Sunday, November 17, 2013

Long Term Test: 2012 Acura TSX Special Edition post #2

Second update
Current miles: 9,452

After 18 months with the TSX, the car is still a joy to drive and has been dead reliable mechanically. Since I put very few miles on the car during most weeks, the majority of my driving is now coming in the form of longer road trips, usually for all too brief vacation stays on weekends to various places around New England. Combine that with the fact that during the warmer months trips tend to take place on my motorcycle, it is not hard to see why even after 18 months, I have not yet hit the 10k mark.

The nice thing is that these longer trips really allow me too enjoy what I appreciate most about the TSX: the driving experience. From behind the wheel, the steering feels well-weighted, accurate, and is reasonably communicative for an electronic power steering setup. I do still miss the ultra-communicative steering of the two first-generation TSXs that I owned, but considering that there are fewer and fewer cars with traditional hydraulic power steering these days, this arrangement is one of the better ones. Of course, the 6-speed manual is one of the best in the business and offers crisp engagement, slick action, and short throws. Clutch engagement could stand to be a bit more pronounced, but on whole, it is great to be able to enjoy shifting for yourself. Suspension tuning is actually quite good, proving properly stiff for sporty driving, but compliant enough to be comfortable on long trips. Understeer is present, but not so pronounced that it interferes with driving on a regular basis, only rearing its ugly head when pushing the car hard or when the road surface is slick.

Unfortunately, not everything is quite so positive. For one, the tires are terrible. Acura continues to work with Michelin to spec these fuel economy oriented tires that offer neither very good fuel economy nor good handling, resulting in grip that is at times modest at best, especially if there is a painted line or even a tiny bit of water on the ground. Less annoying than the tires, there are some build quality issues starting to crop up, including a few squeaks and rattles as well as an ongoing issue with the seat back cushion popping itself out of the bracket. These are all fairly minor issues and with the car still under warranty, I will have them addressed the next time I have the car in for service. However, given the low mileage and short period of ownership, the fact that these issues even exist is a touch annoying.

On whole, the car continues to prove an entertaining and reliable companion, having been pressed into service in all manners of road conditions, including several snow storms, heavy rain, and blinding fog. I do still love having the HID headlamps that cut through darkness and provide an exceptional view of the road ahead in even the darkest conditions. When pushed hard, the induction noise is surprisingly throaty, adding to the musical symphony that accompanies my drives. The pedal placement is perfect for easy heel-toe downshifts and a perfectly rev-matched downshift offers that sense of accomplishment that only can come with driving a manual. Best of all, the car continues to be cheap to maintain with only one relatively inexpensive oil-change and tire rotation and the car still gets nearly 400 miles for every tank, averaging an easy-on-the-wallet 24 mpg combined average with a lot of time spent on local driving, despite not a lot of mileage.

Click here to read post #1.