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TSX69 09-27-12 09:40 AM

Acura ILX Reviews
 

TSX69 10-02-12 08:57 AM

MSN
 

Does a premium car have to have a premium engine? If the new Acura ILX is any indication, the answer is no.

Based on the Honda, the ILX is aimed at a younger buyer who doesn't care about performance, or so says Acura. Consequently, it is offered with 2 engines sourced directly from the Civic line and a 3rd that is far from premium.

We're not so sure about this "performance is not important" philosophy. But given increasingly stringent fuel-economy standards, we just might see more cars that are premium in every way except engine performance. It's a future we're not ready to embrace.

Model Lineup
The 2013 Acura ILX is offered in 3 well-equipped variants defined by the engines. The 2.0L, which starts at $25,900, comes standard with cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/CD stereo, USB port, auxiliary input jack, sunroof, keyless access and starting, universal garage-door opener, rearview camera, xenon automatic headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Hybrid, which starts at $28,900, adds a rear spoiler, while the 2.4L ($29,200) gets leather upholstery, stainless steel pedal covers and 17-inch wheels.

The Premium package (starts at $29,200) for the 2.0 and Hybrid adds leather upholstery, power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, multiview rear camera, active sound cancellation, XM satellite radio, premium 360-watt sound system, and 17-inch wheels (except for the Hybrid). The Technology package (starts at $31,400) includes the premium sound system, XM satellite radio, a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather, AcuraLink communication system, and the 17-inch wheels.

Under the Hood
The 2013 Acura ILX is offered with 3 engines, 2 of which are directly out of the Honda Civic. The 2.0L features a single-overhead-cam 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 150 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. That's 10 horsepower and 12 lb-ft of torque more than the Civic's base 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. The 2.0 is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway.

The 1.5L Hybrid is powered by the Civic Hybrid's 1.5-liter single-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine aided by an electric motor for a total of 111 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. The Hybrid uses a continuously variable automatic transmission and stores its energy in a lithium-ion battery. Fuel economy ratings are 39/38 mpg. The 2.4L features the Civic Si's dual-overhead-cam 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. It comes only with a 6-speed manual transmission, and fuel economy ratings are 22/31 mpg.

Inner Space
Acura says Generation Y and younger Generation X buyers interested in the ILX want looks and comfort over performance. With that in mind, Acura didn't skimp on interior quality. The ILX has the same type of soft-touch dash, door panels and armrests as other Acuras, and a familiar control layout. It has a high-tech look with a central controller a la BMW's iDrive. This system uses a central rotating knob flanked by buttons to allow users to get to some functions, especially the navigation controls, quicker. It's somewhat complicated, but the ILX's younger, tech-savvy buyers should figure it out quickly and embrace the technology. Oddly, Acura doesn't offer the Technology package, and therefore the navigation system, with the 2.4L.


Buyers will recognize the familiar dashboard layout with the main controller in the middle of the center stack and an available 8-inch screen set up high.

The Technology package includes an 8-inch color screen and 15 gigabytes of space for music storage. Smartphone users can also stream Pandora through the vehicle and access text messages through an SMS text-messaging feature that reads texts aloud and allows drivers to respond with 1 of 6 preset replies.

Whether Cloth or leather, the seats are supportive. Front legroom is plentiful, but headroom will get tight for taller drivers. Rear seat space is only adequate. Adults of average size will fit in the front and rear, but if any of the occupants are tall, rear legroom gets tight.

Cargo space is just average. The rear seat folds down in 1 piece in non-Hybrid models, but doesn't fold flat, and the floor is stepped between the trunk and passenger compartments. The trunk has 12.35 cubic feet of space, which is average for the class.

On the Road
While competitors such as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Jetta GLI are motivated by peppy and fuel-efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, the ILX gets a tepid 2.0-liter 150-horsepower 4-cylinder as its base engine. The similar Buick Verano doesn't have a premium engine, either, but its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder makes 182 horsepower for a starting price of around $4,400 less.

If your expectations aren't high, the 2.0-liter's modest power will be just fine. It'll let you keep up with traffic, but passing will require more planning than usual. Acura isn't giving a 0-to-60 mph number, but the lighter Civic does it in about 9 seconds, which is on the slower end of the spectrum for 4-cylinder compacts. Of course, Acura is betting that a new breed of buyers won't really care about power as long as the engine goes light on gas. And that the 2.0 liter does. However, it could do better with the addition of direct injection and an extra gear or 2 in the transmission.

The Hybrid is slower still, likely around 10 seconds for 0 to 60 mph, but it does almost as well in traffic. Power delivery feels a bit odd because the transmission never shifts, but buyers should like the fuel economy. Still, we would like to see Honda upgrade its hybrid system to better contend with the Toyota Prius, which gets 12 mpg better overall.

The 1 engine we do like is the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. It delivers its 201 horsepower through a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission. The engine revs willingly and pushes the car from 0 to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Acura expects only about 5 percent of buyers to choose the 2.4L trim, likely due to the fact that it is only available with the manual transmission. Why Acura would choose not to offer an automatic with the 2.4L is beyond us.

Otherwise, the ILX provides a pleasant and almost sporty driving experience. The electric-assist power steering is light and fairly quick, but it doesn't offer much road feel. Similarly, the car feels light and agile through turns. By comparison, the TSX, which starts at about the same price as the ILX 2.4L, has heavier steering and feels more solid and hunkered down on the road. We prefer the TSX.

Right for You?

The 2012 Acura ILX will appeal to buyers who want thrifty fuel economy and are looking to step up to a luxury brand. Acura touts the car's value, but we feel it is priced too close to, and even on top of, the more substantial TSX. The ILX does have a premium cockpit, but engine performance doesn't match the price, leaving rivals such as the Audi A3, Volkswagen Jetta GLI, Buick Verano and even Acura's own TSX as better alternatives.

(As part of an automaker-sponsored press event, Acura provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitate this report.)

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.


TSX69 10-25-12 08:27 AM

DetroitNews
 

Despite an attractive design and cushy interior, Acura's * * 2013 ILX compact sedan lacks the features and performance to compete with the best small premium sedans.

The ILX is the 1st misstep in Acura's reboot, which will include several new models over the next few years. It's smaller and less expensive than the TSX that has been Acura's entry model.

Prices for the 2013 Acura ILX start at $25,900 for a model with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. The sporty model features a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter engine and 6-speed manual transmission. It goes for $29,200. The fuel-saving ILX hybrid features a 111-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission. It starts at $28,900.

I tested a well-equipped 2.0-liter ILX with the optional Tech package that includes a navigation system, mediocre voice recognition, an ELS premium sound system and other features. It stickered at $31,400. All prices exclude destination charges.The ILX shares its platform and major mechanical systems with the mainstream Honda Civic, but its exterior and interior appearance are unique, with plenty of upscale touches. Audi and Buick use the same formula for their premium compacts. The A3 and Verano, respectively, share their platforms and many systems with the high-volume Volkswagen Golf and Chevrolet Cruze.

The A3, ILX and Verano are among the 1st entrants in what's likely to become a crowded field of premium compacts with features, style and performance traditionally associated with larger prestige models. The BMW 128i, Lexus CT 200h hybrid and Volkswagen Jetta GLI or TDI also could be considered competitors.

The ILX that I tested cost about $4,000 more than a comparably equipped Buick Verano, $1,000 more than a comparable Jetta GLI and $1,000 less than a comparably equipped A3.

The ILX 2.0L's strongest selling point is its fuel economy. The EPA rates it 24 m.p.g. in the city, 35 on the highway and 28 combined.

The ILX's fuel economy is particularly impressive given that its 5-speed automatic transmission competes primarily with 6-speeds in the other cars. Credit the ILX's low 2,970-pound curb weight and its less-powerful engine.

The 2.0-liter produces considerably less power than the A3, Verano and Jetta. With just 140 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 r.p.m., acceleration from a standstill is unimpressive. Performance at highway speeds, when the engine is already running more than 2,200 r.p.m., is fine.

The suspension is tuned more for comfort than handling. It absorbs bumps well, but does not inspire eager driving. The steering is a bit numb, without much feedback or on-center feel.

The ILX's proportions are similar to the Civic, whose platform it shares, but every exterior panel is unique. The crisp lines and planted stance give the ILX a sporty and capable look.

The interior is attractive and trimmed with good materials. Virtually every surface is padded. The front seat provides plenty of room. Rear legroom is about par for compact sedans. At 12.3 cubic feet, the trunk is on the small side.

The car I tested had neither blind-spot alert nor memory for the driver's seat, a couple of features that seem well within reach for a $31,400 compact.

The infotainment and voice-recognition system is very annoying. Among other faults, it requires too many steps and doesn't provide spoken access to contacts in your phone's directory. It also repeatedly interrupted phone calls to tell me it was indexing the hard-drive music library -- despite the fact that I had not activated that feature.

The 2013 Acura ILX is a good-looking, fuel-efficient compact, but its unexceptional performance and frustrating electronics make it less appealing than other premium compacts.
More Details: 2013 Acura ILX

Front-wheel drive 5-passenger premium compact sedan

Price as tested: $31,400 (excluding destination charge)

Rating: * * (Out of 4 stars)

Reasons to buy: Fuel economy; interior materials.

Shortcomings: Price; voice recognition; lack of common features.
Competitive EPA fuel economy ratings

(Automatic transmission models)

Acura ILX 2.0L: 24 m.p.g. city/35 m.p.g. highway/28 m.p.g. combined. Premium fuel.

Audi A3 2.0T Premium: 21 m.p.g. city/28 m.p.g. highway/24 m.p.g. combined. Premium fuel.

BMW 128i: 18 m.p.g. city/28 m.p.g. highway/22 m.p.g. combined. Premium fuel.

Buick Verano Premium: 21 m.p.g. city/32 m.p.g. highway/25 m.p.g. combined. Regular fuel.

Lexus CT 200h: 43 m.p.g. city/40 m.p.g. highway/42 m.p.g. combined. Regular fuel.

VW Jetta GLI Autobahn: 24 m.p.g. city/32 m.p.g. highway/27 m.p.g. combined. Premium fuel.
2013 Acura ILX

Front-wheel drive 5-passenger premium compact sedan

Base price: $25,900

Price as tested: $31,400 (excluding destination charge)

Safety equipment: Antilock brakes; electronic brake distribution; brake assist; stability control; front-seat side air bags; curtain air bags; hill start assist; daytime running lights

Specifications as tested

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC variable timing 16-valve 4-cylinder.

