2017 Acura ILX

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
May 30, 2017

Buying tip

Acura's advanced safety features, dubbed AcuraWatch Plus, are available on the base model, along with sport seats, lane-keeping assist, and forward-collision warnings.

features & specs

Sedan
Sedan w/AcuraWatch Plus
Sedan w/Premium Pkg
MPG
25 city / 35 hwy
MPG
25 city / 35 hwy
MPG
25 city / 35 hwy
MSRP
$27,990
MSRP
$29,290
MSRP
$29,990

The 2017 Acura ILX isn't long on glamor, but it's a focused and comfortable compact sedan on the first rung of the luxury ladder.

The 2017 Acura ILX is proof of addition through subtraction. The automaker's luxury compact survives in a segment littered with myriad powertrains and options, expensive add-ons and ultra-performance variants, and it scores a 6.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Initially, Acura went down a similar road. Yet, this year the ILX is limited to one powertrain across three trims. The sporty, 2.4-liter inline-4 is sharp and willing, and its 8-speed automatic transmission is a ready companion. (We'd argue for a manual transmission, but we always do that.)

Styling and performance

Review continues below

Last year, the Acura ILX received a slight refresh in front and back—mostly the front, where the new LED headlamps were subbed in. We're not convinced that's what the ILX needed, but thankfully the sedan is already handsome.

Inside, you’ll find improved interior materials and some changes at the center of the dash, where connectivity features have been given an upgrade with the introduction of Acura’s dual-screen infotainment systems to the ILX. It's a pleasant place to travel, looking like a typical Acura: edgy curves, contoured surfaces, and easy-to-read gauges.

Last year Acura dumped the slow-selling, base model with the 2.0-liter inline-4. Another underwhelming model, the ILX Hybrid, was discontinued after the 2014 model year.

The ILX now sports a version of the powertrain found in the base version of the next-larger Acura sedan, the TLX. With a dual-clutch transmission and a 2.4-liter inline-4, the ILX now offers up 201 hp and 180 pound-feet of torque (up 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter), with nice features like direct injection for better fuel efficiency.

The unusual design of Acura’s 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox gives it smoother shift feel. There’s a torque converter inserted in the process, which blends torque better between shifts—and that improves low-speed smoothness but hangs on to the quick shift feel that dual-clutches can offer. Downshifts are rev-matched, and the driver can control gears with shift paddles. It’s an excellent transmission, responsive and smooth.

Comfort, safety, and features

The ILX feels smooth and solid throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura bettered the ILX’s refinement and quietness in the 2016 model year with noise-isolating wheels and thicker window glass. It also made active noise cancellation standard last year.

Front seats are supportive and very adjustable for the driver. Although what’s sorely missing is height adjustability for the passenger front seat. Head room is rather tight in front—due to the sunroof housing, which takes up an extra inch or two—while there’s probably a bit more rear head room than you’ll find in most models in this class. Leg room and knee room are quite good in back, too—enough to fit a couple of 6-footers.

The independent IIHS rated the 2017 ILX with top scores all the way around. The Acura notched "Good" scores in all of its tests, including the difficult small-overlap crash. Acura's suite of advanced safety systems was rated "Superior" by the agency and helped the sedan earn a Top Safety Pick award by the agency. In federal testing by the NHTSA last year, the ILX received five-star overall rating, with four- and five-star ratings for frontal and side crash protection, respectively.

Acura (and Honda) offer a nifty LaneWatch camera, and it’s on the ILX. It uses a wide-angle camera down the right side of the car to display curbside obstacles and cars when turning right. The new AcuraWatch suite of safety gear adds lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Blind-spot monitors with rear traffic alerts are available across most of the ILX lineup.

The ILX is available as standard, or with a Premium Package or with Tech Plus. The Premium and Tech Plus packages can be fitted with an A-Spec package that adds 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels; a trunk-mounted spoiler; and fog lights.

All ILX models include hands-free text messaging that'll read messages over the stereo and let the driver reply with one of six programmed responses. The ILX also comes with buffered satellite radio, enhanced traffic and weather info and something called Tune Mix, which lets users compile a single preset that combines their favorite satellite-radio stations.

