Entry-level Acura ILX offers plenty of value
In case you hadn't noticed, the lure for people to actually purchase a luxury vehicle has increased. It has nothing to do with the improving economy, but it does have everything to do with money.
Many luxury manufacturers are now offering an entry-level, compact luxury sedan. The main reason: people can afford it.
For car shoppers looking for an upscale luxury sedan that doesn't arrive with a luxurious price tag, Acura debuted the ILX a year ago and its back for 2014 virtually unchanged - although the price did hike about a thousand dollars.
* Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 150 horsepower or 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 201 horsepower
* Mileage estimate: 24-35 mpg
* Price: $26,900 to $31,600
* Warranty: 4years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 4 years/50,000
The ILX has an attractive curb appeal and can sit in the driveway and definitely receive a thumbs up from the neighbors making an observation on looks alone.
Of course, no one wants to purchase a vehicle that looks good and can't perform. The ILX can perform as well, providing solid acceleration, a smart interior, good (not great) gas mileage, and a "fun" element thanks to its adroit handling.
This ILX can be purchased for just under $27,000, while the upgraded version with the technology package isn't outrageously priced at $31,600. The ILX also comes in a hybrid with a $28,900 sticker price.
The competition includes the Buick Verano, Audi A3 and Lexus CT 200h, two other premium models.
The front-wheel drive ILX replaces the TSX as Acura's most entry-level vehicle. Because it's based on the Honda Civic, some might label the ILX as an upgraded Civic. As a former satisfied Civic owner, I can honestly say that the ILX ranks quite a bit higher than a Civic and surprisingly gets a little better gas mileage.
The ILX is a lot zippier, especially the premium model that features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It feels quicker than the estimated 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds.
The base ILX is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. It's two seconds slower going 0-60 mph than the premium ILX. The hybrid version is a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder paired with an electric motor that has a combined 111 horsepower.
From an interior standpoint, the ILX won't dazzle anyone. However, it's very well constructed. The controls are within convenient reach and are easy to master. And even though it's small, the 5-inch display screen is a real plus. Another positive is automatic climate control that comes standard.
The ILX provides considerable space for a compact car. The front seats are both roomy and comfortable, although head room might be an issue for taller occupants. The back seat offers good leg room and passengers won't feel cramped overall. Trunk space is average at 12.4 cubic feet.
Although the ILX is no sports car, its handling does provide a sporty driving feel, thanks to its light weight and rigid suspension.
For anyone shopping for an upper-end Civic like the SI model, note that for about $4,000 more the ILX can be purchased.