Acura has not really had an entry-level car since the RSX was discontinued. The cheapest Acura that you could buy until now has cost more than $30,000, and the carmaker needed a lower-priced alternative.
According to Acura, the target customers for the new ILX are successful 20- and 30-somethings moving into the luxury car ranks but looking for high-value propositions in their purchases. They are young business professionals who are most likely single or soon to be married. These people look for cars in the near $30,000 range.
The ILX is a Honda Civic under the skin and is offered in three distinct flavors. The lowest priced ILX comes with a 150 horsepower four cylinder and a five speed automatic transmission. The combination starts out at $25,900 but with only 150 hp, it will not make your heart beat faster. Another ILX model is the hybrid version which is Acura’s first hybrid car. The car that we were interested in is the ILX 2.4 which comes with the 201 hp four cylinder K24Z7 engine and the sweet six speed manual transmission.
The 2.4 liter K24Z7 engine in the ILX is the same engine found under the hood of the Honda Civic Si. Consequently, driving the ILX is very similar to driving the Civic Si. The six speed manual transmission is one of the best shifting transmissions in the business and shows that every manufacturer needs to take lessons from Honda engineers on what a great transmission linkage should feel like.
The 2.4 liter. four-cylinder powerplant is legendary and has proven itself many times. The engine sound as it approaches redline is just short of an F1 racing engine. If you are a true driving enthusiast, you need to run to one of the many aftermarket companies out there and open up the exhaust and intake so you can hear the engine better. The stock arrangement is too quiet. The engine revs easily to its 7,000 rpm redline but it keeps pulling and seems like it should rev to at least 9,000 rpm.
The interior of the ILX is where you will notice the biggest difference between it and its Civic cousin. The interior is much better looking and offers the fit and finish that you expect in an Acura. Our car came with leather heated seats and they were very comfortable although better lateral support would be appreciated. There is plenty of room for two adults in the back.
Three can fit in the back seat but it would get tight. The ILX comes with plenty of standard features such as LED backlit analog instruments, multi information display, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, dual zone climate control, 160 watt stereo system, power moonroof, and more.
All ILX models even come with a special feature that reads incoming text messages aloud over the audio system. In addition, the driver can reply to the text with any of six factory preset messages. The Premium Package that comes standard with the 2.4 model adds heated front seats, rear view camera, HID lights, fog lights and replaces the 160 watt stereo with a 360 watt audio system.
Handling of the ILX is also just as sweet as a Civic Si. Perhaps the best part of the ILX’s chassis is the electric power steering that gives just the right amount of feedback to the driver. Knowing what the front wheels are doing makes driving the ILX at the limit that much easier. The ILX 2.4 comes with 215/45-17 Michelin Pilot HX all-season tires on 17 x 7 wheels. These tires are not meant for performance driving and really dilute the fun experience. If you live in a warm climate, changing the tires to a summer performance tire would really wake this car up.
ILX prices are very reasonable with prices starting at $25,900. Our 2.4 model costs $29,200 and it comes with the Premium Package as standard so there are no options. The ILX is also easy on fuel with EPA ratings of 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. A word of warning on fuel economy: This car encourages you to rev the engine to redline at each shift which will hurt your fuel economy.