Back at the turn of the century, if you were interested in purchasing a sporty wagon, the pickings were getting pretty slim; most automakers had long given up on the wagon segment, including Honda. At that point, crossovers and SUVs (that in my opinion, ranged from awful to soul-sucking) were selling in huge numbers, regardless of their numerous shortcomings. Unfortunately for Honda enthusiasts who wanted or needed a sporty wagon, Honda was just getting started with their own line of crossovers and had big plans for the exploding segment. Any hopes of owning a sporty Honda wagon would have to be put on hold for more than a decade.
2011 finally brings us the TSX Sportwagon. The TSX Sportwagon is essentially a US-legal version of the European Accord Tourer, which we've ogled from afar since it went onsale overseas in 2008. That means it's not exactly a brand-new product. It is, however, very stylish (at least to my eyes), reasonably sporty, reasonably priced, luxurious, packed with technological features, comfortable, drives like a sedan, and offers a level of utility comparable to or better than a typical compact crossover.
Starting at $30,960, the TSX Sportwagon (which is rated at 22mpg city/30mpg hwy) is quite a compelling vehicle, especially when compared to the spectrum of fuel-swilling, top-heavy, two-ton premium compact crossovers currently on the market. If you don't absolutely require AWD, then why would you even bother considering those premium compact crossovers? The TSX Sportwagon isn't the only wagon option out there, though, so perhaps the more important question is "how does it compare to other premium wagons?" For starters, it's one of the least expensive premium wagons out there, yet when it comes to standard features, fuel efficiency, roominess, and yes, styling, it's near the head of the pack.
Acura's not messing around, either: the base TSX Sportwagon's standard features include heated leather seats, dual zone climate control with rear-passenger vents (and even a vent inside the center console), a power moonroof, a 360-watt premium audio system with full USB iPod support, Bluetooth Handsfreelink, and powered front seats with a dual position memory function on the driver's side. The Technology package adds $3,650 to the bottom line but includes Acura's HDD-based Navigation system with VGA LCD display, an impressive 460-watt ELS surround sound audio system with 15GB of music storage, and a power tailgate. The only things you might miss on the options sheet are SH-AWD, a manual transmission, and a more powerful engine choice.
Just what is the competition?
Acura defines the primary competitive set for the TSX Sportwagon to include the Audi A4 Avant, Volvo V50 T5, and BMW 3-series. Thanks to the TSX Sportwagon's aggressive entry price point, Acura also expects showroom traffic from more mainstream shoppers who are considering wagons such as the Subaru Outback and VW Passat. With that number of nameplates in play, it almost sounds as if the wagon segment is already thriving. That Acura only expects to sell 4,000 TSX Sportwagons in the next year tells otherwise. Interestingly, the TSX Sportwagon's forecast is 1,000 units fewer than Acura's initial target for their extreme-niche model, the ZDX. In my estimation, Acura could easily sell twice as many TSX Sportwagons as ZDXs, but only time will tell if my gut feel is correct.