The 2016 Acura ILX is the company’s most affordable sport sedan, serving as the entry vehile to the Japanese automaker’s luxury lineup. It debuted as a 2013 model but has gone through many changes since then.
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Perhaps in an effort to jumpstart the sales of its entry-level model, Acura has made several changes to its ILX compact sedan for 2016.
Among them are discarding the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that served as the standard power plant in favor of the 2.4-liter that has been an optional choice the last three years, making an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission standard while eliminating the manual, and making available safety features like a forward warning collision system, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist systems, and blind spot warning that many consumers have come to expect when shopping in the segment.
All but perhaps the elimination of the manual transmission in favor of the dual-clutch tranny, which essentially operates as an automatic if you don’t feel like using the paddle shifters to select the gears, are welcome modifications.
The engine sends 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels in economical fashion. EPA ratings for the ILX are 25 miles-per-gallon city, 36 highway for a combined 29 mpg, which are good numbers in this class. Premium fuel is recommended.
The problem with the earlier ILXs, which first were introduced in 2012 as 2013 models, is that there wasn’t enough to separate the ILX from the parent company Honda‘s popular Civic, which serves as the platform for the ILX.
There is now.
Enough to swing buyers from similar small sporty sedans from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz? Well, that’s a pretty tall order.
According to the latest sales reports, ILX ranks No. 166 for September, behind Acura’s own TLX sedan (No. 102) and well back of BMW’s 3-Series (No. 57), Mercedes-Benz’ C-Class (No. 61), the Mercedes CLA (No. 124), and Audi’s A-3 (No. 118). The Lexus IS comes in well ahead also at No. 106.
This apparently is going to take a while.
Acura offers the ILX in six different trims, and with an MSRP of $27,900 (before the destination and delivery charge of $920 is added on), the base model ILX does have a price advantage over its competitors. That’s pretty much the case for all the trims.
The base model also is nicely equipped with a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity among the standard features.
The ILX with AcuraWatch Plus Package ($29,200) adds a sutie of safety features like adaptive cruise control and several other safety features, and the Premium package ($29,900) includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, leather front seats, four-way power adjustable passenger seat, an 8-inch upper screen for information display (replacing the 5-inch), and an additional lower screen to operate audio and climate functions.
The remaining three trims — ILX with Premium & A-SPEC Packages ($31,890), ILX with Technology Plus Package ($32,900), and ILX with Technology Plus & A-SPEC Packages ($34,890) continue to build on those features. (A-SPEC Packages add such features as new 18-inch, 10-spoke machined alloy wheels, and several unique interior touches.)
The addition of the technology features in upper trims adds to the ILX’s overall appeal, but the operation of the technology is somewhat of a mixed bag. The double screen on the higher trims, for example, is a big plus in our book. It means you don’t have to exit navigation mode to adjust the audio system as you are required to do with many touchscreen setups in other makes.
But at the same time, to do something as simple as changing a radio station requires the driver (if alone) to find the proper spot on the lower screen to touch and hold to reach the desired selection. When did simple knobs become such an design eyesore that they have to be eliminated?
Driving the ILX is somewhat of a mixed bag as well. The larger engine makes for good acceleration. The cabin could be quieter, though it’s not all that noisy either. The ride is firm, but not overly so, at least for those who like a bit more “sport” in their sport sedans.
For a look and more details on the ILX, check out the accompanying slide show.