With many luxury brands now dipping into the accessible end of the entry-level premium market, can Acura compete with a vehicle that is both affordable and desirable? That’s exactly what the 2015 Acura ILX aims to do—attract hip retirees and up-and-coming young professional—with its somewhat sporty, fuel-efficient small sedan. And, it comes with the service you’d expect from a luxury brand, too.
The 2015 Acura ILX is barely a luxury car if you go by its sticker price—or its not-so-distant Honda Civic roots. And for that reason we don’t hold it against the brand that they’re not offering some of the higher-end items you’ll find in slightly more expensive sedans, such as radar-adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and heads-up displays. Granted, the brand is making big steps to head up-market with its RLX flagship sedan and future NSX super car, but there’s still room for the ILX, which no only offers the slow-selling Hybrid model for 2015. With that in mind, the ILX holds its own as a well-equipped, pleasant-driving, and comfortable compact sedan.
Balancing between crisp and fluid, edgy and smooth, the ILX’s exterior is a more youthful take on a compact luxury car than you’ll find elsewhere in the segment.
The fenders swell gently from the sides, there are character lines to accent its shape, and the greenhouse arches gracefully ove the passenger compartment. On the whole it’s a handsome, if not lust-inducing, sedan. Inside, it’s a pleasant place to travel, looking like a typical Acura: edgy curves, contoured surfaces, and easy-to-read gauges.
There are two versions of the ILX available, named for their drivetrains: the 2.0 and the 2.4L. The 2.0L offers a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engine rated at 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic with paddle shifters is standard. It scores an EPA-estimated gas mileage rating of 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.
The 2.4L is the sporty model, with what is essentially the Civic Si’s 201-horsepower, 170-pound-foot 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission-no automatic is offered with this model. What’s disappointing is that the suspension in the 2.4L is essentially the same as the rest of the ILX lineup, and it’s not as sharp as we’d like in spirited driving. Across the lineup, you get handling that’s crisp and responsive, but nothing approaching the driving experience of, say, Acura’s outgoing, half-size-larger TSX sport sedan.
Inside, the cabin is comfortable and spacious-surprisingly so in the rear seats, with enough room even for taller adults to fit comfortably. Ergonomically, things are laid out very well, with all controls easy to identify and use without taking one’s eyes from the road. Fit and finish is also very good, with solid-feeling construction and quality materials (plastic, rubber, and leather) in all touch-points. Cabin noise is low, though not quite mausoleum-quiet like you’ll find in some luxury cars a bit farther up the ladder, including Acura’s own. For 2015 Acura has made Active Noise Cancellation standard on all models in this lineup. It can actively ‘mop up’ smaller but bothersome noises from the powertrain or road, using the sound system’s speakers, a cabin microphone, and a sophisticated processing algorithm.
As of last year, leather upholstery and active noise cancellation are among the new features added to all models of the ILX. An eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera system have also all been added as standard. Two primary packages are available to upgrade from the base specification, the Technology Package and the Premium Package. Add the Technology Package and you get premium audio with USB and Pandora integration, a navigation system with voice recognition, a rear-view camera system, and real-time traffic and weather info. With the Premium Package you get leather seating surfaces; eight-way power adjustable driver seat; two-way heated front seats; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; a multi-view rear camera; a premium sound system with Bluetooth, USB, and Pandora functionality.