2013 Acura ILX
09 Oct

Review: 2013 Acura ILX

Likes

  • Hybrid powertrain option
  • 6-speed manual available with 2.4L engine option
  • Strong list of standard features
  • Fuel Economy

Dislikes

  • Price point not attractive after looking at the competition
  • Bigger Engine only Available with Manual Transmission
  • Cloth Seats with base model
  • Style lacks charaacter

After Honda discontinued the Integra back in 2006 and the RSX in 2007, the TSX eventually took over as the entry-level vehicle for the Acura brand. Originally intended to appeal to consumers with incomes around $80,000, the sedan was initially priced at $26,490. Since then, however, the starting MSRP of the TSX has jumped quite a bit and is now up to $30,010. In order to attract consumers who aren’t necessarily willing to spend that much on an entry-level vehicle, Honda recently introduced the Acura ILX.

The ILX, which shares its frame with the Honda Civic, starts at $25,900 and offers consumers the option of three different engines: a 150-hp 2.0L 4-cylinder with an automatic transmission, a 201-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder with a manual transmission, and a hybrid that also has a 4-cylinder automatic (1.5L), but includes a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor. The hybrid engine in the ILX, a first for the Acura brand, makes a decent 111-hp and gets roughly 35mpg on city streets and 38mpg on the highway. In comparison, the fuel economies of the 2.4L and 2.0L are 22 and 24mpg in the city, and 31 and 35mpg on the highway.

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Though Acura openly disclosed that the ILX shares a frame with the Honda Civic, the ILX is definitely the better looking of the two vehicles. As far as exterior appearance goes, the ILX sits slightly lower to the ground and its front-end appears to be wider than the Civic’s. Its windshield and hood avoid the intense slope of the Civic’s design as well, making it look more like a sedan than a compact. Though there was some contention about heavily stylized grilles on recent model year Acura vehicles, the front end of the ILX seems to be missing something now that the brand has moved in a more subtle direction. Added character on the back of the vehicle would’ve also been appreciated. As is, its uninspiring rear puts the ILX in danger of being mistaken for something else—a Hyundai possibly or maybe a Mazda.

Driving impressions
We drove the 2.0L paired with the 5-speed automatic transmission. The new 150-hp 2.0-liter four makes the most of its 140 lb-ft of torque thanks to a Select Shift manual mode and paddle shifters. Unfortunately, it adds little if anything to the car’s fun-to-drive index. Up- and downshifts are lethargic compared to the snappy responses of Volkswagen’s dual clutch DSG automatic, and only marginally quicker than simply leaving the shift lever in Drive.

Steering is another soft point in the dynamic resume of the ILX. Electric assist power steering is far from new to Honda and Acura, but in the ILX the steering feels numb on center and vague when the driver turns the wheel. The electric assist system adds weight to steering effort as speeds increase, but road feel is essentially absent.

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Where the ILX shines is its combination of stiffened body shell and firm suspension tuning that gives the ILX a sense of character totally absent in the standard Civic. Handling responses are reasonably prompt and wholly predictable, with no sacrifice in ride comfort.

What Others are Saying About the 2013 ILX
With regards to the interior, reviewers at Cars.com and others have expressed dissatisfaction with the ILX’s cabin materials. Though we wouldn’t say the interior of the ILX looks cheap by any means, the fact that the base trim comes standard with cloth seats is a bit unexpected for a supposedly luxury vehicle. In order to upgrade to leather seats, heated seats, or even power adjustable seats for that matter, it’ll cost an additional $3300 for Acura’s Premium Package. Similarly, if you were hoping for a navigational system in your new luxury-mobile, you’ll have to purchase the Technology Package.

The Technology Package will cost you $5500 on top of the $25,900 MSRP of the base 5-speed automatic and the $28,900 MSRP of the Hybrid. It’s notable that the Technology Package is not available for the 6-speed manual, but the Premium Package is standard on the 2.4L. Additionally, the Premium Package is unavailable for the Hybrid though the Technology package is.

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Whatever money Acura saved by opting for cloth seats in the base ILX, it seems they spent on sunroofs and technology. Every ILX comes equipped with a power sunroof, push button start, and keyless entry. Further, the base ILX is equipped with a 5-inch audio display screen that’s USB and smartphone compatible. The Premium Package adds a rearview camera to the display, and with the Technology Package you’ll get navigation on a larger, 8-inch screen.

The fact that you don’t have to move up trim-wise to get your hands on a display screen or sunroof is one of the things we love about the ILX, however, because the base ILX is priced so high—you might get more bang for your buck with mid-trim level, or even base-trim level competitor. For example, though it’s not a luxury vehicle, the base Honda Accord LX starts at $21,680. Apart from the sunroof, it comes equipped with everything on the base ILX plus a larger display screen that includes a text messaging function and a rearview camera. If you really want the sunroof, you’ve got to move up two trim levels to the EX, but at $24,605, you’ll still be paying less than you would for the base Acura ILX.

Though Acura hoped the ILX would compete with the likes of Audi’s A3 and the Lexus CT200h, so far the only real competition to emerge has been the Buick Verano. Like the ILX, the Verano is also a new vehicle for its brand and unlike the Accord, Buick intended the Verano to compete in the luxury class. The Verano starts a bit lower than the ILX at $22,585, and though it has fewer engine options and isn’t as fuel efficient as the ILX, leather seats and 7-inch display screen are standard on the base Verano. Given the choice between the two, the Verano feels like a bargain, while the ILX feels overpriced.

This post was contributed by Brittany Larson on behalf of Acura of Warwick and S&S Best Auto Sales.

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Category: Car Reviews, Reviews

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