Base 2017 ILX models include a power moonroof, a power driver’s seat, a multi-view rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. Stepping up to the ILX Premium Package gets you leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage-door opener, the dual-screen infotainment setup, satellite radio, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert. New with the Premium Package there’s Siri Eyes Free compatibility, plus an HDMI port, HD Radio compatibility, and Pandora and Aha internet radio compatibility.

The 2017 ILX achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined with a single powertrain offering.

5

2017 Acura ILX

Styling

The 2017 Acura ILX is handsome, inside and out. It won't turn any heads, but it won't turn any stomachs either.

Last year, the Acura ILX received a slight refresh in front and back—mostly the front where the new LED headlamps were subbed in. We're not convinced that's what the ILX needed, so the ILX gets a firm 5 out of 10 in our styling guide. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Acura’s changed the center of the ILX more than the rest of the cabin, but interior materials are better. It’s connectivity that dictates the moves: a dual-screen infotainment system factors into the dash. The system itself has major foibles, but it actually adds to the ILX’s ambiance. The contoured surfaces and edgy design doesn’t get in the way of its pleasant layout or its easy-to-place controls.

It’s the design itself that needs to be brought up to speed. If Acura wants the ILX to be perceived as a more focused sporty sedan, the cockpit needs more original colors and textures, and a look that’s more than just neatly executed.

For 2017, Acura has added three colors: Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic and San Marino Red.

Review continues below
5

2017 Acura ILX

Performance

The 2017 Acura ILX has only one powertrain and it's better for it; the ILX is focused and confident on the road.

Last year, Acura ditched two powertrains in the ILX in favor of a single engine-transmission combination that it should have had in the first place: it delivers strong, satisfying performance in a fuel-efficient, pleasant sedan worthy of an 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is gone, thankfully. All ILX sedans have an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission teamed to a 2.4-liter inline-4. The powertrain’s like the one in the base TLX sedan, where it’s our choice over the heavier, more expensive 6-cylinder option. In the ILX the combination makes 201 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, a gain of 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter.

Now that the 6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic are gone, the 8-speed dual-clutch can shine. It’s one of the smoothest dual-clutch boxes around, thanks to a torque converter inserted into the process. That piece creates a smoother shift sequence in lower gears, but doesn’t interfere with higher-speed responsiveness. Click the ILX into Sport mode, and the powertrain delivers better driver control, as well as perfectly rev-matched, paddle-actuated downshifts.

The ILX had some handling deficits to make up versus big rivals like the A3. It wasn’t as sharp or engaging. With major improvements to the braking and steering feel, and to its suspension tuning, the ILX now has some of the driving manners we expect in a premium compact car.

The available A-Spec performance package would give us pause at the sales desk. Cars with the bundle get wider and bigger (18 by 7.5-inch) wheels with very low-profile tires. Those treads exaggerate road harshness at the rear end, and with them the ILX can make sharp upward motions during cornering on rough road surfaces. After multiple drives and long stints in the A-Spec cars, we came away thinking the base wheels are the better bet, unless you live around very smooth roads.

We haven't driven the 2017 model yet, but we're expecting it to be the same as the 2016 version. We'll update this page when we do.

Review continues below
7

2017 Acura ILX

Comfort & Quality

The 2017 Acura ILX has ample interior space and storage; we just wish it had more gloss and glamor.

The 2017 Acura ILX starts with a solid foundation. There’s solid-feeling construction throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura improved cabin refinement and quietness in 2016 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.

Those premium touches help it rate an 7 out 10, which is better than average thanks to its refinement. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Supportive front seats have a wide range of adjustment to suit a wide range of driver body types. What’s sorely missing is passenger-seat height adjustment. The ILX has tight head room in front, thanks to the deep-mounted sunroof. In back, there’s more head room than in most ILX rivals. Leg room and knee room are quite good in back, too—enough to fit a couple of 6-footers.

Acura has done impressive things with the space in the ILX. There's always plenty of available space, and in general, plenty of comfort. There's space for small personal items and a straightforward interface, but we were hope for a little more glamor in the ILX last year—and we anticipate the same story with the 2017 model too.

