Consumer Road Test: The 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

Come on, let’s face facts. Driving an SUV/Crossover is just not cool anymore. They clog our streets and freeways to such a degree that you wonder if maybe the drivers of these rather large vehicles should be required to have special licenses as they are so maddeningly unmanageable in the wilds of suburbia.

Also, the Escalade is about as engaging and fun to drive as piloting a runaway tractor trailer mixed deftly with GM steering rack slop that seems to have been taken directly out of 1986. Really GM, just because it’s an SUV doesn’t mean you can goof off with the driving dynamic come development time.

Whereas some people need the space and utility of a three row Chevy Tahoe (or convince themselves that they do), it is clear that vehicles the size of the Tahoe have had their best years in the rear view mirror if only for the recently renewed competition from the more “right sized” and fun 2011 Dodge Durango.

So if you are used to a gutless, inefficient, overly complicated luxury SUV that you pretty much loathe driving there really is hope to have affordability, luxury, space efficiency and plenty of spirited driving fun with the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon. Dare I say that I think it is the best model Acura sells, especially when you take into account the features, price, luxury and style that you get for a price perilously close to the far more boring Subaru Outback.

The basic 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon starts at just $30,960 and is well equipped with features like full leather seating, Bluetooth, a power moonroof, USB/iPod integration, 17-inch aluminum alloys, a 360-watt 7-speaker audio system, XM Satellite radio. Standard fit is the 2.4 liter 201 horsepower 4-cylinder mated to a five-speed automatic and while you may think that isn’t enough power I can tell you that the TSX Sport Wagon could run circles around most crossovers or SUVs.

Honda and Acura made their names building 4-cylinder engines that made racy noises, were efficient and offered up reasonable power all through the rev range. That is one characteristic of the 2.4 liter motor in this TSX Sport Wagon – it is just always ready to go when you are with a growl that will make you want to go faster.

All in all, this is one of Acura’s best ride and handling compromises and the light feel in the TSX sedan’s steering seemed less in evidence with the Sport Wagon than with my previous drives in the sedan but that could very well be my imagination. Just feel safe knowing tidy handling and grin inducing corner carving are not out of the question in the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon. EPA fuel economy estimates of 22 city/.30 highway mean decent cruising distances thanks to the large-ish 18.5 gallon fuel tank.

Well worth the extra outlay is the $34,610 as it includes the latest generation of Acura’s peerlessly intuitive in-dash navigation system, their awe inspiring Acura /ELS 10-speaker Premium audio system, a power tailgate (it’s surprising how fast you begin to rely on this luxury), a back-up camera, 15-GB of song storage and a navigation/audio/phone center screen that was enlarged and now offers up more digital clarity and graphics for 2011.

During a week with my 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon I moved a whole wardrobe’s worth of clothes from one house to another and even did the monthly Costco shopping without having to drop the split folding rear seats. Cargo volume rivals most SUVs this size with 25.8 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and shooting up to 60.5 with the rear seats folded flat. In fact, this commodious cargo area mixed with the TSX’s low ride height and plethora of cargo hooks (for attaching safety harnesses) all conspire to make the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon a very smart buy for dog owners.

So, no matter if you have 2 or less children or just have a dog, it is seriously time to start thinking about a vehicle like the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon. Are you really the type to follow the herd when it comes to your life and not actively try to seek out the simple pleasure of just driving again? The 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon made me want to drive it and for something so utilitarian to do that is a miracle in itself.

So are you ready for the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon? The only thing you will have to lose is your anonymity. Oh yes, did I mention that Acura is only making 4,000 this year for the U.S. That’s such a shame because I think more Toyota RAV4’s are sold in a month.