|Topic Review (Newest First)|
|05-28-15 02:03 PM|
AutoGuide: CLA vs ILX
|03-30-15 10:30 PM|
|02-09-15 11:56 AM|
The Acura ILX sedan debuted in May 2012 on the early wave of entry-luxury models arriving in the U.S.
But brand executives admit the car was more entry than luxury.
“There were some real changes in the market from the time when we were 1st planning the 2013 ILX,” Gary Robinson, manager-Acura product planning, tells media here during a ’16 ILX preview. “(Planning) started right in the middle of the economic crisis, and at that time there was kind of a lack of other luxury cars in this space.”
Other models that were in the segment were “pretty sparse,” he says, which laid the framework on which Acura built the ILX.
But the segment quickly shifted with the arrival of the Audi A3 sedan and debut of the Mercedes CLA, entry-luxury cars that set a new bar for the segment, Robinson says.
At the same time, non-luxury compacts rose in features and price, narrowing the gap with the ILX.
“Cars like the (Honda) Civic, (Ford) Focus (and) Mazda3 all moved up in terms of their positioning, in terms of their price, in terms of their content. It’s not unusual at all to find $30,000 or near-$30,000 cars (among those models),” Robinson notes.
Now he believes Acura has corrected the luxury shortfall with the ’16 ILX officially on sale today in the U.S.
Buyers’ No.1 gripe with the ’13-’15 model was its lack of power, Acura says, so the brand significantly increased performance, not by installing a new engine, but by making the model’s 2.4L direct-injected DOHC I-4 the only mill available and mating it solely to an automatic transmission.
The 201-hp 2.4L in the ’16 ILX replaces the ’15’s base engine, a 150-hp 2.0L SOHC I-4.
The ILX debuted with a hybrid powertrain that was discontinued at the end of the ’13 model year. The 2.4L’s 6-speed manual transmission is gone with the end of the ’15 model, as it had at most a 5% take rate in a given month, Acura says.
That 201 hp now is meted out through Acura’s 8-speed DCT. The 2.0L had a 5-speed automatic.
The 2.4L makes 180 lb.-ft. (244 Nm) of torque at 3,600 rpm, compared with 140 lb.-ft. (190 Nm) at 4,300 rpm with the 2.0L.
Brand officials say the ILX now is at the top of its class in balancing performance with fuel economy, with 0-60 mph (100 km/h) time improving 2.5 seconds to roughly 7 seconds and 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km) combined fuel efficiency, up from 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) in the outgoing model.
The 1.8L turbocharged Audi A3, the car the new ILX was benchmarked against, has a 0-60 mph time of about 8.5 seconds, based on Acura test data, and achieves 27 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) combined. The A3 also offers 2.0L turbocharged diesel and gasoline engines.
Other performance enhancements for the ’16 ILX include firmer, more direct steering, the latter achieved through a bigger rear-member upper in the front subframe.
To raise the car’s interior luxury quotient, Acura is introducing a new A-Spec trim package, which adds gray stitching in an X-pattern on the steering wheel and parking-brake lever, perforated faux suede seats, silver-metallic trim, black headliner and aluminum pedals.
The center stack in all ’16 models gets a large touchscreen that replaces a knob controller in the ’15 model. A smaller screen remains atop the center stack, giving navigation and menu-item info.
Acura says the ILX now boasts 12% greater torsional rigidity, and the brand foresees a “Good” rating on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s difficult small-overlap front crash test, which mimics a collision with a narrow object such as a post. Acura structural engineers boosted material thickness and specified hot stamping in key areas, such as the A-pillar, in the effort to achieve a Good rating, Robinson says.
Styling changes made to the ILX intentionally align with its big brother, the new-for-’15 TLX, Robinson says, and include the addition of a 3-dimensional grille that will make its way to all Acura models, larger lower intakes and new alloy wheel designs.
The brand’s signature JewelEye LED headlights now have a continuous light pipe instead of the individual-dots look of the outgoing model.
LED taillights also have been tweaked and now are red-and-white vs. all red, and the rear bumper protrudes outward more than previously.
“We wanted to significantly increase the premium feel” so it is apparent when viewing the car from 50 ft. (15 m) down the road, says Mike Accavitti, Acura senior vice president.
Many industry-watchers thought ’13 ILX pricing was too high given its relatively weak base engine and lack of standard content, so Robinson touts new advantages over competitors.
The outgoing ’15 2.4L ILX with its 6MT is $29,350 to start. The ’16 ILX with the same engine and the 8-speed DCT, plus more standard features such as a power moonroof and the JewelEye headlights, is $27,900, just $850 more than the base-grade ’15 2.0L ILX.
“(And that’s) $2,000 cheaper than the Audi A3, and $3,500 cheaper than the CLA’s new price point,” Robinson says. The ’15 A3 starts at $29,900 for a 1.8L model and the ’15 CLA begins at $31,500 for a model fitted with a 208-hp 2.0L turbo I-4.
Adding Acura’s suite of safety technology, AcuraWatch Plus, raises the ’16 ILX’s base price $1,300.
The ’16 Premium grade of the ILX is $29,900 and includes standard leather seating, blind-spot information, a driver memory seat and a 4-way power passenger seat, as well as SiriusXM radio and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The Tech Plus grade is $32,900 and has navigation, a 10-speaker Panasonic ELS audio system, and AcuraWatch Plus as standard equipment.
Adding the A-Spec package to the Premium and Tech Plus grades costs $1,990 and $1,490, respectively.
Accavitti isn’t talking sales targets for the ’16 ILX, except to say he hopes to grow volume.
At its original launch, Acura said it wanted to sell 30,000 ILXs annually, but volume never came close to that.
WardsAuto data shows the best year was 2013, when 20,430 were sold. ILX sales last year fell 12.6% to 17,854, and were down 17.6% last month vs. January 2014, to 992 units.
In comparison, the Audi A3 tallied 22,250 last year.
The Mercedes CLA bested both the Acura and Audi, with 27,365 units in 2014.
CLA sales were flat in January at 2,383, while the A3 dipped 1.6% to 2,491.
|02-09-15 11:17 AM|
If at 1st you don't succeed, you rework it. Sure it's a paraphrase of the old "try, try again" axiom, but they are words that drove the Acura brand with the mid-cycle refresh of the 2016 Acura ILX.
The last time we checked, with the ILX's initial introduction in 2012, we found a Honda Civic-sized compact that possessed a hint of luxury, but puzzled us with its lack of power, refinement and comparatively heavy price tag. 4 years in, they reworked the formula, and this time, apparently, got it right.
Performance, Proportion, Prestige
The ILX is Acura's gateway sedan to the brand that is geared more towards performance than luxury. In fact, during the company's presentation, we barely heard the L-word mentioned. Instead, the phrase "premium" was bandied about to reflect the refinement that appears in the new model that will find competition from Lexus's CT, Audi's A3, BMW's 2, and Mercedes-Benz's CLA.
Intended to accelerate momentum, modifications to the ILX also go a long way towards accelerating the actual car. For 2016, the ILX will be powered exclusively by a 2.4-liter Direct fuel injected four-cylinder engine that produces 201 peak horsepower at 6,800 rpm, and 180 lb-ft of torque at a mid-range 3,600 rpm. That's quite a jump from the 150 horsepower, 140 lb-ft output of the 2.0-liter fuel-injected 4-banger found in the last generation model equipped with an automatic transmission. The previously available 2.4-liter engine -- which was available exclusively with a manual transmission -- made the same horsepower, but the new model achieves it lower in the powerband. Using a dual stage intake manifold, with long- and short intake runners enables the engine to vary its torque based on engine speed. At low speeds, the long runners are used, switching over to the short-length runners to deliver more grunt during high-rpm runs.
