As Acura's entry-level offering, the ILX is now in its fifth year of production. This compact four-door sedan had an inauspicious start when it originally debuted, not quite living up to the segment or the expectations of its brand.
However, a significant refresh was introduced in 2016 that reinvigorated the ILX with a dose of vitality. It received a more powerful engine, an impressive all-new transmission and a host of safety features. The styling was livened up, too, and numerous other minor enhancements phased in. So while technically the current generation of the Acura ILX is entering the latter stages of its life, it's never been better.
The ILX doesn't escape its foibles entirely. There isn't much to differentiate its cabin from that of a well-equipped Honda, and its touch points don't feel like they're up to snuff for a luxury sedan. Acceleration is tepid unless you like taking the engine to redline, and isolation from road noise could be better. Tech-savvy buyers might find the functionality of its updated multimedia interface leaves a bit to be desired. Systems from Audi and BMW are much more user-friendly.
Accordingly, you'll want to look at some of the excellent alternatives in this price range before making a decision. The Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class are slightly more expensive and aren't as roomy in back, but their more potent engines and more refined interiors make them seem more worthy of luxury sedan status. Larger mainstream sedans like the 2017 Ford Fusion and 2017 Honda Accord might not have luxury nameplates, but their loaded-up top trim levels can be very respectable alternatives to the ILX. Ultimately, we're glad that the recent improvements have moved the 2017 Acura ILX up a notch. But this entry-level model still has its work cut out if it wants to stand out from the crowd.
The 2016 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.
Optional equipment includes a frontal collision warning system, automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation, a lane departure warning system, lane keeping assist and Road Departure Mitigation (which detects the potential for veering into objects such as trees or parked cars and applies the lane keeping assist and collision mitigation systems).
In Edmunds testing, the Acura ILX came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, a few feet shorter than similar vehicles with all-season tires.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Acura ILX entry-level luxury sedan comes with six different equipment levels: base, AcuraWatch Plus package, Premium with and without A-Spec Package and Tech Plus with or without A-Spec Package.
Standard equipment for the base model includes 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a fold-down rear seatback, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5-inch information display screen, a multi-view backup camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod audio interface and Pandora radio and Siri Eyes Free smartphone app integration.
Springing for the AcuraWatch Plus package adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system, automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation, a lane departure warning system, lane keeping assist and Road Departure Mitigation.
The Premium package builds on the base car's standard equipment as well, but it omits the AcuraWatch Plus equipment in lieu of blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, perforated leather front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch upper information display (in place of the 5-inch screen), an additional 7-inch touchscreen and a seven-speaker audio system with HD radio, an iPhone-based navigation app, satellite radio and Aha radio smartphone app integration.
Further up the ladder, the Technology Plus package adds the contents of the AcuraWatch Plus package and the Premium package as well as a 10-speaker premium audio system, voice commands (including audio), a navigation system and guidelines for the rearview camera.
You can add the A-Spec package to both the Premium and Technology Plus package equipment lines to get 18-inch wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, side sills and simulated-suede seat inserts with contrasting stitching.
Powering the 2017 ILX is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only available transmission (it's technically an automated manual transmission but it functions like a conventional automatic). The EPA's estimated fuel economy stands at 29 mpg combined (25 mpg city/35 mpg highway).
In Edmunds performance testing, a 2016 ILX accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. That's a little slower than average for the segment, but still quick enough to make merging onto a highway a stress-free maneuver.
The ILX's 2.4-liter engine delivers good punch once it's allowed to wind to the top of its rev range. Still, the 2016 ILX is hardly a speed demon, and the engine has to work harder and rev higher than most competitors to accelerate with authority. The eight-speed automatic transmission's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and rev-matched downshifts liven up the driving experience, but we noted some low-speed hiccups in full automatic mode.
The 2016 Acura ILX's ride quality is also disappointing. The car reacts stiffly over rough surfaces, yet it's overly soft and wallowy when encountering big highway dips. Road noise is also higher than average for this segment. In both regards, the Audi A3 is more refined and pleasing to drive. Around turns, the ILX's precise steering helps the car feel sporty and direct, but its handling limits and fun-to-drive nature are ultimately modest for the segment.
While there are a few improvements to styling, the 2017 ILX's interior largely resembles the pre-2016 models. That means the materials don't surpass what you'll find in top mainstream sedans like the Accord, though everything seems to be screwed together well. In contrast, the Audi A3 feels a notch classier and more luxurious inside than the ILX.
You do get a fair number of features, though. The Premium and Tech Plus models' larger touchscreen on the center stack is clear and vivid. But even with the optional larger screen, the ILX's multimedia setup isn't our favorite. It splits audio and navigation functions into two screens, and the control knob in the middle of the dash is less intuitive to use than the console-mounted controllers in the ILX's German rivals.
Special care was used in designing the seats, which are supportive yet not overly firm or confining. The ILX is also pretty spacious for a compact car, with backseat room that feels more spacious than the numbers suggest. Still, headroom can be snug for 6-footers due to the car's standard sunroof.
Trunk space, at 12.3 cubic feet, is average, and the opening is on the narrow side. 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.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.