TSX Sport Wagon
The 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon combines what’s best about sporty sedans and small SUVs.
By Aaron Gold
The Big Picture
As a guy writing for a woman’s publication, the 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon puts me in an awkward position. I love wagons; they offer the space of an SUV with the gas mileage and driving characteristics of a car, and I frequently recommend them to my readers. This horrifies my mother, who fought for the ERA and has lumps on her head from hitting the glass ceiling. She sees the wagon as a sign of oppression, a throwback to the days of “Show her you love her — bring home a new O-Cel-O mop!” I tried telling her that times have changed, that you can be a modern woman and stay home with your kids, or wear a skirt to work, or drive a station wagon. She called me a misogynist and hung up on me.
An Inside Job
The TSX Sport Wagon was actually designed for the Honda brand (Acura is a division of Honda); in Europe and Japan, it’s labeled as a Honda Accord. Those Honda roots show in the interior, which isn’t as cushy as most luxury cars. There are a lot of buttons on the dash, which annoys me — I like simple controls so I don’t have to take my eyes off the road. But the seats are comfortable and road visibility is very good. The driver seat memory function is a marriage-saver — whenever I drive my wife’s car, she complains that it takes her forever to get the seat and the mirrors the way she likes them. With the TSX, I can put everything back with a single button.
You can’t get much more family-friendly than a wagon. The back seat isn’t the biggest, but it’ll work for most kids from maternity ward to graduation day, although the lower ride height means more bending to get babies into car seats than an SUV or a minivan. The sousaphone-sized cargo area offers 25.8 cubic feet of space, as much as a small SUV, and is lined with thick, hard-wearing carpets. Clearly, whoever designed this car had kids!
The 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, and stability control, but there are no over-the-top safety extras such as knee airbags, and a backup camera is only available as a part of a $3,650 option package. In this day and age, having just six airbags seems to put the TSX at the lowest number required by the Feds, and Acura’s competitors offer a greater number of airbags. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the TSX a Top Safety Pick Award, reflecting its excellent scores in front, side, rear, and roof-crush impacts. But where the TSX Sport Wagon excels is its ability to avoid an accident — it’s light and agile, so it can stop and turn quicker than a comparably sized SUV.
The 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon is powered by a 2.4 liter engine that puts out 201 horsepower, which is a lot for a 4-cylinder engine. The Acura TSX is not as quick as a car with a more powerful V6 engine, although I thought it was fine for short freeway onramps. The upside of the 4-cylinder is the gas mileage: 22 MPG city and 30 MPG highway, which is quite a bit better than SUVs with comparable interior space. If you desire a more sprightly ride, this isn’t your vehicle.
To me, the high point was the handling. What a nice change from an SUV! The TSX Sport Wagon is light and nimble and a lot of fun in the curves; it brought me back to my college days and the Honda Civic my then-girlfriend drove. But the trade-off is the ride, which is a bit hard and noisy for a luxury car.
Gizmos And Tech
Acura bills itself as a high-tech brand, although most of the gizmos seem to be designed for guys like me to brag about. Take the air conditioner, which uses GPS to track the position of the sun and adjust the temperature on the warmer side of the car. I thought that was the coolest thing ever, but my wife said “Can’t we just change the temperature ourselves?” She was much more enamored with the heated seats, which come standard.
We both liked the navigation system’s real-time traffic and weather, but neither of us were particularly fond of the nav system itself, which is fussy to program. And we had a lot of trouble with the Bluetooth speakerphone. It worked fine with my phone, but my wife’s wouldn’t stay connected. Acura has a web site with a list of compatible phones, but it seems silly to have to buy a new phone to go with a new car.
I really like the Acura TSX Sport Wagon, enough that I have given serious thought to buying one. It has the room my wife and I need with the sporty road manners we like, and it bolsters my argument that station wagons make the best family cars. Forgive me, Mom.
Drives enough like a sports car to let me forget about the two kids in the back seat, at least until they start throwing up
Styling. Lesson learned: When approaching the TSX Sport Wagon with your wife, don't say
The dashboard is too busy. Anything with this many buttons should come with a twelve-year-old to program it for you