The ILX is a gateway vehicle into the entry-luxury segment for Honda’s premium brand, Acura. First launched in 2013, it’s proved itself popular with Canadians and although this 2016 model may be viewed by some as nothing more than a simple mid-cycle refresh, I see it as slightly more than that.
For a start, the 2016 ILX brings us a significant increase in engine size, horsepower, and torque. This is not a reworked version of the former unit, but an entirely new engine for the ILX. It also features more creature comforts, additional amenities, and a host of further safety enhancements.
So, sure, it may look similar to the 2015 it’s replacing but, like they say, sometimes you need to delve a little deeper.
2016 Acura ILX Prices & Specs
The 2016 ILX comes available in four well thought out packages: the ILX, Premium, Tech, and the new-but-familiar-sounding A-Spec. All tend to lean somewhat towards the sporty side (brushed aluminum luxury rather than wood grain), but this suits its target market of under-35 millennials. In fact, studies show that the ILX currently pulls more of these than any other vehicle in its segment.
- ILX $29,490
- Premium $31,990
- Tech $33,490
- A-Spec $34,890
Power comes from the all-new 2.4L direct-injected DOHC i-VTEC engine, which puts out 201-hp, 180 lb-ft of torque. This unit has been specifically tuned to produce a better torque curve and all models now feature a superb 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (with torque converter) which includes a paddle-shift sport mode.
Driving the 2016 Acura ILX
Preferring to demonstrate its ILX at its very best, Acura chose to limit our test vehicles to its top of the line A-Spec model. Normally, I would find this somewhat disturbing as I typically like to experience the wider, if not the full range. However, with around $5k spread between upper and lower models, coupled with the fact that they all boast exactly the same powerplant, it sort of made sense, plus it allowed for plenty of wheel time.
During the media intro, much was said of the new quieter interior. With improvements ranging from beefier engine mounts to thicker front-door glass, the results were said to be astounding. In many ways, this was indeed true. However, unfortunately this new smoothness and improved sound-proofing only lead to the discovery of some newfound road noise from the underside of the vehicle. Now don’t get me wrong, the ILX suffers very little from wind noise and the new 2.4L DOHC is super quiet when it needs to be, yet smooth and exciting when pushed. It’s a great motor! It’s just the old problem; as you improve one area, something else is bound to jump out at you.
Ins & Outs of the new 2016 Acura ILX
Looking from the outside, the now standard LED Jewel Eye headlamps make all the difference. I also appreciate what Acura has done with its redesigned grille. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous bold blade look, but with a simple tweak, the revisited design looks so much better; more stylish, less in your face.
With the 2016 ILX, one has to constantly remind oneself that this is an entry-level luxury product. The trouble being, in so many ways, it’s not. Advanced technologies such as AcuraWatch, AcuraLink and its new audio system elevate the ILX a step and a shuffle higher than it ought to, so by the time the words “entry level” return to your mind, you’ve already been somewhat spoiled.
To add to this confusion, certain interior components (the top of the door panels for example), can make one think Honda Civic, which is loosely what the ILX is based upon. However, once the wheels start to turn, it’s easy to forget all this as you settle back to enjoy the experience.
Comparing the 2016 Acura ILX
The ILX finds itself facing some pretty fierce competition in its segment, particularly with Mercedes repositioning its sights further down the spectrum with its relatively new CLA model. There’s also Audi with its A3 to consider, Lexus with its CT200h and probably several others if we thought about it. However, in my opinion, its closest competitor is without a doubt the CLA, and this could be viewed as cause for concern for Acura. You see, while close inspection places the ILX ahead in terms of build quality and certain other areas, it is nevertheless tough to go badge-to-badge with MB if you’re targeting those seeking an entry-level status symbol. Sure, common sense informs us that a budget-priced Benz must be built to a certain budget, but the lure of the three-pointed star is as powerful an aphrodisiac as Aphrodite.
I genuinely like the new ILX. It’s well designed, well built and an enjoyable vehicle to drive. It offers remarkable value for the money and is certainly one of the smart choices in the segment. However, I’m hoping by the time the new completely redesigned ILX appears, the company will have taken note of what’s happening in other areas of the industry (Chrysler/Hyundai/Kia) and will have dressed to impress its ILX interior. Then, the entry-luxury segment will truly have a fight on its hands worth watching!