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If parent Honda's research is correct, the Acura ILX sedan will be a hit with a new crop of near-premium buyers who have their eyes on their bank accounts.

Acura's newest pocket sedan is for primarily Generation Y types in their mid-20s to mid-30s who favor affordable luxury with a side order of social responsibility.

From the front and side, the ILX's high style is evident. However the short, rounded rear deck looks a a bit out of place with the rest of the design, and the result is a trunk of only modest proportions for its class. At least folding the back seat can extend the available stowage space.

The interior has a first-class quality about it, especially the well-designed dashboard, control panel and useful multi-information display that, aside from providing the basics, also shows average speed, fuel consumption and oil-life info. Front room is good, and the seats are supportive, but taller passengers in back will find head and legroom in short supply.

There's nothing shy about the range of powertrain options. Base iterations arrive with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that operates through a five-speed automatic transmission. This combination is geared for leisurely acceleration and reasonable fuel economy.

For the more performance-minded millennial, there's a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder that uses a six-speed manual gearbox. It certainly feels quick, but many in the ILX's target group might not be inclined to shift their own gears, assuming they even know how to work the third pedal.

At the socially conscious end of the lineup is the Hybrid that combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor to generate 111 net horsepower. The Hybrid is teamed up with a continuously variable transmission to produce 39 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway, compared to 24/35 for the 2.0 and 22/31 for the 2.4.

All models are well-equipped with power moonroof, keyless push-button start, rear-view camera and an audio system with an interface for subscription-based Web radio Pandora.

The available Premium Package includes a power-adjustable driver's seat, leather-covered seats (heated in front) and a premium audio system, while the Technology package adds a 365-watt ELS-brand audio system (with 15-gigabytes of music storage) and a voice-controlled navigation system. Note that some extras, notably the leather interior, high-intensity xenon headlights and bigger 17-inch wheels are included when the 2.4-liter engine is in the house.

ILX pricing begins at $26,800 for the base 2.0 and climbs to $29,800 for the Hybrid, with the 2.4 starting out at $30,100. Those values should appeal to the Gen Y target group, but it's likely that more aging baby boomers than Acura anticipates will also pick the ILX for its conservative stature, pampering amenities and appealing price. But then, research studies are seldom incorrect, right?

2013 Acura ILX: Gen Y courted with affordable luxury of sedan » The Commercial Appeal
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