Test Drive: 2017 Acura ILX
Entry Price: $27,990
Price as tested: $33,930
This week, we’re driving the 2017 Acura ILX, a compact sport sedan that offers consumers an avenue to Honda top-line opulence. Acura competes against the likes of Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, to name the majors.
Built in Marysville, Ohio, and following a redesign in 2016, Acura ILX hopes to better impact the competitive compact luxury market. Although still behind such stalwarts as Cadillac, BMW and Audi, ILX now features a better engine and unique “automatic-manual” dual clutch eight-speed transmission that gives the car a more sporty personality and enhances its fun to drive factor.
Additionally, a host of both standard and optional safety features now lift Acura ILX higher when buyers do direct comparisons, while pricing is many times in Acura’s favor when final buy decisions are made.
For comparisons, the entry ILX starts at $27,990, and then moves up to Acura Watch Plus ($29,290), Premium ($29,990), and Premium A-Spec ($31,980). The only ILX models that cost more are our tester this week, the upper level Acura ILX Tech Plus ($32,990), and the A-Spec model ($34,980). A-Spec adds fog lights, side-sill extensions, rear spoiler, 18-inch tires and alloy wheels, contrast color stitch interior, red instrument illumination, aluminum pedals and an Ebony headliner. I recommend the A-Tech package, as it really adds to the ILX footprint and gives it the official Acura “sports car” stamp of approval. Notable is that the A-Tech is only available on the Premium and up models.
Outwardly, the 2017 ILX is a good looking car while inside, its cabin is well done as the excellent leather seating and roomy surroundings are noteworthy.
Standard equipment, even on the entry model, is notable. Buyers will appreciate the power tilt sunroof, Jewel Eye LED headlights, LED taillights, keyless entry and start, 17-inch tires on alloy wheels, heated mirrors, tilt-and-telescopic steering, eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, fold-down rear seat, dual-zone climate control, five-inch display, a multi-view backup camera, Bluetooth, six-speaker CD stereo system, USB, iPod, and more.
The Premium package adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, power passenger seat, Milano premium leather seating, driver memory settings, voice command Navigation, enhanced rearview safety camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 8-inch upper information display, additional 7-inch touch screen and a 10-speaker audio system with HD radio and Sirius/XM satellite.
Our tester featured the Technology Plus option that adds the Acura Watch Plus package featuring adaptive cruise, forward collision warning with braking mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation. Also included in the Tech Plus package is a unique GPS-linked, solar-sensing climate control enhancement.
Under the hood sits Acura’s 2.4-liter, 11.6-to-1 compression direct-injection four-cylinder that develops 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. It’s hooked to an industry first eight-speed dual-clutch “automatic-manual” with torque converter. Notable are steering wheel mounted paddle shifters that allow rev-matched downshifting, making for a more fun experience. This transmission elevates the Acura ILX to higher performance standards of gear shifting not found in the competition.
The ILX clearly takes advantage of what corporate head Honda learns on the Verizon IndyCar circuit, where Honda specially built race engines powers more than half the field. Notable is the just announced Indy 500 entry of Formula 1 Champion Fernando Alonso, who will miss this year’s Monaco F1 race to drive a Team Andretti prepared Honda powered IndyCar in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” (I expect him to do very well.)
Back to the Acura.
The ILX EPA numbers are very good with 25 city and 35 highway the expected results. Zero to 60 mph, meanwhile, arrives in just under 7 seconds and the overall driving experience is very good thanks to its sporty independent suspension.
Standard safety features, meanwhile, receive top grades. Included are four wheel disc antilock brakes, stability controls, all the airbags, rearview safety camera, electronic brake distribution and much more. This protection build results in outstanding overall “Five Star” government safety ratings, something every buyer should be aware of when making their final decision. Your Acura dealer will explain everything in detail when you visit for a test drive.
Other Acura ILX pluses include the Tech Plus feature, as a bigger touch screen makes handling the menu of items from air conditioning to stereo and satellite radio easier to see. I’d like to say it’s easy to operate, but again the only item I really like is the stereo volume knob and a volume control button on the steering wheel. Other than that, I wish all manufacturers would get away from these touch screen infotainment systems that are difficult to learn and take your eyes off the road.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1 inches, 3,115 lb. curb weight, 12.3 cu. ft. of cargo room, 5.3-inch ground clearance, 36.8-foot turning radius, and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, ILX continues to improve against the competition and the 2017 model is Acura’s best effort yet and worthy of a test drive.
Likes: Great design, MPG, attractive pricing, dual clutch transmission.
Dislikes: Some road noise, infotainment touchscreen and controls learning curve, not much else.
-- Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.