Power: 150 hp at 6,500 r.p.m.; 140 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 r.p.m.

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy rating: 24 m.p.g. city/35 highway/28 combined. Premium fuel.

Dimensions

Wheelbase: 105.1 inches

Length: 179.1 inches

Width: 70.6 inches

Height: 56.6 inches

Curb weight: 2,970 lbs.

Where assembled: Greensburg, Ind.

Comparative base prices

(not including destination charges. Automatic-transmission models)

Audi A3 2.0T Premium: $28,750

BMW 128i: $31,200

Buick Verano Leather: $26,755

Lexus CT 200h: $31,850
Key features

Antilock brakes; electronic brake distribution; brake assist; stability control; front-seat side air bags; curtain air bags; hill start assist; daytime running lights; USB and auxiliary inputs; push-button ignition; Bluetooth compatible; voice-recognition for phone, music and navigation; navigation system; power windows, locks and mirrors; power sunroof; leather-trimmed seats; Sirius/XM satellite radio; 8-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; 17-inch alloy wheels; xenon headlights; fog lights; real-time traffic and weather updates; backup camera; 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/hard-drive ELS sound system; GPS-linked dual zone automatic climate control; air filtration; universal garage door opener.

Options: None

2013 Acura ILX at a glance

Vehicle type: Front-wheel drive 5-passenger compact premium sedan

Power: 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder; 201-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or 111-horsepower gasoline-electric hybrid.

Transmission: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic or continuously variable automatic.

Price range: $25,900-$34,400 (Excluding options and destination charges)

TSX69 10-26-12 09:36 AM

MotorTrend
 

I can always depend on my barber for 2 things: miracle work on my thick, unruly hair, and a laundry list of questions about what car I'm currently driving or testing. Once in a while, he'll ask to see the car in person, and the 2013 Acura ILX hybrid was 1 of those occasions. He stands right in the crosshairs of the ILX's demographic: He's a single, professional male in his late 20s with a budding affinity for luxury cars. (His current car is a Lexus IS 350.)

"OK, this looks nice,"
he said of the exterior. "Wow, luxury," he observed from the passenger seat. And upon learning of the ILX's humble roots: "Really? A Civic? I couldn't tell." His reaction is exactly what Acura wants to hear from a Gen-Y buyer, though his evaluation doesn't go beyond the sheetmetal, where most of the Civic's underpinnings are hiding.

For starters, the ILX shares the Civic's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid powertrain, which consists of a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine (90 hp and 97 lb-ft of torque) and a 23-hp, 78-lb-ft electric motor for a combined output of 111 hp and 127 lb-ft. With an EPA-rated fuel economy of 39 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, it's the most efficient variant among the trio of ILX variants, though not nearly as miserly as the Civic's 44/44 city/hwy rating.

As expected, the 2952-pound sedan doesn't provide the most thrilling drive, especially out on the track. Going from 0-60 mph, for example, takes 10.8 seconds, and its best quarter-mile time is 18.2 seconds at 74 mph. Its meager power figures are especially noticeable on the freeway, where hurried on-ramp or passing attempts are accompanied by nothing more than a buzzy engine note and a slow-moving speedometer needle. That said, the ILX hybrid feels adequate during city driving. Assistance from the electric motor is imperceptible, and whether you're coasting or coming to a quick halt, the brake regeneration operates smoothly with none of the jerkiness we've experienced with previous iterations of Honda's IMA system.

There is, however, one drawback. Since the electric motor is restricted to 2 functions -- providing assistance during acceleration and restarting the gas engine from the stop-start function -- the ILX lacks a pure electric mode. This is especially apparent during stop-and-go traffic where the stop-start system is constantly shutting off and restarting the gas engine. For a luxury car, the incessant cycle seems unrefined, if not a bit irritating. (Parallel parking is another situation.) The stop-start function lacks a kill switch, but shifting the transmission into Sport "S" mode acts as an inadvertent and oxymoronic solution.

Ride quality is firm, but not overly jarring, and the cabin is a relatively quiet place to be. We recently measured and compared cabin noise levels between an ILX 2.4 and Civic Si and found that the ILX is indeed quieter; we can assume the same holds true for the hybrids. Steering feel is decent around town, but slightly overboosted on the highway. Inside, the ILX provides a fair amount of room, though 3 adults in the back seat will likely be a tight squeeze. Additionally, the hybrid's trunk is a bit smaller than its gas-only siblings (10 versus 12.3 cubic feet).

I agree with my barber's assessment of the ILX's looks inside and out, though the 16-inch rims do seem a bit small for the sedan (17s are available as an accessory item). The hybrid is available in 2 flavors: base or Technology Package. Our tester was equipped with the latter and carried a sticker price of $35,295 including the $895 destination fee, a $5500 increase over the base model. The package nets a navigation system, a rearview camera (which seemed out of focus), a premium ELS surround sound system, leather seats (heated up front), automatic climate control, and xenon lights.

For now, the Acura has few direct competitors. The Audi A3 TDI is one (a new A3 is in the offing soon) and the Lexus CT 200h is another. The Lexus and Acura are close to each in terms of size and price, but the CT 200h's more sophisticated hybrid powerplant makes it tad faster and economical (43/40 city/highway) than the ILX. So while the ILX hybrid's handsome looks and comfortable and tech-filled interior is everything you would expect from an Acura, its coarse powertrain, while adequate in the Civic, is a bit of a letdown. We know Honda is working on a heavily revised hybrid system and hope it will make its way to the ILX sooner rather than later.
2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
BASE PRICE $29,795
PRICE AS TESTED $35,295
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 1.5L/90-hp/97-lb-ft SOHC 8-valve I-4 + 23-hp/78-lb-ft electric motor, 111-hp/127-lb-ft comb
TRANSMISSION continuously var auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 2952 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 105.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 179.1 x 70.6 x 55.6 in
0-60 MPH 10.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 18.2 sec @ 74.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.79 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.2 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 39/38 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 86/89 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.50 lb/mile

TSX69 11-08-12 09:01 AM

AutoMobileMag
 

In the early '90s, we had a long-term 1991 Acura Integra GS 2-door. A couple of criticisms, like uncomfortable seats and lack of interior space, kept the staff from falling in love with the car, but there was unanimous adoration for 2 things: the engine and drivetrain. "The Integra really came alive on deserted Huron River Drive, and I made it home in 9 minutes," said now deputy editor, then editorial assistant, Joe DeMatio. "It usually takes 15."

20 years on, DeMatio again drove an Acura compact luxury car home from the office. Only rather than a 130-hp 2-door, this time he drove a 201-hp 4-door. "I really like the ILX," he says. "Gearchanges are lovely, and the engine happily revs to 7000 rpm or lopes along at 6000 rpm in 4th gear at 85 mph." Yeah, he probably hit 85 mph on the same deserted stretch of Huron River Drive he's been piloting for decades, but everyone in the office is guilty of flatfooting in the ILX.

The 2.4-liter engine takes some blame for our hooligan driving, with its eagerness to rev and its smooth power delivery, but it's our desire to row the 6-speed gearbox that keeps us accelerating. Senior editor Joe Lorio called the manual transmission "delightful." Associate web editor Jake Holmes is more loquacious: "The shifter is deliciously precise in the way it slips from gear to gear. Each gate is where you expect it to be, so there is no need to expend more than a microsecond of thought about changing gears. I believe this transmission and clutch could coax any automatic-lover to the manual transmission cult." Senior web editor Phil Floraday agreed, saying, "I absolutely love the engine, transmission, shifter, clutch, and how well they all work together." Managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros is also smitten by that synergy. "Whether you're commuting or attacking a back road, the car feels effortless, like an extension of your body. The impeccably weighted clutch and sublime shifter are exquisite."

Time, it seems, hasn't diminished our respect for Acura's peppy engines and user-friendly manual transmissions, but what about the rest of the ILX? You'll just have to wait until next month to find out.

TSX69 12-05-12 08:09 AM

AutoMobileMag
 

Our own Evan McCausland wrote favorably about his first drive of the Acura ILX months ago, but to me his report was just white noise, and I had not been able to consider any aspect of the new small sedan other than its exterior styling, which I find uninspiring. So it was with low expectations that I slid behind the wheel of the ILX yesterday evening. What a pleasant surprise: the ILX drives incredibly well. It's easy to forget how nice it is to be in a proper little sport sedan with a really good manual gear shifter and nice clutch pedal takeup. All the right nuances are there.

I love the ergonomically friendly interior. (Really, has Acura ever done a bad interior? I can't think of one.) Still, Acura is never quite sure of itself, so at the top of the car's center stack of instruments, they've put in big lettering, "PREMIUM AUDIO SYSTEM." Really, Acura, show some restraint. And get your designers to work on the mid-cycle exterior freshening of the ILX, to make it look sportier and more distinctive.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor


My brief 1st impressions of the Acura ILX are pretty positive -- it's a nice, comfortable, quick, rev-happy car with a fabulous gearbox and attractive styling (well, I like it more than Joe does, at least). The numb, uncommunicative steering, however, is a major downer.

I haven't yet driven the new Honda Civic Si, but this car felt credibly like an Acura. (The ILX and the Civic do share their basic architectures and powertrains.)

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor


Acura did a great job bringing the ILX 2.4 to market for just over $30k with the manual transmission. The normally aspirated 2.4-liter I-4 sounds surprisingly aggressive during normal driving and the clutch and shifter work together brilliantly. Even a quick jaunt to the store for the last few dinner ingredients becomes something worth remembering. High-revving engines without forced induction are quickly becoming extinct, which made each run to the redline that much more enjoyable in this Acura.

The ILX could use a touch more confidence in corners, so I'd be shopping for slightly stickier rubber if I purchased one. I really like the ride quality on the 17-inch wheels, so I'd just look for something a little more aggressive that might provide the confident feel that's missing from this car in some situations. I quickly checked Tire Rack - Your performance experts for tires and wheels, Automobile Magazine's official tire and wheel supplier, and discovered 35 different summer tire choices (not including track-only tires) in the stock 215/45 R17 size. If you have an extra $400-600, there are several great performance rubber choices for the ILX.

