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2017 Acura ILX Review

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 6.8 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

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.

The underwhelming ILX Hybrid model was dropped going into 2015 and the 2.0-liter inline-4 base engine was dropped last year. 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. The dual-clutch transmission is superb and a near-perfect pairing of smoothness and responsiveness.

Comfort, safety, and features

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.


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.

Crash-test ratings for the 2017 Acura ILX aren't out yet, but considering its mechanical similarity to the 2016 version, we can confidently carry over those ratings.

The independent IIHS rated the 2016 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.

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.

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.)

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.

We tend to think that it’s the dash styling that lets the 2017 ILX down a bit in its new role as a more focused sporty sedan. The ILX might be better served if there were more color or originality in textures and materials, and the dash manages to feel rather basic in the area just ahead of the passenger, with a spare look to the plastics and vents.


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


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, 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 outgoing 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 former 5-speed automatic has also been dropped (as has the 6-speed manual, sadly), and the 8-speed, dual-clutch gearbox that replaces it is the perfect companion to the new engine. It uses a torque converter for low-speed smoothness, yet its shifts are super-quick during high-performance driving. Click back to the Sport mode, and you get perfectly rev-matched downshifts and good driver control through steering-wheel shift paddles.


Previously, the ILX wasn’t quite as sharp as you might have expected, especially in its top-performance version, and thankfully Acura has made some major improvements in suspension and especially braking and steering feel to improve the driving experience.

There's an A-Spec performance package that would give us pause when it comes time to order an ILX. 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.


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.)

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.


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).

There are thoughtful bins and cubbies everywhere (if you’ve cross-shopped the Audi A3 you’ll understand how frustrating the lack of them can be), as well as very low liftover height. Acura says that the trunk can hold two large suitcases, a large cooler, or even a wheelchair. The rear seat backs are split and can be flipped forward for expanded space.

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 from the powertrain or road, using the sound system's speakers, a cabin microphone, and a sophisticated processing algorithm.


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


8
2017 Acura ILX
Safety
Limited crash data for the 2017 model is available and it's fairly good so far.

Crash-test ratings for the 2017 Acura ILX aren't out yet, but considering its mechanical similarity to the 2016 version, we can confidently carry over those ratings.

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 an 8 in our testing.

The independent IIHS rated the 2016 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.


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.

At the Tech Plus level Acura adds a navigation system, the upgraded ELS Studio audio system, AcuraLink connectivity, and the full AcuraWatch Plus suite of active safety features, which include automatic emergency braking systems, and even a lane-keep assist that will steer for short periods to keep within lane markings.

Separately, you can add that AcuraWatch Plus system to the base ILX, while an A-Spec package will add upgraded 18-inch sport wheels, two-texture suede seating surfaces, fog lamps, a decklid spoiler, sport pedals, and other trim extras.

Additionally, ILX models with the Tech Plus Package get the next generation of AcuraLink, which includes real-time traffic info and a feature guide, plus with a subscription, items such as stolen-vehicle tracking, local search, automatic crash notification, remote door locking/unlocking, and concierge services. A mobile app adds some of those features as well.


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.
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