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2004 Acura TSX Compact Luxury Sedan

What was Tested?: 2004 Acura TSX Compact Luxury Sedan

Price as Tested: $28,490.

Mileage: 22 city / 29 highway.

There are so many nice things to say about the 2004 Acura TSX that I don't know where to start.

First of all, with the amount of luxury, technological features and the smooth ride, it's hard to believe this vehicle costs under $29,000. Options? No options necessary. It's all right there and in the standard price.

You do have the choice of a six-speed manual or five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission, however. Me, I'd choose the automatic for ease of operation. The automatic is standard and can be shifted manually for hands-on sporting fun. But having the choice with the manual also gives you a choice to pump up this premium sports sedan and take it to a new level.

Let's look at the powerful engine first. This 2.4-liter dual overhead cam 16-valve I-VTEC engine produces 200 horsepower is a four-cylinder that outperforms most six-cylinder engines out there. It's equipped with platinum-tipped spark plugs that allow you to go 110,000 miles before a scheduled tune-up.

The TSX has an extremely rigid body and four-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension that's designed to reduce lift and body roll with its front and rear stabilizer bars, there's also variable power assist rack-and-pinion steering that provides a smooth ride in almost any situation - even on dirt roads.

Traction control provides an added measure of safety, along with four-wheel disc brakes with a four-channel anti-lock braking system.

Enough about the guts of the vehicle, let's take a peek on the outer skin. Based on the European Honda Accord, the TSX's lines flow endlessly and without any interruption. The styling on the TSX is truly beautiful. From front to rear, the TSX looks very classy with a subtle hint of its sports car heritage. Its aim is to please, and it does.

Making every other driver flash their lights at me while driving at night was Acura's High Intensity Discharge headlights. Im sure you're noticing them more and more as the HID lights become standard on more vehicles.

They're ultra bright and somewhat annoying to other drivers. Their purpose is to light the road ahead of you brightly for your safety and the safety of others. While they can be annoying, they do a great job of lighting dark, unlit roads. You can see far ahead of you - something sometimes not possible with regular headlights.

Styling cues include large air openings under the front bumper and a high trunk lid that drops off sharply.

Stepping into the inside of the five-passenger TSX, you'll find comfort and luxury all around you. Instrumentation is a joy to look at and very pleasing to the eyes because of its LED-illuminated front. At night, it's downright gorgeous to watch. Very well done.

There's leather on the seating surfaces, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and leather surfaces all around. The steering wheel has audio and cruise control buttons for operation without taking your eyes off the road.

The rear seat is a 60/40-split fold-down seat that has three-point seatbelts in all seating positions. The cargo space in the trunk measures 13 cubic feet and is expanded more when the seat is down.

Other amenities you'll enjoy as standard equipment include driver's eight-way power seat, heated front seats, AM/FM/CD changer with 360-watts and eight speakers, power windows and door locks, automatic up and down window controls, keyless remote locking system, HomeLink system, power door mirrors with turn indicators, intermittent wipers that are speed sensitive and power moon roof.

Safety issues are all taken care of in the TSX. There are driver's and front passenger dual-stage air bags, driver's and front passenger's side air bags, side curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes, theft deterrent system and side impact door beams.

The Acura Navigation System comes as a factory-installed option but is standard equipment at no additional cost. The system is very sophisticated and features voice recognition technology.

The system has an eight-inch touch screen display and features a destination guide that has more than seven million points of interest throughout the U.S., 3-D graphics for freeway on and off ramps and turn-by-turn voice guidance. It's easy to use and easier to listen to. I punched in an up-north location and it actually popped up on the screen -- something that hasn't happened with any other navigation system before.

All in all, the Acura TSX is sure to please the most discriminating driver and provide a level of comfort and luxury at a price most can afford. Go get yourself one.

Power: 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine.

Where built: Sayama, Saitama, Japan.