Excellent build quality, good fuel economy and palatable starting prices make the 2013 Acura ILX an intriguing option for a compact luxury sedan. Still, there are other worthy alternatives that savvy shoppers should consider.
After a decade of moving upmarket and farther away from the entry-level buyer, Acura's back with a new-generation compact model, the 2013 ILX. Smaller and less expensive than the TSX, the ILX sedan is aimed at shoppers who want something a bit nicer and sportier than the typical mainstream sedan but aren't willing to step up to the higher expense of an established luxury car. Overall, the ILX is fairly successful in its mission. Nevertheless, you'll also want to be aware of the limitations of this strategy.
The 2013 Acura ILX is based on the Honda Civic, but it's slightly longer and wider, and has unique styling that sets it pretty far apart from its Honda relative. Most importantly, there are significant engineering and interior enhancements. Dismissing the ILX as just a Civic wearing Acura badges would be unfair.
There's just a single sedan body style, but Acura's making up for the lack of coupe/hatchback options by offering three distinct powertrain options for the new ILX. The base ILX comes with a modestly powered but economical 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. Markedly more performance comes from the ILX 2.4 and its larger, more-powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Unfortunately this model comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. The third ILX model is the frugal Hybrid, which is the first hybrid-electric vehicle from Acura.
With a comfortable ride, comparatively spacious interior and decent level of standard equipment, the base ILX is a new and interesting option for buyers looking for an affordable entry point into the premium Acura brand. The ILX 2.4 is compelling as a low-key premium sport sedan, but it is expensive in relation to its absolute performance, and the lack of an automatic transmission limits its appeal. The ILX Hybrid delivers good -- but not outstanding -- fuel economy and also is relatively expensive.
The 2013 Acura ILX is one of but a few choices for a truly entry-level car from a luxury brand. The Buick Verano is one such model. It may not offer a hybrid version, but it's less expensive to start and offers a strong 250-horsepower engine upgrade as well as a nicer interior. There are also the Audi A3 and Lexus CT 200h, two premium models worth cross-shopping with the ILX, as they offer hatchback utility and fuel economy similar to that of the ILX Hybrid.
One other aspect to consider is the ILX's price once you've loaded it up with options. For the same money, you could also get a loaded version of a popular midsize sedan such as a Ford Fusion, Kia Optima or Nissan Altima. You could also save some money and consider loaded versions of the Dodge Dart or Ford Focus. Most of these cars will offer the same number of convenience and luxury features as the ILX. But for somebody desiring a relatively affordable small sedan that's good on gas and gives off a premium vibe, the ILX is a smart choice.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Acura ILX entry-level luxury sedan comes in six trim levels: base 2.0, base 2.0 with Premium package, base 2.0 with Technology package, base 2.4 with Premium package, Hybrid and Hybrid with Technology package.
Standard equipment is pretty much the same for both the base 2.0 and Hybrid and includes 16-inch wheels, a sunroof, full power accessories, keyless ignition/entry, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB/iPod audio interface and Pandora integration.
Moving up to the Premium trims gets you 17-inch wheels, xenon headlamps, foglamps, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power driver seat, a more advanced rearview camera, active noise cancellation (Hybrid excluded) and an upgraded seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Acura also offers the Premium package-equipped ILX with the 2.4-liter engine configuration.
The Technology trim (oddly not available on the 2.4) includes the equipment from the Premium package and adds a hard drive-based navigation system and a surround-sound audio system with digital music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine for the 2013 ILX is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 150 hp and 140 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission offered is a five-speed automatic that sends its power to the front wheels. In Edmunds performance testing, this powertrain brought the ILX from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds. That's average for a compact economy car but slow for a compact wearing a premium badge. Fuel economy is pretty respectable at 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.
The ILX with the Premium package can also be had with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 201 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; an automatic isn't available for this configuration. In Edmunds performance testing, the ILX 2.4 went from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. This is average for both entry-level luxury sedans with a base engine and regular midsize sedans with an upgrade engine. Some fuel economy is sacrificed in return for more spirited performance, but not much: The ILX 2.4's ratings are 22/31/25.
The ILX Hybrid uses the same propulsion setup Honda employs in the Civic Hybrid: a 1.5-liter four-cylinder coupled with Honda's well-known Integrated Motor Assist, an electric motor that acts as an occasional power booster and to convert braking energy into electricity, which is used to recharge the hybrid ILX's modestly sized lithium-ion battery pack. The motor and gasoline engine produce 111 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque.
A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard. Performance-oriented gearing unique to the ILX Hybrid produces fuel economy of 39 city/38 highway and 38 mpg combined, markedly less than the Civic Hybrid's 44 mpg across the board. We can't say it did much for the car's performance, though, as the ILX Hybrid goes from zero to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds, which is actually slower than the Civic Hybrid. Still, that's the same as a Lexus CT 200h.
The 2013 Acura ILX 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 also standard.
In government crash tests, the Acura ILX earned a top five-star rating for overall protection in crash tests, with four stars total for frontal impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway safety gave the ILX a top score of "Good" for the car's performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. In Edmunds brake testing, the ILX Premium 2.0 came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is a little better than average. Curiously, the supposedly sportier ILX 2.4 stopped in 130 feet, which is longer than average. The Hybrid posted basically the same distance.
Interior Design and Special Features
The ILX's interior is impeccably 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 the inside doesn't exactly scream "luxury!"
