Acura's big news at this year's New York auto show was an update to its smallest model. The TSX gets a few significant cabin tech upgrades, including the availability of real-time traffic and weather information, an available ELS premium sound system, and as-standard iPod and USB integration.
While Acura makes no mention of it in any of its news releases, we discovered that the new TSX is also apparently capable of supporting Bluetooth audio streaming.
The 2009 TSX has a wheelbase that is 1.3-inches longer than the current model and gets an extra 2.4 inches in overall length. The model is also the first from Acura to make use of inside frame rails, which are design to improve underfloor aerodynamics.
Structural updates to the TSX include the closed-channel cross-braced roof structure for greater rigidity, a stronger rear bulkhead, and new A-, B-, and C-pillar separators to improved noise and vibrations at high speeds.
Like other recent Acura models, the new TSX features a central console packed with a barrage of controls for the navigation and audio systems. The design improves upon earlier versions with the addition of a prominent power-volume knob, letting drivers turn the stereo volume up or down without having to hunt around for the relevant button.
The 2009 TSX is also available with Acura's XM-sourced real-time traffic information service, which to date was optional only on higher-end models. This updated version of AcuraLink features dynamic route guidance, which proactively suggests alternative directions when traffic is detected on the current route.
The AcuraLink weather service uses XM's "Threat Matrix" technology to track nationwide weather information for more than 20 different weather conditions, then scales and customizes this detail to the driver's location and route.
However, a look outside would have told us the same thing, and on our test drive the AcuraLink weather system had failed to warn us in advance that there would be a snow storm on our route, meaning that we got trapped in blizzards for hours. Not the most auspicious of starts for the new service.
The TSX gets a seven-speaker sound system, Acuras' Bluetooth HandsFreeLink phone interface, and a USB port for audio playback all as standard equipment. For audiophiles, the TSX is available with a 10-speaker ELS 5.1 surround-sound system, tuned by Grammy-winning sound engineer Elliot Scheiner.
The 2009 TSX is available with either a six-speed manual--complete with short-throw shifter--or a five-speed automatic gearbox, which can be activated using steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. According to Acura, the manual transmission makes use of "performance-oriented ratios" for Second through Sixth gears, while the the Sequential SportShift automatic transmission features a new lock-up torque converter assembly.
The TSX becomes the second car (following the Acura RL) to get XM's real-time weather tracking system. Available as part of the TSX's Technology Package, the service is integrated into the navigation system and provides information in a variety of at-a-glance formats on weather conditions for the current route or for other parts of the country.
Despite Acura's claims that the new TSX is more powerful than its predecessor, its 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine gets four fewer horsepower than the current model, delivering a still-respectable 201 horsepower. Torque is increased to 172 foot-pounds, however, and the TSX gets an improved ULEV emissions rating from the California Air Resources Board.