Auto Review: Compact luxury from Acura

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured article - posted Wed., Nov. 14, 2012
- Contributed Photo

One of the most important questions folks contemplating purchasing a new car must face is what size will work best for them. Given this fact, there was a time when the choice of size class would ultimately limit some of their other choices, as certain types of vehicles wouldn’t be available unless you opted for a specific size of vehicle. For example, if you wanted a true luxury car, you had to get something at least in the midsize class, and most typically a full-size model would be required. But thanks to the times we live in, the attributes of luxury cars can be found on a far broader range of vehicles (from SUV to compact sports sedans).

In the case of the latter, this week’s test auto is a very sharp sport/luxury sedan from Honda’s upscale Acura division; an all-new model called the ILX. Acura describes the car’s core demographic thusly: “The target customers for the new ILX are the younger members of Generation X and members of Generation Y; successful 20- and 30-somethings moving into the luxury car ranks but looking for high-value propositions in their purchases. In short, like the ILX, they embody ‘youth with maturity.’” This entry-level luxury will also no doubt appeal to anyone desiring a more compact package with better mileage, regardless of what generation they hail from.

Similar in some ways to the popular Acura Integra of the past, the front-drive ILX is a four-door sedan riding on a 105.1-inch wheelbase. Three powertrains are offered: a 2-liter Inline Four with 150 horsepower and a 5-speed automatic transmission, a 2.4-line Inline Four with 201 horsepower and a 6-speed manual transmission (our test unit), and a 1.5-liter Hybrid powertrain (Inline Four plus electric motor) with 111 horsepower and a Continuously Variable Transmission. The 2.4-liter Four we thrashed was very quick-revving and smooth, with a linear spread of power. The 6-speed manual transmission is remarkably crisp and precise in action, and overall this is a very entertaining drivetrain. The ILX’s compact size and taut suspension make easy work of challenging roads, and ride quality is firm but compliant. The handling package is rounded out by quick, responsive steering and strong, progressive brakes.

The interior appointments on this handsome Acura are a satisfying mix of traditional sport sedan simplicity and the latest tech, including push-button starting and a small but clear central screen display for radio functions to compliment the driver’s analog instrumentation. Leather seating proved very well-suited to spirited driving, although the front buckets could use more thigh support. The rear seats are a trifle low, but room for two is good, with very comfortable seat contours. Overall workmanship in the cabin is impressive and does impart an upscale impression on occupants (which is good, for at this price point the buyer should certainly expect it).

The 2013 Acura ILX Premium is EPA rated 22 MPG city/31 highway and we experienced 25.5 MPG in a week of mixed driving. With options, our sticker came to $30,095.


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