2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

SAN FRANCISCO — If you are a fan of the entry-level luxury Acura TSX sedan — and there will be about 30,000 new owners this year — then we think you will be a fan of the new TSX Sport Wagon. It has the same sporty nature as the sedan.

But the wagon hauls up to 60 cubic feet of cargo for the young family on the go or the empty nester who values space, economy and the sports sedan experience.

Wagons have always been a worthy alternative to the sport utility crossovers with better handling and superior fuel economy, but with about the same space. For instance, cargo space in the TSX wagon is almost identical to its Acura RDX crossover sibling.

Acura officials estimate that only about 4,000 sport wagons will be sold in the U.S. in 2011, but they are banking on even broader sales once the public has an opportunity to get up close and personal with the car. It has an attractive stance, a looker that can stand up to the competition including BMW, Audi and Volvo in the small luxury wagon segment.

We discovered on the winding roads north of San Francisco that the TSX is a joy to drive, surprisingly lively with the only available engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Obviously the TSX is not a performance champion, but its overall balance and stability on the twists and turns makes it a contender.

Acura officials say there will be no manual transmission option because so few people buy it. For that reason we wish Acura had taken the extra step and replaced the five-speed automatic with a six-speed providing better gas mileage and perhaps improved performance. As it stands, gas mileage is reasonable at 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.

The front drive only TSX Sport Wagon can be purchased with cutting-edge technology. In fact there are only two trim levels, base at $31,820 including destination charge, and with the technology package at $35,470.

The Sport Wagon goes on sale Dec. 21.

— Jim Meachen