Sunday, April 7, 2013

Long Term Test: 2012 Acura TSX Special Edition post #1


Update: Click here to read post #2.

The day our beloved 1999 Mazda Miata MX-5 10th Anniversary Edition was stricken ill was a dark day for my wife and me. From the day they b
rought it home, that car had been the pride and joy of my wife's parents and she had set her sights on it becoming the first car that she would own, which did eventually happen in 2006. When we relocated from the suburbs into the city, we consolidated down into a single car, and the Miata was the car we kept. As you can imagine, there were many years of sentimental value attached to the little blue convertible.

So when it came time to find a replacement, we had a long list of requirements and a lot of compromises to make. We knew we needed something more practical than the Miata (a criteria which just about any car would satisfy) and be able to carry our friends and luggage and potentially a pet. That meant that something with 4 seats would be required, at a minimum. My wife, who is very environmentally minded, wanted a car that put up decent fuel economy numbers. I wanted a manual transmission, which narrowed the available options to a tiny handful of cars. Fun to drive, comfortable, relatively maintenance free, and moderately well equipped with modern necessities such as Bluetooth hands-free calling were all a given. Pricing needed to be reasonable as we were losing an income for a couple of years and knew we wanted to keep our expenses under control.

At first, we looked at a variety of relatively low cost new car options, including several small hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and Hyundai Veloster. The only problem was that finding a model optioned the way we wanted, especially the manual transmission, made the search nigh impossible as it seemed that no dealer within 250 miles had cars with manual transmissions available. Since we were on a compressed timeline, we shifted our criteria and started to look at lightly used late model cars, but quickly bumped up against the same issue, with none of the cars we were interested in having the right collection of equipment, performance, manual transmission, fuel economy, and price. This eliminated pre-owned models from the selection process as well. With time running out, I proposed that we look at leasing a vehicle again for the short-term which would give us a vehicle that we could use for the time being, not lock us into a long-term loan, and buy us sufficient time to evaluate vehicles over the next few years to find the perfect replacement for our needs.

This started me down the path of looking at a number of possible vehicles to lease, including the VW CC, Volvo S60, and Hyundai Sonata. Of course, the challenge with each of the vehicles is that for various reasons, they were not a perfect match for our needs. The Acura TSX, however, was a near perfect match. Available with a manual transmission, sufficient power, good handling, comfortable four door body style, and, most importantly, the price was right. The unfortunate downside, of course, is that with it nearing the end of the model generation, the TSX was beginning to look a little dated. Still, as a temporary solution, it fit the bill.

The TSX buried by winter storm Nemo. That little black dot
is the tip of the raised windshield wiper.
So after a couple of test drives and a few calls and emails with the dealership, we had hashed out a deal and the keys to a brand new 2012 Acura TSX Special Edition were in our hands. Almost immediately, a road trip from DC to Charlottesville, VA was on deck to give me the chance to fully familiarize myself with the characteristics of the car and to help get me through the break-in period.

During the first year of ownership, we have taken a number of trips in this car, including relocating from the DC area to the Boston area. The car has performed flawlessly, without a single hiccup. It has suffered through our first New England winter, buried at times under many feet of snow. While the TSX was not our first choice, it has definitely been an excellent choice to meet our needs at the current time. Over the course of our long-term updates, I will be sharing more about my ownership experience including maintenance, fuel economy, and overall impressions of the car.

Click here to read post #2.