As Acura's entry-level vehicle, the RSX is positioned in the sporty coupe class. It's perfectly categorized.
With its stylish, contoured exterior, firm contouring seats, tight-shifting, six-speed manual (Type-S) transmission and compact racing steering wheel, the RSX is an economically priced sports car that's fun to drive and grabs its share of attention on the road.
My test drive for the week couldn't have been more conspicuous. The shiny red hatchback model drew a lot of attention, including a quick conversation with two retirees who “bolted" out a neighborhood barber shop to take a look at the car while I was at the nearby post office.
"What kind of car is that?" one of seniors asked when I returned and noticed them standing in front of the vehicle. “Look at that styling. That's a nice, little sports car. "
The RSX, particularly the Type S and its four-cyclinder, 16-valve, 200 horsepower engine, is exactly that.
Like other sports coupes, it has limited rear-seat room and it's noisy, particularly considering it's an Acura.
But with its tight-shifting gears, quick and responsive steering and zippy overall feel, the RSX is nothing but a fun drive, nicely appointed and economical offering by the well-respected manufacturer.
The list of standard technical, safey, interior and exterior features is impressive.
The interior, for example, includes perforated leather seats, automatic climate control, BOSE AM/FM casette and six-CD, in-dash CD changer, power window and door locks.
In addition to its aforementioned engine, standard technical features include four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion power steering and under normal road conditions and no scheduled tune-ups for 110,00 miles. A power sun and moon roof, 16-inch alloy wheels, power door mirrors and heated outside mirrors are among the exterior features.
One nice additonal design feature is the configuration of the hatchback and its removable security screen. With the screen attached, the sun is blocked and stored items can't be seen. With the screen detached and the rear split seats folded down, the coupe has enough extended back seat space for alpine skis or fence posts.
During my week with the vehicle, I had only one passenger, a good friend I drove into the Sierra Nevad foothills for a running event. He liked the car's styling, its simple, elegant instrumentation and its feel on the road. His only concern was that as a 5-10, 185 pound man, he couldn't fully extend his legs in the front seat.
With its $500 destination and handling fee, the price of my RSX was $23,820. As such, it's often-designated ranking as a consumer's guide “Best Buy" is difficult to dispute.
2004 Acura RSX
Safety features - Driver and front seat passenger dual stage front air and side air bags, ABS brakes.
Fuel Mileage (estimates) - 24 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway).
Warranty - Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years, unlimited mileage; 24-hour, roadside assistance, 4 years/ 50,000 miles.
Base price - $23,320.00.
James Raia is a syndicated journalist in Sacramento, California, who writes about sports, fitness, travel and lifestyle topics as well as the car review colum, The Weekly Driver.
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