Two Smart Cars from Acura: TSX Sport Wagon and TL Sedan

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

If Honda products seem to be on the decline (according to some), sister company Acura is putting thought and smart styling into two of its newer vehicles.

The TSX Sport Wagon (above) should be perfect for upscale American families who want a car with some road potential as well as trimmed-out functionality and plenty of space.

But no, says the New York Times’ Lawrence Ulrich, most of them are still foolishly in love with heavier, less efficient, poorer handling SUVs, and they will likely ignore a new car that’s better, cheaper and more functional. Dummies.

The TSX Sport Wagon features a 4-cylinder that performs well, offering 30 mpg on the highway (22 in town), good electro-tech, and flexibility, with a 5-speed that Ulrich wasn’t crazy about.

Base price is $31,845; adding the Technology Package, “perhaps the industry’s best in terms of mapping, route calculation speed and ease of use,” gets you to $35,495.

Susan Carpenter of the L.A. Times wrote a too-cutesy review directed at new parents, which praises the convenience and capacity features of the car.

I don’t think this wagon has a real competitor until you get to Audi’s A4 Avant, which starts in the $36,000 range.

Honda is now focusing Acura on entry-level luxury cars, a smart move on its part, since competing head-on with the Big Three German makers is likely to put you into the wall.

2012 Acura TL AdvanceThe 2012 TL with the Advance Package has won plaudits from a number of reviewers for the same reasons they liked the TSX: good engineering, efficiency and good looks. Some of the excesses of the former big-mouth grille that ticked off so many have been tamed (above). One reviewer dared to praise the car as “torquier” and “more exciting” than the BMW 3 Series.

Styling is greatly improved over the 2011 version. In fact, Japanese car design gets a real push forward with this car, though you have to add the SH-AWD option with 25 additional hp to make it move. But then you’re looking at $42,420, including destination charges.

Do you think Honda’s strategy of pushing entry-level luxury will work? What do you see as its competition?


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  1. My definition of a luxury car is one that emphasizes occupant comfort and convenience with both major and minor features that indicate value added that mainline vehicles lack. Luxury vehicles also tend to have detail and trim that is expensive to produce and are there solely to enhance the customers perception of quality and style.
    My definition of performance car is one that enphasizes handling, acceleration/deceleration, steering and control without compromisine for occupant comfort and convenience. Hence, it is basically the opposite of a luxury vehicle. While you can have a performance vehicle with some luxury features and a luxury vehicle with some performance features, you can’t go very far in either direction without destroying the nature of the vehicle.

  2. I believe we have to start making a pretty clear distinction as to what defines “luxury” and what defines “performance” when describing these newer modern vehicles. The old luxury is now pretty standard even among the Asian brands. Hell, the South Koreans in particular are rewriting all the old definitions and are outsmarting, outmarketing, and in many cases, outselling and outperforming the traditional old school luxury vehicles.

    Hell, a luxury car now can best be defined by what????? Used to be soft ride, leather, power everything and a big price tag, justified or not (think Lincoln here). Now its navigation, 2000 watt Bose speakers, backup cameras, lane swerving warning systems, etc. Here we are confusing luxury with technology. So is luxury a big price tag, performance, technology or some major combination of all those???

    It is very difficult today to compare a 50s or 60s Cadillac, Lincoln or Imperial with a 90s or 00s, Bimmer, Lexus, or Infinity. Today a Genesis, Equus, or Tesla could compete in many areas with the icons of old and hardly any American even have a clue that these newer cars are even being made let alone by whom. So, to me, “entry level luxury” has been with us for quite a while, we just haven’t yet come to grips with the notion that its here. I will also gripe a bit about your concession to the Germans as being all things to all people.
    These small, unknown, unpublicized (except here) twerps are turning everyone’s heads, especially the Germans and BMW who has announced that it will be making FWD vehicles. Do you think they might be looking in the rear view mirror.

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