New for 2013, the Acura ILX line gives Honda's upscale brand something it hasn't had for a while: a compact near-luxury sedan with an array of engines and performance options, including a hybrid version that's unique in the segment.
Underneath the Acura sheet-metal and all-new interior, the ILX is based on the current Honda Civic sedan, which was new for 2012. You'd never know that, though; the styling is identifiably Acura, if not particularly distinctive, with swelling fenders, a side character line, and an arched roof line--plus a toned-down version of the evolving Acura front grille shape.
There are three engine options, corresponding to the three different models: the 2.0L has a 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter four that comes standard with a five-speed automatic, fitted with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. While EPA ratings haven't been released for the ILX as yet, Acura says the base ILX 2.0L will be rated at 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway--which should produce a likely combined rating of 27 or 27 mpg.
Next up is the 2.4L model, with a 201-hp, 2.4-liter four that's almost identical to the one used in the sporty Honda Civic Si. Unusually, this engine is available only with a six-speed manual gearbox. Honda expects this high-performance model to be rated at 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, which might put it at 25 or 26 mpg combined.
Finally, there's an Acura ILX Hybrid model--based, naturally, on the 2012 Civic Hybrid--rated at 111 hp, which uses a 1.5-liter four and Honda's continuously variable transmission (CVT), with a 15-hp electric motor sandwiched between the two. Mileage is far better here, at estimated ratings of 39 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, for a combined 38 or 39 mpg rating. (The 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, which has fewer luxury features and less standard equipment, is rated at 44 mpg combined.)
The added weight of the ILX against the Civic, however, works against the Hybrid model, which is worrisomely slow in some situations, including the fast-flowing suburban traffic we expect ILX Hybrid buyers to encounter regularly. The base 2.0L model and the relative hot rod, the 2.4L, are both fun to drive, with a smooth ride and a calm interior. The structure is light, and handling is nimble, with excellent brakes.
The cabin is spacious, surprisingly so in the rear seat, which will fit a pair of tall adults comfortably. The dashboard is straightforward, with a few contoured surfaces and the odd edgy Acura curve, but nothing that impedes the mission of conveying information and providing controls easily, quickly, and intuitively. The materials are high-quality, whether they're plastic, rubber, or leather, and the entire car feels solid, well-built, and quiet.
The Acura ILX also scores for its roomy 12.4-cubic-foot trunk, though the presence of a lithium-ion battery pack located in the trunk just behind the rear seat of the ILX Hybrid cuts volume to 10.0 cubic feet. The passenger cabin has a healthy allocation of cubbies, door pockets, cup holders, and bins. And outward visibility is good as well.
All 2013 ILX models have cloth front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth mobile device pairing, a power moonroof, keyless entry and a push-button starter. Additional features and options are grouped into a Premium package (power adjustable heated leather seats, a better sound system, and other features) and a Technology package (voice-activated navigation, real-time traffic and weather data, a rear-view camera for reversing, and the AcuraLink satellite communications system. Accessory 17-inch alloy wheels can be ordered separately.
For more details, see the full review of the 2013 Acura ILX range on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
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