2014 Acura ILX Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 13, 2013

The 2014 Acura ILX is a nice, balanced compact luxury sedan for those who put the emphasis on comfort and feature, not true sport-sedan reflexes.

Can Acura, as a luxury brand, extend downward into greater affordability and value? The 2014 Acura ILX is a test of exactly that. Aimed at up-and-coming professionals and hip retirees, it's a fuel-efficient, somewhat sporty small car that offers a little more comfort—and the superior service of an Acura dealership—for those who can afford to spend a little more.

Balancing between crisp and fluid, edgy and smooth, the ILX's exterior is a more youthful take on a compact luxury car than you'll find elsewhere in the segment. The fenders swell gently from the sides, there are character lines to accent its shape, and the greenhouse arches gracefully ove the passenger compartment. On the whole it's a handsome, if not lust-inducing, sedan. Inside, it's a pleasant place to travel, looking like a typical Acura: edgy curves, contoured surfaces, and easy-to-read gauges.

Entry-level Acura shoppers can choose between three models. The most fuel-efficient version is the ILX Hybrid. It teams a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an integrated hybrid drive system and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). All told, the batteries and engine and motor offer 111 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. EPA gas mileage ranges from 39 mpg city to 38 mpg highway.

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The ILX 2.0L comes with a conventional 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 150 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. It’s coupled to a 5-speed automatic that can be shifted via paddle controls. The EPA rates this sluggish accelerator at 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway.

The 2.4L is the sporty model in a nominally sporty lineup. It adopts the Civic Si's 201-hp, 170-lb-ft 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and teams it with a 6-speed manual transmission. This one’s for diehard manual fans only, as there’s no automatic on the options list. Acceleration improves, but the 2.4L suspension is essentially the same as the other ILX sedans--it's not as sharp as we'd like in spirited driving. No ILX is clumsy, though. All versions have crisp and responsive handling that falls shy only when compared to sublime cars like Acura's half-size-larger TSX sport sedan.

Inside, the cabin is comfortable and spacious--surprisingly so in the rear seats, with enough room even for taller adults to fit comfortably. Ergonomically, things are laid out very well, with all controls easy to identify and use without taking one's eyes from the road. Fit and finish is also very good, with solid-feeling construction and quality materials (plastic, rubber, and leather) in all touch-points. Cabin noise is low, though not quite mausoleum-quiet like you'll find in some luxury cars a bit farther up the ladder, including Acura's own.

There's also a fairly roomy trunk, ample in-cabin storage in cubbies and door pockets, with well-placed cup holders. Cargo volume is a solid 12.4 cubic feet (10.0 cubic feet for the Hybrid, which places the battery pack behind the rear seats). The ILX is already a surprisingly quiet-riding car; yet for 2014 Acura has made Active Noise Cancellation standard on all models in this lineup. It can actively 'mop up' smaller but bothersome noises from the powertrain or road, using the sound system's speakers, a cabin microphone, and a sophisticated processing algorithm.

The 2014 Acura ILX is barely a luxury car if you go by its sticker price. And for that reason we don't hold it against the brand that they're not offering some of the higher-end items you'll find in slightly more expensive sedans, such as radar-adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and heads-up displays.

For 2014, leather upholstery and active noise cancellation are among the new features added to all models of the ILX. An eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, and a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera system have also all been added as standard. The catch is that this year it's also raised the base price of the ILX by $1,000, to $27,795, including destination.

Two primary packages are available to upgrade from the base specification, the Technology Package and the Premium Package. Add the Technology Package and you get premium audio with USB and Pandora integration, a navigation system with voice recognition, a rear-view camera system, and real-time traffic and weather info. With the Premium Package you get leather seating surfaces; eight-way power adjustable driver seat; two-way heated front seats; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; a multi-view rear camera; a premium sound system with Bluetooth, USB, and Pandora functionality.

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2014 Acura ILX

Styling

The Honda Civic platform underpins the 2014 Acura ILX; but you probably wouldn't guess it based on this sedan's modern, tech-detailed look.

