- Excellent handling for a FWD chassis.
- Linear power build-up, unlike old Integra's VTEC.
- Great interior with high level of standard equipment.
- Acceptable fuel economy.
- Quick-shifting manual transmission.
- Controversial styling.
- Front suspension is good, but double wishbones will be missed.
- Looks a little too tall for a sporty coupe.
- Tight back seat.
- Limited luggage space.
Press Coverage :
Since its debut in July of 2001, the RSX sports coupe has been an unqualified success, winning an array of industry awards including being named to Car and Driver's "10 Best" and Ward's "10 Best Engines" lists. To maintain the RSX's position as the benchmark in its class, Acura's dynamic sports coupe receives substantial performance and styling enhancements for 2005 that update its dynamic looks, refine and modernize the interior and make it even more fun to drive.
The base RSX is powered by advanced engines that feature i-VTEC "intelligent" valve-control systems, combining VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) with VTC (Variable Timing Control). The i-VTEC system delivers enhanced performance across a broad power band in addition to improved fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions.
To deliver a race-bred driving experience, the RSX is equipped with a 16-valve, DOHC, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces an impressive 160 horsepower and 141 lb.-ft. of torque. The RSX comes with either a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission that operates like a conventional automatic or, in SportShift mode, puts gear selection in the hands of the driver. The automatic transmission also features Grade Logic Control, which reduces shift frequency by holding the engine in a lower gear for better hill climbing and increased engine braking. The Acura RSX engine meets stringent CARB Low Emissions Vehicle-II (LEV-2) standards and is designed to run for 110,000 miles before the first scheduled tune-up.
For 2005, the suspensions on both RSX models were optimized through an assortment of modifications designed to enhance handling while promoting an even smoother ride. Suspension enhancements for 2005 include a revised geometry, reduced ride height, retuned bushings, thicker stabilizer bars, firmer damper settings and inversely wound front coil springs that neutralize unwanted steering input caused by spring windup.
The Acura RSX utilizes a high-mounted rack-and-pinion power steering system that increases tracking stability, toe control and steering feel. In front, a unique Control-Link MacPherson strut suspension, designed specifically for the RSX, enhances cornering performance while minimizing weight and maximizing interior room. Compared to conventional strut designs, this system provides superior suspension geometry and control by adding a control link to precisely manage toe change throughout the suspension travel. At the rear, the RSX features a compact double-wishbone system that helps deliver quick, confident handling, and a smooth, compliant ride while maximizing interior room. Gas-pressurized shock absorbers precisely control suspension stroke to smooth out the bumps while front and rear stabilizer bars reduce body roll.
Standard 4-wheel disc brakes with a 3-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) help to provide secure stopping power. The RSX is equipped with 10.3-inch ventilated discs in front and 10.2-inch discs at the rear. Each RSX model wears beefy 205/55R16 Michelin all-season high-performance tires on five-spoke alloy wheels.
For 2004, the RSX received heated sideview mirrors and a new exterior color, with Milano Red replacing Redondo Red Pearl. Standard safety highlights include Acura's innovative dual-stage air bag system. While yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the RSX is expected to achieve a 5-star NCAP rating for frontal impact, a 4-star SINCAP rating for side impact and is also expected to garner a "good" (highest rating possible) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rating for front offset impact. Standard amenities on all RSX models include an Automatic Climate Control System, power moonroof, high-output audio system with in-dash CD player, keyless entry system with anti-theft engine immobilizer, heated power sideview mirrors, and power windows with an auto-up/down feature on the driver's window. The deeply bolstered sport seats of the RSX are made from handsome fabric with simulated suede trim. Perforated leather seating surfaces are optional on the RSX.
For 2005, Acura updated the styling to make the RSX look lower, faster and more aggressive. In front, the fascia has been redesigned with lower, rectangular air ducts, aggressive-looking tri-beam headlights and a new Acura-family grille. Side sills on the RSX are now body colored and wrap further around the car to highlight the new wheels and tires. The rear of the RSX was redesigned with new taillight assemblies, a new bumper and larger diameter exhaust tips.
The 2005 RSX is available in the following exterior colors: Taffeta White, Nighthawk Black, Satin Silver Metallic, Vivid Blue Pearl and Milano Red. Four additional exterior color options added for 2005 include: Magnesium Metallic, Vivid Blue Pearl, Jade Green Metallic and Blaze Orange Metallic, which replace Artic Blue Pearl, Eternal Blue Pearl and Desert Silver Metallic.
Like all Acura models, the RSX is covered by a comprehensive 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Additional ownership benefits include Acura Total Luxury Care (TLC), which provides free 24-hour roadside assistance, concierge service and trip routing.
