Full 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Acura ILX Hybrid sees no significant changes.
An entry in the growing, entry-level compact luxury sedan segment, the 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid presents itself as a cut above mainstream small sedans in regard to style, features and brand prestige. And since it's a hybrid, it promises fewer trips to the gas station. In theory, this should be a pretty nifty combination. But in practice, the ILX leaves us underwhelmed.
The ILX Hybrid, which is related to the Honda Civic Hybrid, earns an EPA-estimated 38 mpg combined. Compared to regular cars, this might seem pretty swell. But hybrid technology has been improving, and the reality is that the ILX's fuel economy pales in comparison to some roomier and more powerful full hybrid sedans that rate nearly 10 mpg higher. Furthermore, this Acura's total output is just 111 horsepower -- considerably less than other compact luxury cars.
Of course, the Acura ILX Hybrid is not without its charms. There are plenty of standard luxury features, and its smooth ride and steady handling should please most shoppers. But it's hard to recommend the 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid in the face of other vehicles that are frankly more appealing. For effectively the same money, consider loaded up versions of the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid or 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, both of which deliver markedly better acceleration and fuel economy. Or, if a premium nameplate holds sway and you prefer a more compact size, the hybrid Lexus CT 200h offers hatchback utility to go along with its frugal fuel economy. Ultimately, there's nothing gravely wrong with the ILX Hybrid, but in this price range, it's simply not the best value.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid entry-level luxury sedan comes in two trim levels: ILX Hybrid and the ILX Hybrid with Technology package.
Standard equipment for the base ILX Hybrid includes 16-inch wheels; foglights; a rear spoiler; a sunroof; full power accessories; keyless ignition and entry; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; cloth upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control; a 5-inch information display screen; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; SMS text message functionality and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod audio interface and Pandora radio smartphone app integration.
The Technology package adds xenon headlamps, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, satellite radio, active noise cancellation, a navigation system (with a slightly larger display and traffic/weather reporting), voice commands and a 10-speaker ELS surround-sound audio system with digital music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2014 ILX Hybrid is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor and a small lithium-ion battery pack. Unlike most rival hybrid systems, this one cannot propel the car solely under electric power. The electric motor acts as an occasional power booster and converts braking energy into electricity to recharge the battery pack. Combined output is 111 hp and 127 pound-feet of torque.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard on the Acura ILX Hybrid and takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission. The sedan's EPA fuel economy ratings are 38 mpg combined (39 city/38 highway).
In Edmunds testing, the ILX Hybrid accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds. That's about the same as a Lexus CT 200h but considerably slower than the Fusion, Camry and Accord hybrids, which are all about 2 seconds quicker.
The 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard with the Technology package.
In government crash tests, the Acura ILX Hybrid earned a top five-star rating for overall protection in crash tests, with four stars total for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the otherwise similar non-hybrid ILX a top score of "Good" for the car's performance in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The ILX's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, the ILX Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in 129 feet -- a few feet longer than average.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Acura ILX Hybrid's interior is well constructed, but the materials used aren't really a step up from top non-luxury sedans. Similarly, the design features Acura's typical high-tech vibe, but it's nowhere near as luxurious as in the classy TSX.
Nevertheless, if you're looking for high-tech features, the ILX definitely delivers. There is a 5-inch display screen topping the center stack for the myriad infotainment functions, and smartly placed buttons and knobs to control them. A 6-inch screen comes with the navigation system, as do voice command functionality (navigation and audio) and a nice-sounding ELS audio system.
The ILX Hybrid is also pretty spacious for a compact car, with a decent amount of backseat room. Still, headroom can be snug for 6-footers due to the car's standard sunroof. Trunk space for the Hybrid rates 10 cubic feet, a few cubes shy of the standard ILX, and the opening is a little narrow. The rear seat folds down to facilitate carrying longer items, but the seatback is not split to permit a mix of long cargo and a passenger or two in the backseat.
Nobody is going to mistake the 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid for a BMW 3 Series, but overall, this small sedan's handling and ride qualities are perfectly adequate for everyday commuting duty. For most people, this car will likely offer a nearly ideal compromise between control and comfort, and it's notably quiet on the highway.
That said, the ILX Hybrid is slow, no question, so you'll have to rely on that near 40 mpg EPA combined rating for compensation. However, it's hard for us to make peace with the Acura's sluggish acceleration given that most full hybrids boast considerably stronger performance along with even higher fuel economy numbers. Additionally, Acura's hybrid system can feel a little unrefined at times, particularly when the gas engine first starts up after leaving a stop.