Hey Acura, give this wagon a fighting chance.
It’s a truism among product planners that Americans don’t buy station wagons, instead preferring high-riding, car-based SUVs. So, for those of us who like wagons, the fact that Acura has decided to import the TSX wagon is good news.
Automakers often set their wagons up to fail by pricing them higher than comparable SUVs, but Acura has not made that mistake here. At a reasonable $31,820 (base price), the TSX Sport Wagon actually undercuts by a bit the price of Acura’s compact crossover, the RDX.
The problem is that Acura is offering the Sport Wagon with just one powertrain: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a five-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. The V-6 and the manual transmission available in the TSX sedan can’t be had here, which cuts off a small but enthusiastic subset of potential wagons buyers
The more worrying problem, though, is the lack of all-wheel drive. Station wagon people are heavily concentrated in the Northeast, where all-wheel drive is very popular. Of the other premium-brand wagons, every one offers all-wheel drive. It’s standard on the Audi A4 Avant and the Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon, and it’s optional on the BMW 3-series wagon, the Saab 9-3 SportCombi, the Volvo XC70, and the Cadillac CTS wagon.
It’s a shame to handicap the TSX Sport Wagon this way, because this car is awfully nice to drive. The chassis tuning is really excellent—the suspension is tautly sprung, with superb control of body motions, yet it fairly glides over badly chopped up blacktop. The steering is also nicely weighted.
The five-speed automatic doesn’t hesitate to rev the four-cylinder engine, but this big Honda four is so smooth and so quiet you barely even hear it until it gets to 4000 rpm, and above there is gets growly not thrashy. The powertrain combo is lively and agreeable, and returns an impressive 22/30 mpg (according to the EPA).
The all-black interior in my test example seemed of stout quality and ample plushness, although it’s a little dour, unrelieved by even a bit of bright trim. The driving position is quite nice and the seats have a lot of lateral support, but a bit too much lumbar. The TSX dash has a lot of buttons, but once you learn where things are most commands are a one-step operation, rather than a multi-step process of wading through on-screen menus.
The TSX wagon is a welcome addition to the rather shallow pool of U.S. wagon offerings, but I’m afraid it won’t it get the consideration it deserves. Adding the option of all-wheel drive would give it a bigger audience. And, let’s face it, any wagon in our market needs the biggest audience it can get.