The 2014 Acura ILX is closely related to the Honda Civic, but for the most part you'd never know it by appearance, outside or in.

The ILX is its own car, going by exterior styling. With its low and wide proportions, long hood, and short rear deck, the ILX already sets itself aside. Add in the aerodynamic character lines and Acura's signature front-end look and this is a sedan that has nice proportions and a technical, detailed look.

Inside, the ILX's cabin is youthful and carefully detailed, at least in comparison with the competition, with cascading layers of surfaces in varied textures creating a flowing, connected feel across the dash and through the cabin. A center stack is placed high for good eyes-up visibility, while there are focused, easy-to-read instrument and information displays in the main panel. The rear-seat area is more plainly finished, but nonetheless feels part of the overall cabin, and it all fits in with the aesthetic of luxury done while watching the bottom line.

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2014 Acura ILX

Performance

The 2014 ILX isn't all that peppy in Hybrid or 2.0L trims; 2.4L models are quick but don't have the suspension to back it all up.

The 2014 Acura ILX spans a wide range of performance characteristics with its three different powertrains. And underlying each of them is a light, balanced chassis that helps make the most of it, whether you want the emphasis on comfort or sport. An all-out sport sedan, the ILX isn't, though.

The most affordable ILX is the 2.0L model. It's powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, and only offered with a five-speed automatic transmission. It's powerful enough for daily duty, while returning a respectable 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Steering-wheel paddle-shifters do add an element of fun, and perhaps better control on mountain roads, but the overall personality of this model is relaxed and comfy, not edgy or performance-themed. 

As the sportiest variant, the ILX 2.4L packs the Civic Si's 2.4-liter, 201-horsepower four-cylinder engine under the hood, as well as a six-speed manual gearbox only (there's no automatic available, which to some will limit its appeal). While this engine makes its power and torque over a relatively broad range, it lacks much in the way of character, and its punchy driving feel seems a bit at odds with the ILX's driving character.

What's disappointing is that the suspension in the 2.4L is essentially the same as the rest of the ILX lineup, and it's not as sharp as we'd like in spirited driving. Across the lineup, you get handling that's crisp and responsive, but nothing approaching the driving experience of, say, Acura's half-size-larger TSX sport sedan.

There's also the ILX Hybrid, which gets a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an integrated hybrid electric system routed through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It's tuned more for responsiveness than the closely related Honda Civic Hybrid, so gas mileage ratings drop to 39 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. The combined power output of 111 horsepower can leave the ILX Hybrid feeling flat, although most of the time it's confident and comfortable. You just won't be having any fun if you engage the ultra-conservative Eco mode.

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2014 Acura ILX

Comfort & Quality

With a comfortable ride and nicely detailed luxury cabin, the 2014 Acura ILX is a great commuter car -- or a great small car for long trips.

The ILX is an entry-level luxury car, with a starting price that's below the average new vehicle nowadays; yet Acura hasn't skimped on the quality of the cabin appointments. It's all well-presented and tightly assembled, and the ILX has one of the most comfortable interiors of a sedan with such compact outside dimensions.

Front seats in the ILX are roomy and comfortable, with good sight lines for the driver and plenty of adjustment for occupants both short and tall. The steering wheel, dash, and controls all feel well-made, are laid out in logical places, and respond with a sense of solidity and quality you'd expect from a more expensive car.

Back seat space in the ILX is quite impressive for a compact car--whether you go by luxury-brand cars or not.

Trunk space is even quite decent, with the standard models ranging between 12.3 and 12.4 cubic feet, depending on options, and the Hybrid getting 10.0 cubic feet after placing the battery pack behind the rear seats. Fold-down rear seats on non-hybrid models add to the cargo area for larger items.

The ILX is already a surprisingly quiet-riding car; yet for 2014 Acura has made Active Noise Cancellation standard on all models in this lineup. It can actively 'mop up' smaller but bothersome noises from the powertrain or road, using the sound system's speakers, a cabin microphone, and a sophisticated processing algorithm.