Perhaps the lack of an available navigation system will deter some potential buyers from the manual transmission model, but the ILX offers every other option I would personally want in a small luxury car. In fact, the size of the ILX is 1 of its best attributes. The car is easy to park, nimble on a tight road, and there's plenty of room inside for 4 adults. Fuel economy isn't stellar at 31 mpg highway, but my mixed driving easily matched or exceeded the EPA combined rating of 25 mpg despite my frequent excursions past 7000 rpm. Unless you're dead-set on rear-wheel drive, this is easily a frontrunner in the $30k sporty luxury sedan class.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor


The Acura brand earned its way into our collective enthusiast consciousness by building nicely upgraded little Hondas that drove with surprising zest. After a long drought, we again have exactly that kind of car in the ILX 2.4. The Acura treatment basically amends everything we've complained about in the new Civic. The Honda's bland styling gives way to substantial, premium-looking sheetmetal that, as others have noted, looks much better in person than in pictures. The fact that many will mistake it for a larger and more expensive TSX or TL will only be a benefit in this segment. The interior is Acura at its best. The materials quality is beyond reproach, and the ergonomics are such that you can climb in and adjust all the controls without looking. I also continue to admire Honda/Acura for maintaining reasonably low beltlines and easy-to-see-around roof pillars.

Acura did not try to refine the Civic Si's 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and we're better off for it. The engine winds up quickly, begging you to rev past 6000 rpm. (I still miss the even higher-revving character of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinders that powered the long-gone RSX Type S and the last-generation Civic Si.) The clutch and shifter are perfect, providing a mix of precision, smoothness, and mechanical texture that no one other than Honda seems to be able to master. The steering, as in the larger TL SH-AWD, is too light and numb--the sole letdown in a fun package.

To be clear, it's not as if the ILX is some kind of breakthrough. It's just a good little luxury car that you want to drive quickly. In other words, it's an Acura. Welcome back.


David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

I was living in Florida when Honda introduced its luxury marque, Acura, in 1986. At the time, I had a friend who was looking for a new car, and he was having trouble deciding whether to by an Integra or a Chevy Beretta (!?). He wisely chose the Integra, which turned out to be a very capable small car that was fun to drive but also had an upmarket demeanor that was lacking in the Honda Civic and Accord of the day.

The same can be said of today's ILX. While today's Civic and Accord are not exactly downmarket, this ILX benefits from the extra attention that Acura has given it. The interior has higher-quality materials and great ergonomics, and the exterior styling is attractive if not head turning. The manual transmission in this car is Honda at its best--short, precise throws and a perfectly modulated clutch. The infotainment screen is small but well placed, high on the dash but with a deep hood to protect it from any glare. The climate controls are dead simple to use - a knob for temperature and toggle switches for fan speed and mode. The driver's seat is firm and comfortable, the steering wheel is covered with a high-quality leather that feels pleasant, and the metal-clad clutch, brake, and accelerator pedals look upmarket.

The 201-hp engine isn't overly powerful, but you can make the most of it with the manual transmission, and the ILX doesn't suffer from torque steer the way the Civic Si can. All in all, this ILX strikes me as a very good buy for $30,000.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2013 Acura ILX 2.4

MSRP (with destination): $30,095
PRICE AS TESTED: $30,095

ENGINE:
2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 201 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

TRANSMISSION:
6-speed manual

DRIVE:
Front-wheel

WHEELS AND TIRES:
17-inch aluminum wheels
215/45VR-17 Michelin Pilot MXM4 tires

FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
22/31/25 mpg

CURB WEIGHT:
2978 lb

CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo: 12.3 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.3/34.1 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.0/35.9 in
Towing: N/A

EXTERIOR/INTERIOR COLOR:
Crimson Garnet/Ebony

STANDARD FEATURES:
Power sunroof
Heated exterior mirrors
Leather-trimmed sport seats
Acura premium audio system w/7 speakers
SiriusXM satellite radio w/trial subscription
Heated front seats
Power 8-way adjustable driver's seat
Rearview camera
Xenon HID headlights
Fog lights
6-speed manual transmission
MP3/auxiliary audio jack
Push-button ignition
Bluetooth
Automatic dual-zone climate control
USB port
Hill start assist
Brake assist
Stability control

OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
None

KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
17-inch THA-S10 aluminum wheels- $1540
Rear spoiler- $399
Illuminated door sills- $355

ADDITIONAL SPECS:
The Acura ILX is a new model for 2013.

COMPARE TO:
Audi A3, BMW 128i, Buick Verano, Cadillac ATS

TSX69 12-06-12 09:13 AM

AutoMobileMag
 

The 1st 75 seconds of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" are awesome and must be played at full volume, but after the 1st breakdown the song becomes a bit repetitive and tiresome. We're reminded of "Stranglehold" and the Motor City Madman every time we get into our Acura ILX. Why? Its inline-4 sounds so sultry for the 1st few minutes, when you're driving like a buffoon, coaxing the engine to wail a bit more. But while you can turn the volume down on a song, you, unfortunately, can't hush this engine.

Even when you settle into a cruise, the thing won't shut up. Our ILX 2.4 is really loud, particularly for a compact sedan with luxury aspirations. We questioned whether our ears were simply too delicate, until the new Buick Verano Turbo showed up at the office. "The Verano Turbo is a better small luxury sedan -- it's quieter, smoother, and rides better," says associate editor David Zenlea. The fact that the ILX growls while the Verano whispers makes the Buick the superior choice for those downsizing from larger luxury car.

"But I think the ILX will satisfy those upgrading from a sport compact," Zenlea continues. "It is much, much more fun. Its normally aspirated engine is throaty but it's also very eager. It's the better driver's car by far." Managing editor Amy Skogstrom took that a step further, pitting the ILX against our Bimmer instead of the Buick. "I drove the ILX not long after our 4 Seasons 328i, and is it sacrilege to say that I find the ILX more enjoyable? Its manual transmission seems better to me in every way -- the throws are more precise, the slim shifter feels better in my hand, and engagement is more predictable. I also love that it doesn't take much speed to get the revs up and have a little fun."

The ILX is fun, it's nimble, and, even though engine noise can be overbearing at times, it's refined. Acura did a good job creating a cohesive package for younger buyers to upgrade to without depriving them of all the flavor of a sport sedan. "No other automaker offers a 4-cylinder and manual transmission as entertaining as Honda, and I credit the company for offering it in a car that's nicer and more refined than the Civic Si," says Zenlea, "but the truth is it needs to be nicer still." Other than sound deadening, what are some other areas that could use improvement? Find out more in next month's update.

TSX69 12-11-12 09:40 AM

MotorTrend
 

Like so many endangered species, we're witnessing the slow, gradual extinction of the shift-for-yourself manual transmission. That a car like the Acura ILX was even made available with a manual was a bit of a surprise, but given Acura's salad days as a purveyor of engaging, entertaining compacts (not to mention Honda had 1 available from the Civic) it makes sense.

Now that I've spent some quality time buzzing around L.A. with the ILX in its natural habitat, I'm all for keeping the 2.4-liter 4/6-speed species Acura's loaned us for a year from going extinct.

Like every car in the MTGarage fleet, the ILX went through our standard battery of dynamic tests. I had a chance to ride shotgun with test Svengali Kim Reynolds for a couple of laps around our figure 8 course in the ILX, tires squealing, engine wailing. Reynolds has ripped around our test loops in literally every car imaginable, so he's a hard man to please.

He generally liked the Acura compact, with some caveats: "It really enjoyed revving, though it also understeered heavily as well as pitched and rolled a lot," Reynolds reported. None of this really comes as a surprise given its heavy front bias. But if you're driving it like Kim on our closed course out on the open road, then you're driving it like a madman and you should probably be locked up anyway. For day-to-day driving, the ILX has proven to be plenty competent.

Another thing we can report on the plus side of the ledger is the ILX can do a pretty mean burnout. I was told by a certain Acura PR person who shall remain nameless that it can lay an impressive patch, so naturally I had to find out for myself. Yep, he's right, it sure can. I had that tire spinning furiously on the way out of the AutoClub Speedway lot.

Most of the driving I've been doing lately has been out on L.A.'s mean highways, and while the left leg can get a workout at times in the inevitable stop-and-go, I've found the 6-speed to be 1 of the easiest to modulate setups out there. It's a breeze to push it lightly when the going is slow, and when you want to get aggressive, the clutch pedal/shifter action is a cinch to wind out quickly and effectively.

But as my colleague Benson Kong found out in our recent test of the ILX against the Buick Verano Turbo, the Acura can get pretty noisy in the cabin - especially when you dial it up. Cabin noise has been 1 of the major callouts from editors who have driven it, that and the lack of front-seat headroom. I'm a shade over 6 feet and my hair touches the headliner. Resident MT beanpole Zach Gale, who's about 6 feet 4, simply can't drive it without getting a serious lean on. Of course, the sunroof doesn't help.

Stay tuned next update for the ILX's first service, some MPG observations, and more about what the ILX is like on the inside.
Our Car
Service life 3 months/6138 miles
Average fuel economy 26.2 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.74 lb/mile
Energy consumption 129 kW-hr/100miles
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0
Normal-wear cost $0

TSX69 12-27-12 01:53 PM

HybridCars
 

In a step back toward its roots, Acura, Honda’s luxury division, is once again offering a less-is-more entry level luxury compact car. Slotted below the TSX, the 2013 Acura ILX is somewhat reminiscent of the 1986-2001 Integra, but outfitted with more luxury.

And, like the Integra before it, the ILX shares its platform with the latest generation Honda Civic. However, don’t dismiss the ILX as just a dressed up Civic with an Acura nameplate; there are noteworthy engineering changes and interior refinements.

Non-hybrid models are available in 4 trim levels and 2 hybrid ILX trim levels are available. These 6 possible iterations are made up of base, Premium, Technology trim packages.


More specifically, the base non-hybrid ILX is equipped with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission and starts at $25,900. For lots of wahoos, the ILX Premium non-hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter, 201 horsepower 4 connected to a close-ratio 6 speed manual shifter and is priced at $29,200. Alternately a 5-speed automatic transmission version of this 2.4-liter Premium trim level is available for the same price. And as a third 2.4-liter option, the non hybrid ILX is available with a Technology package, 5-speed auto, and MSRP of $31,400.

