Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,000 – $12,800*


2002 Acura RSX


2002 Acura RSX interior


2003 Acura RSX Type S


2004 Acura RSX interior


2004 Acura RSX

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Instruments/controls
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Noise
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room

The fun-to-drive RSX was priced competitively when new, but fairly strong resale value keeps secondhand prices on the high side. The base version delivers most of the Type-S’s thrills for slightly fewer dollars, This Acura is better executed than its primary rivals, the Eclipse and Celica, though its high-strung engine may not appeal to those seeking relaxed day-to-day transportation.

Overview

Introduced for 2002, the front-drive RSX replaced Acura’s entry-level Integra. Though similar in dimensions, the RSX featured new styling and promised more power. The new model came only as a two-door hatchback coupe, whereas the Integra had been offered in coupe and sedan body styles.

Acura’s RSX came in both base and sportier, performance-oriented Type-S trim. Each used a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The 160-horsepower base model could have a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission. In the Type-S, the engine made 200 horsepower and was available only with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Type-S had a firmer suspension, but the same 16-inch wheels and tires as the base model.

Both versions included antilock four-wheel disc brakes and front side airbags, plus automatic climate control and a sunroof. Leather upholstery was standard in the Type-S and optional for the base RSX.

The Type-S also contained an in-dash CD changer.

Competitors included sport coupes like the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Toyota Celica, as well as the Mini Cooper and Volkswagen New Beetle. Acura is Honda’s luxury/premium division.

Yearly Updates

2003 RSX
Except for one new paint color, the RSX coupe was unchanged for 2003.
2004 RSX
Heated mirrors became standard for 2004, but other changes were few.
2005
Freshened styling, sporty-model upgrades, and 10 more horspower for the Type-S model mark Acura’s entry-level car for 2005. The Type-S also gets a standard rear spoiler and 17-inch wheels for ’05. Both trim levels get revised suspension, steering, and brakes, plus a minor facelift, more heavily bolstered front seats, and extra interior accents in chrome and faux titanium.
2006 RSX
No significant changes for 2006 RSX.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Two 2.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engines have been available in the RSX. Base models used a 160-horsepower version, while the Type-S got a 200-horsepower variant, which grows to 210-hp in 2005. Only a six-speed manual gearbox came with the Type-S, but base coupes could have either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 141
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
27/33
24/33
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 200-210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 142
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

24/31

24.9

Road Test

An RSX can feel sluggish at low rpm, but delivers impressive power above 3000 rpm. Acura claimed that the base model with manual transmission did 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds. A test Type-S accomplished that task in 7.8 seconds. As expected, the base model does not feel quite as quick, and an automatic transmission dulls performance somewhat.

Fuel economy is appealing. Type-S test models have averaged 24.9 to 26.2 mpg, including city/highway driving and performance tests. This suggests base models will also average close to EPA city ratings. Acura recommends premium fuel for the Type-S and regular for the base model.

A Type-S coupe rides slightly firmer than the base RSX, but a stiff, rattle-free structure partly compensates. Both versions feel firm, but not harsh or punishing.

Steering/handling in impressive on the base model, while the firmer-damped Type-S is slightly more athletic yet. Both have minimal body lean and good grip. Steering is quick, precise and nicely weighted, delivering good road feel. Brakes are powerful, especially on the Type-S with its larger front discs.

These coupes aren’t the quietest for long trips. Marked tire roar is always evident, accompanied by slight wind noise at highway speeds. The engine has a nicely refined note, but best performance requires staying above 4000 rpm, where engine and exhaust can get annoyingly loud.

Instruments and controls are legible and handy. Climate and audio controls are thoughtfully angled toward the driver, but slightly awkward for passenger use. The automatic climate system is less distracting to set than most rivals’. Cockpit materials are good quality, with a sporty, reasonably upscale feel–especially the Type-S with its perforated leather seats instead of cloth. Workmanship has been terrific on test Type-S coupes.

An RSX is small-car snug up front, but comfortable. Front legroom is good, though headroom is limited for tall adults. Seats are firm, with prominent side bolstering, but are well-shaped and supportive.

Small rear side windows, thick roof pillars and a tall deck hamper rearward visibility. The back seat is cramped for adults, but okay for kids on short trips, though headroom is very limited. Rear entry/exit is typical of small coupes: an awkward squeeze between the front seat and doorjamb, although the tip-slide right front seat helps.

Cargo space is useful but not generous. All told, this is a versatile load carrier, with hatchback design and easy-fold split rear seatbacks, but high liftover is a minus. Cabin storage is slightly subpar, too.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Acura RSX Type-S

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 8
80%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 46

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.2 172.2 67.9 54.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
17.8 13.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 43.1 30.1 29.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Clutch
Description: The master cylinder for the clutch system may leak fluid onto the driver’s side interior, requiring a new master cylinder.
Exhaust system
Description: Exhaust odors, particularly rotten egg odor from catalytic converter, enters cabin. Rubber flappers in tailgate drain holes usually corrects it. (2002-04)
Steering noise
Description: The serpentine accessory drive belt may squeal because of poorly machined grooves in the power steering pulley.
Paint/body
Description: The front inner fenders tend to crack and, when replacing them, modified clips must be used.
Check-engine light
Description: The variable valve timing control valve may stop working and turn on the check engine light, requiring a new valve.

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.