2017 Acura ILX Buying Advice
This is the best compact car for you if you’re intrigued by the sporty performance potential of the Honda Civic Si but are turned off by that car’s street-racer image and its lack (to date) of an automatic transmission. It may also be a good choice if you’re looking for an upscale small car but your budget doesn’t stretch far enough for a comparably equipped Audi A3, BMW 3 Series, or Mercedes-Benz CLA.
ILX is the entry-level vehicle from Honda’s premium division. It launched for the 2013 model year as little more than a Civic with a fresh face and higher price. However, a substantial freshening for the 2016 model year brought sharper styling, a more potent engine, and availability of high-end features more appropriate for a vehicle from a premium brand. The updates resonated with buyers. Sales are up more than 15 percent through the first third of calendar 2016 – noteworthy, because this is the final model year before the ILX will be fully redesigned.
Should you buy a 2017 model or wait for the ’18?
We’d hold off buying a ’17 because an all-new ILX is due for the 2018 model year (more on that below). If your compact-sedan need is pressing, allow us to suggest a provocative alternative: a 2016 Honda Civic Touring. You’ll give up some horsepower, brand prestige, and a year of standard warranty coverage. But you’ll gain a more recently redesigned car acclaimed for its performance, fuel economy, passenger and cargo room, and refinement. The Civic is more spacious than the ILX and the Touring model comes with a host of high-end technology and convenience features, including a navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, 10-speaker 450-watt audio system, and LED headlights. Its included Honda Sensing suite includes lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist, and radar cruise control. It’s a compelling choice that can be had for a sticker price of $27,335, including Honda’s $835 destination fee. Many of these features are available on the ILX as well, but at prices that are somewhat to significantly higher. Read on to learn more.
Its 2016 refresh brought more defined styling, with a sharper nose, Acura’s “Jewel Eye” LED headlights, and a less round rump. The cabin benefitted from thicker front glass, additional sound dampening, and Acura’s Active Noise Control technology. This overall design carries forward into 2017, along with the addition of Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, and San Marino Red paint colors.
None of its 2016 changes disguise the fact that the ILX is a small car riding an aged and somewhat unsophisticated platform. Passenger room and comfort are nothing special for the class, and cargo space is merely average. While Acura says it improved ILX’s interior materials, they still look and feel a step behind the pacesetting Audi A3 and Buick Verano. The infotainment interface is a love/hate affair, depending on which model you select. Standard versions get fairly simple audio and climate controls. Optional infotainment and navigation systems add a second dashboard screen with finicky operation, compounded by some functions being buried deep in sub-menus.
All 2017 ILX models use one engine and one transmission. The former is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The latter is an 8-speed dual-clutch automated manual with torque converter. It’s designed to be a “best of both worlds” feat of engineering that delivers lightning-fast gear changes and better fuel economy without the hesitation, surging, or loss of throttle response commonly found on other dual-clutch gearboxes. In practice, though, this hasn’t necessarily been the case. The U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration logged more than three dozen complaints from Acura owners (this transmission is offered in the ILX and midsize TLX sedans) that their vehicles suffered from low-speed hesitation and jerky shifting. Software updates have allegedly addressed these issues, but we’d recommend you try before you buy.
Like the Verano (and to a lesser extent the A3), ILX occupies a somewhat strange middle ground between well-equipped mainstream compact cars, such as the Civic and Mazda 3 and more expensive premium ones, such as the 3-Series and CLA-Class. The base model gets you leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, power driver seat, keyless access with pushbutton engine start, and Acura’s wide-angle rearview camera.
Like its parent company, Acura doesn’t offer a la carte options. Extra-cost amenities are either dealer-supplied accessories or are bundled in packages that are priced as distinct trim levels. The AcuraWatch Plus Package mirrors the content of the aforementioned Civic Touring’s Honda Sensing safety group. The Premium Package adds genuine leather upholstery, memory driver seat, upgraded audio system, and blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection. Note that the Premium Package does not include AcuraWatch Plus. In order to get both sets of features, the company forces you into the Technology Plus Package, which also adds in-dash navigation, AcuraLink infotainment and telematics, and the brand’s excellent ELS Studio Premium Audio system.
The base ILX starts at $28,930 including Acura’s $940 destination fee. To that, add $1,300 for AcuraWatch Plus or $2,000 for the Premium Package. The Technology Plus Package carries a $5,000 pricetag. Models with either the Premium or Technology Plus packages can be ordered with the $1,990 A-SPEC Package, which adds some cosmetic enhancements, including a rear spoiler, lower body addenda, fog lights, and 18-inch machined alloy wheels (up from standard 17s).
EPA-estimated fuel economy for all 2017 Acura ILX models is 25/35/29 city/highway/combined. Premium-grade 91-octane gasoline is required.
The 2017 Acura ILX is on sale right now.
What’s next for the ILX?
With a release date during 2017 as an ’18 model, the next-generation ILX will continue to share its basic underskin architecture with the Civic, but will advance to the engineering introduced with the all-new-for 2016 Civic. It’ll likely adopt its engine from the upcoming 2017 Civic Si, which is expected to be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 220-240 horsepower. There are two transmission possibilities. One is the 8-speed dual-clutch automated manual that underpins the current ILX. The other, more likely selection, will be a beefed-up version of the continuously variable automatic (CVT) that is found in several Honda models.
Audi A3, Buick Verano, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class