Driver's Guide

Is an Acura RSX a Good First Car?

You are a potential first-time car owner and already planning and saving up for driver’s education and eventually, your first car – an Acura RSX. But is an Acura RSX a good first car? It seems you have already shown interest in the 2002-2006 Acura RSX models, and you’re curious if this could be a good fit for your first car experience. Well, this post has the needed advice and suggestions to help you make this decision.

Is an Acura RSX a Good First Car

Is an Acura RSX a Good First Car

Indeed, an Acura RSX can be a good first car depending on your priorities. Let’s introduce you to this unique vehicle. The Acura RSX, a sport compact car produced by the Honda subsidiary Acura, is often a common consideration for a first car due to its sporty appearance, reliability, and affordability.

Manufactured between 2002 to 2006, the RSX is well-liked for its driving dynamics, quality interior, and generally favorable ownership experience. However, whether it’s a good first car depends on several factors, including safety, reliability, cost of ownership, and performance.

How About the Performance

Acceleration and Handling

RSX comes in two different trims: the base model and the Type-S. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower.

The Type-S variant is more performance-oriented, producing 200 horsepower from the same 2.0-liter engine, thanks to various enhancements such as a higher compression ratio and a larger throttle body.

RSX offers impressive acceleration for its class, particularly in the Type-S model, which is capable of reaching 0-60 mph in under 7 seconds. The car’s handling is also commendable. Its sharp, responsive steering, aided by a well-tuned suspension, provides a balanced and engaging driving experience, making it ideal for those looking for a sporty drive in their first car.

Fuel Economy

When it comes to fuel economy, the Acura RSX is relatively efficient, particularly considering its performance capabilities.

The base model yields an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The Type-S, despite its performance enhancements, maintains reasonable fuel efficiency, delivering around 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.


Safety is a paramount consideration when choosing a first car, and the Acura RSX offers decent safety features for its age. While it does not boast modern driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking, it comes standard with dual front airbags, side-impact door beams, and ABS.

However, RSX’s crash-test ratings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are average. Therefore, if top-notch safety ratings are a priority, you might want to consider more recent vehicles equipped with advanced safety technology.


Reliability is another significant factor for first-time car buyers, and the Acura RSX doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The RSX is built on a robust Honda platform and shares many components with other reliable Honda vehicles, such as the Civic.

With regular maintenance, these cars are known to run smoothly for several hundred thousand miles. However, as with any used car, the reliability of a specific RSX would depend on how well it was maintained by previous owners. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a trusted mechanic inspect the car before purchase.

Cost of Ownership

Owning an Acura RSX is generally affordable compared to other sports compact cars. Insurance costs for the RSX are relatively low, largely because the car doesn’t have a high theft rate and repair costs are reasonable.

Furthermore, parts are readily available due to shared components with the Honda Civic, making maintenance and repairs less costly.

However, potential buyers should be aware that models with manual transmission, particularly the Type-S, can experience premature clutch wear, leading to higher-than-average repair costs. Therefore, it’s essential to check the condition of the clutch if considering a manual RSX.

Meanwhile, the RDX is an affordable car with a nice interior.

Some Shots

Is It Costly to Insure the Acura RSX?

When you get the RSX, you have to get insurance for it. And this aspect can create a deep hole in your pocket if you make a bad coverage decision. So, let’s explore the cost level.

The insurance cost for an Acura RSX can vary depending on several factors, such as your location, driving record, age, and the insurance company you choose. However, the Acura RSX is typically seen as relatively affordable to insure compared to many other sports cars in its class.

When insurance companies determine the premium costs, they consider factors like the car’s safety ratings, the cost of parts, the likelihood of theft, and the overall performance capabilities of the vehicle. In the case of the Acura RSX, the safety ratings are average, the performance is strong yet not extremely high, and the car is not overly targeted for theft, which usually results in moderate insurance rates.

Safety and Performance Impact on Insurance

Acura RSX’s safety features and crash test ratings play a significant role in keeping insurance costs reasonable. Cars with better safety ratings can often help reduce insurance premiums because they pose less risk of injury to the occupants in the event of an accident.

While the RSX doesn’t boast advanced safety features like modern cars, it does come with standard safety features such as anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags, which can aid in lowering insurance costs.

On the other hand, performance capabilities can increase insurance rates, as higher-performance cars tend to be associated with a greater risk of accidents. While the RSX is sporty and has an engaging performance, especially in the Type-S model, it is not considered excessively high-performing like certain luxury sports cars, which helps maintain reasonable insurance costs.

Affordability of Parts

Another aspect that makes the RSX cheaper to insure is the affordability and availability of parts. Since the Acura RSX shares many components with other Honda models, particularly the Honda Civic, replacement parts are readily available and usually cost-effective.

This makes the car less expensive to repair if it’s involved in an accident, which can result in lower insurance premiums.

What’s More?

Adjusting the valves and using fuel treatment like Seafoam can significantly improve your miles per gallon. You might find yourself needing to refuel only about every 1.5 weeks or so for a typical commute.

The RSX is often underrated for its versatility. You can find ingenious ways to haul items in it. It might feel a little awkward with people in the back due to the limited rear space, but if you’re more of an introverted type, this shouldn’t bother you much.

When it comes to investing in an RSX, your best bet would be to get a base model. It’s less likely to have been modified like a Type-S, but it still packs a decent amount of safe power. Insurance companies generally classify the base model as a passenger car and the Type-S as a sports car. Invest in comprehensive coverage, but simultaneously build up your savings and lower your deductible. This way, your insurance costs won’t be too high, and you’ll have better control of your money. If possible, pay your insurance once a year. If this isn’t feasible, ask your adult household members to piggyback your car on their policy and work out a deal.

Remember to change the oil regularly and use a good quality full synthetic oil to protect the engine. If your family has had an RSX for a while, it would be ideal since you’d know its maintenance history.

Best of luck! Be sure to share a picture of your RSX once you have it.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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