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An Improved Engine and Transmission Will Improve the Performance and Fuel Economy of the 2016 Acura ILX

What changes will make it different?

This luxury compact sedan, which is being re-engineered for 2016, is set to get a new powertrain, an attractively restyled exterior that gives it a more aggressive look and a significantly upgraded interior. Bottom line? It should be a standout choice in the segment. While some manufacturers seem to be adding a number of new variants to their model lineups at the moment, Acura is taking a more minimalist approach, as this premium car only will be available with one powertrain and transmission.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

As it appears the new-fangled model isn’t a long way off, it’s probably worth waiting before making your purchase. We recommend that buyers hold off on making any kind of decision until some reviews of the car start to appear from the first people to test drive it, but the exterior changes were on display at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show and the new engine and transmission are already in the newly launched TLX.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

Because the wraps have now come off the new offering, you should be able to get a reasonably good deal on a ’15. However, there’s plenty to be impressed by with the 2016, so if you’re not all about a bargain, hold your horses.

Will the styling be different?

The front and rear have been refreshed to provide a sportier look, but the body remains largely the same as the ’15. The addition of Jewel Eye LED headlamps, a new grille and larger wheels and tires give a more aggressive stance to a package that is now really starting to stand out in the segment. The interior is also being notably upgraded, which is no small feat for a upscale sedan that already excels in this direction. The 2015 was given Acura’s smart active noise cancellation system, but the upcoming offering adds thicker glass and noise-attenuating wheels to make the car even quieter.

Any mechanical changes?

The big news is that after dropping the underperforming hybrid version for the ’15, Acura has continued to streamline the ILX range for 2016 with just one engine and transmission for the whole lineup. Out goes the old 2.0-liter base engine and the manual transmission option, and in comes a single 2.4-liter, 201-horsepower direct-injected four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with torque converter. There also seems to have been some tweaks to the chassis that Acura hopes get the ’16 model a “Top Safety Pick+” overall safety rating from the IIHS and a “good” rating in the organization’s new small-overlap front crash test.

Will fuel economy improve?

Although there are no official figures available just yet, we should expect better gas mileage thanks to the up-to-date engine and the eight-speed transmission that already does such a good job in the larger TLX. At the very least, the expected improvement in refinement and performance should still deliver the respectable 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway of the outgoing 2.0-liter unit—hardly a deal-breaker.

Will it have new features?

There will be six different trim levels for buyers to choose from, with all models now being equipped as standard with the AcuraWatch safety package, which gives owners adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation and collision mitigation braking. As with all Acuras, the ILX is expected to be a very safe drive.

How will the prices be different?

Although there is no official word about pricing just yet, we expect the current starting MSRP of $27,945 to increase since you will get a bigger engine and an eight-speed transmission.

What is the Expected Release Date?

Sometime in the spring of 2015 seems like a safe bet.

Best competitors

Audi A3, Buick Verano, Mercedes-Benz CLA Class, Lexus CT 200h

What changes would make it better?

It seems as though Acura has things covered. Incorporating the TLX’s engine and transmission should definitely constitute an improvement for model-year ’16, and the new features and upgraded interior and exterior could make the car an extremely strong contender in its segment. The 2015 ILX was already an excellent car, but it looks as though the nameplate will go up at least another notch.

Quick hit

If there isn’t an unexpectedly high increase in the ILX’s pricing, it should set a new benchmark in this ever-growing segment. The ’15 was already an exceptionally attractive package for lessees, so if the 2016 upgrades don’t come at too high a cost, this car will be tough to beat.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]