2013 Acura ILX
2013 Acura ILX Review:
With the debut of its all-new 2013 ILX sedan, Acura delivers the automotive equivalent of the “The Three Faces of Eve.”
The sensational 1957 movie was based on the true story of a woman who suffered from multiple personality disorder. A psychiatrist discovered three distinct personas in the title character: timid Eve White, outgoing Eve Black, and the relatively stable Jane.Actress Joanne Woodward (wife of actor and race-car driver Paul Newman) won the Academy Award for her portrayal of the three characters.
Now Acura has given us the motorized analogy for Eve’s faces, though perhaps unwittingly. It’s doubtful that the ILX designers in Japan were aware of the movie, or would have related a car to it if they did.
Nevertheless, they delivered a new entry-level premium sedan that comes with three distinct personalities: there’s the timid Eve White hybrid, the exciting Eve Black 2.4 and the steady Jane 2.0.
The ILX is based on the Civic from Honda, Acura’s parent company. It is a compact sedan and, as such, returns Acura to that market territory. When the brand started in the 1980s, it offered the entry-level Integra, a small hatchback that complemented the flagship Legend.
Later, the RSX became the entry model, followed by the TSX. But the TSX became more grown up, following on the tailpipes of the mid-sized TL sedan. The Acura leadership decided they needed another model below the TSX. So now we have the ILX, which the company classifies as near premium and calls “the gateway to Acura.”
Of course, all three versions share fundamentals: full safety equipment, a new lightweight and rigid aerodynamic body, quality interior with modern technology and conveniences, independent suspension, adaptive electric power steering, and enough insulation and noise-canceling technology to give the ILX a refined interior ambiance.The divergence comes in the power trains. At the timid Eve White end is the hybrid—Acura’s first ever—with 111 horsepower from a 1.5-liter gasoline engine combined with a permanent magnet electric motor. It delivers its humble power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Though its power plant is nearly identical to the one in the Honda Civic hybrid, the ILX doesn’t deliver as much fuel economy, owing partly to the fact that it is 116 pounds heavier and is tuned to deliver slightly better performance. Its city/highway EPA fuel consumption rating is 39/38 miles to the gallon, compared to 44/44 for the Civic.
Nevertheless, despite the ILX’s premium trimmings and underpinnings, it’s hard to get over the feeling that you’re driving a hybrid Civic. Moreover, the hybrid battery pack wipes out some of the trunk space. Equipped with premium and technology packages, however, it is the most expensive ILX at $35,295.
The thriller of the trio—the Eve Black, if you will—is the ILX 2.4, which also borrows its guts from another car. In this case, it’s the TSX’s 201-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox.
This one can rip off a zero to 60 miles an hour acceleration time of 6.9 seconds, according to Acura’s tests, while still delivering city/highway fuel economy of 22/31 miles to the gallon.
Obviously, the ILX 2.4 aims squarely at the enthusiasts among Acura’s entry-level customers. But like the hybrid, it comes up short in a couple of areas. For one thing, there’s no automatic transmission available—almost as if the Acura executives don’t believe you can be an aficionado unless you shift for yourself. But there are legions of enthusiasts who prefer automatics.Also, the optional technology package is not offered on the 2.4. That means you cannot get a navigation system with voice recognition, upgraded ELS premium audio system, solar-sensing climate control, and Acura’s real-time traffic and weather notification.
The tech package, however, is available on the hybrid and on the Jane of the trio: the $26,795 ILX 2.0, which is expected to be the biggest seller. It features a 150-horsepower four-cylinder engine linked to a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode controlled by the shift lever or paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
This is the overall compromise model of the lineup. Acura says it accelerates to 60 miles an hour in 9.6 seconds and delivers city/highway fuel economy of 24/35 miles to the gallon. The performance isn’t particularly outstanding for a sports/premium sedan, which is another argument for offering an automatic transmission with the ILX 2.4.
However, the 2.0 is strong and versatile enough in everyday traffic that you don’t notice there are some economy cars that can smoke you at a traffic light. The orientation is more toward luxury, in the vein of one of the ILX’s competitors, the Buick Verano. Acura also considers the sportier Audi A3 to be a competitor.
The premium option package is offered with both the 2.0 and 2.4. It costs $3,300 and includes leather upholstery, heated front seats with a power driver’s seat, 17-inch aluminum wheels, a rear-view camera with multiple views, premium audio with XM satellite radio, fog lights and an auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror.
The tested 2.4 Premium had a sticker price of $30,095.