To paraphrase the well-known Red Rose tea commercial, the Acura CSX was, and is, available only in Canada.
Introduced in 2006, and built in Alliston, Ont., it replaced the EL in the Acura lineup and was something of a rarity: an economy luxury sedan.
At the time, that may have seemed like an oxymoron, but it had the attributes of a gas-sipper, with all the convenience goodies you could ask for, plus a high drivability factory thrown into the bargain. Perfect for the tight-fisted Canadian market, in other words.
It was also Acura's entry-level model and was heavily based on the Honda Civic. In view of the awards the Civic has won over the years, that wasn't a bad thing. Some described the CSX as a Civic in a tuxedo.
Power was provided by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts and Honda's patented i-VTEC variable valve timing system.
This engine was a slightly detuned version of the same powerplant found in the Acura RSX sport coupe and also utilized a pair of counter-rotating balance shafts for smoothness, with a "resonator chamber" that was part of the intake manifold.
Whatever it had inside, what you got was a four-cylinder engine that was a front-runner when it came to smoothness and usable power.
It developed 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and delivered 9.5 L/100 km in town and 6.5 L/100 km on the highway. These numbers were for the automatic transmission version, but that was the volume model for Acura, and another gearbox was available: a five-speed manual.
The automatic also had optional steering wheel-mounted shift buttons, which was a nice touch, and it cost an additional $1,300.
The starting price was $25,400 and it came in three trim levels: Touring, Premium, and Premium with navi system. The navi system was bilingual.
Unsurprisingly, standard equipment level on the CSX was high. The base Touring model came with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch aluminum wheels, automatic climate control, premium cloth upholstery, six airbags - which included side curtain airbags - drive-by-wire throttle system and a six-speaker audio system with MP3/WMA compatibility.
There was plenty in the way of safety features, too. ABS and multiple airbags came standard, and the structure of the vehicle was designed for enhanced crash protection using Honda/Acura's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure. This technology utilized the crumple zones between two vehicles to disperse energy away from the passenger area and combined with high-strength steel beams to resist side intrusion.
As well, a safety design in the front of the vehicle minimized pedestrian injury by deforming upon impact.
Honda/Acura was the first Japanese manufacturer to field a luxury division and the EL was one of the first entry-level vehicles in Canada. That started to change three years ago, but none were as affordable as the CSX.
Transport Canada has one safety recall to report. It concerns a possibly faulty wheel bearing on the ABS system, which, if not dealt with, could eventually lead to the wheel separating itself from the vehicle, resulting in loss of control and general mayhem. This contretemps also applies to the '07 CSX.
The U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, has nothing on file for the CSX, because it wasn't sold down south. However, the same vintage of Honda Civic has nine safety alerts, and they cover everything from a wonky gas pedal to improperly deploying airbags, to the aforementioned ABS wheel bearing glitch. In view of these two vehicles' similarities, it's not unreasonable to assume that problems found in the Civic will also be present in the CSX.
NHTSA also has a surprising 27 technical service bulletins for the 2006 Civic, and again, they run the gamut - potential water pump problems, navigation system glitches, non-"parking" windshield wipers, "popping" noises in the front suspension, and so on.
Consumer Reports likewise has nothing on the CSX, but the Civic gets this organization's semi-highest rating, garnering a "better than average" used-car prediction. The only problem spot seems to be in the suspension.
No real black marks on the score sheet as far as market research firm J.D. Power is concerned. Again, it covers the Honda Civic only, and gives it "average" or "above average" ratings in every area. Overall quality design and feature accessories quality come in for high praise, and J.D. Power calls the '06 edition of the Civic "refined and "advanced."
There's about a $500 difference in price between the Touring and Premium edition of a used '06 CSX, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $15,000 to $17,000 for one, depending upon its equipment level and your bargaining skills.
2006 ACURA CSX
Type: Premium four-door compact sedan
Original Base Price: $25,400; Black Book Value: $15,725-$16,250; Red Book Value: $15,175-$16,875
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder
Horsepower/Torque: 155 hp/139 lb-ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual/automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 8.7 city/6.4 highway; regular gas
Alternatives: Volvo S40, Volkswagen Jetta GLI, Audi A3, Mini Cooper S, Honda Civic EX