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2018 Acura ILX Review

2018 Acura ILX Review
The 2018 Acura ILX is an acceptable entry-level luxury car, but a loaded-up mainstream model like the Honda Civic delivers more features and refinements for less money.

The 2018 Acura ILX compact sedan is one of the most affordable ways into a luxury car at less than $30,000. But in some ways, you'll get what you pay for—the ILX is based on an old Honda Civic.

That's not a bad thing, the Acura ILX has pleasantly, upscale features and a good warranty, but its basic sedan roots show through a little more than we'd like. We rate it at a 5.8 overall.

The ILX is available in one trim level with Special Edition, Premium, and Tech Plus packages for a total of seven configurations. The ILX Special Edition package is new this year and, for $800 over the base ILX, it adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and a special body kit. The ILX’s styling is convincingly Acura and not dressed-up Honda, but that’s not necessarily an asset. Last year, the ILX gained standard LED headlights, but it still sprouts something of a beak-like front fascia that most of the Acura lineup has moved away from.
Review continues below

Underneath every ILX sits a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 paired to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. The ILX’s 4-cylinder engine delivers good acceleration and it’s well-matched to the sporty transmission. We’ve found the ILX to ride pleasantly and it benefits from considerable sound deadening compared to the old Civic on which it’s based, but this four-door is tuned more for comfort than for corner carving.

That theme is echoed inside with a smattering of soft-touch materials and convincing synthetic leather upholstery on base and Special Edition packages. Real leather hides are included as you work your way up through the hierarchy. The ILX’s front seats are comfortable, but the standard power moonroof’s housing cuts into head room for taller passengers. It’s the same story in the second row with good leg room but limited head room.

Most versions of the ILX can be fitted with the brand’s AcuraWatch suite of collision-avoidance tech, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.

The 2018 Acura ILX isn’t much of an attention-grabber.

The 2018 Acura ILX’s styling is pleasant, but hardly noteworthy. We’ve rated it at 4 out of 10, deducting a point from average for an exterior that is beginning to look like yesterday’s news—especially up against parent-company Honda’s stylish Civic.

The ILX’s exterior features a toned-down version of the company’s signature beak front fascia, a design Acura has begun to abandon on newer models. From the side, the ILX’s proportions are awkward with its relatively low roof line and an unnecessary upward curve to its beltline. At the rear, the ILX’s looks are frumpy up top and overwrought below the bumper with two red reflectors taking up residence where a pair of exhaust pipes look like they should go.

Order an ILX with the A-Spec appearance package—standard with the Special Edition package and optional with the Premium and Tech Plus packages—and it’ll come fitted with a small trunk spoiler, a more aggressive body kit, and 18-inch wheels in place of the standard 17s.

Inside, the ILX’s symmetrical dash groups most switches and controls in the center. It’s not the most imaginative look, but it gets the job done. In models with navigation, the dashboard features two separate screens, a layout that isn’t especially elegant but works fairly well—redundancy isn’t always a bad thing. Less appealing are the boxy air vents slapped into the dash above the glove box on the passenger’s side.

Unfortunately, the ILX’s interior can only be swathed in bland light gray and coal mine-like black interior shades with most exterior hues. A warmer tan is available, but only with a white or red exterior and not with the A-Spec package.

Despite a willing powertrain, the 2018 Acura ILX is buttoned down and not eager to thrill.

A look at the spec sheet for the 2018 Acura ILX reveals a rev-happy 201-horsepower inline-4 paired to a high-zoot 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but unfortunately that’s all paired to a chassis tuned more for comfort than for corner-carving.

As a result, we’ve rated the 2018 ILX at 5 out of 10—adding a point for the gearbox but dialing one back for a ride-and-handling setup that’s off the pace. 

All ILXs use a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 201 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. Peak horsepower comes on at a heady 6,800 rpm, but the standard 8-speed dual-clutch makes getting to that grunt a joy. The engine is smooth and winds out quickly, and the 8-speed features a torque converter that takes the edge off the transmission’s shifts. Paddle shifters are fitted to every ILX and they’re a joy to snap through their paces. Slip the transmission into Sport mode and it’ll hold gears longer and execute rev-matched, paddle-actuated downshifts when called upon.
The ILX’s grippy, thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel also suggests a sporting demeanor, but unfortunately the electric power steering is light and filters out too much of the road. Similarly, although the ILX’s handling is certainly safe and secure, it’s far short of entertaining.

