Acura RSX 2005: The Weekly Driver

As the entry level Acura, the RSX is a compact coupe that complements the often highly recommended manufacturer’s varied other offerings.

For 2005, the 2-door hatchback has several upgrades from the previous year, including a revised suspension, steering and brakes. Among other improvements, some models have more horsepower, more heavily bolstered seats and an increase from 16 to 17-inch wheels.

For my weekly drive, I scooted around town and on the freeway in the Type-S, the highest-performance of the RSX models. Like other Acuras, the RSX is a recommended purchase by ConsumerGuide, the monthly national review magazine based in Illinois.

But as much as I tried to like the RSX, several things about the vehicle just never seemed likeit warranted best-buy status. There’s nothing particularly inferior about the car, but nor is any exterior or interior feature outstanding.

The Acura RSX is grouped with the Mini-Cooper and the Scion tC in the sporty/performance category. As such, they shouldn’t be expected to offer spacious luxury of any sort. Nevertheless, as a 6-foot, 180-pound driver, I never felt comfortable driving the car. But it wasn’t just me. My wife is 5-foot-4 and weighs 115 pounds. She remarked several times that as both the driver and a front-seat passenger, she never felt comfortable.

Our assessment: the seats are not constructed with sufficiently cushioned material and their positioning in the vehicle seems to be an afterthought. Correspondingly, there’s little head or sufficient leg room for a driver or front-passenger my size. And entering and/or exiting the car is awkward at best.

Sports cars are not usually known for quiet rides. And while not expecting much, the RSX is noisy even by sports car standards. There was sufficient wind noise on the freeway as well as tire noise in most driving circumstances.

There’s nothing overtly stylish about the RSX. Instrumentation is nondescript, although gauges are angled toward the driver for easier reading. The overall interior design is adequate, but the materials are basic and without any distinguishing features or nuances.

As a sports car, the RSX has merit. The Type-S has 210 horsepower and it’s rated at 0-60 mph at 7.8 seconds for 2004, with a slight improvement expected for ’05. The vehicle’s steering and handling are perhaps the car’s best offering. Cornering is tight and the steering wheel has a firm feel and offers precision maneuvering – like one would expect in a sports car. Gas mileage estimates in city and highway situations are good, although premium fuel is recommended for the Type-S and regular for the base model RSX.

Despite good horsepower. the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve car feels slightly sluggish and there’s a slight hesitation when a quick power jolt is required. The car’s responsiveness improves at higher rpms.

The vehicle has a good selection of standard features, with Type-S adding 50 additional horsepower over the base model as well as a Bose AM/FM cassette player with six-disc CD changer, a rear spoiler and the aforementioned increase from 16 to 17-inch wheels.

Standard features on all models include: cruise control, split-folding rear seat, power windows, doors and locks, remote keyless entry and a power sunroof, among a host of other commond industry features.

But when it’s all added up, the RSX falls short. Most Acura models for 2005 have received best-buy status from various consumer publications. It’s just difficult to understand why the RSX is included.

2005 Acura RSX

Safety features – Driver and passenger dual front and side airbags. Antilock brakes.

Fuel Mileage (estimates) – 23 (city), 31 (highway).

Warranty – Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years, unlimited mileage; (24-hour) roadside assistance program.

Base price – $23,570.00

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