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Buying Used: Not the grille of Acura's dreams

2009 Acura TSX.


Introduced to the North American market in 2004, Acura's entry-level sedan, the TSX – built on the Japanese/European Honda Accord platform (which is smaller than the North American version) – has proven to be one of the more popular models in Acura's lineup.

In 2009, it became slightly longer and wider with a lower roof profile. It retained its "chiselled" body style, but received a new front grille treatment, better aerodynamics and slightly restyled roof pillars.

The new grille, with its "bird's beak" motif, was good or bad news, depending upon your tastes. The general consensus seems to be that it was a styling gaffe on the part of Acura's design department, and it's interesting to note that, three years later, Acura has given it a redesign.

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Either way, the result was improved body rigidity over the previous generation and much improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).

Under the hood, this iteration of the TSX kept its Accord-derived 2.4-litre, twin-cam, four-cylinder, but with a titch less horsepower output than before – 201 horsepower, down from 205. However, torque was upped, and it developed 172 lb-ft, which was up some eight lb-ft over the 2008 model. Though still not in the big leagues when it came to performance, the revised TSX was reasonably lively, with decent snap. It came with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

On the other hand, Acura engineers got this one right when it came to road-handling and straightening out the twisty bits. It featured a nice stiff platform, predictable steering and an excellent sense of balance. A contributing factor in this stability was the revised suspension, which is double link wishbone up front and multi-link in back, with "dual-model" shock absorbers and grippy P225/50R17 wheels and tires. The TSX also came with electric power steering – widely used throughout Honda's lineup – and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS were standard issue.

One welcome change for 2009 came in the form of a redesigned shift lever for the automatic transmission version. The previous model had a "gated" arrangement, with little notches for each gear. It didn't cut it and, unfortunately, was used elsewhere in Acura's lineup, including the TL sedan. For the '09 TSX, it was history, and the new straight-style shift gate arrangement was a definite improvement.

Other changes included a new dashboard layout, more elbow room and a redesigned trunk with a lower loading height than before.

You could get the '09 TSX in three basic versions: base, Premium Package and Technology Package. Standard equipment included things like power sunroof, heated seats, Bluetooth capability, power seats and tilt/telescoping steering with the base model. The Premium version featured iPod connectivity, automatic headlights, fog lights and leather interior, and the Technology Package added a back-up camera, Navi system and upgraded stereo.

There are no recall notices on file from Transport Canada, but the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has eight technical service bulletins for this vintage of TSX. These include possibly excessive oil consumption, "rattling" noises during cold starts, various computer software alerts and a "popping" or "clicking" noise emanating from the steering column.

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Consumer Reports likes this generation of the TSX, and it's on its "good bet" list. There seem to be some issues with brakes, paint and trim, and the audio system, and the overall rating from the magazine for the 2009 TSX is "average," but owners like its performance and fuel economy. Some comments: "High build quality," "Needs a little more leg room in the back" and "Glare on navi screen is sometimes unbearable." The fact the TSX requires premium gas is a bit of a sore point as well.

Market research company J.D. Power is all over the map with this one. While it appreciates the TSX's powertrain quality and performance, it has misgivings when it comes to features accessories quality and body interior quality. It rates a slightly better than average predicted reliability rating from this organization.

From a base price of just less than $35,000 in 2009, the TSX has dropped to the mid-$20,000 range, depending upon options and extras. The top-of-the-line Technology package, with all the goodies, is fetching about $3,000 more.

Tech specs

2009 Acura TSX

Original Base Price: $34,995; Black Book: $24,950; Red Book: $23,150-$26,150

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Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 201 hp/172 lb-ft

Transmission: Five-speed automatic/six-speed manual

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.5 city/5.7 highway; premium gas

Drive: Front-wheel

Alternatives: Audi A4, Cadillac CTS, BMW 323i, Nissan Altima 2.5, Saab 9-3, Subaru Legacy Spec B

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