2009 Acura TSX

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$6,133–$13,017 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2009 Acura TSX. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Slick-shifting six-speed manual
  • Remains flat during aggressive cornering
  • Optional ELS surround-sound quality
  • Stylish appearance
  • Interior quality

The Bad

  • Touchy electric power steering
  • Less horsepower than 2008 model
  • Stiff suspension may prove too firm for bad roads
2009 Acura TSX exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2009 Acura TSX

  • Redesigned for 2009
  • Long standard features list
  • Abundance of safety features
  • Newly optional real-time weather info

2009 Acura TSX Road Test

Mike Hanley
They say you shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight, and that phrase came to mind when I drove the redesigned 2009 Acura TSX. The TSX, which hits dealerships in April, has its share of good qualities — like a stylish exterior and interior — but it competes in the luxury sport sedan category, which is one of the more crowded segments of the car business. Shoppers there will find the TSX outgunned by competing models in terms of power and handling.

The Look
The TSX's all-new styling builds on the previous generation's athletic looks, but the new sedan is 2.4 inches longer and 3 inches wider than before. The TSX's wide stance, accented by bulging front fenders, is apparent when looking at the sedan head-on.

The face of the car has been updated via new headlights, a new grille that incorporates Acura's shield design, and an aggressively styled lower bumper. Around back, changes include more substantial rear fender flares that echo the front ones, as well as new taillights. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires are standard. All in all, the TSX is sporty without going overboard.

Ride & Handling
I drove the TSX in and around San Diego, on expressways, city streets and winding mountain roads. Even on the relatively smooth roads that this part of the country is privileged to enjoy, the TSX's firm suspension tuning communicated small pavement bumps to the cabin and wasn't especially forgiving on rougher surfaces. The benefit, thou...

They say you shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight, and that phrase came to mind when I drove the redesigned 2009 Acura TSX. The TSX, which hits dealerships in April, has its share of good qualities — like a stylish exterior and interior — but it competes in the luxury sport sedan category, which is one of the more crowded segments of the car business. Shoppers there will find the TSX outgunned by competing models in terms of power and handling.

The Look
The TSX's all-new styling builds on the previous generation's athletic looks, but the new sedan is 2.4 inches longer and 3 inches wider than before. The TSX's wide stance, accented by bulging front fenders, is apparent when looking at the sedan head-on.

The face of the car has been updated via new headlights, a new grille that incorporates Acura's shield design, and an aggressively styled lower bumper. Around back, changes include more substantial rear fender flares that echo the front ones, as well as new taillights. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires are standard. All in all, the TSX is sporty without going overboard.

Ride & Handling
I drove the TSX in and around San Diego, on expressways, city streets and winding mountain roads. Even on the relatively smooth roads that this part of the country is privileged to enjoy, the TSX's firm suspension tuning communicated small pavement bumps to the cabin and wasn't especially forgiving on rougher surfaces. The benefit, though, is relatively flat cornering when driving the car quickly through tight turns. Despite this, one thought kept coming to my mind when driving: If the ride is this taut on nearly perfect roads, how is it going to be in places like Chicago (Cars.com's headquarters), where potholes that could swallow a small dog are commonplace in wintertime, and road quality overall is much worse than in San Diego? We'll know for sure once we get a TSX to drive in the Midwest, but right now it's not encouraging.

Even though the TSX's front-wheel-drive layout doesn't provide the balance of rear-wheel drive, as is found in the Infiniti G35 and BMW 3 Series, the TSX scraps admirably when powering out of a corner, resisting understeer and doing a decent job on the whole to maintain your desired line.

My biggest issue with the new TSX is its steering feel and feedback. Acura has replaced the hydraulic steering system in the previous car with a new electric power-steering system that doesn't offer very inspiring oncenter feel; unlike many sport sedans, it doesn't take much effort to turn the wheel left or right from its straight-ahead position, which means the driver has to pay extra attention to something that doesn't normally require any thought. By comparison, the G35 has solid oncenter steering feel that requires the driver to put some effort into turning the wheel. The previous TSX had this quality to some degree with its hydraulic system, but it's essentially gone in the new model.

There's also a lot of power assistance and not much road feel in the new steering system. That might be great for a large luxury car like Acura's RL, but it's not desirable in a sport sedan where a driver wants and expects greater involvement in the driving experience and a sense of what's happening down at the tires. The 3 Series is still the standard in this slice of the market when it comes to steering performance and feedback, and the TSX's steering system isn't in the BMW's league, though its assist thankfully lessens slightly once you get up to highway speeds.

Going & Stopping
The TSX is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that teams with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 201 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 172 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm (170 pounds-feet at 4,300 rpm with the automatic transmission). That's a loss of 4 hp but a gain of 8 pounds-feet of torque at 100 fewer rpm (with the manual transmission) when compared to the previous TSX's four-cylinder. With this engine, the TSX is at the low end of the sport sedan horsepower spectrum — some competitors offer more than 300 hp. Gas mileage is up to 21/30 mpg with the automatic and 20/28 mpg with the manual.

