Acura TSX Wagon a Strong Alternative to Big SUVs and Crossovers and Fun, Too

The 2011 Acura TSX Wagon is a strong alternative to big SUVs and crossovers. Plus, it's fun too if one is ready to dip his or her toe into the station wagon buying pool again.
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Station wagons are suddenly hip again (or at least car manufacturers think so). They're a sensible alternative to thirsty crossover and sport utility vehicles. Plus, vehicles like the Acura TSX Wagon are the right size for the nuclear family.

Some companies, like Toyota, are trying to position minivans as the vehicle of choice, even calling the family haulers like the Sienna a "swagger wagon" in the hopes of appealing to younger buyers and latching onto that station wagon vibe.

Yet, the true swagger wagon (and the alpha dog of family haulers) is the Cadillac CTS-V station wagon. It's a racetrack-devouring beast that can still get the kids to daycare and carry the family groceries.

The Acura TSX Wagon for 2011 doesn't have quite the same chops as the CTS-V but it is a station wagon that is going to put a smile on your face. It has all the DNA of the sporty TSX sedan with the added cargo capacity of a station wagon. If you have a family, what's not to like?

The first thing you'll like is the power coming from under the hood. It has a 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter, dual overhead cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine that was simply a delight to drive. Acceleration was crisp. (Anytime my 3-year old says, "Woah" from her car seat, I know a car is quick.)

What would make this wagon a little more fun to drive would be a six-speed manual transmission like that offered in the sedan but Americans don't drive standards (present company excluded). The five-speed automatic that comes with the sport wagon is fine but Acura should consider updating it to a six-speed for better performance and fuel economy.

The fuel economy numbers are decent with an EPA rating of 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. My numbers fell firmly in the 24 mpg range during a week of cold weather but lots of highway driving.

This may be a station wagon, which suggests lots of around-town driving, but where the TSX wagon really shines is the aforementioned highway driving. It's a comfortable highway cruiser that comfortably eats up lots of miles thanks to the bolstered sport seats with perforated leather trim.

Acura claims this wagon can seat five adults comfortably but it's going to be a tight squeeze. Two six-footers sitting back to back would find the TSX Wagon (and its sedan counterpart) uncomfortable.

Something else to consider are car seats. Wagons are rightly aimed at families but you might have trouble getting a snug fit on your car seat if the kids aren't in boosters yet. The rear passenger seat has a bolster to it that made installing a car seat awkward but not impossible. It could prove frustrating if you regularly swap car seats between vehicles (as a lot of families do.)

Our family of four (children ages 6 and 3) lived quite well with the TSX Wagon for the week we had the model loaned to us by Acura. It met all of our space needs and was appropriately luxurious as one would expect. It would be a tight fit, though, for a family with three kids in a combination of car and booster seats.

Like any good station wagon, the TSX wagon offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to cargo space. With the rear seats down, it has 60.5 cubic feet and 25.8 cubic feet with the seats up. The wagon, Acura points out, can stow bulky items like four full-size golf bags (but not four passengers and their golf clubs). The cargo area is slightly more than 69 inches long, which allows for the hauling of longer items.

The TSX wagon has four hidden compartments for out-of-sight storage. A 2.4 cu-ft storage area is located beneath a lift-up hatch within the load floor. Smaller items can be placed in a 0.2 cu-ft storage area (hidden by a removable panel) located in the side panel on the driver side, or in one of two 13-inch long storage areas near the main in-floor storage area.

Pricing is competitive on the Acura TSX Wagon in the near-luxury class. It starts at $30,960 and jumps up to $34,610 with the optional technology package that includes items like a navigation system with voice recognition, a rearview camera that is almost unneeded because of excellent visibility (but you should always have for safety reasons), and AcuraLink with real-time traffic and weather. The system also has Acura's excellent 10-speaker sound system that audiophiles would love.

(For the latest new and used car news, follow me on Twitter at aboutusedcars.)

VITAL STATISTICS

  • Wheelbase: 106.5 inches
  • Length: 189.4 inches
  • Width: 72.4 inches
  • Height: 57.9 inches
  • Curb weight: lbs.
  • Engine: 2.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, four cylinder
  • Horsepower: 201
  • Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
  • EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 22/30
  • Base price: $30,960
  • As-tested price: $34,610
  • Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Audi A3, Volkswagen Passat, Saab 9-3, Volvo V50

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