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Acura ILX, 2013: Luxury, performance, strong value for new sedan

A new model for Honda’s upscale brand, the 2013 Acura ILX is the carmaker’s smallest offering as an entry level luxury vehicle. It’s only been available in the United States since May, 2012.

Six models are offered: a base five-speed automatic, five-speed auto with premium package, five-speed auto with technology package, six-speed manual with premium package, a base hybrid and a hybrid with a technology package. The hybrid models are Acura’s first and feature a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with a gas/electric powertrain.

The 2013 ILX in one respect made an inauspicious debut: Combined with its distant 2012 Honda CR-V sibling, the manufacturer recalled 172,000 units because of faulty door latches.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

As a luxury sedan priced at near the average price of all new cars, I drove the ILX 2.4-liter (Premium) with 201 horsepower for a week with glee. It was delightful. It had a sports car exhaust growl and shifting the six-speed manual transmission was signature Acura — smooth.

Likewise, in city and highway driving scenarios, the new Acura was controlled and comfortable. Automatic transmission fanciers will likely be disappointed since the model is only available with a manual transmission.
But for car buyers considering a manual for the first time, Acura features such a precision-shifting transmission, a slew of manual converts wouldn’t be a surprise.

Equally impressive: The total price of the car is $895 (destination/delivery) more than than the MSRP. The included Premium Package features nearly a dozen items — heated front seats to leather-trim seats to a seven-speaker sound system. The standard featured lists features about 30 items — power everything to a good selection hi-tech adaptations.

Why, then, can’t more manufacturers list their cars at a total price near the MSRP? Sure, the price of items will be included one way or another. But why not simplify the tally with streamlined pricing?

As a compact sedan, the Acura ILX still offers 12.4 feet of cargo space and the rear seats fold down for more lengthy cargo items. It’s not an SUV, but there’s a good chuck of space for luggage or groceries or golf clubs.

Likes:

Acura is known for quality interior materials. The ILX follows suit.

Is there a longer standard features list in the car industry?

Entry level luxury sedan with 201 horsepower. Impressive.

Dislikes:

Available only with manual transmission in 2.4.-liter edition.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Acura  ILX (Premium)

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.1 seconds
Airbags (6):
Fuel economy: 22 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 25 mpg (combined), six-speed manual transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: NTHSA, Not rated.
Horsepower: 201
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $29,200.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.acura.com.
Price As tested: $30,095.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 4 years/50,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“With the extra power and the manual, the ILX wakes up, becoming the frisky sports sedan it aspires to be. Maybe this is a sign that  Acura is also finally stirring.” — CarandDriver.com

“The Acura ILX bridges a gap of sorts between regular compact cars and the current crop of premium compacts. Those who put more weight on a premium nameplate, electronic gadgets, and high-end appointments than they do on performance or absolute value for the money may find the ILX a worthy addition to their shopping list.” — Consumer Guide.

“With a dose of Acura luxury and civility, the Civic-based ILX seems to be in a class by itself. The closest competitor at the moment might be Buick’s Chevrolet Cruze-based Verano, at least until the Audi A3 sedan arrives in 2014.” — AutoWeek.com

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The ILX is Acura’s smallest and least expensive model. But the description doesn’t fit the car. The ILX has a lot to offer, including strong acceleration and overall power and a smooth, steady ride. For many manufacturers, the ILX just wouldn’t be considered an entry-level vehicle. That speaks well for the car and the manufacturer.”

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