Despite high-priced new iron like the 2014 RLX sedan and MDX crossover, Acura figures there’s a market, as well, for a classy-but-affordable compact aimed at 20- and 30-somethings who seek to make an “I have arrived” statement, even if they’re still in transit.
Thus, we get the 2013 Acura ILX.
The new ILX shares its basic platform with the Honda Civic, but you’d need the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes to spot it. This luxury version boasts a larger standard engine, shares no sheetmetal with its blue-collar source material and features the trademark high-tech Acura interior, all of which should impress the neighbors considerably more than a Honda.
Nonetheless, its mid-20s starting price puts ILX within reach of folks whose dining-out budget is comprised mainly of restaurants where you don’t actually get out of the car. (Makes for a nicer dining room, too.)
ILX can be had with a 150-hp, 2.0-liter I-4, which is available only with a five-speed automatic; a 201-hp, 2.4-liter four borrowed from the sporty Civic Si and, surprisingly, available in the Acura only with a six-speed manual; or as a gas/electric hybrid, which lifts its drivetrain whole cloth from the Civic Hybrid.
We drove the base 2.0 and found it surprisingly peppy, considering its modest power spec and diminutive torque of 140 lb.-ft. We credit much of the enthusiasm to ILX’s wispy curb weight, which is south of 3,000 lbs.
That said, its antebellum five-speed automatic (in a world of six-, seven- and eight-speed luxury-car slush boxes) limited our fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2.0-liter ILX at 28 mpg combined city/hwy but, in 270 miles of such motoring, we managed only 25.
Inside, the only debits are slightly higher levels of road noise than expected, a tight back seat, and a non-split folding rear seat, meaning if you fold the rear seat you create a two-passenger car.
On the upside, the interior is hip, with Acura’s trademark – and easy to use – centerstack infotainment controller, while the exterior is handsomely drawn. It’s true that this is the least expensive Acura sedan, but we think it’s the best looking, too.
And even loaded, our ILX Tech, which included a Premium Pkg. (leather, satellite radio, heated seats and more) and a Tech Pkg. (navigation, hard-drive music storage and multi-view rear camera, among other things), bottom-lined at just $32,295.
Those with champagne taste but a beer budget will find plenty