Station wagons ruled the ’70s and ’80s, but the ’90s brought a paradigm shift in automotive purchasing. Station wagons quickly became associated with old folks, while car buyers flocked to the taller and flashier xUVs that brought with them an image of youthfulness and adventure. The station wagon was out and the xUV was in. There are CUVs, SUVs, XUVs, you name it. Stick a word in front of “utility vehicle” and you have the core of your new marketing message locked down.
Unfortunately, none of these describe what should be considered the most practical utility vehicle of all, the classic station wagon. The clean lines, the squared-off rear, the ample utility–yes, vans and xUVs get close to fitting the bill, but don’t capture the nostalgia and personality one gets from a station wagon.
Against all odds, there are still a few manufacturers that believe people will buy wagons and have taken the risk of bringing them to the U.S. market. At current count, there are fewer than ten manufacturers with proper station wagons for sale in the United States. One such manufacturer who took the gamble is Acura, introducing their TSX Sport Wagon to the U.S. market for the 2011 model year.
While the TSX Sport Wagon is only in its second year in the U.S. market, the underlying platform is a known (and appreciated) TSX which we really love. Starting at just $31,360, the TSX Sport Wagon is only $1150 more expensive than the TSX sedan. Our TSX Sport Wagon tester featured the Technology Package which adds another $3650 to the base price making the bottom line a reasonable $35,010. For that extra $3650 buyers get Bluetooth, navigation, a rear view camera, a power hatch, and a fantastic 10-speaker stereo. For an entry level luxury vehicle, the TSX Sport Wagon is one hell of a bargain even when fully equipped.
Though the TSX Sport Wagon is essentially a lightly reskinned European Honda Accord like its sedan sibling, it is one of the best looking vehicles in Acura’s lineup. The TSX doesn’t suffer from the odd proportions of the corporate beak like the TL and actually has an aggressive looking stance when viewed from the rear. We personally think that the TSX Sport Wagon actually looks better than the TSX sedan because of the rear profile. Chrome treatment is abundant throughout, from the roof rails to window trim to door handles. The TSX Sport Wagon is one of the few vehicles that actually looks more expensive than it is.
The interior of the TSX Sport Wagon is equally as impressive as the exterior. High quality black leather, high quality plastics and just the right amount of brushed metal-look trim really give the TSX an upscale look that separates itself from its more pedestrian Honda Accord cousin. Most radio and HVAC functions can be directly carried out with the push of one of the many buttons, though some features still needed to be activated through the easy to use menus on the navigation system.
Engineers have done a great job of packaging with the interior of the TSX Sport Wagon. There is plenty of legroom for both front seat and rear seat occupants, assuming the front seat occupants are 6 foot tall and under. Any taller than that and the TSX Sport Wagon loses rear leg room quickly.
The business end of the TSX Sport Wagon is the rear cargo area which has a capacity of 31.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 66.2 cubic feet with them down. For the record, that’s more cargo space than the Acura RDX with the seats up, and more cargo space than the Infiniti FX with the seats up or down.
The rear cargo compartment of the TSX is large enough to fit a few days worth of luggage for 3 to 4 people comfortably, but gets a bit on the tight side when you start adding larger hard side suitcases. Ease of loading the rear compartment is a bit hindered when it is more than halfway full due to the tapered design of the TSX.
Under the hood, the TSX Sport Wagon features a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine which makes 170lb/ft of torque at 4300rpm. Power is transferred to the front wheels by way of a 5-speed automatic transmission. While the TSX Sport Wagon won’t be winning a ton of drag races with the 201 horsepower engine, it still does a reasonable job of getting the 3,600 pound wagon moving and never felt underpowered. An optional V6 engine might be more befitting of the TSX Sport Wagon, but of course that would increase the cost of the car and we’re not entirely convinced that it needs it. The EPA rates the TSX Sport Wagon at 22 mpg city and 30 highway. We averaged 26 mpg in mixed driving.
The only real problem we have with the TSX Sport Wagon is in its name. While the TSX Sport Wagon is certainly more fun to drive than the average mid-size sedan, it’s still a bit short on the sport side of things largely in part to the complete absense of steering feel and a suspension that also allows the TSX to roll quite a bit in corners. Take out the word ‘sport’ and the TSX Wagon is still the same great driving experience as the TSX Sedan.
Despite our minor gripes with the performance of the car, we grew to really admire the TSX Sport Wagon in the week we spent with it. With its great looks, tech offerings and comfortable ride and the TSX Sport Wagon is a car we would be happy to put mile after mile on. Buyers need to forget about the wood panel Country Squires of days gone by and realize that modern station wagons are more engaging to drive than most SUVs, while providing nearly the same amount of cargo room as the best selling xUVs on the market. The Acura TSX Sport Wagon is an exceptional example of the modern station wagon, and one of the best utility vehicle values on the market today.
Acura provided Speed:Sport:Life with the vehicle for review.