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2010 Acura TSX Compact Near-Luxury Sedan

What was tested?: 2010 Acura TSX V6 with Technology Package ($37,950).

Options: None.

Price as tested (including $810 destination charge): $38,760.

Pros: It's good mix of comfort and performance, offering a quiet and smooth ride on the highway with fun-to-drive dynamics. It has great acceleration with the V6.

Cons: The back seat could use more knee room, especially if the front passengers are tall, and not everyone likes Acura's new corporate shield grille.

Never has a vehicle been more polarizing in the Price household than the Acura RSX.

When I first drove it several years ago, I adored this entry-luxury car because it had a suspension that would pulverize your bones and a little engine that shrieked like a poltergeist. And, for the exact same reasons, my wife hated it.

Try as we might, nothing could bring us together on this car. I would take it zipping around town just to hear the ghost yelling from under the hood, but my wife refused to even ride in it.

It's no wonder, then, that Acura stopped selling the RSX a few years ago. It made half the population grin while the other half sulked in disgust.

Thankfully, its far more civilized replacement -- called the TSX -- is good enough to please us both.

This entry-level luxury car bridges the gap between stodgy sedans and juvenile sport compact cars. It has a stylish body -- among Acura's best, in my opinion -- that looks perfectly sophisticated without trying too hard to hide its sporty character, blatantly flexing its biceps just beneath the sheet metal.

The sculpted, athletic look of the TSX is more fitting now that Acura offers a V6 engine in the 2010 edition. It's the same V6 you can get in the bigger and heavier Acura TL, so you can imagine what happens when it's shoehorned into the smaller car.

The acceleration is epic. It's the kind of rush you normally expect with a more expensive sports sedan -- say, a $50,000 BMW -- but not from anything with a more value-oriented Acura badge on the hood. The TSX starts at $29,310, and even with the V6 it's priced under $35,000. Still, the TSX isn't all about racing from stoplight to stoplight. It does that exceptionally well, which is a nice plus, but it's actually a much more reasonable, responsible car than any boy racer.

The cabin is stylishly simple with a modern, almost cold feel. The high-tech design comes from generous use of metallic-look trim in the cabin, which nicely sets off all the gauges and buttons. There's plenty of front-seat space, but the back seat could use more knee room when tall people are riding up front.

Ride quality is also outstanding. The suspension has a firm, sporty feel in the corners -- just as you'd expect in a vehicle engineered by Honda -- but it's also comfortable enough for long highway trips. It transitions well between different types of driving, whether pushing it on country roads or cruising in a straight line on the interstate. And that's the best part about the TSX, something its forbearer never had: a personality that makes it both a practical car for my wife and a fun toy for me.

Style: 8
Performance: 9
Price: 9 Handling: 9 Ride: 8 Comfort: 7 Quality: 8 Overall: 8