The flip side to that is a ride that’s smooth and cosseting with the standard 17-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the A-Spec or Special Edition packages, however, and you’ll find 18s wrapped in a thin layer of tire that allow too much road rumble to intrude and can react harshly to road imperfections.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Acura ILX’s roofline intrudes into the cabin, which could make it uncomfortable for taller occupants.

Extensive sound deadening and canceling measures help the 2018 Acura ILX deliver a more refined experience on the road than its econo-car roots might suggest, but that’s offset by tight head room, particularly for rear-seat passengers.

Front seat passengers are treated to fairly supportive buckets with decent bolstering. They’re wrapped in synthetic leather on base and Special Edition packages and real leather otherwise. ILXs with the A-Spec package swap out some leather for grippy synthetic suede. All ILXs have a standard power driver’s seat, while Premium and and Tech Plus packages add a four-way power passenger’s seat that’s unfortunately not height-adjustable. Head room is tight up front for passengers taller than 6-feet, a trade-off for the standard power moonroof.

The ILX’s rear seat is tighter yet, at least for taller riders. There’s decent leg room and the bench is wide enough for three in a pinch, but a mere 35.9 inches of head room means taller riders will be bowing their heads forward.

Pop the ILX’s trunk and you’ll find a hair over 12 cubic feet of space, which is average for a compact sedan.

In terms of materials, the ILX feels about right for its price. There’s nothing extravagant here, but you’ll have to look to find economy-grade plastics. The three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel standard on all is particularly nice.

Acura includes on all ILXs effective noise-canceling technology that uses the audio system to erase bothersome road rumble.

The 2018 Acura ILX performs well in crash tests and advanced safety tech is available.

The 2018 Acura ILX has generally performed well in federal and independent crash-testing and it offers a wide range of advanced safety tech at a reasonable price. That’s enough to elevate this small car to an 8 out of 10 on our scale. 

All 2018 ILX sedans include six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and a rearview camera. AcuraWatch, the automaker’s name for its suite of safety tech that includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control, is a reasonable $1,300 on the base ILX. Curiously, it’s not available with only the Premium package, but it is mandatory for the Technology Plus package.

Federal testers rate the ILX at five stars overall, albeit with four stars for frontal crash and rollover safety.

The IIHS says that Acura’s pint-size sedan rates mostly "Good" in all crash tests. The agency is less impressed with the ILX’s standard LED headlights, which aren’t curve-adaptive and provide a light pattern rated “Marginal.”

The 2018 Acura ILX comes standard with many features, but even a loaded model feels far short of luxury grade.

The 2018 Acura ILX includes a fairly high level of standard equipment, but its infotainment system is outdated and bulky to use. We rate it at 5 out of 10 for its features.

Acura offers the ILX in seven basic configurations composed of a packages that generally build upon one another. It’s not a simple trim walk in that you can add one package to another, but the limited configurability should make it easy to find an ILX of your liking on a dealer’s lot.

The standard ILX includes power windows and locks, a power driver’s seat, a power moonroof, synthetic leather upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera.

Optional on the base ILX is the automaker’s AcuraWatch suite of safety gear for a reasonable $1,300: automatic emergency braking, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors.

Also optional on the base trim—but not available with AcuraWatch—is a new, $800 Special Edition package that adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, and a rear spoiler.

The ILX’s Premium Package adds leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, a pair of infotainment screens—8.0-inches up top and 7.0-inches on the center of the dash—and a garage door opener.

Building on the Premium Package, the Tech Plus Package adds in the AcuraWatch goodies and baked-in navigation.

Optional with both the Premium and Tech Plus Packages is the brand’s A-Spec appearance group with 18-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, and a few other goodies.

Tick all the boxes and what was a $29,050 ILX balloons to $36,050.

The ILX’s infotainment system splits information between both screens. Although there’s some redundancy, the dual-screen setup works fairly well—even if it takes up a lot of dashboard real estate and lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Fuel Economy
The 2018 Acura ILX uses little fuel, but it does require expensive premium gas.

The 2018 Acura ILX scores well for fuel efficiency thanks to a high-revving inline-4 that works well with its 8-speed dual-clutch transmission.

All versions of the 2018 ILX score the same on the EPA’s test: 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined. That’s enough for an 8 out of 10 on our scale.

Rivals like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA250 come with similar figures, although the Benz’s sleek shape helps it earn a 37 mpg highway rating.

Unfortunately, the ILX’s premium fuel requirement means that although gas station visits will be rare, they’ll be a little pricey.


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