2013 Acura ILX Review

We drive the entry-level Acura.

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November 13, 2012

2013 Acura ILX Review

It's quick to scamper away from stoplights, it handles with poise and accurate, sharp steering; and the clutch and shifter are engaging.

Introduction
It's a luxury car, it's a sports car, it's...the most expensive Honda Civic Si ever?

Acura is positioning its ILX compact sedan as a near-luxury sports sedan, especially with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission, slotting just below the TSX as its entry-level car.

Entry-level is relative to class and price, of course, as with the 2.4-liter engine and the manual (the 2.4 is only available with a stickshift) the ILX bases at just a tick under $30K. Honda evidently thinks it can move some compact-car buyers up to its Acura luxury division without too much trouble, just as competitor Buick is evidently thinking with its Chevrolet Cruze-based Verano compact.

2013 Acura ILX On the Road The ILX shares its platform with the Civic and the 201-horsepower 2.4-liter comes out of the hot-rod Civic Si, so it's no shock that this car shines in the performance arena. It's quick to scamper away from stoplights, it handles with poise and accurate, sharp steering; and the clutch and shifter are engaging.

When we slowed it down a bit, there was little ride sacrifice--while the suspension is tuned to sport, the ride is pleasant enough for longer drives. The car generally feels well balanced.

While we found the steering to be accurate, we also found it to be a tad too light and artificial-feeling for our tastes.

We also were at turns delighted and annoyed by the exhaust note--it's loud and brash nature was appreciated during spirited driving, but not nearly as much during around-town driving or highway cruising.

We liked the ILX's sports-sedan chops, but it could get tiresome to live with, mainly due to the boy-racer exhaust.
2013 Acura ILX Exterior The ILX follows the Acura formula of edgy, angular design. We're fans.
2013 Acura ILX Interior The busy (lots of buttons) black plastic dash with a large center knob for radio controls doesn't look pretty, but the audio controls are easy enough to use after a bit of learning. Our Premium Package-car didn't have navigation, which seems to be an odd omission at this price point. Still, seating materials are quality (the same can't be said of the plastic expanses on the dash) and the cockpit feels classy enough overall.

Headroom and legroom feels a bit tight--one never forgets this is a compact. Still, the overall space is about par for the class.
2013 Acura ILX Fuel Economy and Safety The ILX offers the usual complement of airbags along with traction control, ABS, and an anti-skid system.

Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the 2.4 and the manual transmission.
2013 Acura ILX Final Thoughts There's a lot to like about the ILX 2.4, if you have an enthusiast's bent for spirited driving. The problem comes in the price. Sure, the materials and features are nicer than they would be in a comparable Civic, but we expect more from a luxury compact, even at the entry level.

Not only that, but the car doesn't always balance the sport versus comfort equation correctly, with the loud exhaust being a particular sore point.

Finally, will Acura buyers be enticed by a manual-transmission-only sports sedan? We think many Acura shoppers will lean toward the 2.0-liter ILX or the perhaps even the hybrid. So 2.4-liter ILXs might be a rare example of the ILX breed.

From a driver's perspective, the ILX is damn fun. From a value perspective, it's a tough sell.

Perhaps the ILX 2.4 is the nicest Civic Si out there. Too bad the real Si is available for less money.
2013 Acura ILX Specs, Features, Prices Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Drive Wheels: Front

As-Tested Price: $30,095

Available Features: USB port, auxiliary input jack, push-button ignition, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, fog lights, moonroof, leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats.

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