This is where the 2009 TSX comes into the picture. With our expectations and hopes in mind, on paper the new TSX gets off to a bit of a slow start. It is larger, heavier, and despite Acura's claims to the contrary, at a rated 201hp, it is in fact slightly less powerful than the outgoing model. It's also more luxurious, more refined, and better equipped than ever. The question is, is it a better car?
In many ways, the 2009 TSX represents a quantitative improvement over the outgoing model. It features a smoother ride, flatter cornering, reduced road and wind noise, increased passenger volume, a more useful torque band, and the (optional) ELS stereo system is the best I've heard in any Acura or Honda vehicle to date. On the flip side, to a seasoned TSX driver, it only takes a few hundred feet behind the wheel to sense that the 2009 TSX lacks some of the subjective driving excitement of the original TSX.
Inside the 2009 TSX
The interior of the 2009 TSX moves it another step forward. Seat comfort remains excellent (and Acura equipped it from the get go with power driver and passenger seats, with a memory function on the driver's side), and the driver is greeted with a nice and meaty steering wheel. The gauges are more stylish and adopt the "floating needles" first seen in the European Civic. When it comes to gauges, I'm a no-nonsense sort of guy and I would have been plenty happy with a more business-like approach, but at least these styling touches don't take away from the legibility of the gauges. A multi-information display is nestled within the circular center of the speedometer, and provides information regarding fuel economy, tire air pressure, outside air temperature, trip odometer readings, and you know, typical MID stuff. The center in the tachometer features a blank black plate on 6MT equipped TSX's and a PRNDL indicator on 5AT TSX's.
The dash is coated in a heavily grained low-gloss material that is somewhat soft and spongy to the touch. What's strange is that I can't quite decide whether it looks more upscale that way or not. It certainly seems a bit unique. Elsewhere, the general quality of the materials looks and feels quite good, with soft (perforated) leather and good quality plastics applied in a pleasing overall manner.
The TSX's center stack is the latest to get the "MMI" (multi-mode interface) dial treatment - this design is rapidly becoming the Acura standard, so get used to it. The touchscreen navi interface is gone, but the 8" navi display is much brighter and crisper for 2009. Unfortunately, the actual pixel resolution of the navi interface remains disappointingly low (it's believed to be 480x234 pixels). Ergonomically, everything is laid out reasonably well; as with most Hondas and Acuras, it didn't take much time at all to get up to speed with how to make everything work. As mentioned earlier, the ELS stereo that's included as part of the TSX's tech package is absolutely phenomenal. Also cool is the USB interface that offers full integration with 5th generation and newer iPods (including iPhones) as well as USB flash memory devices. We disconnected the iPod Nano that Acura supplied and listened to the ~800+ song collection on John Pearley Huffman's iPhone, and I was absolutely blown away by the audio system's sound quality and the level of integration with the iPod. We also tried a non-iPod player (a new 16GB Creative Zen), but as suspected, the system display reported back with the message "Unsupported device". Fortunately, an auxiliary input jack is supplied so that you may still enjoy music from unsupported devices.
One thing I particularly liked about the original TSX was the abundance of storage found in the center stack and center console, particularly the large pocket on the bottom of the center stack. I was disappointed to see that this pocket has been eliminated on the 2009 TSX, and the storage area under the armrest also seems to have shrunken a bit as well.