New & Used Acura ILX: In Depth
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Acura's ILX receives its first thorough refresh for 2016, which includes a new powertrain combo across the model range and updated styling and features. In some ways, the ILX picks up where the TSX left off, and in fact it is about the same size as the first generation of that model.
The ILX was designed to be attractive to a younger, "entry luxury" crowd and it has much more equipment than the Honda Civic on which it's based, and an upgraded interior, both in terms of design and materials. Rivals include cars such as the Buick Verano, as well as German models such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA.
The ILX is a compact sedan, the smallest in the brand's current lineup and was new to Acura for the 2013 model year. The ILX shares virtually no styling with its Honda sibling and as of 2016 has completely different powertrain options.
MORE: Read our 2016 Acura ILX review
The ILX launched with three different powertrain options, each offering its own character. All are front-wheel drive. The base model was powered by a 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The sportiest offering carried a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, available only with a six-speed manual. A third option, and the first to be discontinued, was the ILX Hybrid, which was decidedly slower but greener, using the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder and integrated hybrid drive system as the equivalent Civic model. Its total output was just 111 horsepower, but it was rated at an EPA estimated 38 mpg highway.
As part of a 2016 refresh of the lineup, the ILX gets one powertrain option in place of the two offered before. A revised 2.4-liter making 201 hp is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic; the same combination can be found in base versions of the new TLX sedan. The front and rear styling have been updated, as have the interior and tech options, and Acura says it has retuned the suspension and stiffened the body structure to improve dynamics and comfort. Now that the ILX has made this changeover, a manual is no longer available anywhere in the Acura lineup, the first time that's been the case since the very early days of the brand.
Early ILX models
The standard ILX 2.0L was rated at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined. The sportier ILX 2.4L, not surprisingly, didn't do that well. It was rated at 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while the fuel-sipping ILX Hybrid got an EPA-estimated 39 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. With comfortable ride quality, a still-somewhat-sporty demeanor in the turns, and the performance-oriented ILX 2.4L, the littlest Acura offered a taste of sport sedan in the entry-luxury arena. If you chose the 2.0L model, you got a relatively efficient commuter, while the Hybrid eked out better-than-average fuel economy, though it was short on both power (against other small luxury cars) and gas mileage (against the most efficient hybrids).
Rather than focusing on any one of these aspects, the ILX seeks to deliver a balance of luxury, performance, style, and efficiency that appeals to the younger professional. There were three main trim specs for the ILX early on: the base model, the Premium Package, and the Technology Package. The standard ILX specification included cloth seats with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth hands-free calling, a power moonroof, keyless entry with pushbutton start, rearview camera, and more.
The Technology Package adds navigation with voice recognition plus real-time weather and traffic, premium audio, and the satellite-enabled AcuraLink system. The Tech Package wasn't available on the 2.4-liter ILX, unfortunately. There was also a Premium Package, which was included on all 2.4-liters and available on the base car, including leather seats with heat up front, an eight-way power driver's seat, a rearview camera, and premium audio.
The ILX received only minor changes into 2014. For the 2015 model year, the slow-selling ILX Hybrid was dropped from the lineup.