The green version is the ILX Hybrid, Acura’s 1st ever hybrid offering. This is ironic considering Honda was the 1st carmaker to introduce a hybrid, the Honda Insight in 2000. Borrowing the hybrid system from the Civic Hybrid, the ILX Hybrid has a base price of $28,900; add the Technology Package and the price jumps to $34,400.

Honda’s IMA Hybrid System

The 2013 ILX Hybrid employs Honda’s 5th generation hybrid powertrain system that the automaker calls Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). It’s a descriptive name in that an ultra-thin, 17.2-kilowatt brushless electric motor/generator is “integrated” between the engine and transmission and only “assists” the gasoline engine during acceleration, which saves gas. This compares to other hybrid systems where the electric motor can assist the gas engine plus, propel the vehicle on electric power alone. In certain instances, the ILX Hybrid engine does cut off fuel and the car operates briefly on electric power only, but the engine’s parts still move.

Like other hybrid vehicles, the ILX has an idle-stop operation, which shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop, and then fires up again when the brake pedal is released.


When the car is coasting or brakes are applied, the motor performs as a generator and charges the 20-kilowtt lithium-ion battery pack located in the trunk.

The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine features Honda’s i-VTEC intake and exhaust valve control system. The engine produces 90 horsepower and 97 pounds-feet of torque. Powered by the lithium-ion battery, the electric motor makes 23 horsepower and 78 pounds-feet of torque for a combined system output of 111 horsepower and 127 pounds-feet.

Completing the IMA system is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that directs power to the front wheels. The CVT consists of a drive pulley and driven pulley that are linked by a steel belt, and operates somewhat like a 10-speed bicycle. It combines the fuel economy of a high-gear ratio manual transmission, the performance of a low-gear manual and the stepless shifting of a conventional geared automatic transmission.

Unlike the Civic, the ILX Hybrid has paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which lets the driver manually choose 7 fixed shift points for the CVT. Manual shifting can be used in either the Drive mode – ideal for most driving situations, or Sport mode – for more performance-oriented driving. For maximum fuel economy, an ECON mode provides increased battery assistance.

Surprising, and puzzling, the ILX Hybrid’s fuel economy rating is 39 mpg city/38 highway and 38 combined while the Civic Hybrid bests those numbers with 44/44/44. The ILX does weight around 100 pounds more than the Civic but we’ve not learned what accounts for the discrepancy.

Styling, Cabin and Features

Styling won’t have you running to the closest Acura dealer; however, the ILX is quite handsome, albeit a tad conservative. Kudos to the designer who toned down Acura’s current overly large, nefarious chrome grille that certainly grabs attention, but for the wrong reasons. The new face has a slender version of the grille that is accented with thin, tapered lower air intakes and gets attention for the right reasons – it’s good design.

Distinct hood creases, pronounced side character lines and shapely rear wheel arches project a sculpted appearance that quietly says luxury. There is little to distinguish the Hybrid from the other two models, just a small rear deck lid spoiler and the now obligatory discrete hybrid badges.


The ILX cabin coddles its passengers in typical Acura fashion. That means comfortable and well equipped. The dash design follows the larger TL sedan’s curved shapes that give the interior a well-crafted appearance of understated luxury. White on black conventional gauges are well lighted and easily readable. For a quick glance at the myriad infotainment features, a 5-inch info screen is placed atop the center stack.

Front seats are supportive in the right places and a standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The rest of the ergonomics are straightforward, the switches and controls are high quality and everything is assembled perfectly.


This is compact car so, 2 rear seat passengers have adequate room, but nix a 3rd person. And, since it’s a hybrid, the battery robs trunk cargo room, reducing it to 10 cubic feet versus 12.3 for its gas-only siblings.

Following Acura’s tradition, the base ILX Hybrid is very well equipped: keyless access with push-button ignition, heated exterior mirrors, speed sensing wipers, leather steering wheel and shift knob and of course, power windows and outside mirrors as well as cruise control. There’s no need to upgrade to the Technology package for features like Bluetooth, a USB port and voice text messaging because they are standard.


Acura doesn’t offer a list of options, rather the company bundles them into packages. The $5,100 Technology Package is the only upgrade available for the Hybrid model. It includes a navigation system with voice recognition, AcuraLink communication system, leather seating, driver’s 8-way power seat, heated front seats, Xenon HID headlights and rearview camera. For music aficionados with long commutes, the ELB surround sound system is excellent therapy.

On The Road

With the Honda Civic’s ride and handling reputation of being among the very best in class, engineers had a leg up in tweaking the chassis to conform with Acura’s tradition of overall driving fun with a refined feel in ride and handling. Acura reworked the multi-link rear suspension’s geometry, revised bushings and added dampers with 2-stage valving at all four corners. The ILX also has a quicker steering ratio for a crisper steering response and body tensional rigidity is increased for added control during cornering.

The upgraded suspension tuning and more rigid body provides a refined ride comfort while delivering agile and responsive handling. Steering is nicely weighted and executes sharp cornering in an effortless manner.

When accelerating rapidly from a stop or merging into fast moving traffic, the ILX doesn’t exhibit much gusto. This can remedied by using the paddle shifters – hold after downshifting 2 or 3 gear settings and acceleration quickens. In ordinary driving conditions, however, the powertrain absolves itself well enough and the car becomes a solid performer on the highway.


Around town the Hybrid has a smooth, fairly well damped ride and it’s easy-to-drive and easy-to-park. The highway ride is firm, controlled and pleasant, not harsh. Bumps and those pesky expansion joints have a negligible impact.

1 thing that sets the Acura apart from the Civic that lets you know it is in the entry luxury class is the quiet ride. This is accomplished by the use of laminated glass and the audio system’s noise cancellation feature.

But, there is one thing Acura didn’t overcome. When the gas engine restarts after shutting down temporarily at stops, the car shudders as it gets up to speed, just like the Civic Hybrid and that’s a luxury demerit.

Hybrid cars are all about fuel economy and the ILX, like most cars, gas-only powered or hybrid, can deliver fuel economy results that are better than the EPA numbers if driven properly, and I don’t mean hypermiling techniques.

Our travels during a week with the ILX Hybrid racked up 379 miles, 187 miles on Interstates, the balance was mixed in town and some highway miles. Results? Our combined fuel economy was 41 mpg, 3 mpg more than the EPA’s estimate.

ILX Hybrid in the Marketplace

Acura says the target customers for the new ILX are the younger members of Generation X and members of Generation Y – successful 20- and 30-somethings moving into the luxury car ranks but looking for high-value propositions in their purchases. The automaker is counting on this group of buyers to become longtime Acura customers.

The ILX Hybrid’s only direct hybrid competitor is the Lexus CT 200h. It’s just $220 more than the Acura and its 43-city/40 highway fuel economy bests the ILX. However, Lexus will soon be dropping the 200h from the lineup, leaving the ILX as the least expensive luxury hybrid.


Acura considers Audi’s A3 a competitor, even though it is not a hybrid. Indeed, the A$ TDI diesel offers excellent fuel economy – 30 city and 42 highway – and has a base price of $30,250, $1,350 more than the ILX.

The ILX fills a gap in Acura’s lineup that has been missing for some time and opens door for new buyers wanting to step up to a premium car without a premium price. The added bonus is there’s a premium hybrid without a premium price.

Prices are Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) at time of publication and do not include destination charges, taxes or licensing.
Dilemma: Green Driving or Wahoo! Driving?

At HybridCars.com we’re about hybrid cars and, as our logo says, Auto Alternatives for the 21st Century—mostly. We are also driving enthusiasts, and when the opportunity presents itself, we never say no to test driving a car that dishes out lots of Wahoos!

That’s what we did with Acura’s new 2013 ILX compact sedan. After a week with the ILX Hybrid, we swapped it for the ILX Premium—think of it as a more refined and luxurious Honda Civic Si that costs just $300 more than the Hybrid.


The ILX Premium is only available with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission. The tight action and high rpm characteristics of the 201 horsepower 2.4-liter engine work superlatively with this gearbox.

Underway, the Premium cruises at highway speed with minimal effort. Put your foot down on the drive-by-wire throttle, and 60 arrives in a quick 6.7 seconds from stop. Throttle response is crisp and immediate. This 4 cylinder builds power with the strength and smoothness of a 6.

The overall balance is close to rear-wheel drive cars. It’s quite nimble, with just a touch of front push on turn-in. Press it hard and the tail drifts out in a smooth, predictable manner. You can drive this car with both steering wheel and throttle.

Dancing with the LXI on curvy 2 lane back country roads elicited a Wahoo! at every turn. But the reality is, most of the time— like everyone else—we drove the car in everyday traffic on a variety of road surfaces. The suspension said no sweat to patchy roads. It swallowed the worst of them with no bouncing or tipping or jolting. The suspension’s combination of firm for the curves and comfortable on the street is exceptional.

After collecting our Wahoos!, we became serious about fuel economy. Just what kind of gas mileage could be wrung out of this little pocket rocket?

We clocked 251 miles on the trip odometer, 57 of which we weren’t thinking about fuel economy. The balance of the miles were dedicated to sensible driving: no jack rabbit stops, lifting off the go pedal long before coming to a stop and a lot of short shifting—1st to 3rd, 3rd to 6th. We always kept pace with the flow of traffic, including some short stints on the freeways.

When we topped up with gas, divided the miles driven by the number gallons the results were 29.4 mpg. Certainly not close to the 41 mpg the Hybrid delivered the week before, but it was a decent 4.4 mpg increase over the EPA’s estimated 25 mpg.

In a step back toward its roots, Acura, Honda’s luxury division, is once again offering a less-is-more entry level luxury compact car. Slotted below the TSX, the 2013 Acura ILX is somewhat reminiscent of the 1986-2001 Integra, but outfitted with more luxury.

And, like the Integra before it, the ILX shares its platform with the latest generation Honda Civic. However, don’t dismiss the ILX as just a dressed up Civic with an Acura nameplate; there are noteworthy engineering changes and interior refinements.

Non-hybrid models are available in 4 trim levels and 2 hybrid ILX trim levels are available. These 6 possible iterations are made up of base, Premium, Technology trim packages.


More specifically, the base non-hybrid ILX is equipped with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission and starts at $25,900. For lots of wahoos, the ILX Premium non-hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter, 201 horsepower 4 connected to a close-ratio 6 speed manual shifter and is priced at $29,200. Alternately a 5-speed automatic transmission version of this 2.4-liter Premium trim level is available for the same price. And as a third 2.4-liter option, the non hybrid ILX is available with a Technology package, 5-speed auto, and MSRP of $31,400.