The Acura RSX replaces the automaker's eight-year-old Integra, which came as a coupe and sedan. The life of sporty cars is generally several years shorter than that of the Integra.
Now that it's here, the front-drive Acura RSX seems worth the wait. It has been revamped so much that it seems as if from a different automaker, although the new model has Acura's traditionally high quality.
The Acura RSX has essentially the same dimensions of the front-drive Integra. But this two-door hatchback has a cab-forward design and minimal front and rear overhangs for better interior space utilization. There's more headroom up front, and a revised rear suspension helps provide a flat floor back there.
Styling isn't especially distinctive, but the RSX does look racier than its predecessor coupe with its broad stance, sharply raked hood and compound-curved window glass, which is thinner than the Integra glass to save weight.
The equipment level is impressively high, with such things as automatic climate control, a power sunroof, remote keyless entry and power windows, door locks and mirrors.
In fact, the only significant options for the base model are $1,000 leather upholstery, which is standard in the Type-S, and a $900 5-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission that can be shifted like a clutchless manual. The transmission for the standard RSX is a 5-speed manual.
And you must shift gears a lot to get the best acceleration from either model because, after all, the engine is small and the equipment-loaded RSX is fairly heavy.
Acceleration is rather sluggish at low engine speeds. But the engine comes to life when the tachometer needle hits about 3000 rpm because it has dual overhead camshafts, 16 valves, a free-flow exhaust system and complicated valve timing and control systems.
A downshift is needed with the manual from top to third gear for the best 65-75 mph passing. And quick moves in freeway traffic can't be made in top gear.
Fuel economy is pretty good: in the low 20-mpg range in the city and in the low 30s on the highway.
The Acura RSX is based on Honda's Global Compact Platform also used by the Honda Civic. That results in the RSX losing its race-style double-wishbone front suspension, which is replaced by a damper strut setup.
However, the new front suspension does allow more interior room, and there is a new highly compact double-wishbone suspension at the rear.
Despite the front-strut setup, RSX has sharp handling, although it's awfully nose-heavy; pop the hood and you'll see that the engine is set so far forward in its surgically neat compartment that it almost seems to reach the front bumper.
The power steering is quick and precise, although rather heavy. A supple suspension and fairly long (for a subcompact coupe) 101.2-inch wheelbase smooth out the ride.
The brake pedal has a nice linear feel and stopping distances are short with the all-disc brake setup and standard anti-lock system. The standard RSX has larger brakes than the Integra.
A stiffer body structure and good amount of sound insulation results in a quiet interior. The dashboard curves toward the driver and comfortable front bucket seats hug you in corners and contain integrated side airbags. The thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel provides good grip.
But there is no center armrest and the rear roofline hinders visibility; it's a good idea to use the rearview mirrors a lot.
The rear-seat area is tight and hard to enter or leave. But there's decent room for a medium-height adult behind the right-front passenger. And cupholders are molded into rear armrests.
The cargo area is large, but has a high opening that won't be appreciated when heavy objects need to be put in and taken out. The 50/50 split-folding rear seatbacks fold forward easily and greatly increase the cargo area.
While overdue, the RSX has the styling, performance and comfort to satisfy many sports coupe buyers. It makes the decent Integra suddenly seem old-fashioned.
The engine that comes in the base RSX delivers adequate acceleration performance, but lacks the sporty response of the Type-S. The base engine develops 160 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 141 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. That's the same amount of torque developed by the Type-S engine except at much lower rpm, making the base RSX feel quite responsive around town. One benefit of the 160-hp engine: the RSX earns an EPA City/Highway rating of 27/33 mpg (24/33 with the automatic), while the Type-S gets 24/31 mpg. Also, the Type-S engine needs 91 octane, while the 160-hp RSX engine can get by with 87 octane, though Acura recommends premium for optimum performance.
The standard transmission in the base RSX is a five-speed manual, and it's the best match for the base 160-hp engine. The five-speed automatic transmission features Acura's Sequential SportShift system that allows the driver to shift gears semi-manually, without the need for a clutch pedal. In SportShift mode the driver has full control; unlike other semi-manual transmissions, the RSX transmission will not shift up or down unless directed to do so by the driver. It gives the driver more control than leaving it in Drive. Or you can simply put it in Drive and let it do its thing. Do that and you'll benefit from its Grade Logic Control, which reduces the tendency for it to hunt between gears when driving on steep hills. The serpentine shift gate makes going from Park to Drive and back again a bit clunky.
New Car Test Drive
1994-2001 Acura Integra RS / LS / GS coupe
1,797 cc / 140-142 hp / 125 lb-ft / 2529-2685 lbs / 0-60 mph 7.1 sec.