The 2009 Acura TSX wasn't exactly the car I pictured for my honeymoon, but the Audi S5 is currently off press fleets as it receives its new V6. After paying for a wedding without accruing any debt we were just happy to have a car waiting for us at San Francisco International Airport and, honestly, people who make those kinds of mental fiscal calculations are deservedly in the crosshairs of the TSX.
At least it had the technology package. When you've just put yourself through the torturous mental Olympics we deceivingly refer to as "a wedding" you want to shut your brain off and enjoy yourself for a while. The Acura Navigation System, with an 8-inch screen and built-in traffic and weather info system, allowed us to do just this. Short of Ford's SYNC, it's a pretty nice setup.
San Francisco was designed by a prepubescent sadist playing Sim City 2000. More than one intersection we crossed was a blind alley with a two-way stop, on a hill, with a cable car line running through the middle of it. There's a reason why God sent an earthquake and then a fire. But I digress. We were able to find the Golden Gate Bridge easily and on the first attempt. Try finding it without a map. You'll go freaking insane.
Though nothing will make you appreciate so antiquated a system as a cable car as driving around downtown San Francisco, the TSX made the experience easy. This isn't a knock. In city driving the TSX doesn't remove you from the driving experience in the same way some luxury cars might: by numbing the senses. It merely provides the right amount of input when needed. For instance, the Grade Logic Control system did a nice job of not shifting down-up, down-up like most automatic transmissions do when climbing hills. Rather, it selected the appropriate low gear and held it.
The second day of our honeymoon, after an appropriate amount of sleeping-in, we made haste for California's central coast. High on the list of honeymoon activities I was looking forward to and, simultaneously, feel comfortable sharing with strangers, was the drive on California's coastal Cabrillo Highway between San Francisco and a little resort outside of Santa Cruz.
This stretch of highway is uncompromisingly beautiful, consisting primarily of uninterrupted two-lane roads dipping in and out of a rolling winter fog. If it weren't for the many curves, I'd have probably spent more time staring out over the rocky cliffs embracing the serene Pacific water to my right or contemplating the rich green textures of the coastal redwoods to my left. But I didn't want to drive off a cliff on my honeymoon. There's something you'll hear about for the rest of a marriage.
Under these conditions the little Acura performed adequately, though "you performed adequately" isn't something you really want to say or hear during a honeymoon. There's not a ton of power, especially in the low end, but the typically revtastic 2.4-Liter Acura had enough juice to get through the short straights. The 5-speed automatic transmission isn't aggressively geared or tuned for any type of racing, but a downshift using the wheel-mounted paddles yields reasonable oomph to pass a slowly-climbing VW loaded with surf gear. The suspension is soft and can get bent out of shape on the twistier roads, but not without letting you know you shouldn't be doing such a thing.
Here's the best way I can explain it. My wife knows the look I get on my face when I'm about to drive in a way she doesn't deem appropriate. The rocky drops into oblivion and, at times, visibility of less than 100-feet put her especially on edge. While crossing the less-challenging parts of the highway she barely noticed I was driving quickly. Even as I grew more confident with the car she had to look over to take notice of the higher speeds. The TSX is super quiet.
And then we got to what should have been the fun part of the road. The constant downshifting to get the TSX to really pull made it clear to her what I was trying to do. Even worse, when things got really hot and heavy the so-called premium sedan did more body rolling than us. This week was supposed to be about "Yes, es, yes!" but the Acura was screaming "No, no, no!"
Pulling into Santa Cruz the car regained its composure and proved why it's so popular with boring people. You don't want to risk trying a new restaurant? It'll pull up the Zagat guide and show you the nearest restaurant and its ratings for price and ambiance. Afraid to listen to new music? Your iPod will seamlessly integrate with the car's 10-speaker audio system. Truly wonderful. It outclassed the crappy downloaded music in my iPod. Fearful of the outside world? You can't even hear the outside world.
Maybe it was fortuitous we ended up with the TSX for our Honeymoon. We never got lost. The front cockpit's immensely comfortable. It had plenty of room for our luggage. It got us to-and-fro safely. It was fuel-efficient. Most importantly, I never lost focus on the real reason I went on a honeymoon. Not that I would do such a thing, even for an S5, but with the TSX, I had no desires to sneak out of the honeymoon suite in the middle of the night for an illicit drive.