The interior layout of the ILX has been stellar all along, so it needed no rehab in terms of functionality. It’s 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, 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).

Acura molds in cubbies and bins throughout the cabin. The trunk has a very low liftover height, and it can hold a large cooler, a wheelchair, or two large suitcases. For even more space, the rear seat backs fold down in pairs or in split sections.

The ILX is a surprisingly quiet-riding car thanks to active noise cancellation, which is standard on all models. It can actively "mop up" smaller, but bothersome, noises by pumping opposing frequencies through the sound system. Road and powertrain noise disappear, thanks to software, a sophisticated processing algorithm, and an in-cabin microphone.

Trunk space itself is even quite decent, with the standard models ranging between 12.3 and 12.4 cubic feet, depending on options.

Review continues below
7

2017 Acura ILX

Safety

Limited crash data for the 2017 model is available and it's fairly good so far.

In federal testing by the NHTSA, the 2017 Acura ILX received a five-star overall rating, with four- and five-star ratings for frontal and side crash protection, respectively—good enough for a 7 when combined with IIHS data in our testing. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The independent IIHS rated the 2017 ILX with top scores all the way around. The Acura notched "Good" scores in all of its tests, including the difficult small-overlap crash. Acura's suite of advanced safety systems was rated "Superior" by the agency and helped the sedan earn a Top Safety Pick award by the agency.

Review continues below
8

2017 Acura ILX

Features

Options are fairly straightforward and simple, and Acura's safety suite of active systems can be added to the base model.

The 2017 Acura ILX isn't awash in packages, a la carte items, or the endless possibilities that you'd find on a German competitor. Acura has kept the ILX in three relatively simple, easy packages for low prices and improved value later, scoring an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The ILX is available as standard, or with a Premium Package or with Tech Plus. The Premium and Tech Plus packages can be fitted with an A-Spec package that adds 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels; a trunk-mounted spoiler; and fog lights.

All ILX models include hands-free text messaging that'll read messages over the stereo and let the driver reply with one of six programmed responses. The ILX also comes with buffered satellite radio, enhanced traffic and weather info and something called Tune Mix, which lets users compile a single preset that combines their favorite satellite-radio stations.

Base 2017 ILX models include a power moonroof, a power driver’s seat, a wide-angle rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. Stepping up to the ILX Premium Package gets you leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, the dual-screen infotainment setup, satellite radio, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert. New with the Premium Package there’s Siri Eyes Free compatibility, plus an HDMI port, HD Radio compatibility, and Pandora and Aha internet radio compatibility.

Navigation factors in at the Tech Plus level, where Acura also plugs in AcuraLink connectivity, an ELS Studio audio system, and the AcuraWatch Plus active-safety suite. That package bundles forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist that can steer the car for short periods of time, to keep it within lane markings.

Acura will let you order that package on the base ILX. A separate A-Spec package boosts the look with two-texture suede seating surfaces, 18-inch sport wheels, fog lamps, sport pedals, a decklid spoiler, and other trim extras.

Tech Plus-equipped cars now have a new version of AcuraLink. With subscription data services, drivers can go beyond real-time traffic info and feature guides with functionality such as local search of destinations for the nav system, stolen-vehicle tracking, remote door locking/unlocking, automatic crash notification, and concierge services. A mobile app adds some of those features as well.

Review continues below
8

2017 Acura ILX

Fuel Economy

The Hybrid model is long gone, but the lone option isn't a bad efficiency pick.

For 2017, Acura is keeping the ILX simple by offering just one powertrain: a 2.4-liter inline-4 with direct injection. When paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, the 2017 ILX manages 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined, according to the EPA.

That comes in at an 8 out of 10 for fuel efficiency in our ratings. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We've seen real world numbers in the 25-mpg ballpark, but we believe it won't be a stretch for many to achieve the EPA's figures—we drove very aggressively. 

The ILX compares favorably to others in its class, provided they're not hybrid models. That class includes the Audi A3, which is rated at 27 mpg combined, and the Mercedes-Benz CLA250, which is the segment leader at 30 mpg combined.

Review continues below
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July 21, 2017
2017 Acura ILX Sedan

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  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
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6.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy 8
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