If the idea of a sporty, practical, affordable luxury car seems like one big oxymoron, that may be because you have yet to meet the 2013 Acura TSX. In fact, a big part of the compact TSX lineup's appeal is that this one model seems to check so many important boxes.
For starters, the TSX comes standard with quite a few upscale features, including xenon headlights, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Then there's the choice of a fuel-efficient four-cylinder or a more powerful V6 engine. Even the suspension manages to strike a likable balance between a supple ride and solid handling. Wrap it all up in stylish sheet metal outside and add a comfortable, high-quality interior and you have a car with a number of strengths.
These positives are tempered by a couple of shortcomings. Topping the list is the fact that the TSX can't match the serious performance potential of some of its more sporting European competitors. And while the interior is handsome and upscale, it lacks some of the high-end trappings common to luxury-oriented models. Given that, we'd recommend having a look at the admittedly pricier 2013 Audi A4 and 2013 BMW 3 Series, as well as the equally stylish 2013 Volvo S60.
Once you've gained that broader perspective, though, we think most buyers will find the 2013 Acura TSX to be an entry-level luxury car with a lot of good qualities. Even if those qualities do seem like they should be mutually exclusive.
The 2013 Acura TSX is a compact entry-level luxury model that's offered in sedan and Sport Wagon body styles.
Standard equipment for both the TSX sedan and TSX Sport Wagon includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated outside mirrors, a sunroof, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat with memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks. Electronics include Bluetooth and a seven-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input jack and a USB port.
The sedan also can be had with a V6 engine, an upgrade that also brings 18-inch alloy wheels, a firmer suspension and a road-noise-cancelling feature for the audio system. A Special Edition package, offered only on the four-cylinder sedan, bundles a more aggressive-looking front spoiler, a unique rear bumper fascia and side sills and wheel treatments. Inside, the package adds 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 navigation system, voice recognition and a premium 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system. This package on the wagon also includes a power liftgate.
Inside the 2013 Acura TSX you'll find a pleasing design done up in high-quality soft-touch materials. At first the dash seems covered by an indecipherable mass of buttons, but with a little time, using these controls becomes fairly intuitive. The optional navigation system, on the other hand, is user-friendly from the first encounter. The available ELS premium audio system is another option we can heartily recommend.
The sedan's cabin offers a good amount of room, especially compared to competitors like the Lexus IS 250. At just 12.6 cubic feet, the sedan's trunk is on the small side, however. The Sport Wagon's cargo hold is another story entirely, with a generous 61 cubic feet of space.
The 2013 Acura TSX sedan is available with a choice of two engines. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder puts out 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque (172 lb-ft when equipped with the manual transmission), while the 3.5-liter V6 produces 280 hp and 254 lb-ft. The TSX Sport Wagon is available only with the four-cylinder. A five-speed automatic transmission with sport shift paddles is standard on all models, with a six-speed manual available as an option on 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 posted 0-60 times that were 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 TSX sedan with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission are 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 combined; with the manual gearbox those numbers drop to 21/29/24. The wagon achieves 22/30/25, while the V6-powered sedan comes in at 19/28/23.
When it comes to performance, the 2013 Acura TSX is a mixed bag. Acceleration with the four-cylinder engine is merely adequate, though the available six-speed manual gearbox helps make the most of the engine's output. The V6 delivers much more satisfying throttle response, albeit with a noticeable fuel economy penalty. Both the manual and automatic transmissions provide smooth, precise shifts.
Handling is quite good, especially with the sport-tuned suspension that underpins both the Sport Wagon and V6-powered sedan. The ride quality also is comfortable and quiet compared to other sport sedan competitors.
Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Acura TSX includes antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, active front 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 we've tested have braking distances that are a significant 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.
The 2013 Acura TSX is unchanged.