Take one part car shoppers' desire for improved fuel economy, add two parts automakers' never-ending quest to bring younger buyers into the fold, shake well, and you have the Acura ILX.
Although based on the Honda Civic platform, the Acura ILX has enough different about it to fully justify its position as Acura's most affordable luxury sedan. It starts with sleeker styling as well as a higher-quality interior. There's also an impressive list of standard and optional luxury features that aren't offered on its more affordable cousin. The suspension has also been reworked for a better balance of ride comfort and sporting handling. Under the hood not much changes from the Civic, but there's still a choice of three different powertrains including the Acura brand's first gasoline-electric hybrid.
Put it all together and you have an entry-level luxury car that is both the smallest and most fuel-efficient model in the Acura lineup. For shoppers looking to step up to a small sedan that's notably nicer than the norm yet is still very budget-friendly, the ILX should work out nicely.
Current Acura ILX
The Acura ILX is a compact sedan that's offered as a gas-only model and as a hybrid. Powering the base gas-only ILX model is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic. The performance-oriented ILX 2.4 gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 201 hp and 170 lb-ft. This engine only comes mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox.
The Acura ILX Hybrid model is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder working in concert with an electric motor for a total of 111 hp and 127 lb-ft. The latter employs a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that's tuned for crisper response compared to the unit used in the Civic Hybrid. As expected, EPA fuel economy estimates are quite good with the Hybrid, with combined mileage in the high 30s.
Standard equipment on both hybrid and gas-only base models includes keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with Pandora Internet radio control. The Premium trim (not available on the Hybrid) adds features like xenon headlights, foglights and a rearview camera. The Technology trim (not available on the 2.4) builds on the equipment of the Premium with amenities like a voice-controlled navigation system, digital music storage and a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system. Feature content for the various trims differs slightly between hybrid and gas-only models.
In reviews, we've found that the ILX is a nimble little urban runabout, but is hampered by its underpowered engines. The 2.0-liter engine offers adequate power for getting around town, but is much slower than every other luxury-branded compact car. The more spirited 2.4-liter engine improves the situation, but even its acceleration is slower than average and its appeal is limited due to its obligatory manual transmission. The Hybrid is similarly slow compared to other hybrids and more notably, its fuel economy is worse.
Within the cabin, upscale touches give the ILX a noticeably more premium feel than the Honda model on which it's based, but don't match other luxury-branded compact sedans. On the upside, you get a lot more features for your money.
Used Acura ILX Models
The Acura ILX debuted in 2013. It's remained mostly unchanged, but 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat and heated front seats were added to the standard features list for the gas-only model in 2014.