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First Impressions

Acura was kind enough to invite the Temple of VTEC to the TSX Sportwagon's media introduction held two weeks ago in San Francisco. We lucked out in that the Bay Area rains parted ways long enough for a group of us to enjoy our day of driving shiny new TSX Sportwagons from Sausalito to Bodega Bay. Overall, I came away with a favorable impression of the TSX Sportwagon. I'm sure a good part of that has to do with how long I've personally been hoping to see a sporty wagon offered by Honda or Acura, but I also feel like Acura has delivered a very strong product in the TSX Sportwagon.

Styling
Since the current generation European Accord debuted in 2008, I've always preferred the styling of the wagon variant, which Honda calls the Accord Tourer. Having seen the Accord Tourer in photos and in person over the past 2+ years, I have developed a fairly strong sense of familiarity towards it. More recently, I've had several opportunities to experience the TSX Sportwagon on the autoshow circuit, so I was somewhat surprised by how good the TSX Sportwagon looked when I finally got to see one in motion on the streets. In this setting, I really liked the TSX Sportwagon's subtly muscular road presence. What struck me the most was that this subtle muscularity was paired with an equal dose of (dare I say it?) elegance. Indeed, of all the vehicles in the Acura lineup, I feel that the TSX Sportwagon is probably the best expression of the brand's design language, followed closely by the MDX. To some, that may not be saying much, but for the guy who operates a Honda and Acura enthusiast website, I can tell you that this comes as quite a relief.

Interestingly, the same styling cues that give the TSX a bit of an overly "padded" look actually seem to work in favor of the TSX Sportwagon. Nevertheless, I do feel that the TSX's proportions swallow up the standard 17" wheels, so it would be nice if Acura would go ahead and fit all of the TSX's with the TSX V6's 18" wheels, which fill the wheel wells quite nicely. Other than that my only other styling gripe of consequence would register with the TSX Sportwagon's front overhang, but what else is new? Acura's infamous power plenum grille has been toned down slightly on the 2011 TSX, but the TSX's plenum never really bothered me all that much in the first place.

Interior
Inside the TSX Sportwagon, the interior is essentially lifted intact from the sedan, which itself benefited from several updates for the 2011 mid-cycle model change (MMC). The interior updates for 2011 are relatively minor; there's new LED footwell lighting, a new carpet material, the leather seating sufaces now get contrasting stitching, more silvery paint on the interior door handles, and revised "woodgrain" (base) and "carbon look" (Tech) on the dash and door trim. The changes are pretty subtle but they are nice touches. The overall look remains one of understated luxury.

The power-operated front seats are comfortable and provide pretty good support during spirited driving. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice and thick and is contoured in the right places to provide a firm and comfortable grip. Ergonomics are generally good; though there is a large number of buttons and controls for the various systems, they are laid out fairly logically, so memorizing the locations for the key controls shouldn't take too long to master. Outward visibility from the driver's seat is quite good - much better than many of the latest offerings from Honda and Acura (I'm looking at you Accord Crosstour, CR-Z, and ZDX)

Cargo

Clearly one of the key items of interest is the TSX Sportwagon's cargo area. Acura's designers say the concept for the cargo area was "Triple Faced Luggage". I'm not 100% clear on exactly what that means, but in general they wanted to create a useful space that presents a high quality finish, and for the most part they have achieved that. The EPA specs say there's 31.5 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded up. Compare that to the A4 Avant AWD (28 cu. ft), BMW 328i (25.0 cu. ft), Volvo V50 (32 cu. ft.) and RDX (27.8 cu. ft.) and you can see that the TSX Sportwagon is right at the front of the pack. In addition to this listed cargo area, the TSX Sportwagon offers a small (0.2 cu. ft) compartment on the driver side cargo wall as well as a shallow hidden underfloor storage well - Acura says has a 2.4 cubic foot capacity, but I would only plan on stashing relatively thin items down there. (This underfloor compartment is likely much more useful in the European market where the Accord Tourer ships with a tire repair kit and a pump instead of the compact spacesaver spare tire that occupies the bulk of this area in the TSX Sportwagon.) For those of you who like to golf, the TSX Sportwagon can carry a foursome and all four of their golf bags.

Obviously, maximum cargo capacity is achieved by folding down the rear seats, opening up a total of 60.5 cubic feet of storage. With the seats folded down, you will find nearly 70 inches of flat floor length to accommodate longer items. The cargo area offers "a variety of tie-down hooks" (I counted 4) to secure any loose items. A retractable cover is included as a standard feature for added cargo security. On each side of the cargo area, there are small cargo lamps; I only had access to the car during the daytime but by appearances alone they didn't seem like they'd be bright enough to sufficiently illuminate the entire cargo area.



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