So you’ve finally arrived. OK, you’re not swimming in money, but you no longer have to pinch every penny. You’re not ready to spend big bucks, but you want a taste of luxury.
That taste could be the 2016 Acura ILX.
The ILX is basically a Honda Civic that got the fairy godmother treatment. From styling to horsepower to the interior, everything is a step up. After all, you’ve arrived (slightly). The Civic is as rock-solid as they get, so you know the ILX has a great foundation.
But wait, what about the other choices in the entry-level luxury world? Cars like the Audi A3 or the Mercedes CLA? Each one offers something a little different.
The ILX has an edge in two distinct areas. The first is price. It’s not massively cheaper, but you will save money. That’s especially true when you starting adding options. And you get that without losing much. Its rear seat leg room is better than the Mercedes and almost as big as the Audi, and front seat leg room is bigger than both.
The ILX’s other advantage is in driver safety. One of the options on the ILX is the AcuraWatch system. You get a group of driver aids including adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane keeper assist, and lane departure warning. It’s a great collection of safety features for the price. The Audi and the Mercedes have some as well, but not as many and not at the same price point.
What you’re not getting is a performance car. This year the only engine available is a 2.4 liter four-cylinder mated up to an eight-speed transmission. It’s good for 201 horsepower which is very similar to the Mercedes CLA. The A3 has one engine with a little less and another with a little more. Personally, I wish the ILX had another 25 horsepower. It’s not underpowered, it would just make for a more enjoyable and sportier small sedan. Mileage is good with the ILX getting 25 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway with a combined number of 29 MPG. In fact, that’s exactly the number I got for my one week test.
I read one review that said the interior didn’t feel properly upscale. I don’t agree. In fact, it reminded me of the other cars in the Acura family which I think is a good thing. It uses the same dual monitor setup in the center of the dash. The only thing missing was the obligatory analog clock that seems to be the norm in the upscale world. The leather seats were comfortable and the dash had a relatively clean design.
I’m not a huge fan of the Honda/Acura display interface. It’s OK, but not as good as others. I’m not sure that they need two huge monitors (another company uses a full-sized display for stuff like navigation and entertainment with a smaller strip display for climate control), but it doesn’t bother me. The backup camera is standard which is a great safety feature.
Officially, the ILX got a redesign for 2016. The front end is slightly different, as is the rear. It’s an attractive car and it fits in well with its class. Having said that, I don’t think it stands out as something special. Both the A3 and the Mercedes CLA are a little more distinctive looking.
The ILX starts at $27,900 plus the destination charge. My test car was the ILX Tech Plus which had a sticker price of $33,820 including the destination charge. I think it’s pretty impressive for what you get.
What you don’t get is that impressive Mercedes three-point star in the grille. Nor do you get the sporty street cred that follows the Audi. Having said that, the Acura is an upscale marque. And I can guarantee that when you pull up at your parents’ home, they’ll hug each other with joy knowing that you’ve finally arrived.