The green version is the ILX Hybrid, Acura’s 1st ever hybrid offering. This is ironic considering Honda was the 1st carmaker to introduce a hybrid, the Honda Insight in 2000. Borrowing the hybrid system from the Civic Hybrid, the ILX Hybrid has a base price of $28,900; add the Technology Package and the price jumps to $34,400.

Honda’s IMA Hybrid System

The 2013 ILX Hybrid employs Honda’s 5th generation hybrid powertrain system that the automaker calls Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). It’s a descriptive name in that an ultra-thin, 17.2-kilowatt brushless electric motor/generator is “integrated” between the engine and transmission and only “assists” the gasoline engine during acceleration, which saves gas. This compares to other hybrid systems where the electric motor can assist the gas engine plus, propel the vehicle on electric power alone. In certain instances, the ILX Hybrid engine does cut off fuel and the car operates briefly on electric power only, but the engine’s parts still move.

Like other hybrid vehicles, the ILX has an idle-stop operation, which shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop, and then fires up again when the brake pedal is released.


When the car is coasting or brakes are applied, the motor performs as a generator and charges the 20-kilowtt lithium-ion battery pack located in the trunk.

The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine features Honda’s i-VTEC intake and exhaust valve control system. The engine produces 90 horsepower and 97 pounds-feet of torque. Powered by the lithium-ion battery, the electric motor makes 23 horsepower and 78 pounds-feet of torque for a combined system output of 111 horsepower and 127 pounds-feet.

Completing the IMA system is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that directs power to the front wheels. The CVT consists of a drive pulley and driven pulley that are linked by a steel belt, and operates somewhat like a 10-speed bicycle. It combines the fuel economy of a high-gear ratio manual transmission, the performance of a low-gear manual and the stepless shifting of a conventional geared automatic transmission.

Unlike the Civic, the ILX Hybrid has paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which lets the driver manually choose 7 fixed shift points for the CVT. Manual shifting can be used in either the Drive mode – ideal for most driving situations, or Sport mode – for more performance-oriented driving. For maximum fuel economy, an ECON mode provides increased battery assistance.

Surprising, and puzzling, the ILX Hybrid’s fuel economy rating is 39 mpg city/38 highway and 38 combined while the Civic Hybrid bests those numbers with 44/44/44. The ILX does weight around 100 pounds more than the Civic but we’ve not learned what accounts for the discrepancy.

Styling, Cabin and Features

Styling won’t have you running to the closest Acura dealer; however, the ILX is quite handsome, albeit a tad conservative. Kudos to the designer who toned down Acura’s current overly large, nefarious chrome grille that certainly grabs attention, but for the wrong reasons. The new face has a slender version of the grille that is accented with thin, tapered lower air intakes and gets attention for the right reasons – it’s good design.

Distinct hood creases, pronounced side character lines and shapely rear wheel arches project a sculpted appearance that quietly says luxury. There is little to distinguish the Hybrid from the other two models, just a small rear deck lid spoiler and the now obligatory discrete hybrid badges.


The ILX cabin coddles its passengers in typical Acura fashion. That means comfortable and well equipped. The dash design follows the larger TL sedan’s curved shapes that give the interior a well-crafted appearance of understated luxury. White on black conventional gauges are well lighted and easily readable. For a quick glance at the myriad infotainment features, a 5-inch info screen is placed atop the center stack.

Front seats are supportive in the right places and a standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The rest of the ergonomics are straightforward, the switches and controls are high quality and everything is assembled perfectly.


This is compact car so, 2 rear seat passengers have adequate room, but nix a 3rd person. And, since it’s a hybrid, the battery robs trunk cargo room, reducing it to 10 cubic feet versus 12.3 for its gas-only siblings.

Following Acura’s tradition, the base ILX Hybrid is very well equipped: keyless access with push-button ignition, heated exterior mirrors, speed sensing wipers, leather steering wheel and shift knob and of course, power windows and outside mirrors as well as cruise control. There’s no need to upgrade to the Technology package for features like Bluetooth, a USB port and voice text messaging because they are standard.


Acura doesn’t offer a list of options, rather the company bundles them into packages. The $5,100 Technology Package is the only upgrade available for the Hybrid model. It includes a navigation system with voice recognition, AcuraLink communication system, leather seating, driver’s 8-way power seat, heated front seats, Xenon HID headlights and rearview camera. For music aficionados with long commutes, the ELB surround sound system is excellent therapy.

On The Road

With the Honda Civic’s ride and handling reputation of being among the very best in class, engineers had a leg up in tweaking the chassis to conform with Acura’s tradition of overall driving fun with a refined feel in ride and handling. Acura reworked the multi-link rear suspension’s geometry, revised bushings and added dampers with 2-stage valving at all four corners. The ILX also has a quicker steering ratio for a crisper steering response and body tensional rigidity is increased for added control during cornering.

The upgraded suspension tuning and more rigid body provides a refined ride comfort while delivering agile and responsive handling. Steering is nicely weighted and executes sharp cornering in an effortless manner.

When accelerating rapidly from a stop or merging into fast moving traffic, the ILX doesn’t exhibit much gusto. This can remedied by using the paddle shifters – hold after downshifting 2 or 3 gear settings and acceleration quickens. In ordinary driving conditions, however, the powertrain absolves itself well enough and the car becomes a solid performer on the highway.


Around town the Hybrid has a smooth, fairly well damped ride and it’s easy-to-drive and easy-to-park. The highway ride is firm, controlled and pleasant, not harsh. Bumps and those pesky expansion joints have a negligible impact.

1 thing that sets the Acura apart from the Civic that lets you know it is in the entry luxury class is the quiet ride. This is accomplished by the use of laminated glass and the audio system’s noise cancellation feature.

But, there is one thing Acura didn’t overcome. When the gas engine restarts after shutting down temporarily at stops, the car shudders as it gets up to speed, just like the Civic Hybrid and that’s a luxury demerit.

Hybrid cars are all about fuel economy and the ILX, like most cars, gas-only powered or hybrid, can deliver fuel economy results that are better than the EPA numbers if driven properly, and I don’t mean hypermiling techniques.

Our travels during a week with the ILX Hybrid racked up 379 miles, 187 miles on Interstates, the balance was mixed in town and some highway miles. Results? Our combined fuel economy was 41 mpg, 3 mpg more than the EPA’s estimate.

ILX Hybrid in the Marketplace

Acura says the target customers for the new ILX are the younger members of Generation X and members of Generation Y – successful 20- and 30-somethings moving into the luxury car ranks but looking for high-value propositions in their purchases. The automaker is counting on this group of buyers to become longtime Acura customers.

The ILX Hybrid’s only direct hybrid competitor is the Lexus CT 200h. It’s just $220 more than the Acura and its 43-city/40 highway fuel economy bests the ILX. However, Lexus will soon be dropping the 200h from the lineup, leaving the ILX as the least expensive luxury hybrid.


Acura considers Audi’s A3 a competitor, even though it is not a hybrid. Indeed, the A$ TDI diesel offers excellent fuel economy – 30 city and 42 highway – and has a base price of $30,250, $1,350 more than the ILX.

The ILX fills a gap in Acura’s lineup that has been missing for some time and opens door for new buyers wanting to step up to a premium car without a premium price. The added bonus is there’s a premium hybrid without a premium price.

Prices are Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) at time of publication and do not include destination charges, taxes or licensing.
Dilemma: Green Driving or Wahoo! Driving?

At HybridCars.com we’re about hybrid cars and, as our logo says, Auto Alternatives for the 21st Century—mostly. We are also driving enthusiasts, and when the opportunity presents itself, we never say no to test driving a car that dishes out lots of Wahoos!

That’s what we did with Acura’s new 2013 ILX compact sedan. After a week with the ILX Hybrid, we swapped it for the ILX Premium—think of it as a more refined and luxurious Honda Civic Si that costs just $300 more than the Hybrid.


The ILX Premium is only available with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission. The tight action and high rpm characteristics of the 201 horsepower 2.4-liter engine work superlatively with this gearbox.

Underway, the Premium cruises at highway speed with minimal effort. Put your foot down on the drive-by-wire throttle, and 60 arrives in a quick 6.7 seconds from stop. Throttle response is crisp and immediate. This 4 cylinder builds power with the strength and smoothness of a 6.

The overall balance is close to rear-wheel drive cars. It’s quite nimble, with just a touch of front push on turn-in. Press it hard and the tail drifts out in a smooth, predictable manner. You can drive this car with both steering wheel and throttle.

Dancing with the LXI on curvy 2 lane back country roads elicited a Wahoo! at every turn. But the reality is, most of the time— like everyone else—we drove the car in everyday traffic on a variety of road surfaces. The suspension said no sweat to patchy roads. It swallowed the worst of them with no bouncing or tipping or jolting. The suspension’s combination of firm for the curves and comfortable on the street is exceptional.

After collecting our Wahoos!, we became serious about fuel economy. Just what kind of gas mileage could be wrung out of this little pocket rocket?

We clocked 251 miles on the trip odometer, 57 of which we weren’t thinking about fuel economy. The balance of the miles were dedicated to sensible driving: no jack rabbit stops, lifting off the go pedal long before coming to a stop and a lot of short shifting—1st to 3rd, 3rd to 6th. We always kept pace with the flow of traffic, including some short stints on the freeways.

When we topped up with gas, divided the miles driven by the number gallons the results were 29.4 mpg. Certainly not close to the 41 mpg the Hybrid delivered the week before, but it was a decent 4.4 mpg increase over the EPA’s estimated 25 mpg.

TSX69 01-17-13 12:28 PM

AutoBlog
 

Acura's experiment with niche models has failed. Competing in the luxury car business by filling white space with product just didn't work for the Japanese automaker. In place of slow-selling models like its ZDX and quirky 1st-gen RDX, the mindset at Acura has recently switched to more conventional products with vastly improved volume potential. The redesigned 2013 RDX, for example, sold almost as many units in 2012 as it did in 2010 and 2011 combined, and the all-new 2013 ILX has sold more units each month – since going on sale in May – than Acura sold in ZDXs and RLs in all of last year.

