The Acura TSX at 20 Years Old

It is hard to believe that twenty years have passed since the Acura TSX sports sedan was introduced.

On April 3, 2003, the 2004 TSX first went on sale nationwide as the gateway sedan to the Acura brand at a suggested retail price of $26,490. It was slotted between the compact RSX three-door coupe and the larger TL V6 sedan. The TSX’s closest predecessor, the beloved Integra, had been retired a couple of years prior when Acura moved toward alphanumeric model names across the entire lineup.

Acura’s Vice President of Corporate Planning and Logistics, Dan Bonawitz, said at the time, “The TSX is designed to compete head-on with other premium sports sedans from Europe and Japan.”

Worth noting is that this model was in reality a badge-engineered version of the European-market seventh-generation Honda Accord, which had already been on sale in world markets. Unique to the European lineup was a “Tourer” station wagon variant that never came stateside. From a styling perspective, aside from the “H” badge on the grille, it’s hard to tell the difference between the Euro Accord and the North American TSX.

The first-generation “CL9” chassis TSX was assembled in Sayama, Japan. Under the hood, power came from an aluminum alloy “K24” inline-four motor that generated 200 horsepower, and torque was fed to the front wheels through either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transaxle. The only available option, aside from dealer-installed accessories, was a $2,000 touch-screen navigation system with voice recognition. Part of the appeal of the TSX was its fully equipped configuration; standard features included dual-zone automatic climate control, a power moonroof, high-intensity discharge headlights, and keyless entry.

A mid-model change was applied in 2006 when the motor received an additional five horsepower. Cosmetic enhancements at the time included refreshed treatment for the front and rear, fog lamps, and redesigned wheels. On the interior added options included two-position driver seat memory, an audio jack in the center console, an information display in the gauge cluster, and larger buttons and fonts throughout the cabin. A completely new generation later launched for the 2009 model year with larger dimensions both inside and out.

I’m admittedly Acura-obsessed, so it was only a matter of time until I needed to own and experience a TSX for myself. The opportunity presented itself on Christmas week 2022 when I acquired the keys to a friend’s Arctic Blue Pearl 2006 model while on a visit to southern Utah. Even though the paint was in sorry shape and the odometer showed a relatively high 188,000 miles, the car ran and drove well. Best of all, it came optioned with both the navigation system as well as the slick-shifting six-speed manual.

My “new-to-me” TSX tackled my 400-mile drive home to Phoenix on Christmas Eve with ease, with its rev-happy K24 powertrain buzzing happily between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm at highway speed for the duration of the trek. Back at the house, I took inventory of the service records that accompanied the car and did a thorough inspection.

Coming up, I’ll be addressing the car’s needed cosmetic restoration and while I’m at it, I might add a factory spoiler and some other exterior add-ons to the car to dress it up a little.

Who would have thought the words “restoration” and “Acura TSX” could be used in the same sentence? This is yet another example of how the collector-car market is forever evolving as the decades roll onward. Stay tuned!

The Journal

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