Honda Delays 60-mpg Diesel Acura TSX

Honda announced last week that it will delay the launch of its planned first diesel for the United States. The diesel-powered Acura TSX will be pushed back to 2010 from 2009, and some reports claim the company’s U.S. diesel program may be canceled completely.

The main reason for the delay is cost. Honda claims the expense of creating a diesel engine to meet California’s emissions standards—allowing it to be sold in all 50 states—has increased to more than $5,000 above a comparable gasoline-powered version.

The Japanese newspaper, Nikkei, said Honda is seeking to develop new catalytic converter technology that uses less platinum in order to keep prices down.

“We have to proceed cautiously in this environment.”

Honda spokesperson

In addition to cost factors, Honda has been unable to produce the diesel model with an automatic transmission that would pass emissions standards. Honda was not ready to move forward with marketing only a manual model in the American market.

The engine in question is a new version of Honda’s 4-cylinder 2.2-liter, i-DTEC engine. In Europe, where it’s sold in the Honda Accord—a model known as the Acura TSX in the US—the engine provides 188 horsepower, and more than 250 foot-pounds of torque.

Honda’s change of direction will send its engineers back to the diesel drawing board. In the meantime, Honda is said to already be working on a V-6 diesel that could be used in larger vehicles such as the Pilot SUV, Odyssey minivan, and Ridgeline small pickup.

Reuters recently reported that Honda also based its decision to delay on the high cost of diesel fuel. With diesel prices higher than gasoline and weakening overall vehicle demand, Honda officials argued it was not the right time to roll out a more expensive new model, even with spectacular fuel economy. The European model gets more than 60 miles to the gallon in EU driving tests.

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  • domboy

    Too bad for Honda, good for VW, I guess.

    The transmission/emission issue sounds a little iffy, as two years ago when VW started redesigning their TDI diesel for the new emissions standards, there was the exact opposite rumor, (i.e. the manual transmission was going to be really hard to certify… which didn’t pan out, as it can be had with a six-speed manual). I’d wish they would go ahead and sell the car with just the manual transmission, maybe put the engine in a car that would appeal more toward drivers who prefer manual transmissions, like they’ve done with the Civic SI (manual only last I checked). Silly Americans and their auto trannys.
    I hope they don’t cancel the car entirely. More small diesel options would be great!!

  • Herb Zeman

    I think there’s a great demand growing in the US for high mileage cars. The Acura TSX is a luxury car, anyway. It’s bought by people who aren’t looking for the cheapest alternative. I think Honda should go ahead with the project. I bet they would sell lots of them. I’ve reserved one already. If there really is a delay until 2010, I’ll cancel the order and wait for a Chevy Volt. I think Diesel cars will have a several year window of desirability and then electric cars will take over. If they’re ever going to sell them, they should do it now.

  • Typesbad

    i was really looking forward to this car. The TSX may be from a luxury brand, but trust me, many of its buyers chose it for its value and efficiency relative to competing luxury models. It would take some education to dispel common diesel perceptions, but I believe would be a market for this car. Our family car is the original Honda Odyssey with a 2.3 I-4, and I always think how perfect the 2.2L diesel would be in that vehicle.

    Hopefully the low- platinum converter will work out and I am sure they can get past the auto transmission problem. The biggest hurdle is the one not in their hands, getting the price of diesel down to a reasonable level relative to gasoline.

  • Come on corp., combo it!

    What is really getting on my nerves is that none, NONE of the car makers are combining any of the technology into one vehicle. Honda has a 60mpg Diesel. Honda has the Insight hybrid. Why doesn’t honda make a diesel hybrid? To me, this seems obvious. The combo should increase the gas mileage to the 80-90mpg range.

    Another great way we could improve the way hybrids work is by using a ‘free piston’ electric generator to drive an electric motor. Free piston engines are flex fuel so there’s no bickering about diesel, gasoline, kerosene, whatever. They are also very tiny and efficient yet we still don’t see them in hybrid designs. Check out these guys to see what I’m talking about:

    So come on. Cut the baby steps and get to something substantial. The tech. is there and it is absurd that no major car manufacturer has hit the 100mpg target and seem content to boast about 30-50 mpg.

  • Joe

    Well…honda yet again disappoints. I guess I’ll go with a VW. Come to think of it…a lot of people complain about Honda’s transmission…so while they are fixing the engine take a few more years and fix the crappy transmissions. I’m not buying Honda for at least the next 10 years.

  • Herb Zeman

    I reserved a TSX Diesel with automatic transmission and the technology package a month ago. I called Acura of Memphis today to ask whether the car was still going to be delivered. They say that the car is on schedule to come out in the spring or summer of 2009 as a 2010 model. There has been no delay or cancellation of the model. I believe that the anonymous post that Honda had canceled the TSX diesel is entirely bogus.