While the redesigned RDX is a crucial product to compete with luxury compact crossovers, the ILX might be the most important new product for Acura, as a growing number of premium makes are starting to realize the importance of upscale entry-level compact cars. Ironically, this segment was a pivotal part of the brand's success in the 1980s and '90s thanks to the Integra, but Acura completely abandoned the genre when it killed off the RSX coupe in 2006. The addition of the ILX not only gives Acura a competitive small car again, it also drops the brand's entry price by almost $5,000.

Like the Honda Civic to which it's closely related, the 2013 Acura ILX is offered with 3 powertrain flavors (base 2.0, ILX 2.4 and Hybrid), and while our 1st Drive gave us some seat time in the base ILX 2.0, this time we got to spend a full week with the sportier ILX 2.4 – Acura's version of the Civic Si. The ILX is positioned in a weird in-between market that includes premium small cars like the Buick Verano, Audi A3 and Lexus CT, but it also sits at the upper end of some well-equipped non-luxury models like the Ford Focus Titanium. With this in mind, and with keys in hand, we aimed to see how the ILX stacks up against other premium compacts – as well as its predecessors.


Despite coming from the same gene pool (and Greensburg, Indiana assembly plant) as the Civic, every element of this Acura's design has been completely changed – from its width to the shape of its roofline. To put it simply, this is no modern-day Cadillac Cimarron. Compared to the Civic Si sedan, the ILX has a slightly shorter overall length, sits lower and is almost two inches wider (including a track that is about a half-inch wider), all of which help give to the ILX sportier proportions; even the rake of the windshield has been changed to give the Acura sedan its own distinct presence. The ILX introduces a more refined design language for the marque, with key elements like the scalloped headlights, raised hood and wide rear haunches, all of which are also present on the 2014 RLX and should be visible on future models, too. One crucial element that Acura nailed (and, boy, did it need to) was its trademark shield grille that now complements the styling of its cars rather than looking like an oversized, metallic beak. Acura has even paid attention to the styling of the engine compartment, using plastic trim to dress it up quite a bit more than what you see under the hood of the Civic Si.

Even more so than the exterior, the cabin of the ILX gives no hint of the car's close relation to the budget-minded Civic, and we think it fits in perfectly with the Acura brand image. A few of the Acura signatures include the dual arched instrument panel; the red, metal-like pushbutton starter; and the clean, straight-forward layout of the switchgear on the center stack. The good news here, of course, is that you can get practically the same interior on this entry-level sedan that you'll find on every other current Acura model. This sportier ILX adds a few extra styling bonuses like the contrasting stitching on the leather and the bright aluminum trio of pedals for the driver – the latter of which might be the only interior bits that are directly shared between the ILX and the Civic. Everything from the steering wheel to the knobs and controls to the padded inserts carved out of the door panels make this car feel 100-percent like an Acura. We kept wanting to gripe that the interior didn't look as sporty as the Civic Si, but we had to keep reminding ourselves that an Acura buyer is more likely focused on luxury and technology.


While other ILX models are going after customers looking for either an affordable luxury car or a fuel-efficient hybrid sedan, the 2.4 model finds harmony between sport and luxury. Normally, playing the middle of the field is a good way for a car to make compromises on both ends, but the ILX does a fine job of balancing luxurious comfort with supportive sportiness. For the driver, the steering wheel is the perfect size and thickness for a dual-threat persona, and the real aluminum shifter knob blends elements of high-quality materials with a raw, sports-car like feel. Even the seats feel decently supportive in sharp turns, yet they aren't too stiff, which could make long road trips uncomfortable. The comfort and styling might be spot-on for the ILX, but all is not perfect with this sportier version's interior. If any occupants of the ILX have something to complain about, it's the rear passengers, who face tighter quarters than in your standard Civic with less headroom and greater than 2 inches of lost legroom. Cargo space is also down slightly to 12.3 cubic feet from the Civic sedan's already-cramped trunk.

Only available with the Premium Package, the ILX 2.4 brings plenty of standard equipment to the table including HID headlights, fog lights, a multi-view rear camera, upgraded audio system and leather seats. That seems like a great start for a sport sedan until you realize that there are no other option packages available on this car. For $24,000, you can get a Civic Si with navigation, but no matter how much you want to spend on the ILX 2.4, navigation is not in your future. With the car seemingly aimed directly at Gen Y buyers, we think this is a huge error in packaging options – especially in a day when many non-luxury, budget-minded B-segment cars offer navigation. So if you want a sporty sedan and can't live without navigation, you either have to step down your performance aspirations with either the base engine or hybrid ILX, or step up to the bigger, heavier and more expensive TSX. All in, the 2013 ILX 2.4 will set you back $30,095 including destination, which is a reasonable price to pay for this car's levels of luxury and performance, especially considering it's priced only a little less than the navigation-equipped Buick Verano Turbo that we just recently reviewed.


As much as Acura has done to make the ILX look and feel worlds apart from the plebian Civic, the changes are only skin deep, as all of the good mechanical bits in the ILX 2.4 are carried over almost exactly from the Civic Si. We have to throw in that "almost" because, while the high-revving 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder and 6-speed manual gearbox are there, the ILX does not receive the Si's standard limited-slip differential. Still, we're not going to argue with the engine's 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, even though peak horsepower kicks in at a screaming 7,000 rpm. Those cross-shopping this ILX with the Verano Turbo will instantly notice the Acura's 49-horse disadvantage, but much of what this car lacks in power, it makes up for in weight reduction with a 2,978-pound curb weight that comes in around 300 pounds less than the Buick.

Driving the ILX 2.4 introduced us to its decently weighted clutch and short-throw shifter, but as fun as the car was to drive, this isn't a model we want to take to the track. There are only minor tuning differences between the ILX 2.4 and the base model's suspension and electric power steering setups, but we'd venture a guess that the biggest upgrades the 2.4 has over the other ILX models in terms of handling are its all-season Michelin Pilot HX rubber and slightly larger front brakes.


During our week with the ILX 2.4, the fact that it's basically a fancier Civic Si stuck in the back of our heads, but time and again, this Acura impressed us with how much it didn't feel like a sportier version of an entry-level compact. Acura's crew surely deserves the lion's share of the credit for this, as the ILX has been given a beefier front stabilizer bar and a quicker ratio for its power steering than the Si. Even the sound quality inside the cabin is more of what we'd expect from a luxury car, the result of acoustic glass used for the windshield and the audio system's Active Sound Cancellation.

The ILX 2.4 does bring with it the same fuel economy as its sporty corporate cousin, with official EPA numbers holding steady at 22 miles per gallon city and 31 mpg highway, and our time with the car returned an overall average close to 26 mpg – we're guessing that had a lot to do with the fact that the ILX does not come with the see-how-high-you-can-rev-the-engine VTEC power meter that's standard on the Civic Si. Like all other Acura models (and the Civic Si), premium fuel is recommended by the automaker for peak performance.


Acura's reboot of the near-premium compact car might not be as enthusiast-oriented as the old Integra, but rather than attempting to recreate what has become an iconic model, Acura has focused on offering a broader range of model choices, which ought to help attract more new buyers to the brand whether they are stepping up from a Honda or trading in another luxury make. With its limited scope (1 powertrain and no options), we're not sure what chords the ILX 2.4 will strike with consumers, but we just can't knock a car that brings a luxuriously appointed sporty sedan to the sub-$30,000 price bracket.

The new ILX is probably not going to be a hot option for the tuner crowd like the Integra turned out to be, but what it does offer car shoppers is a well-priced offering for buyers now and a good look at the future direction of Acura products down the road. What's perhaps most surprising is that Acura has managed to go mainstream without selling out, and we're looking forward to the day when we pit this ILX 2.4 against the Verano Turbo in a proper comparison test.

TSX69 01-31-13 08:41 AM

4 Seasons
 

We know we have a ringer. Our ILX, with its top-spec 2.4-liter engine and 6-speed manual transmission, is definitely the pick of the litter where Acura's smallest sedan is concerned. And indeed, we have roundly praised its smooth-revving 4-cylinder, and even more so, its sweet-shifting manual gearbox. But that's not the whole story of this car.

"While we love our car's 2.4-liter engine and the 6-speed manual bolted to it, the vast majority of ILX intenders won't even glance at it," says associate editor David Zenlea. This powertrain will account for but a sliver of sales. Most of those who are lured to the luxury marque's most affordable entry will probably live with a base model or a hybrid. Unfortunately for them, the base model's 2.0-liter engine is gutless and underwhelming, and the ILX Hybrid put senior web editor Phil Floraday off so much that he begged to get out of the CVT-hobbled car after only 1 night behind the wheel.

No doubt, the best ILX is the 1 we have, and that isn't great news for Acura. That's not just because so few customers are likely to choose this iteration -- even when they do, that delicious powertrain can't mask some this model's blunders.

We complained that the car's engine was noisy in last month's update, and we've noticed that a lot of ambient noise worms its way in as well. "The ILX is in desperate need of sound insulation," says Floraday. Managing editor Amy Skogstrom agrees, saying that highway crosswinds caused a racket. She also called out the grainy rear-view camera, which deputy editor Joe DeMatio had previously harped on as well: "At night, what you see looks like a fuzzy old black-and-white movie on a crappy old TV."

The rear suspension is a multilink unit, not a torsion beam, but Floraday said, "The ILX could use better suspension tuning at the rear axle. Several times over the weekend I felt a well-damped bump under the front tires and then a moment later heard a thud and felt a much sharper impact from the rear tires. I don't feel like I'm in a luxury car when the impacts are this loud or jarring."

Word has it that Acura is working on an emergency refresh for its smallest offering, much like what parent company Honda recently did with the Civic. We'd like to see better sound insulation, as well as a more powerful base engine. And while we love the 6-speed manual, Acura should offer buyers of the 2.4-liter an automatic option. That's what Buick does with the Verano turbo, and looking at last month's sales numbers, Buick sold almost twice as many Veranos as Acura did ILXs.

TSX69 02-07-13 06:47 AM

AutoMobileMag
 

Mount your winter tires, and not a single snowflake will stick to the pavement over the next 6 weeks. At least that's true for us. A set of Continental ExtremeWinterContact tires showed up at our office around Thanksgiving, just a couple of days after ordering them from Tire Rack, our official wheel and tire supplier. The rubber set us back $644.00, then mounting and balancing them on our ILX cost us another Benjamin. Ready to test our Acura's winter handling capabilities, we wanted Michigan's worst cold-weather barrage -- and nothing came.