The 2016 ILX will only be available with a new eight-speed Dual-Clutch automatic transmission with torque converter and rev-matching downshifts that are controlled via steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers. Equipped with 2 drive modes, drivers can select between "D" for smooth operations with efficiency, or "S" for Sport mode, which remaps to offer higher RPMs for performance oriented wheeling. Driving dynamics are improved thanks to a MacPherson strut front and multilink independent rear suspension sporting amplitude reactive dampers at both ends, which read the road surfaces and adapt to conditions on the fly. EPA measures the ILX's fuel economy at 25 city/36 highway, with 29 combined.
An electrically-assisted power steering kit points the way and offered good feedback as well as guidance with its optional lane-keep assist and lane departure warning systems. Braking has improved with a 1.2-inch increase in front brake rotor size from 11.1- to 12.3-inches.
Our 2016 Acura has undergone an intense case of rehabilitation in the rigidity department. An expansion of the use of high-strength steel and other fixes have yielded an improvement in firmness of up to 12-percent. In addition to contributing to a better handling car, it has allowed Noise, Vibration and Harshness engineers to tune out much of the noise and vibration seepage into the cabin. They went to work using more insulation, thicker front glass, quieter wheels (yes-quieter) and Active Noise Control technology to make the ILX act like a pair of rolling Bose Noise-canceling headphones. The result is a vehicle that is much quieter and more refined than before.
From a comfort and aesthetic standpoint, our Tech Plus A-Spec-equipped model included new Euro-style stitching on the wheel, shifter knob and parking brake lever, while it was blacked out with the A-Spec's premium black interior color specification that included a black headliner, perforated Lux Suede inserts, red instrument lighting, silver trim and aluminum brake and throttle pedals.
We are still not fans of the 2-staged screens, where the upper 8-inch monitor displayed navigation maps and routes, while the lower 7-inch touchscreen display offered audio and climate controls. We felt it drew our eyes away from the road, where our real attention was needed. That, and the excessive use of small buttons, (15 on the steering wheel, alone), which controlled functions around the otherwise well-executed dashboard.
For those ILX models not equipped with Navigation, Acura offers the AcuraLink app, which uses an iPhone (no Android) to bring navigation into a car not equipped with such, with a USB/HDMI cable. The cable and app are available for $99 and $59, respectively.
From an outside view, the ILX moves closer to the rest of the Acura fleet and its performance through technology ethos. From the front, the headlights are pulled wider and lower so they fall in line with others in its Acura stables. Jewel-like headlights are similar to those on the Acura TLX and now include an LED strip that runs below the lamps on either side. The chrome "beak" has been restyled and moved lower in the grille opening for a new sense of symmetry. Since our tester was A-Spec equipped, it was also fitted with 18-inch performance alloy wheels, a chrome-accented spoiler, chrome side sills and fog lights located in the new front fascia.
Safety 1st and finally last
Acura, and by extension its Honda parent company, are known for their cutting-edge technology. The ILX is not about to break that notion, either. AcuraWatch is their new suite of safety and driver assist technologies that uses a fusion technology-based monocular camera and millimeter wave radar. They help the Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, collision mitigating braking and road departure mitigation to "see" obstructions ahead and bring the ILX to a stop, if needed. We actually were pretty stoked to see the system steer its way around gentle curves in the road-to a point. And it was quick to ask us to "please steer the car" with our hands instead of relying on the system. Cute.
When operating without a couple of wise-guy autojournalists behind the wheel, the system will detect a departure from the road and offer steering and braking. It also provides blind spot and cross traffic warning information.
The ILX will be built in Marysville, Ohio, alongside big-brother TLX.
Cruising along the Silverado trail in Napa, California, gave us a quick taste of the ILX's improvements. From the moment we pushed the red starter button, we could see that Acura had corrected many of the motivational issues that plagued the last car. And to their credit, Acura executives acknowledged as much, when during the presentation about the vehicle's new features, they stated that they had taken many an expert's comments to heart.
In addition to the lack of power, one of the bigger complaints of the previous version was the excessive road noise that made its way into the cabin. The NVH guys got it right this time, utilizing tricks and techniques that made a huge difference that was quantifiable in back-to-back tests.
For 2016, buyers will get a taste of just what 51 extra horsepower and an additional 40 lb-ft of torque are capable of, especially in a car that weighs only 3,100 pounds. We found a compact 4-door sedan that offered up just the right amount of torque steer when we launched from a standing start. They didn't post exact times but Acura officials state the ILX gets to 60 mph 2.5-seconds faster than the model it replaces. And that was in the normal drive mode. Switching over to sport mode allowed us to put the paddle shift levers to good use as we blipped our way up through the 8-speed gearbox. Offering a different feel then that found in the normal drive mode, it allowed us to hold our gears as long as we wanted while negotiating the twisties in Northern California's wine country.
Leftlane's bottom line
The 2016 Acura ILX version 2.0 shows that when a design is examined, re-thought, re-engineered and refreshed, truly good things can happen. Offering refined interiors with more technology inside, as well as more power underhood, allows Acura to remove the "coulda been" prefix from the phrase, "a contender." Now it really is one.
Words and photos by Mark Elias.
ILX Base, $27,900
|02-09-15 10:18 AM|
The entry-level luxury car is a strange beast. These cars are supposed to draw new people into a brand and, as the theory goes, create lifelong customers.
That's the traditional model, but it appears that there's nothing traditional about new luxury car buyers.
In fact, lots of people have guessed wrong about who buys these entry luxury vehicles and what they are looking for in such a car. To make the waters murkier, mainstream brands have created extremely luxurious competitors such as the Ford Focus Titanium. These can easily out-price -- and outperform -- vehicles such as the Audi A3 or Mercedes CLA.
When Acura rolled out the ILX a few years ago, the entry-level luxury vehicle was created on the Honda Civic platform, which was underwhelming in performance and luxury. It was not a very good starting point for a brand that was struggling with its identity, and the car was in desperate need of rhinoplasty to fix a nose that only a mother could love.
It may have taken a few years, but Acura engineers and designers have struck just the right chord with the made-over ILX. It's modest but luxurious. It's fun to drive and fuel-efficient. It's the real deal and rolling into dealerships today.
Typical refreshes include a couple of new bobbles and replaced front and rear fascias. Acura went way beyond that for this particular car. Its new fascias force the eye lower and give the car a much wider stance. That helps it look more planted and confident. The new grille, which is still not the best out there, is considerably softened and certainly tolerable. The new Jewel Eye LED headlights are simply fantastic -- and standard on the ILX. (Acura also added LED bars below the lights to work as daytime running lights.)
The same goes with the ILX's backside, which is cleaner, lower-looking, and sharper overall. The problem with the previous ILX was that too much of the body looked like a gussied-up Civic, the platform on which the ILX is built. That look has been pleasantly remedied.
Add the optional A-Spec package, which adds foglamps, some ground effects, and a rear deck spoiler, and all of the Civic is shaken out of the exterior. There are nice creases across the body, and the bigger 18-inch wheels add to the car's powerful look. 2016 Acura Ilx A Spec Cockpit 04
But a more powerful look was never going to help the previous model if it still used that anemic 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine attached to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Acura lost the 2.0-liter engine and dropped in a 2.4-liter, direct injection, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine that creates 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. It also introduces the 1st dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter and paddle shifters that seem to always know the right gear at the right time. It launches with aggressive power, and once 1st gear winds out, it quickly shifts and maintains that torque until you let off the gas. There's a touch of torque steer to pull you to the right under heavy acceleration off the line, but that quickly disappears and leaves you with a compact rocket on the road.
The electric power steering is taut and very linear, snapping back to center with ease. Driving around Napa, California's, winding mountain roads, the ILX kept its line through every corner and never let up. It's smooth but feels quick and allowed me a chance to make my driving partner just a little bit carsick after a few twisty corners. Acura also improved the car's braking, allowing it to remain smooth and quick. For those who want the car to do the driving for you, the ILX offers adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. I'm not particularly fond of the lane-keep assist system, because it seems to work even when I didn't want it to, pulling me back to the center of the lane during faster driving, but I should have merely turned it off then. On the highway, it does a nice job of smoothly adjusting the car back to the middle of the lane.
Acura added a number of quieting technologies in the car, including active noise cancelation and additional deadening materials. This was quite noticeable. The car is remarkably quiet, especially considering it's built on the Civic platform, which is not the quietest compact around. A quiet ride remains 1 of the hallmarks of luxury, and the ILX allows for easy conversations at any speed.
The interior improvements are just as noticeable as the exterior ones. There are steps up in the quality of materials, the soft dash, and nicely done stitching throughout the cabin. (The A-Spec model includes aluminum floor pedals and special seat inserts.) There are all of the regular luxury items, such as a moonroof, a clean instrument cluster, and comfortable heated seats. When you sit down in this car, you notice that it's nicely done.
The center stack remains a bit confusing, though it's certainly improved over the outgoing model. There are 2 LCD screens, 1 at the top of the dash and 1 in the middle of the center stack. The second one really acts as the stereo head unit -- and Acura offers an optional 10-speaker ELS stereo system that is extremely well-tuned. But the head unit has large graphics, remains confusing to use, and can be entirely duplicated on the bigger 7-inch LCD screen, which offers a sharper picture. In other words, it's redundant for the sake of being redundant. That means it's pointless.
But that's a quibble, when in fact the ILX is a solid package and should seriously go onto people's consideration lists. It starts at a modest $28,820, and a nicely loaded model barely goes over $31,000, which is considerably less than some of its competition.
As difficult as that entry-level luxury vehicle may be to define, the ILX feels like it has hit the definition right on the bumper, and it might just create a few lifelong Acura owners.
|07-21-14 06:41 PM|
|Hyperion88||Got to drive this car. I really think this is the worst Acura in the lineup.|
|01-09-14 08:06 AM|
The Acura Integra was one of the seminal sporty compacts and a star of the brand's early lineup. The Integra eventually went away, and when Acura's most recent entry-level model, the TSX, floated up in size and price, it left space once again for a youthful entrée into the brand. It was with fond memories of the Integra that we ordered a new Acura ILX for a yearlong test. Maybe things were simpler back in the late 1980s and early '90s (which is starting to feel like a long time ago), but the notion of a Honda Civic made nicer and sportier doesn't seem so complicated, really. Our year with the ILX, however, suggests that it is.
Things started off on a good note. We opted for the larger, 2.4-liter engine, which is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission and comes standard with the premium package. Effectively, this version of the ILX uses the Civic Si as its springboard. This powertrain won friends right away, and it seemed that everyone who slid behind the wheel marveled at Honda's ability to create a slick, user-friendly manual gearbox.
"The clutch and transmission are absolute joys to use," began associate web editor Jake Holmes, in a missive about the ILX's stick shift. "Changing gears is so effortless that it requires no more thought than driving an automatic," he continued. "You never wonder when or how the clutch will engage, and it is light enough that it won't tire your leg in city traffic. The shifter is deliciously precise in the way it slips from gear to gear, and each gate is exactly where you expect it to be." Others were equally enthusiastic, if less verbose. "Happiness is a Honda stick shift," quipped copy editor Rusty Blackwell.
This was just as we'd remembered from days gone by. So, too, was the rev-happy Honda i-VTEC 4-cylinder. Its 201 hp comes on at 7000 rpm, and its peak torque of 170 lb-ft isn't within reach until 4400 rpm. The engine's large displacement, high-revving nature, and linear throttle response give it a retro appeal that holds considerable charm. Drawing a contrast with many of today's turbo fours, which have all their torque down low, associate editor David Zenlea said, "The Honda 2.4-liter still loves to be revved past 6000 rpm." Another commenter added: "I love to wind out the engine and hear it snarl all the way to the redline."
The powertrain is definitely the hero of the ILX story, but it is a hero that's not without flaw. For 1 thing, this version of the ILX is an outlier. The vast majority of ILXs are equipped with the much more humble 150-hp 2.0-liter and a 5-speed automatic. Others have the fuel-sipping, but soul-sapping, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid. The 2.4-liter might find more takers if Acura offered it with an automatic -- yeah, we know, everybody should drive a stick shift, but the reality is that most people don't. As it is, the 2.4 comes only with the manual.
The other issue is that, while it's fun to run this engine into the far reaches of the tach, its droning becomes a drag when it's spinning away at 3000 rpm or better on the highway. We're not saying that Honda should ditch this normally aspirated 4-cylinder; we would suggest, however, a taller 6th gear. With a linkage this slick, we wouldn't mind dropping down a gear or 2 when it's time to pass.
And it's not just the engine. There's a fair bit of road and suspension noise, as well. "I think they forgot the sound deadening," wrote 1 commenter. Maybe that was true; for 2014 Acura has added active noise cancellation to the ILX.
The lack of refinement might not be such an issue if Acura presented the ILX as an enthusiast's machine. The chassis, though, is confused on that front. The lifeless steering gives lie to that notion. "There's no indication that the steering wheel is actually connected to anything behind the dashboard," Holmes said, "and that's a pity because the zesty powertrain deserves a fun-to-drive package." Senior web editor Phil Floraday wished for a firmer suspension but acknowledged that he didn't mind trading a measure of body control in order to stave off impact harshness.
After a time, we noted that the rear suspension wasn't damping bumps very well and was being excessively vocal in its work. Floraday even crawled underneath, wondering if the car had a beam axle at the rear (it doesn't; the ILX has an independent multilink rear suspension). Finally, a vigilant service technician discovered that a damper had gone bad, and it was replaced under warranty. Ride quality was restored, but the suspension noise wasn't totally eradicated.
Noise wasn't the only aspect of the ILX that had us questioning its premium-compact credentials. The fact that navigation (part of the technology package) is not offered with this powertrain, even as an option, drew a fair bit of criticism. So did the fussy Bluetooth system. Also, the voice-command button "is a bit of a ruse," because it can't operate any infotainment features beyond very basic phone functions. And everyone complained about the rearview camera's image quality. Deputy editor Joe DeMatio likened it to "a fuzzy black-and-white movie on a crappy old TV." Here again, Acura has made a change for 2014 with a new multiview camera as standard equipment.
The interior's tech features disappointed, but in characteristic Honda fashion the ILX cabin gets the important things right. The switchgear is of high quality, with an unfussy layout and clear functionality. More than 1 staff member gave a shout-out to the radio controls, which are easy to use and minimally distracting. The seats received mostly good reviews, but tall drivers felt too close to the headliner even with the seat at the lowest position. Overall, though, the cabin doesn't feel cramped, unlike others in this class. As associate web editor Joey Capparella observed, "This Acura manages to be relatively roomy inside while remaining compact on the outside."
For some of us, this all added up to a compelling mix of virtues. "The ILX is for those of us who grew up loving Honda Civics of the '90s to early 2000s," said 20-something videographer Sandon Voelker. "It's a Civic that has grown up and put on a suit. No, it's not the most refined or classy car in this segment, nor is it a sports car with 4 doors. To me, this is a car guy's daily driver. It's quick and involving enough to make me take the back roads to work on occasion. It's roomy and comfortable enough to bring your friends on a weekend trip. And it's stylish and handsome enough to take your boss out to lunch or to pick up a date."
But more of us felt that the ILX was too short on refinement to be a convincing premium compact car and not sporting enough to be a dressed-up sport sedan. In truth, the notion of an upmarket compact is a relatively recent 1, and the offerings so far -- ranging from the Lexus CT200h to the Buick Verano to the Mercedes-Benz CLA -- are all over the map.
"Clearly, every automaker is struggling to figure out what buyers in this segment want," argued Zenlea. We think that Acura had a pretty good handle on it back in the day with the Integra. We're still awaiting its return.
OUR TEST RESULTS
|12-11-13 08:15 AM|
The 2013 Acura ILX is like 1 of those scary gateway drugs you always hear about. Acura hopes with just 1 taste you'll be hooked forever. We recently came down from more than a year's worth of hits off the most entertaining version of the ILX, a car that tempts potential addicts, er, customers "to move up without settling down." While we walked away from our time with the 2013 ILX without having to enter rehab, the version of the Acura compact we tested left us high on its numerous strong points.
It's important to emphasize that the particular ILX we had was powered by Honda's 2.4-liter inline-4 with 201 hp and 170 lb-ft partnered with a 6-speed manual. This is the enthusiast's choice of the ILX lineup, and running it through the gears again and again to its 7100-rpm redline is 1 of the biggest highs you'll get from it, but you will build up a tolerance. With a 6.4-second 0-60-mph time, the ILX isn't going to blow your mind with straight-line speed. Its handling prowess won't make you OD. But it does have a certain visceral appeal to it, and with a DNA similar to that of its distant Civic Si cousin, it scores pretty high on enthusiast purity.
Arguably the best-looking Acura in the current stable, the ILX has elements that work for and against it. Its standard moonroof seems a great luxury touch, but only if you're under 6 feet tall. Otherwise, prepare to have your noggin glancing off the headliner. Rear-seat passengers are snug, but not stiflingly so, and at 12.3 cubes the trunk isn't cavernous, but it'll hold groceries or a couple of big travel bags.
The ILX Is aimed at young, mainly single upwardly mobile types, aka millennials, the new Holy Grail demographic. It has most of the features today's connected kids are seeking, such as Pandora integration, Bluetooth streaming, and convenient spots to hook in and throw your smartphone. It also has some of the best cupholders in the business to house that triple mocha non-fat venti latte. And given that millennials are known to inhabit urban environments, the ILX makes sense in that it's easy to park and maneuver in tight situations. The 2.4 doesn't come with a factory navigation option, but who needs that when you have nav on your smart phone, right?
I spent the majority of my time in the cockpit of the ILX traversing the mean streets of the City of Angels. The driver's seat strikes a more than acceptable comfort/sport balance, and while the cockpit as a whole is snug, it isn't smothering. For a compact, the sight lines are acceptable, and I was always aware of lane-splitting bikers cutting through the red zones. In L.A.'s interminable stop-and-go traffic, the ILX's 6-speed manual doesn't punish your left leg and is 1 of the easiest to modulate shift-for-yourself units I have ever rowed. Under hard acceleration, the ILX's cabin is noisier than other offerings in the segment (our scientific measurements showed the Buick Verano proved quieter), but in some ways it burnishes the car's "without settling down" marketing tag line. When traffic unexpectedly slowed, the ILX's brakes (120 feet from 60 to 0 mph) stopped strong all year long.
Nobody took any mega road trips in the ILX, but multiple 5-8-hour open road jaunts proved uneventful. The car buzzed along at around 3000 rpm at 70-75 mph in 6th during long freeway stretches. Range from its 13.2-gallon tank wasn't exactly impressive. About the best I could squeeze out of it was around 340 miles, and only during long, steady freeway stints. MT observed mileage came out to 27.2 mpg combined, higher than the 2013 ILX 2.4's rating of 22/31/25 city/highway/combined.
Speaking of uneventful, the same can be said of the ILX's service. We took it in to the dealer 3 times for its normal scheduled intervals, and, while spendy at more than $100 a pop, the work was done without incident, as was 1 recall fix to address a door latch issue. The only unplanned service was for a driver-side foglamp area that took a hit that knocked out the lamp and damaged a few other parts. The repair was $392.65. And other than a passenger-side door speaker cover that came loose, the cabin held up well.
Acura's been hammered over the years for having too many buttons in the center stack, but not so much on this ILX, especially without the nav/infotainment. We're going to miss the habit-forming raw sophistication of the ILX. It keeps you engaged and entertained, whether you're attacking your favorite on-ramp or downshifting past yet another annoying left lane chicane. And Acura's hoping the ILX has just enough other tech and features to keep the folks hooked on some of that prime A stuff.
|10-07-13 08:12 AM|
2013 Acura ILX vs. 2013 Buick Verano Turbo:
Extended Seat Time in Near-Luxe Compact Sedan Competitors
It's pretty rare that we get a chance to evaluate 2 vehicles for an extended period, but I recently spent time with both the 2013 Acura ILX and 2013 Buick Verano Turbo in the #MTGarage. I've been piloting the ILX for multiple months and thousands of miles and am intimately familiar with Acura's compact sedan. So when its foil, the Verano, joined the MT long-term fleet, I made a point to get up close and personal with Buick's entry-level, near-luxe sedan to see for myself how these 2 compacts stack up against each other.
Late last year when they went mano a mano in an MT comparison test, the Verano came out on top. While I don't necessarily disagree with the conclusion, these cars have fundamentally different personalities that really stand out after you spend a couple of weeks in them back-to-back.
Both front-drivers have 2.0-liter fours, although the turbo Verano is way up on power (250 hp and 260 lb-ft versus the 201 hp and 170 lb-ft ILX mill), helping offset the close to 500 pounds of additional weight the Verano's engine has to motivate. Both of our long-termers have 6-speed manuals. Delete the Verano's optional $795 navigation system and both cars are within $100 of each other right at $30K, and similarly equipped. 2013 Buick Verano Turbo Front Three Quarters
We recently retested the Verano. Its numbers improved slightly from the car we had in for last year's comparo (6.4-second 0-60 mph/15.0-second quarter mile/119-foot 60-0 mph braking/0.82 g skidpad/26.8 seconds at .067 average g). The ILX's numbers are strikingly similar save the skidpad (6.4-second 0-60 mph/14.9-second quarter mile/120-foot 60-0 mph braking/0.80 g skidpad/27.9 seconds at .056 average g).
On the open road, the Verano's extra poundage and larger dimensions are apparent. It feels bigger (it's almost 5 inches longer and 3 inches taller), heavier, and slightly less nimble than the ILX, although I realize the dynamic numbers don't support that conclusion. Maybe the ILX's multi-link rear suspension versus the Verano's torsion beam has something to do with it. (The Verano does come with Stabilitrak, however.) The ILX seems quicker, racier, tighter, and easier to fling into an on-ramp — it's certainly louder and more visceral. The ILX's redline is 600 rpm higher and it madly buzzes to the limiter, while the Verano quietly works its way to the top, blithely doling out the power. The ILX's 6-speed to me is miles better, a supremely balanced clutch-pedal operation among the best on the market. The Verano's is acceptable but not nearly as dialed-in. If I were in the market for a Verano, I'd absolutely skip the manual, although Buick gets a fist bump for offering it. In the ILX, it feels more like a part of the car's DNA.
Both cars are a mixed bag from the cockpit. I prefer the Acura's classic instrument panel and information area (Buick, 1995 called, it wants its green-hued info display back), and for all the complaining auto journalists do about Acura's button strewn center stacks, the Verano more than gives the ILX a run for the button money. Both are laid out logically and are easy to get used to, and the Verano has 1 button the ILX doesn't: a sweet electric parking brake feature.
The ILX's seats are more supportive. The Buick's are more comfortable. Cupholders in both cars are among the best out there; the ILX gets a few more points for having a USB jack in its front cubby area, but they get deducted for not offering a nav option like the Verano's quality unit. (Nav is available on other ILX models but not with the manual.) The Verano comes with additional cool standard features such as remote start and a Bose sound system.
If you've read my previous reports, then you know the ILX's headroom is not very good with the standard sunroof. Visibility out of both is more than acceptable, but the Verano is slightly easier to see out of, and it's bigger inside in almost every dimension. Rear legroom is better, headroom is better, and there are 2-plus cubes more trunk space. But other than having the tall-guy issues, the ILX's cockpit is more polished, its build quality a hair better. The steering wheel controls and the wheel itself fit better to my hands. I feel more dialed-in to the environment around at the helm of the ILX.
Outside, the Verano has more presence. Its stance is muscular, brawny. I loathe the portholes -- they look cheap and tacked on -- and the slatted grille is much shinier and "look-at-me" than the Acura's beak. Despite its warts, the Buick is more impressive to me overall front to back, although the Acura is compact, tight, and cohesive.
Put a gun to my head, and I'm driving the Verano off the lot, more for its day-to-day livability than anything else. Ask me which car I'd rather drive hard out on a canyon road, and it's the ILX. 1 thing's for sure after my back-to-back compact sedan attack: Either car is more than worth a look if you're eyeing this particular segment.
|07-11-13 08:28 AM|
Mid-level luxury brands have always had to do a bit of leg work to distance themselves from their more common cousins. Thanks to generation after generation of pervasive badge engineering (much of it from the Big 3), buyers can't be blamed for looking at brands like Buick, Lincoln, Infiniti, Lexus and yes, Acura as tarted up versions of Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Honda products. For much of its lifetime in the automotive landscape, however, Acura has excelled at putting distance between its offerings and that of its parent company thanks to cars with superior driving dynamics, quieter cabins and clean, attractive aesthetics.
Yes, outliers and dull spots can be found in the company's recent track record, but by and large, Acura products remain situated well above the Honda rabble. When the brand announced it was getting serious about the luxury small car game with the ILX, those of us with a set of the company's keys in our past couldn't help but envision an honest successor to the long-dead Integra. Turns out, that wasn't what Acura had in mind.
As you've likely heard by now, the ILX is the least premium vehicle to wear the Acura badge in some years, but where the standard car falls flat, the ILX Hybrid may have room to excel. Hybrid buyers are typically willing to sacrifice some measure of handling, cabin refinement and performance for fuel economy, and that seemingly lends this model a real shot at giving hybrid hardware from Lexus a run for its money.
From the outside, the ILX Hybrid hides its Civic roots well enough. That's thanks to an attractive take on Acura's corporate fascia. With the shield grille somewhat tamed and an upkick along the lower valance, the vehicle's nose is fairly attractive. Swept-back projector headlamp arrays pull the eye toward the sedan's side, where a character line wanders from just behind the front wheel well to just north of the taillamps. Acura also kept hybrid badging to a minimum with a simple pair of emblems on each fender paired with another on the trunk lid. Visually, they're the only indication this is anything other than a standard ILX.
Well, those and the tiny 16-inch alloy wheels on our tester. We haven't seen rollers this petite on a luxury car since velour was a regular contestant on option sheets. The sizable sidewalls on the 205/55 R16 all-season tires certainly don't do anything to make the car look premium, though we don't have any harsh criticism for the split 5-spoke wheel design.
From the rear, it's clear Acura designers have finally begun to move back to basics, choosing clean lines and attractive taillamps over an abundance of angles. The look won't stand out in a crowd as particularly attractive or memorable, but it won't send the contents of your stomach scrambling for air, either. Given creations like the ZDX, we're grateful for small mercies.
But it's indoors where the ILX Hybrid begins to show its common blood lines. The cabin is choked with materials that are unbecoming of a vehicle with a price tag over $35,000. While the steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake lever receive nice leather and the dash is attractive enough, everything onboard simply feels half a step below the rest of the Acura line – it doesn't feel cheap so much as thoroughly Honda. The leather seats are comfortable enough, but seem to be wrapped in the same hide found in a top-trim Accord. That's fine for a budget midsizer, but it's more problematic for a sedan with an Acura badge on the nose.
The good news is that there's plenty of space inside. The ILX Hybrid delivers ample head- and legroom for front-seat passengers, and the rear bench serves up 34.1 inches of rear legroom. That's over an inch more than the comparably priced 2013 Lexus CT 200h hatchback, though the Lexus comes out on top in rear headroom. Still, with 35.9 inches worth of space for lofty hair, the ILX Hybrid isn't exactly cramped. Where the model does suffer, though, is cargo capacity. Engineers have trimmed the trunk capacity from 12.4 cubic feet to 10 cubes to make room for the battery pack, and that number drops even further with the addition of the optional Technology Package. The extra gear cuts trunk space to 9.8 cubic feet. For comparison's sake, that's nearly 5 cubic feet less than a pint-sized Nissan Versa.
But the ILX Hybrid has larger concerns. While this is the 1st hybrid ever sold under the Acura banner, Honda has plenty of experience wedging electric motors and batteries into the company's products. The ILX Hybrid makes use of Honda's fifth-generation Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system, combining a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with a small electric motor and a continuously variable transmission. The combination is good for 111 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 127 pound-feet of torque from 1,000 rpm. Unfortunately, this sedan tips the scales at nearly 3,000 pounds. That's a good amount of heft for so little power, and the ILX Hybrid can't help but feel slow on the road, especially when getting away from a complete stop. Our best seat-of-the-pants guess puts the machine at a little over 10 seconds to 60 miles per hour.
The good news is that the drivetrain is as smooth and quiet as we've come to expect from Honda, and the CVT is entirely tolerable. The transmission doesn't feel awkward or out of place here, simply putting the driveline where it makes the most power when the driver needs it. Unfortunately, the ILX Hybrid still suffers in the noise, vibration and harshness department. There's no missing the road noise that makes its way into the cabin at highway speeds, and we noticed plenty of racket from the rear suspension over uneven pavement. Whether this is the ILX showing its Civic roots or simply the Acura notion of an entry-level hybrid, the experience falls far short of our expectations of a car with a price tag of $35,295.
That's not to say there aren't bright spots in the driving experience. The ILX Hybrid doesn't commit any crimes against driving in the steering, brakes or handling departments. The ride is appropriately soft while retaining a certain level of confidence. While the suspension doesn't exactly goad you into hammering from apex to apex, body roll and understeer are all kept at bay. And then there's the fuel economy. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the 2013 ILX Hybrid will return 39 miles per gallon city, 38 highway and 38 mpg combined. Refreshingly, those numbers are right in line with what we observed during our week with the hybrid. Combined driving routinely saw our fuel economy sit dead on 39 mpg, with occasional jumps into the 40-mpg realm.
Even so, those numbers still fall behind the CT 200h at 43 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. The base, non-hybrid ILX starts at $26,900, and at that price, we'd be willing to forgive some of the vehicle's quirks. But stepping up to the hybrid will cost you an additional $2,000, and, as was mentioned earlier, our Tech Package-equipped tester rung the bell at $35,295 with an $895 destination fee. That price tag will net you navigation, a 10-speaker surround sound system and leather trimmings, but the similarly sized, more efficient CT 200h can be had for less money, and it doesn't remind us of a Toyota like the ILX reminds us of a Honda.
Some buyers will inevitably prefer the sedan styling of the ILX hybrid over its hatchback Lexus competition, and in that respect, Acura has quietly cornered the efficient entry-level luxury compact (sedan) segment. We just wish they'd done a better job of it. The 2013 ILX Hybrid lacks that feeling of something special that buyers expect to find when they move up to a brand like Acura. This model doesn't differentiate itself in handling, performance or refinement in any substantial way from its less-expensive family members on the Honda lot, and that's a shame.
|07-04-13 10:31 AM|
With its B1 service light going off and the Acura ILX's oil level getting within an inch of its life, it was time to head back to Glendale Acura for the ILX's 2nd scheduled service. Oil-change intervals have been running around 7000 miles or so, and while at $100-plus a shot it isn't cheap if you have the dealer perform the maintenance, getting the factory treatment gives you a certain amount of peace of mind. During the service, the techs noted that a minor recall had been issued for a door lock, and addressed it. Not something that's going to happen at your local oil change place.
Right before setting up the appointment, I noticed the left front foglamp had gone dark, making this the 1st unscheduled issue with the ILX. It seemed a little early in the car's lifespan for a light to go out, and upon closer inspection, there were a few scrapes around the foglamp housing. The techs indicated there was a hard hit around the area, and it had cracked the housing around the lamp and done more damage than 1st thought.
I could not recall any sort of hit of that nature. The car had been passed around a bit in the time before the light went out, but there were no reports of any damage. Maybe it was hit in a parking lot. In any event, it's a $306.08 unsolved mystery. And of course, all the parts weren't available when I brought it in for the oil change, so I had to schedule another appointment, but it got handled.
Other than that minor unanticipated issue, as the miles start to pile up, the ILX continues to rev and run like the 1st day I hopped in it. I haven't been able to detect any loose trim, annoying rattles, or other quality issues. Dynamically, it continues to be impressive as well. The engine is still strong at full song. The suspension remains taut; its brakes continue to stop hard; and I'm as in tune with its 6-speed as I have ever been with any manual transmission. So far, the ILX has been 1 well-screwed-together near-luxe compact. Inside, its traditional gauge cluster, easy-to-operate center stack, and overall cabin setup are now 2nd nature to me. Thus far, the ILX has proven itself to be an honest, straight-forward car that has been representing its Acura beak well.
|07-02-13 09:30 AM|
|06-14-13 11:56 AM|
What Edmunds SaysWhat's New for 2014
For 2014, the Acura ILX gets more standard equipment, which includes 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat and heated front seats.
An entry in the growing, entry-level compact luxury sport sedan segment, the 2014 Acura ILX offers consumers something a cut above mainstream small sedans. Smaller and less expensive than more established German and Japanese stalwarts, the ILX is related to the Honda Civic. But this is not just a simple job of designers applying some Acura badges and calling it a day. The ILX is longer and wider, with completely different styling, a more powerful base engine and many more standard features than the small Honda.
Available solely as a 4-door sedan, the ILX offers 3 powertrain options. The base version is fitted with a rather pedestrian but thrifty 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Driving enthusiasts will lean toward the ILX 2.4 model, which has a considerably more powerful 2.4-liter 4 that comes only with a 6-speed manual transmission. Lastly, there is the ILX Hybrid, the only Acura product to offer this gas-saving technology.
Each version of the 2014 Acura ILX has its own set of attributes and demerits. The base 2.0-liter version offers buyers an affordable entry point into premium-brand car ownership. But its performance isn't in the same league as the entry-level versions of its rivals. With its sport sedan leanings, the 2.4 model is enticing, but the lack of an automatic transmission limits its appeal. The ILX Hybrid delivers good -- but not outstanding -- fuel economy and is relatively expensive.
If you're shopping for a compact luxury sedan, there are other choices to consider. The Buick Verano may not offer a hybrid version, but it's less expensive to start and offers a potent 250-horsepower engine upgrade as well as a nicer interior. And although the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has a smaller backseat and is likely to cost you a bit more, it comes with a considerably stronger base engine, a richer interior and, yes, the Mercedes name. Meanwhile, the Audi A3 TDI and Lexus CT 200h offer hatchback utility along with fuel economy similar to that of the ILX Hybrid.
Potential buyers should also know that for the same money as a loaded ILX you could get a loaded version of a roomier midsize sedan such as a Ford Fusion, Kia Optima or Nissan Altima. Still, if you're looking for a relatively affordable small sedan that's good on gas and gives off a premium vibe, the 2014 Acura ILX is a good choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Acura ILX entry-level luxury sedan comes in 4 trim levels: 2.0, 2.0 with Premium package, 2.0 with Technology package and 2.4 with Premium package. The 2014 ILX Hybrid arrives in fall 2013. Check back later for detailed Hybrid information.
Standard equipment for the base 2.0 and 2.4 includes 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, full power accessories, keyless ignition/entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, active noise cancellation, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5-inch information display screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, SMS text message functionality, and a 7-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod audio interface, satellite radio and Pandora radio smartphone app integration.
Moving up to the 2.0 Premium or 2.4 Premium gets you xenon headlamps, foglamps, a rearview camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The Technology trim (not available on the 2.4) includes all of the features of the Premium package along with a navigation system with a slightly larger display, voice commands and a 10-speaker ELS surround-sound audio system with digital music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the base 2014 ILX is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission offered is a 5-speed automatic that sends its power to the front wheels. In Edmunds performance testing, this powertrain brought the ILX from 0 to 60 mph in 9 seconds. That's average for a compact economy car but slow for a compact sedan wearing a premium badge. Fuel economy is respectable at 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.
The ILX 2.4 with the Premium package comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that's rated at 201 hp and 170 lb-ft. A 6-speed manual is the only available transmission. In Edmunds performance testing, the ILX 2.4 went from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. This is average for both entry-level luxury sedans with a base engine and regular midsize sedans with an upgraded 4-cylinder or V6 engine. Fuel economy ratings stand at 22/31/25.
The ILX Hybrid uses the same powertrain as the Honda Civic Hybrid: a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder coupled with a 17-kilowatt electric motor and a small lithium-ion battery pack. Unlike most rival hybrid systems, this 1 cannot propel the car solely under electric power. The electric motor acts as an occasional power booster and converts braking energy into electricity to recharge the battery pack. Combined output is 111 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque.
A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard on the Acura ILX Hybrid. Performance-oriented gearing unique to the ILX produces fuel economy of 39 city/38 highway and 38 mpg combined, markedly less than the Civic Hybrid's 44 mpg across the board. We can't say it does much for the car's performance, though, as the ILX Hybrid goes from 0 to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds, which is actually slower than the Civic Hybrid. Still, that's the same as a Lexus CT 200h.
The 2014 Acura ILX comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is optional.
In government crash tests, the Acura ILX earned a top 5-star rating for overall protection in crash tests, with 4 stars total for frontal impact safety and 5 stars for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the ILX a top score of "Good" for the car's performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
In Edmunds brake testing, the ILX 2.0 Premium came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is a little better than average. Curiously, the supposedly sportier ILX 2.4 stopped in 130 feet, which is longer than average. The Hybrid posted basically the same distance.
Interior Design and Special Features
The ILX's interior is well constructed, but the materials used aren't really a step up from top non-luxury sedans. Similarly, the design features Acura's typical high-tech vibe, but it's nowhere near as luxurious in here as in the classy TSX.
Nevertheless, if you're looking for high-tech features, the ILX definitely delivers. There is a 5-inch display screen topping the center stack for the myriad infotainment functions, and smartly placed buttons and knobs to control them. A 6-inch screen comes with the navigation system, as do voice command functionality (navigation and audio) and a nice-sounding ELS audio system.
Special care was used in designing the seats to be supportive, yet not give the impression of confinement or hardness. The ILX is also pretty spacious for a compact car, with a decent amount of backseat room. Still, headroom can be snug for 6-footers, due to the car's standard sunroof.
Trunk space, at 12.4 cubic feet, is average, and the opening is a little narrow. The rear seat folds down to facilitate carrying longer items, but the seatback is not split to permit a mix of long cargo and a passenger or 2 in the backseat. The Hybrid, due to its battery pack, drops to 10 cubic feet of space.
Nobody is going to mistake the 2014 Acura ILX for a BMW 3 Series, but overall performance is more than adequate for everyday commuting duty. The standard 2.0-liter engine is quite smooth, so wringing the most from it is not an annoying task. The ILX Hybrid is slow, no question, but it obviously benefits from dramatically improved fuel economy. It can't accelerate using electricity alone, however, and the hybrid system doesn't feel as refined as that of the Lexus CT 200h.
Equipped with the 2.4-liter engine, the ILX is a different animal, as its sporting exhaust note and greater horsepower translate to quicker acceleration. We're also quite fond of the precision-machined action of the 6-speed manual transmission, which is 1 of the easiest and most enjoyable to use in any car. Still, the fact that you can't get it with an automatic transmission limits the 2.4 model's appeal for commuters.
Ride quality is a strength for all versions of the 2014 Acura ILX. This car offers a nearly ideal compromise between control and comfort, and it's quiet on the highway. Driving enthusiasts might be disappointed that the ILX 2.4 doesn't come with a sportier suspension tune, but the car is sure-footed around turns and generally enjoyable to pilot.
|05-27-13 03:40 PM|
The compact, luxury sport sedan market is a relatively small 1 currently but that doesn’t mean it won’t be growing soon thanks to the likes of the upcoming 2014 Audi A3 sedan and 2014 Mercedes Benz CLA. Currently, however, this segment is dominated by the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo (based on the Chevy Cruze) and the 2013 Acura ILX with the 2.4 liter engine (based on the Honda Civic Si).
Both our testers came fully equipped with most every option and a performance minded stick shift. Only the Verano Turbo, however, offers an automatic option. While we don’t tend to recommend getting an automatic, the Verano Turbo had a rather off-putting self-shifter so we would recommend buying an automatic equipped model if you find yourself on a Buick lot with money burning a hole in your pocket. Otherwise, should you really rather be at an Acura dealer buying an ILX 2.4? Read on to find out.
Now, neither of these compact luxury sedans is going to exactly set your pulse racing with their exterior styling but we have to say that the ILX 2.4, with its more reserved and cohesive appearance appealed to us especially in all black. Our test Verano Turbo was a nice shade of blue let down by too many portholes along the side that looked to us like automotive bedazzling.
(Winner: 2013 Acura ILX 2.4)
Interior Layout and Build Quality
We absolutely loved the “chocachino” brown leather overstuffed seats in our test 2013 Buick Verano Turbo and the additional wood accents made in relation to a Cruze do much to distance this car from its more plebian sibling. The ILX’s interior is more upscale than a Civic interior as well and follows all of the standard design cues 1 might find in a TSX or TL sedan further up the range. Our only problem with the ILX 2.4 is that you can’t get an optional in-dash navigation system and Acura makes 1 of the best. In this case, Buick offers 1 so it wins by a nose.
(Winner: 2013 Buick Verano Turbo)
Features, Value and Pricing
The 2013 Acura ILX 2.4 is only available with the Premium Package which we understand is a way to lower manufacturing overhead for a low volume model but if this is the flagship of the ILX lineup why not make them all equipped with the Tech Package. It might raise the price by a couple grand but we’d consider it worth it to have Acura’s excellent ELS premium audio system and in-dash navigation. It seems silly that a Civic Si, upon which this car is based, car be equipped with navigation, but this less boy racer-ish Acura cannot.
Both the Acura and the Buick offer standard leather seating, heating for the front seats (and steering wheel in the Buick), dual zone climate control, push button start, power moonroofs (a $900 option with the Buick), power driver’s seats, Bluetooth, premium audio, USB/i-Pod integration and more. The Buick slightly 1 ups the Acura by having 18-inch alloys (as opposed to 17’s) as well as offering the in-dash navigation which brought the Buick’s total to $30,800 as opposed to the Acura’s $29,200. Still, we think resale value for cars like this will be affected by a lack of navigation so the win goes to the Buick.
(Winner: 2013 Buick Verano Turbo)
The 2013 Buick Verano Turbo has EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 city/31 highway and the ILX 2.4 ranks 25 city/31 highway—both impressive returns for each. In the real world during our 1 week tests, however, the Verano Turbo returned 25.7 miles per gallon the the ILX’s 27 miles per gallon average.
(Winner: 2013 Acura ILX 2.4)
According to the IIHS both the 2013 Buick Verano and the 2013 Acura ILX are “Top Safety Picks” meaning they do very well in crash tests but still rank below the coveted “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating. But here, these 2 tie.
(Winner: ILX and Verano tie)
The 2013 Buick Verano Turbo is powered by a potent 2.0 liter 250 horsepower/260 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder turbocharged motor that makes easy work of any passing maneuvers and high speed cornering horseplay. The steering, while not as precise as the ILX’s unit, had a nice heft to it even if we suspect that this was to mask a lack of feel as to what the front wheels were doing. Our biggest disappointment was with the 6-speed manual gearbox, however, which was notchy, recalcitrant and generally unpleasant to use. We recommend you stick with the 6-speed automatic.
As for the 2013 Acura ILX 2.4, it currently isn’t available with an automatic and is 6-speed manual only which to those in the know is no bad thing. This is 1 of the sweetest, lightest and easiest to use gearboxes on the market today and it is perfectly mated to the eager to rev 2.4 liter 201 horsepower/170 lb. feet of torque VTEC motor which can be called upon to scream a might wail at redline. Suffice it to say, the ILX 2.4 brought out our inner hooligan while the Verano Turbo left us cold.
(Winner: 2013 Acura ILX 2.4)
If a love of driving is your thing, the superior sport sedan no doubt is the 2013 Acura ILX 2.4 what with its stellar 6-speed short throw manual gearbox, telepathic steering and infectiously potent 201 horsepower VTEC engine all combining to make this the compact luxury sedan to beat. Sure, the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo may make a more cosseting and luxurious choice, but we would take this Civic Si in designer (and less attractive to the eyes of police) duds any day. The Buick is a fine car let down by a few details.
(Overall Winner: 2013 Acura ILX 2.4)
|05-27-13 03:19 PM|
2013 Acura ILX 2.4 Premium Road Test:
An upmarket compact or a downmarket luxury car? How about both.