  • Say it isn’t so!

    Addressing Joe says:
    I have a 1993 Civic Si with 244,000 on it; lost the manual transmission at 205,000 and clutch and 207,000, that darn good I think. I you must have been referring to Honda’s automatic transmissions, but then again in know other Honda owners with automatics that have had no problems and consumer reports does not site that has an issue either.

    I was looking into the VW TDI heavily but from all the reports about VW quality, dealer repair issues, and warranty coverage I have been hesitant to buy and waiting for Honda and Subaru reports to come out. Subaru has theirs out in Europe now (see and

    I hope Herb Zeman is right and Honda does not mess it up the way VW has. VW could have been first in the market with a clean diesel but they are missing the boat now. I had a 1996 Nissan Truck with 215,000 and my current 1993 Civic with 244,000 and I’m making it hold out until the summer when Honda and/or Subaru come out and I find out if VW’s quality in the TDI is better than their other products. I would love to get the VW, but just can’t buy a product that is great to drive for 2-4 years then requires repair after repair.

    So, Honda, if you are out there reading this we are waiting for you to come out with a small to medium size car with good mileage and range. Don’t pull a GM/Ford and put the diesel in big cars only. Subaru has announced it in the Outback, Forester, and Impreza; VW has it in the Jetta Sadan and Wagon.

  • jack o lantern

    Considering the mileage, how much actual CO2 per mile would be emitted.
    It’s hard to believe it wouldn’t be less than gas.
    Of course, one must realize that the “60 MPG” number coming out of Europe refers to the 5 qt. British gallon and must be reduced to 48MPG for the American gallon. Still, I could live with that.

    What is not clear is whether the Honda diesel technology will burn 100% bio, which the VW post 2006 will not.

    So there’s no free lunch, but I was planning to buy the first Accord I could get my hands on and now will probably have to buy used VW.


  • Another disappointment

    6-cyl mini-van in diesel that Honda has hinted is needed.

    First to the 35 MPG mini-van wins. VW won’t import theirs, Toyota won’t send their 40 MPG hybrid that they’ve had on the road for 7-YEARS! (cuts into their high-profit Sienna sales… just like the Big 3 suckled at the SUV teat, Toyota is too chicken to bring in competition to it’s cash cow :-(. Ford and Chrysler sell diesel versions of their US model minivans in Europe (all at 30+ MPG).

    Wake up auto makers of the world: Americans would eat up any 7 passenger vehicle that gets 35 MPG (40% better mileage than nearly every “high mileage” family hauler on the road). Too many US families want/need room than the Prius can provide: two adults, two kids, the stroller, one dog, luggage, etc. for the trip to Grandma’s.

    Diesel WILL be at comparable cost to gas within a year. 40% better mileage. $3.00 per gal for regular will return sooner than you think. and even if diesel is at $4.00/gallon, you’ll pay a lot less to drive (only a 25% fuel cost premium).

  • Marz

    I think Acura Cars should start making them Hybrid, trust me a lot of people would be purchasing them. My mom said if Acura was Hybrid she wouldn’t even think about it she would just buy the car. She likes the Acura Cars… She is still thinking of getting herself a new car. But she only wants Hybrid. So I hope in the future are maybe by next year we will at least have one are two modals of Acura that will be Hybrid.

  • Ron H

    I wonder, if everyone that is interested in a Honda Accord Diesel car would acutually write a letter to Honda, it might help sway Honda in deciding to market one in the U.S. sooner.

  • Anonymous

    Herb Zeman
    You stated that you reserved a TSC Diesel. Did Acura actually take this order with a down payment? I too am excited about a Honda or Acura diesel, but when I called Honda the other day, they stated nothing for an Accord diesel hitting dealers lots in 2009. F Stiles

  • John Says

    Build it HONDA, we are wanting and waiting for it. BE BRAVE!!!

  • janaka

    i like Honda diesel car

  • mr. paul

    I love my CR-V and would like the chance to try one with a diesel in it. I have owned diesel trucks in the past and liked the mileage along with the torque and drivablility. The only real drawback was when they needed repairing it could get quite costly if not under warranty. Also need to add kerosene to the fuel when temps get well below zero.

  • Mr. Will

    Do you know how much $$ there is to be had taking baby steps…? Or should I say, how much could be lost by not taking baby steps”…

    Why will this not be made…? $$$…

  • Evan

    Thanks California EPA,CARB and Tree Huggers.

  • StevenR

    Talk, talk,talk, talk,talk. That’s all you are going to get from Honda when it comes to Diesels for the USA market!