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Acura is still readying the ILX, which will fill the entry-level slot in the luxury brand’s lineup. (It is for now a concept, but per Acura/Honda practice, this is very close to the vehicle that will go on sale this spring.) As we mentioned last month when we first reported on the car, virtually every premium brand is busy preparing smaller models that appeal on efficiency and affordability as much as they do luxury.

Acura has a long and storied history of being an innovator since its creation in 1986. As the first luxury brand from Japan, the marque brought with it the first variable valve timing technology, the first drive by wire electronic throttle, the first in-dash navigation system and the first instance of torque vectoring all-wheel drive.

Laudable accomplishments, all of them, and Acura reaped rewards for the technological advancements it brought to the automotive realm. Venerable nameplates like Legend and Integra launched Acura into first place in the premium luxury car segment in 1987, the brand's first full year of sales.

With a dose of Acura luxury and civility, the Civic based ILX seems to be in a class by itself. The closest competitor at the moment might be Buick's Chevrolet Cruze-based Verano, at least until the Audi A3 sedan arrives in 2014. Interior appointments are upscale but not too dressy, with a dual cockpit layout that employs bright analog gauges and emphasizes driver command. The exterior styling seems sporty, but, from some angles, there is an odd sort of frumpiness. There's a hint of the bulbous Honda Accord Crosstour bustle in the rear and a shade too much overhang out front, but otherwise, it's stylish.





The 2013 Acura ILX lower crease that runs between the wheel wells is more pronounced, and the lower sills are more aggressive. Acura has ambitious plans for the 2013 Acura ILX, and hopes to sell some 40,000 units annually. The 2013 Acura ILX with most estimates putting its price tag below the $30,000 mark. Additionally, the 2013 Acura ILX will also be the most fuel efficient Acura, thanks to its hybrid option, which incidentally makes this the first Acura to feature a gasoline-electric drivetrain. Expect most 2013 Acura ILX buyers to stick with the basic engine and transmission, a 2.0-liter four cylinder mated to a conventional automatic transmission.

 

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2013 Acura ILX Interior :
In front of the driver sits a pair of gauges flanking an electronic multi-information display that can show upcoming maintenance requirements, average speed, instant and average fuel consumption or estimated range with the current fuel load. Acura says this cluster is designed to help the driver concentrate on the task of driving, while the passenger enjoys a deeply carved dash that gives the impression of space and roominess.

All the interior bits and pieces are well integrated into an overall look, and are all crafted from upscale materials. The upper dash pad is soft to the touch and offers a pleasant contrast to the metallic look of the lower dash and center stack. The steering wheel is nicely styled, with a thick rim that feels good in the hand. We were a bit put off by the sheer number of buttons on either side of the wheel, but managed to figure them all out in time.

The hybrid's 38-mpg combined average fuel economy is the top economy choice; the 2.0-liter posts 28 mpg, and the 2.4-liter hits just 25 mpg. But the 2.4-liter model's 6.9-second 0-to-60-mph time tops the 2.0-liter by nearly three seconds. And all three powertrains exceed 30 mpg on the highway.

Three trim levels are offered: standard, premium and a Technology package. All are available on the 2.0-liter model, while the hybrid comes in the base standard trim or the fully equipped Technology package. The 2.4-liter comes exclusively in premium trim, which includes leather seats, a rearview camera, high-intensity-discharge headlights, fog lights and 17-inch alumi-num wheels. All models with 17-inch wheels also get active noise cancellation.



2013 Acura ILX Exterior :
The door handles on the ILX concept have been creased and shaped into a form that looks vaguely inspired by medieval weaponry, and the character line that intersects the front and rear door handle depressions on the Honda kicks up above the rear door handle on the Acura. The lower crease that runs between the wheel wells is more pronounced, and the lower sills are more aggressive. From the front, you don't have to squint too hard to make out the Civic bloodlines, but the Acura face is present and accounted for. There’s also a sharper break between the hood and fender, deeper set headlamps, and no lower grille. The concept rides on 19-inch wheels. Details on the cabin are scarce at this point, but keyless entry and start, and Acura’s various technology packages are said to be on offer.



2013 Acura ILX Performance :
The meat-of-the-market model is the 2.0-liter with a five-speed automatic, which is a perfectly acceptable option for those who have to make the autobox tradeoff. Acura expects some 75 percent of buyers will opt for this version, which offers steering-wheel shift paddles to bring some sportiness to the easy-to-drive package. It's sporty enough but hard to accept once you know how good the 2.4-liter manual car is.

The hybrid is the most fuel-efficient choice, but it's also the dullest of the ILX offerings. Between its continuously variable transmission and limited power, along with extra weight from the batteries, the car is a slug, taking 11.2 seconds to run to 60 mph. The hybrid also rides on a different suspension, tuned to handle the weight of the batteries.



 
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