We trundled along into the New Year, the ILX making more noise on the highway than it already did, thanks to its new tires (not a particularly happy development since in-cabin noise is already an issue with this car). A flurry here, a flurry there, but no substantial snowfall came.

Then the ILX hit the 8000-mile mark. Soon after, the car's brain admonished us to take the car in for its inaugural service. $43.46 later, we were out the door and back on dry pavement.

Then, after Googling the name of a snow god ("Ullr") so we could curse it (once we figured out how to pronounce it), the clouds opened and salt trucks came out, but not before we could show our Acura snow for the 1st time. "The ILX handled it well, thanks to its Continental winter tires," said managing editor Amy Skogstrom. The snow kept coming, and the ILX pushed on. "The tires provide pretty decent braking and traction, although it's obviously still possible to break the fronts loose under acceleration," wrote associate editor Jake Holmes. "Fortunately, the traction control is of the kind I favor: it reduces wheelspin but still allows forward progress, whereas some systems are so aggressive you can barely move due to punitive brake application."

So now we know that our ILX can plow through the powdery stuff with no problem -- with the right set of tires, of course. After a lukewarm welcome, the ILX needed a victory. Could things be looking up for the littlest Acura?

TSX69 03-01-13 08:04 AM

C&D
 
Date: February 2013
Months in Fleet: 7 months
Current Mileage: 16,696 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 27 mpg
Average Range: 356 miles
Service: $71
Normal Wear: $0
Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $74

We can usually roll up the 40,000 miles we require of our long-term cars in about a year. At just under 17K through 7 months in our care, our ILX is somewhat behind the pace. As the coldest, snowiest, and most miserable days of Michigan’s winter pass, however, we expect the car to resume rolling its odo at the rate we saw last summer and fall. Since we introduced the Polished Metal Metallic sedan last August, it has ferried staffers twice to New York and once to Vermont before hibernating in and around C/D HQ in Ann Arbor.

Logbook scribblers continue to applaud the Acura’s slick 6-speed manual and zingy 201-hp 2.4-liter, which are shared with the Honda Civic Si. (The ILX also shares several hard points with the more-plebeian Honda, notably, its suspension and floor.) The rare criticism centers not on mechanicals but the shifter’s metal knob. As we entered the sweltering dog days of summer, the ball frequently was too hot to handle. Now, in the winter, it gets so cold that gloveless pilots are complaining of frostbite. (They’re obviously ninnies.) But the cold weather brought something else of note: Engagement through the gates has begun to feel slightly sticky, and we’ll be watching to see if the issue subsides as spring and warmer temperatures approach.


Thirty Grand?

A recurring theme sees staffers wondering where the money went into creating this $30,000 car. Perhaps the lion’s share of development bucks went to the front structure, which was heavily modified from the Civic’s to accommodate a longer hood and relocated A-pillars for a more refined look. The money isn’t evident inside. We continue to bemoan the lack of a navigation system in 2.4-liter cars, and the short gearing and the attendant engine noise, especially on the freeway, still fray nerves. The 2.4’s sound has been described as “juvenile”—sensible in the Civic Si, not so much in an entry luxury car—and road noise in all situations has been characterized as “excessive” and “unacceptable.”


The ILX has many other amenities inside, but cost cutting is apparent, and the interior lacks the polish expected in the segment and for the price. The leather seats are showing obvious signs of wear, lending a whiff of shabbiness to the cabin. Although the dash, instrument panel, center stack, and center console eschew any outward Civic components, one log writer called out the ILX’s interior as a “pretty thin veneer over the Civic’s.” Taken with the powertrain, the result is a car that we’ve called “confused,” 1 that feels more like a Honda than it does an Acura.

Our introductory report had positive words for the seats, but as more butts have shuffled through the car, multiple folks have been disappointed by the overall lack of lateral support and the 1-size-fits-all lumbar support. 1 driver even resorted to wedging his computer bag between his back and the seat on a long trip. (The bag wedger said he’d have been much happier in the confines of a much-cheaper Ford Focus.) Also coming in for criticism is the Acura’s Bluetooth setup, which is rather counterintuitive. It requires you to answer “No” when prompted to connect your phone, and then sends you down through “a dungeon of submenus” before ultimately reaching the Bluetooth configuration.

The ILX has been cheap to keep on the road, with 1 minor hiccup covered under warranty. Our first trip to the dealer was at 8800 miles for scheduled maintenance (an oil and filter change and a tire rotation, $71) and to replace the front door latches as part of a recall. At 13,000 miles, the passenger-side front door lock stopped working. The cause was a loose connection, which was fixed gratis. We had a wheel vibration checked out at the same time, and the techs found a nail lodged in the right rear tire. The damage was repaired and all 4 wheels rebalanced for $74.


Just shy of halfway to our 40,000-mile goal, the ILX’s impeccable engine and transmission have held up their end of the bargain, serving up driver enjoyment and involvement in equal measure. But we’re wondering when the rest of the ILX will start delivering on its entry-luxury promises.

Just over a decade ago, Acura’s lineup included the NSX and Integra—both among the most rewarding cars in their segments and 2 fairly iconic pieces of machinery. Since then, Honda’s luxury brand has introduced a line of funky-faced, tweener-sized cars that James Spader talks up in TV ads. Away from the sound booth where Spader records his solicited praise, however, the reality is that Acura’s lineup isn’t quite what it used to be.

But things might be looking up. Acura will soon bring us a new NSX; it currently offers 1 of the few sporty wagons in our market; and it has delivered a new entry-level sedan, the ILX. We knew the latter wouldn’t be another Integra, but one ILX in particular—the 1 that shares the Civic Si’s 201-hp, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and 6-speed manual—had us interested enough to order an example for a 40,000-mile test.


A Fairly Large Kitchen Sink, but No Drain

A recap of the ILX line: Box stock, the base model—motivated by a 150-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder tied exclusively to a 5-speed automatic—starts at $26,795. A hybrid is available and borrows its engine and electric-motor combo from the Civic hybrid. All ILX models include as standard USB and auxiliary jacks, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, and a power sunroof.

Cars like ours, with the Civic Si powertrain, come 1 way, combining the above kit with the Premium package, which adds an 8-way power driver’s seat, heated front sport seats, leather upholstery, a 7-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a rearview camera, 17-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, and xenon HID headlights. The 2.4 is the only ILX that’s available with a manual, which should explain by itself our choice of long-term trim. Our ILX is therefore both as barebones and as loaded as it can be and stickered at $30,095.

You might notice 1 item conspicuously absent from our otherwise well-equipped car: a navigation system. Nav is unavailable with the hottest engine, being restricted to the 2.0-liter and hybrid models’ Technology package, which also includes a fancy stereo, a GPS-enabled climate-control function that accounts for the location of the sun (!), and voice controls.

At least time spent lost is spent in comfortable and supportive front seats, and the 6-speed manual’s short throws and the 2.4-liter’s enthusiasm to zing through its power band—typical Honda, in other words—have been universally praised. Sprints to 60 mph pass in 6.4 seconds, the quarter-mile is reached in 15.0 seconds at 95 mph, and the ILX tops out at an electronically limited 138 mph.


Hoping Something Grows on Us

We have logged several demerits. The ILX lags behind its powertrain partner, the Si, on the skidpad, achieving 0.81 g compared with the Si’s 0.88, and several of our tribe have bemoaned the soft tires and the squishy suspension on this sportiest of ILXs. The steering is very light and loads and unloads unpredictably as you dial in lock, and quick requests for directional changes can send the rear end into a corkscrewing motion. (These and other dynamic quirks were noted in our test of a different 2.4-liter ILX, too.)

Rear riders have voiced complaints about the roominess of their accommodations. Our plain-jane infotainment setup is like those in most current Acuras and Hondas in that it largely feels outdated, with one logbook scribbler being “amazed at how well the center screen renders album art from an iPod but otherwise suffers from an interface that looks and acts 10 years old.” After a day spent baking in Michigan’s hot summer sun, the cabin starts to smell like someone is storing leftovers under the driver’s seat. Not pleasant.

Finally, a semiaggressive exhaust note is joined by a tiresome buzziness from underhood during top-gear 80-mph cruises, at which point the engine is spinning at 3500 or so rpm. The sound isn’t as refined as it ought to be in this segment; luxury—entry-level, sporty, or otherwise—doesn’t sound like a Civic Si. Perhaps this has caused some short-shifting among our usually redline-happy drivers, as the ILX has returned 27 mpg combined so far, four below the 31-mpg EPA highway rating.

The preeminent question concerning the ILX 2.4 is whether it can successfully blend Civic Si fun with a near-luxury experience. Thus far, we’d say, “Not quite,” but the car has 38,000 miles to change our minds.

PERFORMANCE: NEW
Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.9 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 9.0 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 8.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.0 sec @ 95 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 138 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 184 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA city/highway driving: 22/31 mpg
C/D observed: 27 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt

TSX69 03-13-13 08:57 AM

2theRedLine
 

TSX69 04-13-13 06:47 PM

Digital Trend
 

Oh how we love 1sts: Our 1st steps, our 1st car, our 1st time having… well never mind that.

With the 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid, we celebrate two milestones. “ILX” is a brand-new nameplate for Honda’s luxury division and it’s also the 1st hybrid the Acura brand has ever offered.

And while it shares much with its corporate cousin, the Honda Civic, the ILX Hybrid burst onto the scene with a smarter drivetrain, a more stylish exterior, and greater level of sophistication both in regards to its onboard tech and aesthetically enhanced interior.

Will Acura’s newest baby become the luxury segment’s equivalent to the Honda Civic? Or will it suffer the same identity crisis many Acuras of late have undergone?

The tech option

Most automakers have turned to cramming their hybrid models with all the latest tech features (especially in the luxury segment) by default. Meaning, you don’t get the option to opt out, you just automatically get to pay more for the hybrid drivetrain and all the extra goodies thrown in as “standard.”

Acura has driven down a slightly different road with the ILX, offering both a base hybrid model ($28,900) and an upgraded version that’s equipped with a technology package ($34,000).

Our review car had the tech package and sported a decent number of welcome features that certainly add up to make the 2013 ILX Hybrid a strong choice for drivers hoping to get a large serving of digital goodness to go along with that fuel-sipping, earth-saving drivetrain.


The ILX Hybrid prominently sports a hard drive-based navigation system that projects out of an 8-inch display recessed atop the center stack.