Nevertheless, if you're looking for high-tech features to go along with that high-tech vibe, 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/upgraded audio systems. Another nice feature is that even the base ILX audio has the capability to convert SMS text messages to speech.
Special care was used in designing the seats to be supportive, yet not give the impression of confinement or hardness. The ILX is also pretty spacious for a compact car, with a decent amount of backseat room. Trunk space, at 12.4 cubic feet, is average, 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. The Hybrid, due to its battery pack, drops to 10 cubic feet of space.
Nobody is going to mistake the 2013 Acura ILX for a BMW 3 Series, but overall performance is more than adequate for everyday commuting duty. The standard 2.0-liter engine's 150 hp delivers the sort of acceleration you'd expect from a non-luxury compact car, but the engine revs willingly and enjoyably, so wringing the most from it is not an annoying task. The ILX Hybrid is slower still, but obviously benefits from dramatically improved fuel economy. It can't accelerate using electricity alone, however, and the hybrid system isn't as sophisticated or seamless as that of a Lexus.
The ILX with the 2.4-liter engine is a different animal, as its sporting exhaust note and greater horsepower translates to markedly quicker acceleration. We're also quite fond of the precision-machined action of the six-speed manual transmission, which is one of the easiest and most enjoyable to use in any car.
Acura's loyal band of driving enthusiasts might be disappointed that the ILX 2.4 doesn't come with any sportier suspension or steering calibrations, but the ILX in general is a sure-footed and pretty nimble car to pilot. The ride quality is an almost ideal compromise between control and comfort, although the tires do seem to generate more chatter through the cabin than we'd prefer, as do the small imperfections of broken pavement.
by bayareamom on Jan 25, 2015 Vehicle: 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid w/Technology Package 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
We bought our ILX used and have been incredibly pleased with it thus far. As a former Prius owner, I feel much cooler driving this sporty Acura, although I do miss the 50+ mpg of the Prius. It's fun to drive, handles well, stops on a dime, and has all of the modern features you'd expect from an Acura. I primarily drive around town (about 90% of the time) with lots of stopping and am averaging about 37-38 mpg. I love the simplicity of the interior, which is easy to use and not as bright or busy as some of the other models we looked at. I hope this awesome car continues to fly under the radar so I'll continue to be one of the only ones on the road driving it!
by bybchucky on Sep 13, 2013 Vehicle: 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid w/Technology Package 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I recently purchased a 2013 ILX with the Tech pkg, and I am very pleased with it. I had a 2008 Acura TL prior to purchasing this car, and I thought I would miss the V6 acceleration, but I honestly don't. A lot of the reviews say the 150 hp is underpowered, but I find the car to be adequate. In fact, it picks up quite nicely on the highway and I don't have trouble passing cars. The interior is nice, well built, and feels a lot wider than what the outside appearance would make you believe. The rear leg room is also excellent considering this is a compact car. As stated above, this is an excellent commuter car.
by sethwas on Apr 22, 2013 Vehicle: 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
How to sum this car up - there are no other vehicles in this size that have this many features at this price.
That could be good or bad.
There are larger vehicles that have this many features at this price (with no gas mileage penalty) and there are plenty of vehicles that are this size that are less expensive and have less features.
So if you could lease a Civic EX-L or a premium package ILX (same monthly payment after you factor in gas and insurance) which would you choose?
If you could buy a loaded Accord or Mazda6 for the same price which would you choose?
Does the badge or dealer experience matter?
All are amazing vehicles - you just need to decide where you want to be.
by geiim on Jan 28, 2013 Vehicle: 2013 Acura ILX Premium Package 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5A)
I have had my ILX now for over a month and 1,500 miles. It is an excellent car. The complaints about the 2.0L engine being slow are not accurate. I find it to be very peppy and responsive. Plus I drive 64 miles back and forth from work 5 days a week and I have never gotten less than 30 MPG, with an average of 29 MPG city/hwy driving overall. The interior is of excellent quality and the ride is smooth and quiet. The electronics are excellent and the sound system is very good, I use the XM radio all the time and it never drops out. I'm 6 ft tall, 250 lbs and I fit very comfortably in the car. I've even ridden in the back seat and that was comfortable. It looks great and rides great!
by ilx2013je on Jan 21, 2013 Vehicle: 2013 Acura ILX Premium Package 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5A)
3 months of ownership and I'm extremely satisfied with my new ILX.
Very peppy for a small 4cyl. engine. Ride and handling are very impressive.
Excellent use of space on the interior.
I'm coming from a mid-size and don't miss the little extra room I previously had.
I don't want to see many of them on the road, but everyone should give this car a try.
by stevenrose on Nov 10, 2012 Vehicle: 2013 Acura ILX Premium Package 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5A)
I have owned many cars from Jeeps to Volvos and I keep coming back to Honda products.
I owned a 1996 Acura Integra and I always refer to that as my favorite car.
I owned a 2007 Volvo S40 that was pretty to look at, but drove very choppy.
The 2013 Acura ILX is really smooth and fun to drive.
I have read reviews that the ILX car is a Honda Civic in a tuxedo.
What is wrong with a Honda Civic?
My 2006 Honda Civic EX Coupe drove 10 times better than my Volvo S40 and the new ILX I just purchased drives even smoother and is 10x more luxurious than my Honda was.
I think I have found that perfect blend of performance, luxury and style.
I think I might have found my new favorite car.
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