecasting and a large LCD screen with a secondary control knob. We also think the accompanying Acura/ELS surround-sound audio is worth the extra cost.
Interior space will likely be more than adequate for most needs, offering considerably more room than the competing Lexus IS 250. The 12.6-cubic-foot trunk capacity is on the small side for the sedan, while the Sport Wagon's 61-cubic-foot capacity is one of the most accommodating in this class.
The 2012 Acura TSX is available with a choice of two engines. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque (172 lb-ft when equipped with the manual transmission), while the 3.5-liter V6 generates 280 hp and 254 lb-ft (sedan only). A five-speed automatic transmission with sport shift paddles is standard on all models, although a six-speed manual is available for the four-cylinder sedan only.
In Edmunds testing, a manual four-cylinder TSX sedan loped to 60 mph from a standstill in an unremarkable 7.7 seconds. The automatic sedan and Sport Wagon both crossed the lights about a second slower. The V6, on the other hand, posted a competitive 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the four-cylinder automatic TSX sedan are 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 combined; the manual version drops to 21/29/24. The wagon achieves 22/30/25, while the V6 comes in at 19/28/23.
The 2012 Acura TSX rides calmly and quietly at highway speeds. Power from the four-cylinder engine is adequate, though compared to other entry-level luxury cars, it leaves the TSX with a somewhat uninspired driving character. The V6 and Sport Wagon are more spirited thanks to their sport-tuned suspensions, and -- in the case of the V6 -- gutsier acceleration. Both transmissions work well; the manual is easy to work thanks to a short-travel clutch and linear throttle tip-in, while the automatic provides pleasantly smooth shifts.
Standard safety equipment on the 2012 TSX includes antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control, active head restraints, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, both the four- and six-cylinder versions of the TSX stopped from 60 mph in 133 feet; comparable sport sedans that we've tested have braking distances that are 10-15 feet shorter. The Sport Wagon came to a halt in 127 feet.
In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the TSX earned a top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests. In government testing, the TSX sedan and wagon were both awarded a top score of five stars for rollover protection.
The 2012 Acura TSX sedan gets a new Special Edition package with sporty styling touches. The TSX Sport Wagon receives additional cargo-area storage space courtesy of a compact tire repair kit.