- Light and nimble
- Compact and maneuverable
- Affordable, high value
- Comfortable ride
- More limited model range
- Confounding dual-screen infotainment
- No more manual transmission
The 2016 Acura ILX has a sportier focus than other entry-luxury sedans, without sacrificing comfort and refinement.
Until now, the Acura ILX had been a bit of a muddled composition. That's because the luxury compact sedan's lineup included a bevy of powertrain options and interior features that could be a bit of a mishmash—not all the options were luxurious or sporty.
For 2016, Acura has essentially rebooted its entry ILX model—dropping the surplus of powertrain variants and focusing this small sedan under one sporty combination, with more of an underlying performance-car flavor throughout.
The underwhelming ILX Hybrid model was dropped going into the 2015 model year. Now for 2016, the 2.0-liter base engine also has been dropped, and the ILX essentially gets the same 2.4-liter inline-4 and dual-clutch setup as Acura’s next-larger model, the front-wheel-drive TLX. The power rating stays the same as the current model, at 201 horsepower, yet the engine is the latest direct-injection unit, making 180 pound-feet of torque (up 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter). The 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox uses a torque converter for low-speed smoothness, yet its shifts are super-quick during high-performance driving, with rev-matched downshifts and good driver control through steering-wheel shift paddles. While the manual gearbox has been dropped completely from the ILX lineup, and we won’t applaud that, we will say that the dual-clutch transmission is superb and a near-perfect pairing of smoothness and responsiveness in the TLX.
There are plenty of chassis and tuning changes as well—including upgraded brakes—and what they add up to for 2016 is a stronger-performing, more pleasant-driving sporty sedan.
Visually, there’s not all that much changed. The 2016 Acura ILX gets a slight refresh in front and in back. "Jewel Eye" LED lights have been subbed in, as well as some upgraded interior materials, larger wheels and tires, and improved connectivity features. Stylistically, we’ve found that the ILX has a nice balance between crisp and fluid, edgy and smooth—a more youthful take on a compact luxury car than you'll find elsewhere in the segment, and handsome if not lust-inducing. Inside, it's a pleasant place to travel, looking like a typical Acura: edgy curves, contoured surfaces, and easy-to-read gauges.
The interior layout of the ILX has been stellar all along, so that part didn't need rehab. It’s comfortable and spacious—surprisingly so in the rear seats, with enough room even for taller adults to comfortably fit. Ergonomically, the cabin is laid out very well, and it’s easy to figure out the controls without taking your eyes off the road (well, except for infotainment systems, which remain a sore point). There’s solid-feeling construction throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura says that cabin refinement and quietness has been improved for 2016, too, with thicker glass and noise-attenuating wheels; and that’s in addition to the smart active noise cancellation system Acura made standard for the lineup last year.
The ILX remains based on the Honda Civic, although the current Civic has an excellent reputation for safety and occupant protection. The 2016 ILX has earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, and a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA.
The ILX gets the excellent LaneWatch system that shows a wide-angle camera view alongside and behind the vehicle, and a new AcuraWatch safety suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. There’s also a blind-spot monitor with rear traffic alert for much of the lineup.
There are now a total of six 2016 Acura ILX packages, including standard ILX, Premium, Technology Plus, A-Spec, A-Spec Premium, and A-Spec Technology Plus. A-Spec models are the sporty versions in the lineup, and at the Premium level, the ILX gets a two-position driver’s seat memory, plus a power passenger seat, universal garage-door opener, and the dual-screen setup. The Premium grade model has, for the first time, a navigation system based on a connected iPhone, with the proper AcuraLink app, and Premium models and above get satellite radio and HD Radio. Tech models add the AcuraWatch suite plus embedded navigation and a configurable display.
The 2016 ILX achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 36 highway, 29 combined with a single powertrain offering.