Where the Honda Civic ends in pricing (excluding the Type-R), the Acura ILX begins. With a starting price just shy of $30,000 CAD, is the ILX just a glorified Civic or is it more than that?
Engine – While the Civic is available with either a 2.0L or a 1.5L turbo, the Acura ILX is only available with a naturally aspirated 2.4L inline-4. It develops 201 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque which is suspiciously similar to the figures of the older generation Civic Si. Anyway, this engine being naturally aspirated means that it is more responsive to throttle inputs than if it were turbocharged. However on the flip side, peak power and torque are higher up in the rpm range which means a lot of revving. Peak torque is at 3,600 rpms while peak power is at 6,800 rpms. It does have i-VTEC which makes it enjoyable when you do reach the higher rpms but continuously having to rev the engine is not very economical for a city car.
Acura rates the ILX fuel economy at 9.9 L/100km (23.8 mpg) in a city and 7.0 L/100km (33.6 mpg) on a highway. During my time with the ILX, I averaged around 9.5 L/100km (24.8 mpg) in mostly city driving. But I can’t help it wonder how much better fuel economy & drivability would be if the ILX received the current Honda Civic Si’s 1.5L Turbo engine. It has similar power but more torque at lower rpms and gets better fuel economy.
Transmission – The Acura ILX receives an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. In everyday driving conditions, the transmission tries to get to the top gear as quickly as possible to try & save fuel. As a result when you want to moderately accelerate, you’re always off the power band.
In Sport mode however, the transmission feels much more “alive” and sharp. Gear changes are faster and each gear is held for longer to utilize the engine’s power band. Additionally, the paddle shifters respond quickly to driver inputs.
Braking – The brakes on the Acura ILX can be a bit sensitive when cold which may catch some off guard. But after a few stops, they feel easier to modulate making for smooth deceleration. Forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking are standard on the ILX regardless of which trim you opt for.
Handling – The ILX is not available with Acura’s SH-AWD system so when it snows, don’t try to drive through large piles of the white stuff. In everyday dry or wet driving, the Acura ILX feels composed and planted. The steering does provide a little bit of feedback from the front wheels but for the most part it is light making for easy maneuverability around city streets.
Around more twisty mountain roads, the ILX feels more sporty than on city streets however there is noticeable body roll and nose dive under hard braking.
Ride Comfort – While the 2019 Acura ILX has a sporty spirit, the ride is tuned primarily for everyday comfort. It doesn’t “float” over bumps and road undulations, but it has no problem absorbing decently sized potholes on city streets. The seats feel plush but also supportive and have a good amount of adjustability for average sized people.
Interior Space – While average sized people will find the ILX interior plentiful, taller adults may find it a bit tight. Leg room is ok in the front seats but headroom is on the tight side. The seats do not go down far enough to make for more headroom. It’s a similar story with the back seats. Average sized adults will find just enough space but adults over 6’ will find both head and leg room on the tight side.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Exterior wind and tire noises are fairly subdued in the ILX. On highways, there is a bit more noticeable wind noise intruding into the cabin but it’s not overly obtrusive. Engine noise however is very noticeable when accelerating due to the amount of work the engine has to do to get the car moving.
Interior Design – The design of the ILX interior is not too far off from other Acura models. Similar instrument cluster, similar dual infotainment screen layout (not my favourite though), and similar A-Spec touches such as A-Spec badging and a line of suede down the center of the seats. Best of all, the Acura ILX is available with a black exterior and red interior leather seats, my favourite colour combination.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The standard ILX comes well equipped with LED headlights, heated front seats, the aforementioned emergency automatic braking, and lane keep assist. This top trim A-Spec Tech is almost $5,500 CAD more than the base trim but it has everything one would expect from a premium vehicle.
However the only thing that is missing is Acura’s new infotainment system that is equipped on the new RDX. Although I’m not the biggest fan of the touchpad control of the new system, the infotainment in this ILX already feels dated and navigating through the dual screen can be tedious to some. But I’m sure in a year or two, the new infotainment system will find its way to all Acura models.
Exterior Design – The 2019 Acura ILX received a refresh on the outside to make it similar to other Acura models. The LED headlights, grille, taillights, and small rear spoiler look really sharp. But it does have a couple of oddities like the massive Acura badge up front. Yes, it does hide the radar for the adaptive cruise control and emergency braking but does it really have to be this big? Also, I’m struggling to understand why it only has one, small, offset tailpipe. A dual exhaust tailpipe would look so much better.
In all, the 2019 Acura ILX A-Spec is very well equipped. At $35,390 CAD for this top Tech trim, it comes much better equipped than what you’ll find in a similarly priced Audi A3 sedan or Mercedes-Benz A220 sedan. Other than those two, there are not that many other competitors for the ILX. One can argue that the 2019 Mazda 3 is a competitor but it is almost $6,000 CAD less expensive and Mazda is technically not considered a premium brand like Acura. So if you want a compact premium sedan, the 2019 Acura ILX is your best bet.
Thank you to Acura Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Acura.ca