2015 Acura ILX Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 18, 2014

The 2015 Acura ILX is a well-rounded compact premium sedan for those who want features and comfort, but don't mind sacrificing performance.

The 2015 Acura ILX includes features and service you'd expect from a luxury brand and aims to attract hip retirees and up-and-coming young professionals. But with competition getting stiffer from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, among others, is that enough?

The ILX is barely a luxury car if you go by its sticker price—or its not-so-distant Honda Civic roots. 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. Granted, the brand is making big steps to head up-market with its RLX flagship sedan and future NSX super car, but there's still room for the ILX, which no only offers the slow-selling Hybrid model for 2015. With that in mind, the ILX holds its own as a well-equipped, pleasant-driving, and comfortable compact sedan.

The ILX has a youthful look that balances fluid and smooth shapes with crisp and edgy lines. The compact sedan wears gently swollen fenders, taut character lines, and an airy greenhouse that arches over the passengers. We think it’s handsome, if not lust-inducing.

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Taller adults will fit in this compact sedan quite easily. Seating space is generous for its overall footprint, and the ILX has controls that have been laid out cleanly, with easy-to-identify markings. Fit and finish is an Acura strong suit even here at its entry-level; the ILX is composed in high-quality materials and feels uniformly solid and substantial. The ILX also is quiet, though not as hushed as true luxury cars, including Acura’s own RLX.  

For 2015 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.

There are two versions of the ILX available, named for their drivetrains: the 2.0 and the 2.4L. The first of those models has, predictably, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. With 150 hp and 140  lb-ft of torque, it’s teamed to a 5-speed automatic that can be shifted via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. So equipped the ILX has EPA-estimated gas mileage ratings of 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.

For a little more engaging driving experience, the ILX 2.4L gins up more power from a four-cylinder on loan from the Honda Civic Si. Its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder nets out at 201 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, passed through a 6-speed manual transmission only. No automatic is even offered as an option. The suspension, though, is the same as in the rest of the lineup, and it’s not up to the task delivering handling to beat its best rivals. Don’t get us wrong, the ILX is responsive enough, but it’s nothing like the outgoing Acura TSX sport sedan.

Active noise cancellation and leather carry over as standard ILX features. An eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, and a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera system have also all been added as standard.

From the base version, Acura fits two option packages. The Technology Package comes with premium audio with USB and Pandora integration, a rear-view camera system, a navigation system with voice recognition, and real-time traffic and weather info. Premium ILX sedans offer leather; two-way heated front seats; eight-way power adjustable driver seat; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; a multi-view rear camera; and a premium sound system with Bluetooth, USB, and Pandora functionality.

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2015 Acura ILX

Styling

The 2015 Acura ILX is handsome and modern-looking -- and you might not even see that it's built on Honda Civic pieces.

The 2015 Acura ILX is formed with many of the internal bits and pieces of the Honda Civic, but you'd never know it from the appearance of this significantly more attractive sedan. It never looks econo-car, but it all fits in with the aesthetic of luxury done with an eye on price.

Going by the exterior look, the ILX carries no sign of the Civic.

The ILX has wide, low proportions, a short trunk and a long hood. Those details, combined with aerodynamic character lines and a bottle-opener grille, present the ILX as a nicely proportioned and detailed compact sedan, though one that’s not exactly luxury-grade in appearance.

Inside, the center stack is placed high for good eyes-up visibility, while there are focused, easy-to-read instrument and information displays carrying across the main panel. The rear-seat area is more plainly finished, but nonetheless feels part of the overall cabin.

Overall, the ILX's cabin is youthful and nicely detailed, at least in comparison with the competition, with cascading layers of surfaces in varied textures that create a flowing, connected feel across the dash and through the cabin.

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2015 Acura ILX

Performance

The 2.0-liter versions of the ILX aren't that perky; 2.4-liter models have more zip, but not the suspension to make the most of it.

The ILX Hybrid has been discontinued for 2015, due to slow sales. That leaves two different powertrains, both of which are pinned on balanced, lightweight platforms, offering a nice blend of comfort and sport. Don't count the ILX as a sport sedan, though. It's not.

The most powerful ILX 2.4L adopts the Civic Si's 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. With 201 hp and a 6-speed manual as its sole transmission, the top ILX has admittedly limited appeal. The engine develops its power and torque over a relatively broad powerband, but it doesn’t have much distinctiveness in its character. The punchy powertrain seems a bit at odds with the ILX's ride and handling.

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.

At the affordable end of the ILX family, the 2.0L makes 150 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque and comes only with a 5-speed automatic. It returns a respectable 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, and is just powerful enough for daily duty. Mountain roads aren’t always its friend, but the base ILX does have steering-wheel paddle-shifters for an extra element of fun. They’re hardly the point, though: this model’s personality is relaxed and comfy, not edgy.

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2015 Acura ILX

Comfort & Quality

The 2015 Acura ILX is a great commuter car -- or a great small car for long trips -- all thanks to its comfortable ride and nicely detailed luxury cabin.

The Acura ILX costs less than the average sedan in its base form, which means you get a lot for the money with it's premium touches and luxury-level features. It's well-built and tightly assembled, with one of the most comfortable interiors you'll find in a compact car.

The ILX is already a surprisingly quiet-riding car; yet as of last year, 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 ILX is a compact car, but its front seats are comfortable and surrounded by plenty of interior room. The driving position is good, with clear driving sight lines, and the front seats have a wide range of adjustment.

A sense of quality construction permeates the ILX. Its controls are laid out logically and feel substantial.

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

Trunk space suffers some in Hybrid models, but still is decent for compact cars. The Hybrid has 10.0 cubic feet after placing the battery pack behind the rear seats; other models have about 12 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold-down rear seats on non-hybrid models add to the cargo area for larger items.

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2015 Acura ILX

Safety

The ILX is a secure pick, with a good feature set and Impressive safety ratings.

The 2015 Acura ILX is among the safest vehicles on the road today, and may well be one of the safest compact cars available at any price.

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 given 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.

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.

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2015 Acura ILX

Features

The price of the 2015 ILX, and a true luxury-sedan feature set, makes this small sedan attractive from a value standpoint.

The 2015 Acura ILX is among the least expensive luxury cars on the market, so we don't begrudge the brand for not offering some of the technologies reserved for its flagship RLX sedan. And 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 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); dual-zone automatic climate control; and a DC power outlet.

Two primary packages are available to upgrade from the the base level: the Technology Package and the Premium Package. 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).

The Technology Package is available only on 2.0L models. With it, 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.

As of last year, 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.

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2015 Acura ILX

Fuel Economy

The efficiency leader of the lineup, the ILX Hybrid, has been dropped for 2015.

Only a few years ago, the ILX would've excited drivers with its once-better-than-average fuel economy ratings. However, the loss of the Hybrid model and the addition of a few fuel-sipping competitors leaves the ILX as a mid-pack contender for 2015.

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.

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