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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon
The 'sport' part is subjective, but you still have a sharp wagon

By Malcolm Gunn

2011 Acura TSX Sport WagonSometimes luxury and practicality fight for the same space, but there's plenty of both to go around when it comes to the 2011 TSX Sport Wagon.

It's Acura's first shot at marketing what has in the past been the exclusive domain of its Honda parent.

Technically, the Acura Sport Wagon is a Honda since it was previously launched in Japan and other countries around the globe as the Accord Tourer. However for North America, Honda developed the homegrown Accord Crosstour hatchback that arrived for the 2010 model year with a standard V6 engine  and available all-wheel-drive. The impending arrival of the sharp-looking TSX Sport Wagon has likely turned Honda's product planners green with envy and has them wondering if they shouldn't have lobbied harder to get a wagon of their own after all.

Internal politics aside, the new TSX hauler is a smart-looking piece of work regardless of what brand bucket it falls into. The Sport Wagon projects a certain sophisticated appearance that displays a strong kinship with the newly updated TSX sedan. The folks at Acura believe the wagon will appeal to young, affluent buyers, but there will likely be a knot of practical-minded empty-nesters as well as disaffected Honda Accord owners just itching for a test drive.

2011 Acura TSX Sport WagonEither demographic will appreciate the Sport Wagon's carrying capacity, which is more than double that of the sedan, even with the rear seat in the locked-and-upright place. When folded flat, the load surface extends some 70 inches (about 180 centimetres), giving the TSX nearly the same cargo volume as Acura's entry-level RDX sport ute.

Providing the necessary grunt to haul passengers and their personal effects is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This is the same base powerplant that's used in the sedan and performs with quiet efficiency at the lower end of the rev range. However, when pushed hard, the 2.4 becomes a bit raucous, although not in any seriously upsetting way.

With Acura injecting the word "Sport" into the wagon's title, you would at least expect this TSX to offer the sedan's available 280-horsepower 3.5-litre V6, or perhaps even the impressive 240-horsepower 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that fronts the RDX. When asked about the lack of engine choices, an Acura spokesman said that the primary target audience for the wagon - young urban family types - ranked fuel economy as having greater importance than raw horsepower and thrust. For the record, the V6 sedan is rated at 10.7/7.0 l/100 km (city/highway), while the TSX wagon is estimated at 9.4/6.4.

Another sporty feature not offered in the Sport Wagon is the sedan's smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission (a five-speed automatic is standard). To be fair, the "take" rate for the manual gearbox is so miniscule that few, if any, feathers will be ruffled by its omission.

2011 Acura TSX Sport WagonWhere the Sport Wagon really struts its stuff is with a sharp suspension tune and steering system that make for fun driving . . . from a wagon.

Buyers will definitely be able to speed through the option list. As with all Acuras, the TSX arrives with all the right up-level gear right out of the box: leather interior; power moonroof; dual-zone climate control; and a cool set of 17-inch alloy wheels. A premium audio and navigation systems, power tailgate, 18-inch rims and an aero-style body kit are among the few extra-cost items.

The Sport Wagon is expected to list for about $37,800, which is $1,600 more than the base sedan with the automatic transmission. More significantly, the price estimate is only about $1,300 more than the Honda Crosstour. That alone should encourage trade-ups to this practical-luxury model regardless of what name it goes by.

What you should know: 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive, mid-size wagon
Engine (hp): 2.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder (201)
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Market position: The Sport Wagon represents the first luxury model of its type produced by Acura. It enters a market dominated by German-based automakers and also competes against products from Cadillac, Saab and Volvo.
Points: Inspiring, yet practical design; Flat load floor, high liftgate angle plus low lift-over height equals easy cargo loading with minimal back strain; The four-cylinder engine provides good power and fuel economy, but V6, turbo and manual gearbox would put more "sport" in Sport Wagon; Acura's AWD system should also be a Sport Wagon option.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy): 9.4/6.4 (est.)
Base price (incl. destination): $37,800 (est.)

By comparison     

Volvo V50
Base price: $37,200
Roomy, attractive, well- priced wagon ups standard hp to 227 for 2011.

Subaru Outback Limited
Base price: $37,400
Top-level I4 model offers lots of luxury content plus standard all-wheel-drive.

Audi A4 Avant
Base price: $44,500
Stylish, functional and loaded with extras including four-wheel-drive.

Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!

Posted February 28, 2011. © CarTest.ca TM


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