Class: Premium Compact Car
Dates tested: 5/18/2015 – 5/26/2015
Miles Driven: 336
Fuel Used: 12.9 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 26.1 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25/36/29 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
Base price: $27,900 (not including $920 destination charge)
Options on test car: AcuraWatch Plus Package ($1300)
Price as tested: $30,120
The great: Control layout, available features
The Good: Quietness, handling
The not so good: Transmission behavior
In its more basic form, the 2016 Acura ILX is a refreshingly simple and straightforward car. But can it be too much so for people to accept it as an Acura?
Consumer Guide® test drove an ILX with AcuraWatch Plus equipment. In typical Honda/Acura fashion, this constituted a distinct trim level, and brought with it a compass; multi-information display (MID); and a suite of electronic safety features including adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigating braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning. That’s what comes for $30,120 delivered.
However, if you want things like leather seats, satellite radio, rear cross-traffic alert, or even an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, you have to spend a little more. A lot more buys navigation and more involved infotainment technology—and that’s probably more in line with what most people have in mind when they think Acura—even one from the premium-compact class.
As CG reported when this revamped version of Acura’s entry-level car bowed at last fall’s Los Angeles Auto Show, the ’16 ILX gets updated front and rear styling, new safety features, nicer interior materials, and available 18-inch wheels. Choice in powertrains has been eliminated: It’s now the carried-over 201-horsepower 2.4-liter dohc 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or nothing. Acura says that body rigidity is improved; the suspension has been retuned to enhance handling; and increased insulation, thicker front-side door glass, noise-attenuating wheels, and Active Noise Control technology are employed to make the ILX quieter.
While not utterly noiseless, the car is commendably quiet. Steering is nicely weighted and has pretty good feel, fostering a sense of connection with the road. Brakes in the test car responded very quickly to pedal pressure and stopped in a hurry. The ride has some firmness—but not stiffness—to it, though pavement joints and cracks that this driver crossed registered with more noise than might have been expected, and sometimes a stout jolt. At those times, at least the car felt as if it were shaking as a single unit, so there’s your rigidity for you.
The engine is strong enough for undramatic highway entry and easy cruising, but on/off/on-power situations generated loud, unpleasant jolts through the driveline. In a test stint of 162.2 miles, 71 percent of it in city-type driving, this driver recorded 26.66 mpg. That’s about par for the car’s EPA estimates of 25 city/36 highway/29 combined. Note that the ILX only drinks the good stuff—Acura recommends premium fuel.
The Ebony interior of the test car was came off as extremely monotone, with only a few streaks of brushed metal on the dash and around the shifter and cup holders to hold back the night. Imitation leather covered the seats and arm rests. That said, there is generous use of soft-surface materials around the cabin, with varying degrees of underlying “squishability.”
There’s a pleasing amount of head and leg room up front, and seats are bolstered for good support. Though maybe not Volkswagen Jetta-like in terms of back-seat space, it’s really not too bad for adults, and the virtually flat floor increases hopes of fitting 3 across in a pinch.
Controls in the fairly basic test car were easy to master and use. Setting and accessing radio stations on the color screen in the center of the dash was dead simple. Climate controls with a pair of dials for temperature and a small array of function buttons sit low in the center stack but still within easy reach. The MID between the large speedometer and tachometer dials is just big enough to be easily legible, and thumb buttons on steering wheel make it easy to scroll through its menu of monitored vehicle conditions.
As for in-cabin storage, there’s a big glove box but a small console box and very small front-door pockets (with bottle holder). Twin exposed cup holders reside in the console. Below the climate controls sits a covered bin with a USB connection to carry an iPod. Rear storage is just a pouch on the back of the front passenger seat and 2 cup holders in the pull-down center arm rest.
The trunk is ample, however. It’s very wide near the back, and squared off so more types of luggage, boxes, etc., might be able to be stored upright. The gooseneck hinges are covered to protect cargo. The pull of a lever in the trunk releases the undivided rear seat back for more cargo space, though there’s a little bit of a height difference between the trunk floor and the folded seats. Also, a bulkhead narrows the opening through which long items must pass to reach the interior.
The basic ILX starts with features that include a 6-speaker audio system, USB audio interface with iPod integration, Bluetooth compatibility for hands-free phone and streaming audio, Pandora compatibility, a rearview camera, keyless access, push-button starting, dual-zone automatic climate control system, LED headlights, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The AcuraWatch Plus equipment adds $1300 to the starting tab. However, it’s only another $700 to the ILX Premium Package, which buys the aforementioned leather upholstery, satellite radio, cross-traffic alert, and auto-dimming mirror but replaces the gaggle of electronic safety monitors with numerous comfort and convenience features. That probably comes closer to what more people think of when they think of an Acura.
With its new powertrain, the ILX represents a real step up from the Honda Civic with which it shares a common architecture. Unfortunately, the ILX doesn’t feel especially sporty, unlike the excellent TSX which it replaces.
The ILX will likely serve the want-to-be junior executive well, as it presents a classy front. The cabin feels fairly upscale, the styling is clearly Acura, and the 2.4-liter engine underhood provides a healthy dose of go power.
Still, things about this smallest Acura disappoint. The engine throbs classlessly at idle, and sounds a little coarse in low-speed acceleration. Likewise, the new 8-speed double-clutch transmission, which performs flawlessly during full-throttle maneuvers, is prone to random clunkiness at low speed.
There’s a buyer for the ILX, it’s just not the guy thinking about a BMW 3-Series as his next car up the ladder. This new entry-level Acura is more about looking the part than playing the part, but that’s not all bad.