Acura TSX (First Generation: 2004-2008)

Acura TSX First Generation
Image credit: Wikipedia

The first-generation Acura TSX was based on the European-market Honda Accord and was available in the United Status from the 2004-2008 model years. The second generation began in model-year 2009.

It’s worth considering as an alternative to a European sport-sedan of the same era. It has better reliability and cheaper parts, and it’s supposedly easier to work on, so maintenance costs should be much lower than a comparable Audi A4 or BMW 3-series from the early-to-mid 2000’s. In 2019, clean examples of the first-gen Acura TSX can be found for around $5,000. They will have over 100,000 miles on them, but considering how reliable these cars tend to be, the mileage should not be a concern.

The engine a Honda’s 2.4-liter inline-4, called the K24A3. It’s similar to the 2.4L I4 used in the 9th-gen Civic Si (the K24Z7), but it’s not identical, so it may have somewhat less aftermarket support.

Common Trouble Areas

None, apparently. Supposedly, the first-gen Acura TSX does not suffer from the transmission problems that plagued Acura and Honda in the early-to-mid 2000’s. It had a unique manual transmission. However, it’s proving somewhat difficult to track down a definitive source to prove this claim.

The only common complaint we’ve seen on the online forums is that Acura’s leather was somewhat thin and cheap, so if you don’t take care of it, it can crack. However, even in this area, the TSX seems to suffer less than other Honda/Acura cars of this era (the 2007-2008 Acura TL Type-S is known for ripped leather).

Changes

In 2005, Acura added a power passenger seat, XM satellite radio, and lights for the steering-wheel button, but the bigger difference was in 2006, when they added memory seats, and aux-in, and bluetooth.

Apple CarPlay / Android Auto

There are a few options for adding an aftermarket double-DIN unit to the TSX, but none of them are great.

Ashtray Area

Using this kit, you can install an aftermarket double-DIN touchscreen head unit in the ashtray area of the TSX. The installation is reasonably straightforward, but, because it will be positioned so low, it will be a bit difficult to see the screen while driving, which makes it less than optimal for things like navigating with Google Maps while driving.

Dashboard

A Metra-brand kit is available, but it is for non-navigation TSX’s only. Furthermore, you might need to make slight modifications to the kit for it to fit your specific car, and you have to be careful wiring it up, because there are many reports of the sensors for the automatic climate control not working correctly.

You can modify the kit to keep the OEM climate controls, but it will require a bit more work. Fortunately, an owner has done a good job of documenting how he accomplished it on a custom website with links to YouTube videos: https://tsxradio.weebly.com

Recommendation

The first-gen Acura TSX could be a good first manual-transmission car and a good commuter car, but it probably wouldn’t be the most exciting weekend fun car. We’d recommend looking for a 2006-2008 model to get the updated features. Furthermore, we’d recommend getting a non-navigation car. Not only is the OEM navigation hopelessly outdated, but it may prevent you from being able to upgrade to an aftermarket head unit that would let you add modern navigation or use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to display navigation from your phone.

Pros Cons
  • Reliable

  • Great manual transmission

  • Understated good looks

  • Good gas mileage

  • Basic luxury features

  • Acceleration is unimpressive

  • Front-wheel drive

  • Open differential

  • Not as much aftermarket support as a Civic Si

Sources

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