The TSX's four-cylinder is built to rev. It spins smoothly and emits a nice mechanical sound as you approach its 7,100-rpm redline. You have to let the engine rev high if you want to unlock its performance potential; shifting into too high of a gear to quiet the engine will make its power drop off. That's what happens to an engine with modest torque that peaks at a relatively high rpm.

Fortunately, the six-speed manual is a joy to shift. The transmission has medium-length throws and moves from gear to gear with impressive slickness, though extra attention is necessary when shifting into sixth. Clutch-pedal effort is rather light, so it shouldn't tire your leg when creeping through traffic. Within minutes of driving the car I'd gotten accustomed to where engagement occurred.

The five-speed automatic transmission loses the manual-shift mode that was incorporated into the prior TSX's gear selector, but it gains shift paddles on the back of the steering wheel that perform the same function. The automatic delivers smooth shifts and doesn't make you wait long when you floor the gas pedal before it kicks down. The steering wheel paddles produce fairly quick shifts, as opposed to the sluggish response that's all too common with many of these systems.

The TSX's four-wheel disc brakes have no trouble slowing the car, and the response from the brake pedal is very linear. It hardly requires any effort to apply the brakes; all it takes is a light touch of your foot. Even when braking hard you don't have to apply much pressure to the pedal.

The Inside
The TSX's cabin features all-new styling that includes a tiered dashboard, a new gauge cluster and controls, and an integrated control knob like the one in the Acura RL that's used to control the optional navigation system. The previous TSX's material quality was already good for its class, and it's been improved with this redesign.

Front power bucket seats with a memory feature for the driver are standard. With the adjustments offered by the driver's seat, along with the tilt/telescoping steering column, it's easy to find a good driving position. The seats themselves, which are covered in standard leather upholstery, are comfortable with their soft cushioning, but they also feature side bolsters that are large enough to keep you in place when trying to squeal the tires through a corner.

The backseat isn't as comfortable. It's small like a 3 Series' backseat, with limited legroom — my knees were pressed up against the back of the front seat — and I only had about an inch of headroom to spare. I am 6-foot-1, though, so small children should find it just fine.

Cargo & Towing
The TSX's trunk has shrunken slightly and now measures 12.6 cubic feet. Folding down the 60/40-split backseat lets you carry longer items inside the car, and the release levers for the backseat are located along the upper edge of the trunk. With both sections of the rear seat folded, the opening into the cabin isn't especially wide, but Acura wins points for including this feature as standard equipment; it's optional on the 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Safety
Standard features include antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags, an electronic stability system, and active head restraints for the front seats. A backup camera is included with the optional navigation system.

The TSX also incorporates Acura's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body technology. ACE is designed to better engage vehicles of different sizes during a crash so the car's crumple zones are fully utilized.

Independent crash-test results were not available at time of publication, but results will be added here when they are released.

Features
The TSX's long standard features list includes heated front seats, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth-based cell phone connectivity, an auxiliary input jack, and a USB port for playing an iPod through the audio system.

Optional features are bundled together in a Technology Package that includes a voice-recognition navigation system that can display traffic and weather information, a more sophisticated air conditioning system that uses navigation technology to factor in the effect of the sun on cabin temperature, and an ELS Surround audio system.

Offered on other Acuras, like the TL and MDX, the 10-speaker ELS Surround system is tuned by longtime sound engineer Elliot Scheiner and includes a six-disc changer that can play DVD-Audio discs as well as regular CDs. Acura says Scheiner's focus was to faithfully reproduce sound as it's heard in a recording studio, and the system does indeed produce impressively clear sound that's easy to appreciate, even if you're not an audiophile.

TSX in the Market
As an entry-level luxury car, the TSX satisfies reasonably well thanks to its long list of standard features and a refined cabin. When grading it as a sport sedan, however, it doesn't rate as highly, especially because of its touchy steering response. Competitors like the G35 or a base 328i offer a more engaging driving experience and — if you refrain from checking a bunch of options — are in the same price range as the TSX. That should finalize the decision for most enthusiast buyers, just not in Acura's favor.

Send Mike an email 



2009 TSX Video

Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes you through the 2009 Acura TSX. It competes with the Subaru Legacy.

Latest 2009 TSX Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

This was a very reliable car

by Kenb on June 27, 2018

The ride and seats are very comfortable. If properly maintained, it will br very reliable for years to come. For being a 4 cylinder, it has a very good pickup. The audio system is suburb. Read full review

(5.0)

Acura TSX

by Nshardlow on June 5, 2018

Perfect for an every day driver. Would be difficult for a full family with the lack of cabin space. Interior is innovative for its time. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Acura TSX currently has 4 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2009 Acura TSX Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Acura

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, trip-planning services, emergency fuel delivery, emergency lockout service and Acura Concierge Service

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    1-year/12,000-mile non-powertrain warranty begins after expiration of original warranty (4 years/50,000 miles) or on date sold as certified (no deductible); 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty begins from the original in-service date (no deductible)
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 182 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The TSX received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker