Its builders have further separated the 2016 Acura ILX from its distant cousin, the Honda Civic. Not that the Civic is a bad thing, but the refreshed 2016 ILX, unveiled at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto show, has bigger aspirations. Specifically, it now sports technology, styling cues, and a powertrain from the newly released 2015 Acura TLX.
The big news here is what's under the hood. The base 2.0-liter I-4 (150-hp and 140 lb-ft of torque) has been dropped, as has the 2.4-liter inline-4that made 201 hp and 170 lb-ft. (Both engines, by the way, were sourced from the Civic.) Now, the sole engine powering the 2016 ILX is a 2.4-liter direct-injection inline-4 that comes straight from the TLX and is rated at 201 hp and 180 lb-ft, slightly less than the midsize Acura. Also sourced from the TLX is its 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with a torque converter. That's a welcome change from the dated 5-speed automatic on the previous ILX. The 6-speed manual that Motor Trend raved about in a long-term test has unfortunately been dropped due to its low take rate of less than 5%, according to Acura.
We'll have to wait for performance numbers, but Acura estimates the 2016 ILX should keep pace or run quicker than the pre-refreshed model with the 2.4-liter I-4 and 6-speed manual, which ran from 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds in our testing. Expect fuel economy to be slight better than the TLX 2.4, which is EPA-rated at 24/35/28 mpg city/highway/combined.
Styling tweaks are subtle, but the front clip looks significantly more premium thanks to new standard LED headlight units that also feature LED daytime running lamps on the lower edge of the housing. The front and rear fascias have been reworked, as have the standard 17-inch wheels and LED taillights.
We often wished the ILX did a better job of keeping out wind and road noise, and it looks like Acura has listened. The 2016 ILX is now packed with more sound-deadening material, and the front-door glass is thicker by 1mm. The chassis is stiffer, too, featuring Acura's next-generation ACE body structure. The automaker expects to earn top marks in IIHS crash testing.
The base ILX will feature leatherette seating surfaces, driver's memory seat, power-adjustable passenger seat, and a new infotainment system that essentially mimics the MDX and TLX, with an upper 8-inch display screen and a lower 7-inch touchscreen.
Jumping up to the ILX Premium adds leather seats, Homelink remote, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic monitor, HD radio, and added capability for a navigation app that's accessed from the owner's smartphone and integrated with the infotainment system. Finally, the ILX Technology Plus model adds a navigation system, Siri Eyes Free, and premium audio.
New for the 2016 ILX is the AcuraWatch system, which can be had on all trim levels. Essentially a bundle of advanced safety tech, AcuraWatch includes adaptive cruise control, multi-view rear camera, an enhanced collision mitigation system (with pedestrian sensing), and a road departure mitigation system that actually intervenes with steering to keep the car on the road.
Also added for the refreshed ILX is a new A-SPEC package, which can be combined with the Premium or Technology package. Included in the A-SPEC package are bigger 18-inch wheels, a body kit, trunk spoiler, fog lights, perforated Lux Suede seat inserts, red interior lighting accents, gray contrast stitching, black headliner, and aluminum pedals.
Acura says the 2016 ILX will go on sale early next year, with pricing to be announced closer to its sale date. The current 2015 ILX with the base 2.0-liter engine starts at $27,970, and the ILX with the 2.4-liter carries an MSRP of $30,270. It's the more-than-$30k number that gets people talking about balking. Overall, the refreshed ILX appears to pack more Acura DNA, making it less of a Civic and more like TLX. We'll find out early next year how those improvements affect this compact luxury sedan's sales numbers.