9

2014 Acura ILX

Safety

Impressive safety ratings and a solid set of features make the 2014 Acura ILX a secure pick.

The 2014 Acura ILX has earned some truly great crash-test ratings, and while it lacks some of the advanced active-safety feature, all the essentially passive-safety items are there. 

Vehicle Stability Assist (stability and traction control); anti-lock brakes; electronic brake distribution; brake assist; and tire-pressure monitoring systems; plus dual-stage front, front-side, and side-curtain airbags are all included; as well as design elements intended to mitigate pedestrian injury.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the ILX a five-star score overall, including four stars for frontal impact and five stars for side impact, and in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, it's been awarded Top Safety Pick status, with top 'good' scores in all categories of testing.

The one test the ILX hasn't yet been put through is the new IIHS small overlap frontal test; check back to see if this model earns the same high mark that its Honda Civic cousin already has.

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2014 Acura ILX

Features

The ILX packs the feature set of a true luxury sedan, with an entry-luxury price.

The 2014 Acura ILX is barely a luxury car if you go by its sticker price. And for that reason we don't hold it against the brand that they're not offering some of the higher-end items you'll find in slightly more expensive sedans, such as radar-adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and heads-up displays.

Otherwise, for the most part, the ILX is a well-equipped small sedan, and you don't need to pile on expensive options to get a desirable car.

At the base level, you get a generous list of features--made even more extensive this year. It now includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface; power moonroof; keyless entry with push-button start; rear-view camera; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; cloth-trimmed front seats (2.0L base and Hybrid); dual-zone automatic climate control; and a 12-volt power outlet. For 2014, leather upholstery and active noise cancellation are among the new features added to all models of the ILX. An eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, and a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera system have also all been added as standard.

Available accessories include larger 17-inch alloy wheels, aerodynamic bodywork, fog lights, a remote engine start, and an engine block heater.

Two primary packages are available to upgrade from the base specification, the Technology Package and the Premium Package.

Add the Technology Package and you get premium audio with USB and Pandora integration, a navigation system with voice recognition, a rear-view camera system, and real-time traffic and weather info.

With the Premium Package you get leather seating surfaces; eight-way power adjustable driver seat; two-way heated front seats; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; a multi-view rear camera; a premium sound system with Bluetooth, USB, and Pandora functionality.

The Premium Package is available on all ILX models (and is standard on the 2.4L), while the Technology Package is available only on 2.0L and Hybrid models.

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2014 Acura ILX

Fuel Economy

The 2014 Acura ILX lineup is quite fuel-efficient as a whole; but it's the ILX Hybrid that's a standout among luxury models.

Oh, what changes in just a few model years. Not long ago, the 2014 Acura ILX range would have elicited wows by compact-car shoppers. Yet today, some might find it a little disappointing that no model in the ILX--not even the ILX Hybrid--hits the 40-mpg mark.

2.4L models come out particularly short on fuel-efficiency, with EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 31 highway. The base 2.0L model does better, at a respectable 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.

The Hybrid tops them both--and outshines Lexus' HS 250h--but its 39 mpg city and 38 mpg highway are less than impressive in light of recent non-hybrid offerings from the likes of Ford, Mazda, and various non-hybrid models. Yet if you go only by City ratings, 39 mpg is still near the leading edge--especially for a car with this level of comfort.

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April 28, 2015
2014 Acura ILX 4-Door Sedan 2.0L Premium Pkg

I love it.

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I love this car its a great ride smooth and luxurious and sleek yet sporty. Good on fuel great sound system. So far no complaints.
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April 12, 2015
For 2014 Acura ILX

I LOVE MY ILX

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GREAT CAR , GOOD VALUE , STYLISH , QUALITY INTERIOR
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March 29, 2015
For 2014 Acura ILX

Awesome entry-level luxury vehicle.

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People may compare my ILX to a Civic, but they are just ignorant. The ILX has an abundance of features over the Civic. It drives a lot better and much more. To start off, it is low on features but it's a... + More »
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