ACURA’S RADIO FLYER
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Published on Sun, May 8, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
The American image of wagons can be traced back to the 1800s, when settlers rode their capacious but sloth-like covered wagons across the purple mountains majesty. Today, the image of station wagons is not all that different. Acura wants to change that. Its TSX Sport Wagon is designed to conjure up a completely different image of a wagon—one that we all remember from our youth. No, even farther back: We’re talking the Radio Flyer. Yes, that four-wheeled staple of Toys R Us that served as a platform for a kid’s wildest imagination. Editor John Fredrik Wright meets Acura’s Radio Flyer. By John-Fredrik Wright Approaching the TSX Sport Wagon, one cannot help but notice the sporty and sleek lines of this…wagon. Station Wagon? Kinda. One should probably focus more on the “Sport” and less on the “Wagon”, because this car really does look sporty, even if it happens to be a station wagon. The headlights swoop around the side of the car, making it look as if it were wearing sunglasses. You know, those sporty sunglasses sporty people wear as they do some extreme, or at least fast-moving, sport. Even looking at the front of the TSX at a stand-still, those lights make it look as if it’s moving. Now, I must confess; I’m a sucker for station wagons, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that my formative years were spent in Sweden, where a large percentage of passenger cars are wagons. Large SUVs and pickups are a very small part of the vehicle fleet. I love the hauling capability without sacrificing the comfort one often enjoys in a sedan. I often don’t see the need for a large SUV (who uses all that ground-clearance anyway?), when there are perfectly great station wagons. So, in my mind, few large cars beat a station wagon, especially if it’s as good looking and handles as nicely as the TSX Sport Wagon. Best of all worlds!
And Sport it is. Slap the transmission into “S”, and either let it keep the gears low and the revs high, or use the paddle shifters to find the gear that best suits your need for speed. Downshift and blast onto freeways, using the on-ramp as your own personal launching pad, and suddenly you’ll forget that this is a station wagon and remember what I said about sportiness. But hold off the accelerator. Take a look around. If you’re lucky, you might notice that you are going way too fast. Don’t blame yourself, the nice and quite ride of the TSX makes for a great excuse (which will most likely not prevent a ticket) when the CHP officer walks up and asks you where the fire is. Contributing to the very comfortable ride is one of the best seats I have ever sat in. It fits my body and back like a glove (or maybe I fit it like a hand?). The seats are actually one of the things I am most impressed with. All in all, this is a great car, but the front seats go above and beyond great. I don’t know if I would even want a massage function (even if two hands protrude and massage my shoulders), that feature would just have distracted my back from the relaxing rest it was getting on all the drives.
To further enhance the drive, the interior is immaculate. The mid-console flows out to the sides, opening up to the screen housing the navigation system as well as the entertainment system. I choose to refer to it as the entertainment system instead of the audio system because it really is entertaining. The Acura ELS Surround-Sound System with ten speakers will knock your socks off (literally, if you take into account the speakers mounted low in the door frame, close to your socks). The “Tech Package”, moreover, comes with the back-up camera, a Hard-disc drive, a GPS-linked Dual-Zone Auto Climate Control, as well as the navigation and above-mentioned audio system. All knobs and dials are easily figured out, and there were no ugly surprises. Very intuitive, in other words, and yet without losing the great looks. I know I'm going to catch some flak for saying this, but I enjoy the fact that I can enter a new destination address into the navigation system while driving. I’m actually willing to go out on a limb and say that the easy-to-use interface of the system allows for easy entering, and you really do not need to look so much at the screen. It’s easy to keep both eyes on the road while scrolling though the letters, and then just catching a glimpse of the screen to make sure you’re selecting the right one. It annoys me when, in many other cars, I have to come to a complete stop, wait a couple of seconds (what seem like an eternity), and then enter as much as I can before the light turns green. Arguably, my driving style changes in this scenario as I speed to the next light and quickly stop to continue entering.
Combining the roominess of a station wagon with the sportiness every driver wants, and still keeping the gas mileage at a very impressive level (22/30), this car will definitely bring convenience and excitement into any life. The 2.4-liter, 201 horsepower engine might not make you wonder where they hid the rockets, but it definitely suffices. And since I doubt that anyone needs to be reminded of the price of gasoline, the intelligently small, but still plenty powerful engine should please even the most finicky driver. Yeah, you guessed it; all-in-all, I’m impressed by the TSX. The abundance of speakers, the great seats, the smooth ride, and the great exterior styling make this a really fun and great car. The electric hatch further ups the level of convenience, as anybody who has come out from the grocery store with his or her hands full (but remembered to make sure to have the car key in their hand as well) will testify to. The abundance of tie-down points in the back cargo area will keep all of your belongings from sliding around, even if you decide to have a little fun. The USB connection will make hooking up your mp3 player an easy ordeal. But whatever the music you choose, it will most likely not sway you like the TSX will.
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Acura TSX Wagon Price: $34,610 (base including Tech Package) $35,470 (and as tested including Dest. & Handling) EPA fuel economy rating: 22 mpg (city) 30 mpg (highway) Engine size and type: 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder Horsepower: 201 @ 7000 rpm Torque: 170 pound-feet @ 4300 rpm
Transmission type: 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters Drive configuration: Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive Steering (type): Electric variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion (EPS) Suspension (front and rear): Front independent double-wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear Independent multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: P225/50 R17 93V high-performance all-season 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist Dimensions: Length: 189.2 in Width: 72.4 in Height: 57.9in Curb weight: 3599 lbs