Entry-level model offers more stylish package
The 2013 ILX is an all-new model from Acura, with a familiar overtone. That’s because it replaces CSX in the Acura product line, a car that was only sold in Canada. The new ILX, however, is now for sale on both sides of the 49th as the new entry level Acura.
Although it looks completely different, both inside as well as out, the ILX, like its predecessor, is based on the Honda Civic. It shares the same body platform and a lot of mechanical components, but there are significant differences.
The Base, Premium and Technology editions of ILX come with a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine. It’s bigger and more powerful than the base 1.8-litre engine in the Civic and can produce 150 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 140 lbs.-ft of torque at 4300 rpm.
An alternative ILX powertrain choice is a 2.4-litre engine in a Dynamic edition, which only comes with a manual transmission. This is the same powertrain that’s also in the new Civic Si and its high-output engine can produce 201 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 170 lbs.-ft torque at 4400 rpm.
The third offering is a hybrid powertrain and it’s a first for Acura. The ILX Hybrid is powered by a 1.5-litre engine with integrated electric motor. This is a mild-hybrid system that uses the gas engine as the primary power source and a (20 horsepower) electric motor provides additional clout when needed.
The ILX comes loaded with technology, which includes a Keyless Access System with smart entry, push-button start and a hands-free mobile phone connection with a new SMS (Short Message System) text message function. The latter can convert an incoming text message to a voice message and a driver can then choose from a list of six short messages to reply.
The Premium edition upgrades include leather seating surfaces, a 365-watt stereo system, a rear-view camera and Active Sound, which is a noise cancellation system. The Technology edition adds an ELS Surround audio system, a new multi-view rear camera, a navigation system combined with a hard-disk drive feature that has 60 gigabytes of storage capacity.
Unlike the CSX, which was built in a Honda plant in Ontario, the Acura ILX is built in Greensburg, Indiana. Like all Acura models the ILX comes with a better warranty than a Honda, complete coverage is for four years and 80,000 km (instead of three years/60,000 km).
While attractive and modern, the ILX is decidedly a more conservative styling exercise than Civic. Up front there’s a softer version of Acura’s signature wide V-shaped grille, the cabin has a BMW-like sloping rear roofline and short-deck back end design. A little longer, lower and wider than a Civic, the ILX has a longer hood, a more upright windshield and other than the same wheelbase it has no family resemblance to its Honda cousin.
The Civic connection disappears completely when you move inside. A double-cockpit dash layout, which is typical of Acura, greets the front seat occupants. It also has a more traditional sport sedan instrument panel, with round dials directly in front of the driver, compared to the futuristic two-tier digital dash in Civic.
The limited amount of head room provided, however, was an issue for me and is likely to be a problem for above average height drivers and potential buyers. It`s a baffling oversight in a car that was supposedly designed for the North American market.
Standard active safety includes an electronic stability control system called Advanced Vehicle Stability Assist and it also comes with traction control, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. An interesting new feature is the Motion Adaptive electric power steering system, which helps a driver to correct an over-steer or under-steer (skidding) situation. Linked to the electronic stability control system, it boosts assist in the direction it wants the driver to turn the wheel and simultaneously reduces assist in the opposite direction.
My test ILX came with the 2.0-litre engine and 5-speed automatic. It`s a peppy engine that does have some extra oomph compared to 1.8-litre in the Civic, but the difference is not great and may not be enough for some.
The 5-speed automatic has a sport mode that’s selected with the shift level. Shifts can also be made manually with the lever or with sporty paddle shifters on the steering wheel. While a 5-speed is passé these days this is a particularly nice one that shifts smartly when you ask the ILX to move a bit faster. That said, an extra highway gear, or two, would make it ever better. At the wheel of the ILX, it certainly feels like you`re in a completely different and bigger car than the Civic. The ride quality is considerably better as it has adaptive dampers that help reduce road imperfections, yet preserve good handling qualities. The ILX is certainly a better highway car that`s better suited to long distance drives. The steering effort on the light side but it`s precise and offers enough feedback to keep most drivers interested. The ILX stays relatively flat during cornering and steering provides good straight line stability.
The all-new Acura ILX provides the luxury automaker with a bigger and more distinctively Acura entry level car.
Trim levels: Base, Premium, Technology, Dynamic & Hybrid
Sticker Price: $27,790 to $34,990
Power: 2.0-litre I4, 150 horsepower
5-speed automatic/6-speed manual
Fuel consumption (2.0L): 8.6/5.6 L/100 km (city/highway)
Fuel consumption (2.4L): 9.8/6.5 L/100 km (city/highway)
Fuel consumption (Hybrid): 5.0/4.8 L/100 km (city/highway)
Basic Warranty: 4 yrs / 80,000 km
Powertrain Warranty: 5 yrs / 100,000 km
Rust Warranty: 5 yrs / unlimited km