It even comes with a manual transmission and wagon variant.
In a clear shift to focus on SUVs like the RDX and MDX, Acura's sedan lineup, including the ILX, TLX, and RLX, has suffered. There are no Type-S models, no manual transmissions, and simply no draw for enthusiasts at the moment. Acura is rumored to be working on a new Legend to replace the RLX and battle the Kia Stinger, but until that car arrives, it is best to focus on Acura's better SUV models.
But what about past Acura models? We've already discussed how a used ILX with a manual could be a smart purchase but there is another forgotten model that is now a great used bargain. If you are in the market for an affordable and reliable luxury car, you should be looking at an Acura TSX.
Acura introduced the first-generation TSX for the US market in the 2004 model year. This was replaced in 2009 with the second-generation (which will be the main focus of the article) and lasted until 2014 when it and the larger TL were combined into one model, the TLX.
The TSX itself was simply a rebadged version of the European Honda Accord, which was nicer than the Accord sold in the US. In 2011, Acura expanded the TSX lineup with a Sport Wagon, which greatly improved the car's practicality. Although it was never the most upscale luxury vehicle at the time, the TSX offered a step above most mainstreams options along with fabled Honda reliability and low running costs. Unlike most highly depreciated used luxury cars, the TSX won't be a maintenance nightmare.
When it was new, the TSX could cost anywhere from the low $30,000 range into the low $40,000 range. Prices are now much more affordable. Examples of the manual TSX are hard to come by but you can nab a first-generation model for less than $5,000 with high mileage. Even a second-generation car with the manual transmission can be found starting at around $7,000.
V6 second-generation models aren't much pricier on average and even a low mileage example tops out at around $15,000. The Sport Wagon is harder to find but prices range from around $10,000 on the low end to $20,000 on the high end. Finding one with a CPO warranty will be difficult by now but these are pretty reliable vehicles by nature.
The second-generation TSX was available with two different engines mated to either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual both driving the front wheels. Only the 2.4-liter four-cylinder VTEC engine producing 201 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque could be mated to the six-speed manual while the 3.5-liter V6 (shared with the TL) producing 280 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque could only be paired with a five-speed automatic. It is also worth noting the Sport Wagon could only be had with an automatic and the four-cylinder engine.
0-60 mph in the four-cylinder model took a little over seven seconds with the manual transmission while the V6 could smoke the front tires up to 60 mph in around six seconds. For manual enthusiasts, the choice will be easy, but the V6 is by far the quicker option of the two.
Acura's interiors of this era felt almost luxurious, not quite at the level or BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes, but nicer than the average Honda or Toyota product. The TSX's cabin features plenty of basic luxuries such as leather, heated seats, navigation, and Bluetooth but misses modern features such as active safety technology, smartphone connectivity, and wireless charging. So long as the upper echelon of late 2000s technology is enough for you, the TSX's interior will be just fine.
The TSX was on the smaller side of Acura's lineup before the ILX arrived but it still features generous proportions for a daily driver. Rear seat leg room is an acceptable 34.3 inches and the trunk offers 14 cubic feet of storage (31.5 feet with the seats folded). The Sport Wagon dramatically improves practicality with a whopping 31.5 cubic feet of storage (66.2 feet with the seats down).
Fuel economy for the TSX was an acceptable 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for the four-cylinder sedan (dropping one mpg on the highway with the wagon). V6 models only sacrifice three mpg in each category in exchange for 79 additional hp.
The TSX was always a great sleeper car for enthusiasts who wanted something more mature than a Honda Civic Si or Volkswagen Golf GTI. The TSX is now excellent value on the used market and its high-reliability record should once again make it a great sleeper choice for young enthusiasts. It is a shame Acura never built a manual V6 wagon but the TSX is still a very cool car on a budget.