In addition to touchscreen controls, which prove only mildly reliable, the nav system can also be controlled by Acura’s voice recognition technology. Voice recognition is fairly intuitive and is operated by a pressing the “talk” button on the steering wheel. Here, we were able to enter in addresses hands-free, and the system even allows for voice control over climate and audio controls.

Audio controls are particularly nifty and allowed us to easily connect our iPod to the car and search for music by song, artist, album, or genre.

The navigation system also pipes real-time weather and traffic conditions straight to the driver. Traffic information is aggregated every 90 seconds by Nokia-owned NAVTEQ, which itself gathers the information from a multitude of sources, including transportation departments and highway patrol incident reports.


Both weather and traffic reports are bundle free of charge for 90 days with the ILX’s XM subscription service, however these can be subscribed to a la carte as well.

We only had a few major beefs with Acura’s systems during testing.

1st, the voice recognition technology is a little lackluster. It works well most of the time, but had trouble understanding our prompts on many occasions.

2nd, Acura’s interface simply doesn’t look premium enough. Were we to blindfold you and throw (or gently place) you into a Honda, followed by an Acura, with just the interface to look at, you’d find it difficult to distinguish between the 2, which is pretty unacceptable when making the jump to a premium brand.

Admittedly, we’re more picky when it comes to these things but why else buy a luxury car if not to get that ego boost that comes along with it? Were he alive, we’re sure Freud would have a great deal to say about this.

Finally, Acura’s interface designers continue to implement a crowded button layout around a central controller dial.

Even as techies, we had trouble getting comfortable with the confusing layout so we imagine drivers stepping into ILX for the 1st time will have the same issues. And while it’s admittedly more intimidating at 1st, it did become more intuitive as time progressed. However, it’s still feels extremely cluttered.


It was also hard to gauge button prompts. For example, the rearview camera provides multiple viewing angles, which we appreciated. These include a normal, wide angle, and top-down view, but it took some time to figure out we actually had to press down on the selector dial to switch between them. We imagine others will have the same problem so we’d like to see Acura make these types of interface complications less of an issue in the future.

The ILX tech package includes Acura’s ELS premium sound system. 10 speakers are littered throughout the cabin, including 1 per door, 2 tweeters, 1 center mid-range, 2 rear surround, and an 8-inch subwoofer. A 410-watt amplifier is also on board and the system can even manage high-resolution audio playback of up to 96 kHz.

We don’t have anything negative to say about the ELS system. Sound quality is sharp with rich tones and deep basses standing out in particular. And we didn’t have to tinker too much with the settings either. The ELS system even sports a built-in 15GB hard drive (about 3,600 songs worth) so you can load your own media directly to the car, complete with shuffle and playlist creation options, too.

Hear a song you love on the radio but can’t whip out your phone in time to Shazam it? A Note function that ties into the car’s XM Radio allows you to record a 10-second snippet to listen to and tag later.

Hope you (really) like the color black

What truly distinguishes an Acura from the Civic isn’t just the badge on the car but the overall quality and design of its interior.

Here the ILX boasts a sharply-penned design that checks all the appropriate boxes in order to provide a pleasant, stylish cabin. We just hope you like really like black, because other than tan colored “Parchment”, it’s your only option.


Material quality is good, with plenty of soft plastics on board. It’s certainly not the most luxurious cabin but the standard perforated leather seats certainly help matters and the overall design layout is sharp and sensible, with a handy hidden compartment located beneath the center dash, 2 cupholders, and a wide enough armrest to support both passenger and driver. Did we mention it was all black?

Up front, 8-way driver and 4-way passenger adjustable power seats help make finding a comfortable position a cinch, while heated front seats ensure tushes stay toasty on chilly mornings.

Backseat brigadiers don’t have much room to complain though — literally. The 2nd row keeps the same entry-level luxury aesthetic but doesn’t offer much in the way of shoulder, leg, and waist room.

And while the standard ILX boasts a modest 12.4 cubic feet or cargo space, our Hybrid model measures in with a less than stellar 10 cubic feet due to its onboard lithium-ion battery pack soaking up some of the space.

Handsome, but still too humble

Outside, there isn’t much to distinguish the ILX Hybrid with the non-hybrid models save for 2 blue hybrid badges to the side and rear of the vehicle.

Overall, the design is handsome if not a little unassuming. It’s not as dramatic or refined as we’d come to expect from an entry-level luxury car but we’ll take it all the same. And to be fair, it’s not the weakest-looking model in Acura’s lineup – that honor goes to the TSX’s annoying mug.


It’s as if the ILX showed up to a soirée dressed all “business casual” when everyone else is rocking a suit or cocktail dress (people still wear cocktail dresses, right?). The ILX’s exterior doesn’t look bad but it doesn’t exactly stand out either.

We’d really like to see some more drama from Acura’s design team but we’ve been barking up this tree to Honda and Acura for some time now and we’ve all but given up.

A Honda hybrid at heart

The 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid is outfitted with a 1.5-liter, 8-valve i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, which produces a modest 111 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which we’ll go into more depth about in a bit.

Because of its hybrid setup, the ILX also features a lithium-ion powered electric motor that churns out a further 23hp and 78 lb-ft of torque.

Unlike other hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and even the Honda Civic Hybrid, the ILX is unable to operate on electricity alone; however it does employ a regenerative braking system that traps the kinetic energy created during braking and converts it to electricity in order to give the lithium-ion battery a little more zap.


If that sounds familiar, that’s because the ILX shares the same powertrain and transmission as the Civic Hybrid (surprise!) and thus incorporates Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system.

Honda’s IMA technology has been around for what seems like an eternity (since 1999 to be precise), debuting in the original Insight. IMA essentially acts as a kick-starter (not the kind that asks for money) for the gasoline engine as well as an engine balancer. Because inline 4-cylinders have a tendency to be asymmetrical, the IMA helps offset unwanted vibrations.

Because the bulk of an engine’s power is typically reserved for hard acceleration and on steep inclines, the ILX’s electric motor makes an appearance when the ILX needs a boost. It’ll also kick in while traveling at steady cruising speeds but its primary design is to alleviate the workload for the gasoline engine.

The incorporation of Honda’s IMA system also allows for a start-stop feature. Pressing on the brake and bringing the car to a complete stop shuts off the engine, while releasing the brake starts it back up again.


2 things to mention here: We appreciate the fuel-saving intentions behind such a system, but the fact that the ILX does not allow us to disable the engine start-stop feature completely feels like a large oversight.

This fuel-saving gimmick is made even worse by the fact that Acura’s system is more sensitive than a teenager getting de-friended on Facebook.

The engine turning back on took a little longer than it should and left us to feel stranded for a second when we needed to get up and go with some quickness. And there were multiple instances when the feature kicked in too early, particularly when sizing up a parking space and trying to squeeze in with caution.

Apparently, Acura’s designers are a lot braver than we are and while its sensitivity calibration is certainly not a dealbreaker, it does become a nuisance.

Of course the whole purpose of a hybrid is improved fuel economy. Part of this endeavor is aided by vehicles ECON mode, a large (surprisingly not green) button located to the left of the steering wheel.


When engaged, ECON mode helps improve the ILX Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by greatly limiting throttle response, requiring drivers to press harder on the pedal to push it off the line. It also widens the operating window of the automatic start-stop feature and keeps acceleration in check when engaging the ILX’s cruise control function.

Interestingly, ECON Mode also minimizes the activation of the air conditioning compressors, so the threshold for maintaining a preset cabin temperature when automatic climate control is turned on is slightly increased.

Sadly, the ILX doesn’t return the same numbers as its working-class Honda cousin. Indeed, it certainly puts up some crowd-pleasing numbers (39 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway, and 38 mpg combined) but the ILX can’t match the Civic Hybrid’s 44 mpg in all categories.

The engine note is also an issue. It sounded perfectly balanced during the bulk of our drives but thrust down on the gas and prepares to hear the CVT wheeze like a chain-smoking asthmatic attempting a marathon.

A great 1st go

They say you rarely get it right the 1st time but despite the fact that ILX Hybrid is the 1st hybrid-electric vehicle ever produced by Acura, it’s not a bad start.

The underpinnings are based on the current Civic so the ride character is inherently smooth — if a little numb. With Macpherson struts up front and a multilink setup in the back the Acura admirably conducts itself during corners and soaks up road discrepancies well, but the CVT makes its feel more anemic than animated when called on in a pinch.

Balance in the ride is maintained well during corners and despite its front-wheel drive setup the ILX keeps its grip on the road, although the lack of side bolstering in the seats lets drivers and passengers drift around a bit during cornering.


Dropping into S mode and utilizing the ILX’s paddle shifters help shake things up — but again the CVT puts a damper on the fun.

We’ve already written in detail about the benefits of CVT transmissions but suffice it to say the use of it in the ILX greatly restricts the feel and excitement of Acura’s 1st hybrid. It’s meant to optimize the fuel economy but in truth it also minimizes excitement. In an era where fuel economy now seems to trump fun, that amounts to something both good – and sort of bad.

And truthfully, that’s ok. The ILX Hybrid isn’t meant for Le Mans but it will get you to Lamaze class comfortably. Remember: just keep breathing.

Finish Line

The 2013 ILX Hybrid is a mixed bag and with a number of alternatives on the market, it’s hardly the top choice for a hybrid – luxury or not.

It doesn’t achieve the gas mileage of the 2013 Civic Hybrid but it is a step up in styling, luxury, and tech features. It also costs a great deal more: a fully loaded Civic Hybrid will price in at just under $30,000.

There is also a fully loaded Prius V to consider, which after all gussied-up with every option available (including a more inclusive safety tech package) stickers for $35,860. It, too, sports better fuel economy, netting crazy numbers like 51 mpg in the city, 48 mpg on the highway, and 50 combined. Well, it is a Prius.

And if you’re resolute in sticking with a luxury brand, the 2013 Lexus CT 200h is also a viable option, although prepare to pay even more for that luxury lineage.

Still, if what you desire is a smooth, even-handed ride then the 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid won’t disappoint. It will happily escort you on your daily commute with minimal fuss. It’s just a shame it’s not a wee bit livelier and more economical.
Highs

Nimble handling, especially during hard corners
Ride quality is smooth and comfortable
Interior design is (mostly) sensible

Lows

Lacking a number of safety tech features
Fuel economy isn’t as efficient as some of the competition
A little overpriced for what you get


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