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.
In fact, the compact ILX, which is just now arriving in dealer showrooms, is a far cry from the automaker’s earlier entry-level efforts, such as the fun-loving Integra sedan and coupe from the 1980s and ’90s, the flashier RSX coupe from the ’00s and the Honda Civic-based CSX sedan that was retired prior to the 2012 model year.
Those models appealed to a more exuberant audience, including the so-called “tuner” crowd, while Acura’s newest pocket sedan is for a growing segment of non-enthusiast Generation-Y-types in their mid-20s to mid-30s who favour affordable luxury with a side order of social responsibility.
As with the previous CSX, the ILX is actually based —very loosely — on the current Honda Civic, although the ILX is larger.
From the front and side, the ILX’s high style is evident, however the short, rounded rear deck looks a bit out of place with the rest of the design and the result is a trunk of only modest proportions for its class.
ILX pricing begins at $29,700, including destination charges, for the base 2.0 and climbs to $36,900 for the Hybrid, while the 2.4 starts at $31,900.
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.
2013 Acura ILX
• Type. Four-door, front-wheel-drive compact sedan.
• Engine (hp): 2.0-litre SOHC I4 (150); 2.4-litre DOHC I4 (201); 1.5-litre SOHC I4 with electric motor (111).
• Mileage: L/100 km (city/hwy) 8.6/5.6 (2.0).
• Base Price: $29,700.
Driving each of the three versions of ILX on Arizona’s generally ripple-free secondary roads wasn’t ideal for conducting suspension torture tests, but the cabins are well-insulated from road and wind noise and the cars are really quite competent road machines.
All models show up in a well-equipped state and include a power moonroof, keyless push-button start, rear-view camera and a six-speaker audio system. The available Premium Package includes leather-covered seats (heated in front), premium audio system and 17-inch wheels (16s are standard).
There’s nothing shy about the range of powertrain options. Base iterations arrive with a 150-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that operates through a five-speed automatic transmission.
For the more performance-minded, there’s a 201-horsepower, 2.4-litre four-cylinder that uses a six-speed manual gearbox.
At the socially conscious end of the lineup is the Hybrid that combines a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with an electric motor to generate 111 net horsepower. The Hybrid is teamed up with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to produce 5.0 l/100 km in the city and 4.8 on the highway, compared to 8.6/5.6 for the 2.0 and 9.8/6.5 for the 2.4.