2013 Acura ILX Tech Road Test Review

Jennifer Hofmann - CAP staff
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I brought home the 2013 Acura ILX Tech for this week's test vehicle, and thought my twelve-year-old son would share in my excitement to put it through its paces. Well, the quickly-becoming teenager was not impressed. My lovely little automotive know-it-all snob said, "Mom, it's basically a Civic with leather." Well, after I gave him a little speech about being humble, I explained to him that although the ILX is based on the Honda Civic platform, it has many differences that make it an Acura.

Speaking of the leather the seats looked nice, but I have to admit to being a little disappointed at the quality. I'd be interested to see it after it's been sat on for a year or three to find out how it holds up. On the positive side, I found the gauge layout intuitive and easy to read. The paddle shifters and sleek looking gear shifter added a sporty touch that you'd expect in an Acura. I found the stitching on the inside of the steering wheel to be a bit rough (where were my driving gloves?), but I liked the look of it. One of the true ways to experience luxury was met with a quiet cabin. It was obvious they spent time and money bringing it up to premium car levels of noise, vibration and harshness.

Turning to the engine, Acura gives two choices with the ILX (not including the hybrid drivetrain). My tester had the 150-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. It comes standard with a five-speed automatic transmission including paddle shifters. The other choice is also a four-cylinder, but at 2.4 litres it makes 201-horsepower and comes mated to a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission. Most people opt for the base ILX engine, which is larger and more powerful than the regular Civic sedan's engine by the way. The 2.4-litre four is much sportier, but with no automatic transmission option it's purely for driving enthusiasts. Like the ILX Hybrid the 2.4 in the ILX Dynamic is pulled straight out of the Civic, although it's the fastest Si model.

The chassis is more or less the same with either engine, and includes MacPherson struts up front and a rear multi-link suspension with amplitude reactive dampers to enhance ride quality while maintaining agile handling. Both front and rear stabilizer bars aid in cornering too. Four-wheel discs with ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist clamped down hard to bring the ILX to a stop quickly even in wet weather, and continued to work well even after repeated stomps. Likewise I found the Acura did a good job of maintaining a stable feel when cornering, without sacrificing responsiveness despite its comfortable ride.

Speaking of not sacrificing too much, the ILX is appointed with a lot of top-grade features such as proximity sensing keyless entry (that unlocks the doors while your keys are in your pocket) and pushbutton ignition (the sporty red button was a welcome touch in an otherwise bleak black on black interior), dual zone climate control, Bluetooth with SMS text messaging (which will either appear on the screen or can be read out loud), and a one-touch power moonroof. The list goes on, but I'd like to specifically highlight the mirrors.

The heated mirrors automatically fold as well, which is handy, but they also come with an expanded view. There's the normal legally required flat surface, and then just to the outside of that is a tiny convex-surfaced inset mirror that allows for a wider view than you'd normally be able to see. There have been a lot of these "extra view" mirrors popping up in the last couple of years, and I have mixed feelings about them. The ILX's mirrors actually made me feel slightly dizzy to look into. I like the idea of additional rearward visibility, but I'm not sure this is the ideal solution.

Available upgrades to base ILX sedans include the Premium Package and Technology Package, the latter of which came on my tester for a total price of $34,295 including freight. The Tech package includes HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights, navigation with voice recognition, and a 365-watt, 10-speaker surround-sound audio system with AM/FM/CD and SiriusXM satellite radio, DVD audio with Dolby Pro Logic II, a hard disk drive and USB connector. With the base ILX coming in at $29,795 including destination, I'd recommend the upgrade just to get the infotainment system alone, although the added visibility of the HID headlights is a safety bonus.

Of course the ILX includes a full assortment of safety features including all the usual airbags plus vehicle stability assist with traction control to hopefully make sure you don't need those airbags in the first place. Stability control helps to correct oversteer or understeer when the car starts sliding on slippery surfaces, while traction control helps get the car going on the same slick pavement by applying the brakes and/or decreasing torque to individual wheels if they start to slip. With these technologies, along with hill start assist (to avoid rolling backward when starting on hills) and Acura's ultra-rigid ACE body structure (that absorbs and disperses energy upon impact), I think you are well covered for safety.

While safety is critically important, it seems these days everyone is paying even more attention to saving fuel. The good news here is that the ILX is one of the most efficient in its luxury branded class at a claimed 8.6 L/100km city and 5.6 highway. This was a well thought out plan, as Acura really wants to promote this car as a "gateway" to luxury, and those of us who otherwise wouldn't be able or willing to pay for the extra cost of a premium model certainly could use the added incentive of savings at the pump!

Continuing on the practical theme, I think most should find the ILX's 350 litres (12.4 cu ft) of trunk volume quite sufficient. When you need more cargo space the back seatback lowers down in one piece to reveal a cargo pass-through. While certainly better than no pass-through at all, a set of 60/40-split seatbacks (like most others in the segment offer) would allow for more passenger and cargo flexibility.

Overall, I think that Acura has done a fair job of trying to introduce its brand to a younger professional audience. This isn't its first attempt at the "Civic with leather" concept, but the ILX is the first to be sold outside of Canada (we had the Canada-exclusive EL and CSX before). Acura has included a lot of features in the new ILX that should appeal to this up-and-comer crowd, plus nice low fuel economy to lure in those that might not have considered a luxury car before. They've got stiff competition from the Buick Verano and others, but if you want to go with an import it's difficult to beat this Acura's overall value.

In the end I think that once you drive it you'll agree that the new Acura ILX is no Honda Civic.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Luxury Sedan, Acura, 2013, ILX, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Compact,

Organizations: Acura

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