A Victory & Reseda review of the 2016 Acura ILX
People love luxury. People love luxury brands. The more premium the label, the better they feel.
It is a common consumer behavior, regardless of income level or shopping habits. Yet, it is not as wide a consumer behavior as we think, yet it is the one we noticed the most from others.
In the automotive business, premium brands have been gaining in sales. They are prevalent in some of the common trends. For example, crossover and SUV sales ae up among premium brands, as they are across the board. These brands are also driving some of the newer segments – namely subcompact crossover/SUVs and smaller cars.
Taking a look at the latter, there are only a few entrants below the popular premium sports sedan segment. One of them happens to be the Acura ILX. Since 2012, Acura re-entered the premium small car segment in the U.S.A., thanks to customer demand. They abandoned the segment in this country with the demise of the RSX sports coupe in 2006, although Canadian customers got their fill with a couple of Honda Civic-based models during this six-year gap.
While I was at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, Acura unveiled the mid-cycle refresh of the ILX for 2016. Having never driven the ILX when it first came out, my interest was piqued. I had to know whether I missed something in the original 2013 model…or whether Acura has an entry level model palatable for consumers looking to go upscale for their automotive goods.
The first thing you see in the ILX is that it is indeed an Acura, and not a rebadged Honda. There is a lot of "family" styling in the ILX. It did invent the design with its uptick side glass design at the rear doors. For 2016, the ILX's mid-cycle refresh includes a set of Jewel-Eye headlamp unis, a larger, satin-chrome grille with the "shield" melded into the design deeper, new tail lamp clusters with clear turn signal lenses, and redesigned wheels for all trim levels.
The Premium A-Spec model being tested here offers eighteen-inch wheels that look bold. They certainly look right for the ILX in its mid-cycle refresh. This model also includes a rear spoiler with a chrome trim on top finishing the overall look. Doors open pretty wide up front, yet rear windows tended to be on the small side. The trunk opens high to a well-shaped 12.3 cubic feet cargo hold that is expandable with the rear seats folded down.
Acura's brand design elements carry over into the new instrument panel, featuring the dual screen set-up now on all models. The instrumentation may look familiar, now lit up with red features, yet straight-forward for all drivers. A thick rimmed steering wheel is also familiar to other Acura models. The two screen set-up feature a lower touch screen with a larger upper screen for the backup camera and a few readouts. If navigation was selected, that readout would be on the upper screen. Audio options include SiriusXM and select internet radio apps, including Pandora.
The seats in the Premium A-Spec wear a combination of leather and suede upholstery. The seats are comfortable, but have some bolstering to keep bodies locked in. Tall drivers and front passengers may have to negotiate a seating position up front, when the sunroof is ordered with the ILX. Rear seat room is fine for children. The roofline does cut into headroom for taller passengers.
For 2016, the ILX offers only one engine/transmission combination. The 2.4liter four-cylinder engine offers 201 horsepower and solid performance, along with 180 pound-feet of torque. New for 2016 is the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission with seamless and quick shifts throughout the torque band. The ILX remains front-wheel drive.
The best way to describe how the ILX drives is "solid." It does have a soft side, evident from the slight roll through the curves. Yet, the ride is forgiving and absorbent through the rougher spots on the road. Steering is on the vague side, mainly due its large wheel. It does turn precisely, despite the lack of real feel from it. It is also soft when the wheel is on-center. Brakes are actually very good with solid normal and panic stops.
Being the smallest Acura, you would expect good fuel economy from the ILX. This car averaged 30.3MPG in its care. It appears that switching to the new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission certainly helped in achieving this fuel economy figure.
The ILX is not just the smallest Acura, but the brand’s lowest priced model. Starting at $27,900, the ILX is available with several packages to choose from. This tester with the Premium A-Spec trim came with a sticker price of $32,810.
Consumers looking upmarket want finer products. Is the 2016 Acura ILX the kind of product that will satisfy those consumers? It can be, as it is a competent sedan that rides well and offers an efficient driveline for daily driving. It is in interesting company, however. The Mercedes-Benz CLA, Audi A3 and Buick Verano are the ILX’s competitors.
If one wants to go the middle-of-the-road route in this small premium niche segment, the Acura ILX should be suitable. It is a label, after all.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by American Honda Motor Co.