2013 Acura ILX Review: Upscale Commuter, Defined
We drove the new Acura ILX, and if you’re not entirely sure what the ILX is, you’re not alone. It’s not the “big one,” nor the “middle one,” but rather, its Acura’s new compact luxury sedan. That seems to make more sense to people than telling them RLX or MDX or XXX, because like most other automakers (cough, Lincoln, cough), they think that luxury equates to random numerical and alphabetical symbols that normal people can’t actually interpret.
So we drove the 2013 ILX Premium. This model features a 2.4-liter VTEC engine and–wait for it–a standard manual transmission. There is an automatic option, but it will cost you in a big drop-off in power. Also, it cost just about $30K (or $29,200 if you want to be specific). But in the week we had it, here is what we learned:
The Better Civic?
Let’s be honest here– the ILX is a Civic (Si), wearing a dress and given a beak. You have to dig to find anything special about it other than the fact that it is more expensive. The six-speed manual transmission was a breath of fresh air, but again, the premium 2.4 option comes only with a manual transmission. And if you know anything about people who buy cars here in the US, especially low-range luxury sedans (which is surprisingly not a niche market, yet), the manual transmission is a fickle item. An Audi or BMW shopper might go for one in an A3 or 1 Series, respectively, but that’s about it.
However, for those who cannot row their own gearbox, Acura offers the 5-speed automatic, which comes exclusively with a 2.0-liter I4, making an anemic 150 horsepower. There is also the availability of the ILX Hybrid, which features a 1.5-liter gas engine, combined with an electric motor, sending power to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
But, thankfully, we had the manual, and the shifter had a connected feel, while the ride was responsive. This is because Acura employs its “Amplitude Reactive” dampers, combined with a steering shaft that is larger and more rigid. The result is ride characteristics that are a marked improvement over the Civic Si.
Toast. Fancy Toast.
Go to your nearest grocery store, and take a walk down the bread isle. There are lots of different options, and all are there for the same purpose- to nourish you. But they go about it in vastly different ways. The ILX? It’s plain white toast. It’s normal and edible and helps maintain my svelte figure. Toast is sort of like the Honda Civic Si: Functional, reliable, and stylish– but not too much. So, imagine that same toast, but pricier and in a nicer wrapper. Something like ‘Premium Toast,’ oh, sounds fancy. That is essentially the Acura ILX, fancy toast.