By Jacob Brown | May 23, 2013
What It IsAt 1st we thought it was a little absurd that automakers were repackaging their compact sedans, equipping them with high-end features, and charging top-dollar for them. Then, we realized it made perfect sense.
Without getting too far into an "Economics for Dummies" course, automakers are gambling that the buying public has reprioritized its outlook on what makes a worthwhile buy. With $4 gas and tighter budgets, we don't need the bigger cars everyone used to drive, but we desire the features they have, once reserved for luxury vehicles: TFT screens, leather and heated seats, and xenon headlights among them.
That's why Acura developed the 2013 ILX. Well, that and the fact that the cars that used to sell at its price point from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi all easily crest $40,000 these days. Inflation's a killer. With this new niche, cars like the 2013 Acura ILX have emerged. Others in the fray include the Buick Verano and upcoming Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes CLA. So you know it's a hot target if the Germans are zoning in on it.
But does the segment make sense when you can get a larger family sedan for the same money? More specifically, does the Acura ILX make sense when you can get a loaded Honda Civic Si for $25,000? We spent a week with 1 to find out.
What We Drove
Acura doesn't give its customers a whole lot of leeway when it comes to how they can get their ILX. The 2013 ILX starts at $26,795, including $895 for destination and handling charges. But you don't want that model, do you? It has a mere 150 horsepower from its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, or 10 horsepower more than the Civic on which it's based. That engine comes paired only to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
Our ILX came equipped with a darling of a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, massaged to the same 200-horsepower rating you'll find in the Honda Civic Si. Like the Si, the ILX with this engine is mated exclusively with a 6-speed manual transmission. You want an automatic? Get the smaller engine or the pricy hybrid. There's no way to get the engine you want without 3 pedals and a stick shift.
Additionally, it only comes with the Premium package at $30,095, which doesn't have a navigation system. Want the navi? Again, go with an automatic model, or just bring along your Garmin like I did. We can't tell you how frustrated we are with Acura's content bundling in this car, especially since you can get a navigation system and a stick in the cheaper Civic Si. There's no leather available in the Si, though. Still, this is supposed to be a luxury model from a premium automaker, and navigation should be available on the top-end model.
Once you get past the options sheet, the ILX has a lot going for it, including a 5-star overall government safety rating and a IIHS "2013 Top Safety Pick" status. Like everything else from Honda, this car was designed around pragmatism, and if you do have kids to tote around, you'll be happy knowing the ILX has LATCH points for 2 seats in the rear that will make you forget about the difficult parts of parenting, at least for a few moments.
If you don't enjoy driving, this car may not be for you. I'm sure someone has said that about the BMW 3 Series at one point or another, but there are plenty of badge snobs who buy those things every year simply because of the white and blue Roundel. In the ILX's case though, we mean it this time.
In our ILX, there is no adjustment in the steering weight to make the car easier to drive with a press of a button--not like it needs it. There's no cushy suspension setting. There's no way to escape the melodic crescendo of that engine--what a sound--or that satisfying feeling of what may be among the best manual shifters in the world. This beast is all about being involved in the driving experience.
Acura's engineers have bestowed upon the world a car that, when you want to get it going, has a hypnotic thrum to its engine that only makes you want to push it more. The car is a bit like Fran Drescher in her heyday to be around, though: There are times when you want it to shut up sometimes so you can admire the parts that aren't noisy. It never will, but the engine isn't responsible. To say road noise is pronounced would be doing a disservice to the word "pronounced"; this car is loud. At 1st, you sit in the glove-like leather seats, coddled with support without ever feeling pinched in any which way. As you merge onto the highway, you don't mind the high-revving engine. But as you settle into 6th gear, you'd think the car would quiet down; it doesn't. The volume knob becomes a good friend; listening to a friend or family member on the Bluetooth system becomes a chore. You hear every bump, crack, and thud under the tires as if there's hardly any sound deadening at all. No $30,000 car should have this much noise.
Everything else about the way the ILX drives is satisfying. It rides over bumps without any crashing sensation. While there are a ton of buttons on the dashboard, most are as intuitive as can be. Even if you've never been in an Acura before, it won't take more than a few minutes to become acclimated.
The Grocery Run
Part of what makes this vehicle so endearing is its compact size, making it incredibly maneuverable in whatever parking lot you may encounter. Even 1 on a hill.
We didn't notice it until then, but the ILX has a hill-holder that makes getting going from a standstill a snap. Some people like the feature; some find it intrusive. We didn't mind it at all.
When we packed up the 2013 ILX with groceries, we had no problems getting everything we needed into it. The 13.2 cubic feet of trunk space doesn't sound like a lot, but ILX managed to fit 16 grocery bags into its trunk in our testing, and still held 7 with our stroller on board, a better number than expected.
Inside the car, we also found ample room for 4 passengers, albeit headroom was lacking in the rear--the cost of differentiating the car from its pedestrian origins with a more aggressive roof line.
The Weekend Fun
We could go on and on about that engine and transmission, but you know what we think of them already: They're fantastic. The engine isn't the torquiest setup out there, but it revs so quickly, settling into the heart of its powerband, that you'll never care. We recently sampled the same engine in the Honda CR-V, albeit detuned to 185 horsepower, and found it a bit anemic. Not in the ILX, though, which is hundreds of pounds lighter and comes with an extra cog in its transmission.
During our stint, we were hard-pressed to stray too far from the 24.6 mpg we eventually settled with, matching its 25-mpg mixed fuel economy rating. The car is rated for 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway, which seems like an easy target if not for the engine's willingness to rev and our inability to keep off the loud pedal.
Completing the ILX experience, we found its cabin comfortable and intuitive, albeit stoic, with dark colors and uninspired designs throughout. Perhaps that critique should extend to the rest of the car, too. It's handsome and feels like a solid, durable car, no matter how much we thrash on it. But to at least some of us it looks uninspired. When you're shopping for a luxury car, sometimes you want something that stands out from the crowd. The ILX comes off as understated and a bit innocuous. On the other hand, at least 2 staffers thought 1 could make the argument that it's the best looking car currently in Acura's stable. There's no accounting for taste.
Underrated. Underrated. Underrated. That's the bulk of what needs to be said of this car. The 2013 Acura ILX isn't perfect, but it's a car no 1 should mind driving if they care about driving something with a manual. The engine and transmission combination is as slick as it gets for the money, and the interior is a nice place to be once you get past everything coming in various shades of gray.
For 2014, Acura is further upgrading interior materials, adding features, and providing a new standard stereo with Active Noise Cancellation that should make some of our car's booming interior noise a thing of the past. That should distance it from the vastly upgraded 2013 Honda Civic Si. Figuring how much leather, xenon headlights, heated seats, ANC, and a premium badge add, and you're pretty much looking at a wash between this and the Civic. Better still, while Acura is increasing the price of the base ILX by $1,000, the 2.4-liter model with the manual transmission is staying right where it is, not moving 1 cent.
The Acura ILX looks like it's a scrappy underdog against the 250-horsepower Buick Verano Turbo, Mercedes-Benz CLA, and even a loaded-up Volkswagen Jetta GLI with the Autobahn package. We've not driven all of those cars yet, but we can confidently say this: If you're looking for the ultimate bargain-bin luxury car, look towards one of the competitors. If you're looking for the most fun and engaging premium vehicle, it's going to be tough to top what the ILX has to offer. If you're dead set on an ILX and want a quieter car, wait for the '14 model or buy a good set of earplugs.
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