Our automotive writers are occasionally given the gift of a long-term vehicle placement, during which they get to drive that vehicle for more than the usual week’s time. In the latest of this series, which we call LIVING WITH…, David Schmidt lives with and tells you all about the 2013 Acura ILX.
I’ve been living with a long-term press car for a couple of months, an Acura ILX.
Based on the Honda Civic, this small, economical car is Acura’s entry-level luxury vehicle. Its job is to attract people to the brand who otherwise wouldn’t consider Acura, or perhaps any luxury brand. It was introduced last year, so this is the model’s first year. Its appeal isn’t traditional luxury, in that the car is small, fuel-efficient and causes few open-mouthed stares.
That’s because luxury is no longer defined as “expensive.”
Evidently, it’s defined by whatever marketeers can get away with. According to one Acura official, rather than redefining the vehicle’s luxury, they’re redefining the luxury buyer. Acura seeks people who are going to be luxury buyers to consider getting a head start on the process by buying a luxury-focused compact car.
The base ILX has an MSRP of $25,900, less than the average cost of a new car and seriously cheaper than many clearly non-luxury Ford, Chevy, Toyota and even Hyundai products. The ILX 2.0L Tech I’m driving comes with the premium and technology packages, and even with destination charge, is priced at $32,295. This car has everything.
Its primary competition is the Audi A3 and new small premium cars like Buick’s Verano. More than any other arena in the luxury car category, this segment is exceptionally price and value conscious. While the abovementioned cars are the ones Acura says are direct competitors, my view is the primary alternative consideration is a used car.
I think this because against used cars, the competitive advantages to the ILX are its size, fuel efficiency, warranty and on-target cultural position. This is a car for young people, with decent incomes, who live in metro areas.
They also care about what others think of their choices. They’re proud to be considered sensible, but secretly consider themselves culturally cutting-edge.
This reporter doesn’t meet any of those criteria. The point of me living with this Acura is to consider whether the ILX will do its job, and whether those who do fall into the target group would be well served by this car.
The Acura ILX has a wider and low stance, with a long nose and a short tail. Its “face” makes it quickly recognizable as an Acura, except that its small, of course. The ILX is 179.1 inches long on a 105.1-inch wheelbase. It’s 70.6-inches wide and stands 55.6-inches high.
It comes standard 16-inch aluminum or optional 17-inch aluminum wheels and tires. It has a good trunk, bigger than it looks like from the outside.
It’s front-wheel drive and comes in a couple of formats, as calling them trim levels isn’t quite accurate. The ILX model range includes the ILX Tech, powered by a 150-hp., 140 lb.-ft. of peak torque four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine.
This is hooked up to only a five-speed automatic transmission. Luckily it comes with a Sport mode and even paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which increase the fun factor. There’s also the ILX 2.4, a sportier model with a bigger engine and, finally, a hybrid version. Features and functions are pretty well divided by engine. The sport model comes only with a manual transmission. You can’t get a navigation system with it.
But all of them share the same basic set-up, except for the powertrain. Ride is smoothed by Acura’s “Amplitude Reactive Dampers,” which reduces road noise and vibration. All the models have four-wheel-independent suspension, a MacPherson-strut front suspension and a multi-link rear setup. There are also front and rear stabilizer bars. Power steering is electric with variable power-assist for the rack-and-pinion steering setup.
The official EPA numbers for the ILX are 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 28 mpg. In several hundred miles of driving, I’ve averaged 19.1 miles per gallon. That may not sound great, but that was almost all the worst kind of driving — suburban stop-and-go — and little if no highway driving. I’ve also never been referred to as a “feather-foot.” The level of power is perfectly suited to this car.
Next Month: The ILX’s interior is what luxurious cars are all about.
Living with Acura