By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Cars, often like people, don?t always project the best first impression. After attending the ILX introduction in March I came away thinking the Acura ILX was okay, but with little ?wow? factor.?? Since then, I?ve driven the new smallest Acura and couple of more times, and it gets better every time I drive it — I think I may feel a ?wow? coming on. ? Bill
The new Acura ILX might have started with the mechanicals of the Honda Civic, but it?s exclusively Acura with a totally different body, upscale interior and well-tuned chassis and suspension.? ?The ILX is aimed at Gen Y (roughly 18 to 34 years old)? which Acura sees as people who are settled in their job and starting to climb the corporate ladder.? They think the up and comers will want to move into something with a bit more refinement and luxurious than their first car.? We think empty nesters and Boomers may be attracted, too.?
Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales describes it like this, ?The 2013 Acura ILX will serve as the gateway to the Acura brand.? At the leading edge of a new, sporty compact segment, the ILX delivers style, value, performance and connectivity to younger buyers looking to move into the luxury market.?
Acura does a great job on interiors, and ILX has a nice one.? It looks good and is very functional with well-organized and easy to use controls.? Studies show that younger drivers like wheel-mounted controls, so Acura engineers filled the ILX face of the steering wheel with a bunch.
The front-wheel drive ILX has three four-cylinder powertrain offerings: a 150 horsepower, 2.0-liter SOHC with a five-speed sequential shift automatic transmission, a 201 hp 2.4-liter DOHC with a six-speed manual transmission and the Hybrid which employs a 111 hp, 1l5-liter gasoline engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The 2.4-liter with the manual transmission makes a 0 to 60 mph run in 6.9 seconds but the 2.0-liter with the automatic transmission takes 9.6 seconds according to the manufacturer, although it felt quicker than that to us. The 2.0-liter has an EPA rating of 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.? The 2.4-liter is 22/31 mpg and the hybrid is 39/38 mpg.
The 2.0-liter engine is adequate for normal driving conditions but is a little weak and might be disappointing when the car is filled with friends or when you want to get around a slower moving vehicle on a hill.
The 2013 Acura ILX has four-wheel independent suspension with double-wishbone in the front, multi-link rear suspension, stabilizer bars front and rear along with a precise electric assist power-assist rack-and-pinion steering.? The combination produces a supple ride with good control and precise handling.? The four-wheel disc brakes provide very good stopping power for everyday driving.
We are fortunate to have a great test track almost in our back yard.? From our neighborhood, our test route takes us up into the Cascade foothills toward the volcanic peaks of Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams.? The roads have a nice mix of well paved, twisty roads with a combination of fast sweeping corners, hills, quick straight stretches and sharp hairpins.? The route requires great concentration, though, because the scenery tries to steal your eyes from the road.
After spending some quality time exercising both the 2.0 automatic and the 2.4-liter manual? over these wonderful roads we were able to pronounce them as fun-to-drive for the average driver.? However, we?re sure some of the hot dog drivers we know might think otherwise.? ?For the market, they are right on target.
Acura has always been generous with features and the ILX follows the same pattern offering buyers a plethora of equipment like moonroof, aluminum wheels, heated mirrors, Bluetooth, Pandora? internet radio and pushbutton start.
The Premium Package adds leather-seating surfaces, Xenon lighting, heated front seats, premium audio with XM and multi-view rear camera for $3,300 more.? The Technology package includes the Acura/ELS surround sound system,? GPS-link solar-sensing climate control, HomeLink remote, premium audio, Acura?s excellent navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather for $5,500 more.
We like the way Acura simplifies the buying process.? They have one car, with three powertrain choices and two available option packages.? Selecting your 2013 Acura ILX is a simple matter of choosing a performance or fuel economy level and then selecting the features most important to you.? The only down side was that you can?t get the 2.4-liter engine with an automatic transmission nor can you get the Technology package (which includes the navigation system) with it.
The 2013 Acura ILX pricing starts at $26,795, including the destination charge, for the 2.0L.? The 2.4L, which includes the Premium Package, is $30,095.? The Hybrid starts and $29,795 or is $35,295 with the Technology Package.