2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
A Nicer Cut From the Same Cloth
I can always depend on my barber for two 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 one 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, four-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 two 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 three 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 two 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.
Read more: 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid First Test - Motor Trend
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