2017 Acura ILX

It’s always been tough to figure out what Acura wants from its ILX. Is the compact sedan, which is based on the last-gen Honda Civic, supposed to be sporty or plush? Is it an appetizer to the rest of Acura’s sedan range or a fully loaded Civic by another name? The answer is both; Acura wants shoppers who can finally afford a nicer car to try out the ILX and, hopefully, graduate to other models in the future. Yet there’s only so much you can do to make a Honda feel like an Acura, and I’ve never been able to fall in love with the ILX. The car was refreshed for the 2016 model year to hone in on its entry-luxury model, but it’s got even more to prove now that the new, tenth-generation Honda Civic is better than ever.

There’s much to like about using the ILX as a daily driver. It’s quiet, it soaks up road impacts despite this tester’s 18-inch wheels, the 2.0-liter inline-four engine provides plenty of power, and the cabin is light and airy. The viceless driving dynamics make city driving effortless. The back seat and trunk are both plenty large for what compact sedan buyers need, too.

The ride-and-handling balance is spot-on for an entry luxury car, neither harsh nor floaty. I have yet to find a road over which the Acura beats me up unnecessarily (unlike the Mercedes-Benz CLA), yet it’s still very Germanic in its tautness when darting around slow-moving hybrids on my commute. These competent dynamics are only let down by the car’s woolen steering, which saps any eagerness I have to pitch the Acura into bends.

Acura’s unusual transmission design works extremely well. The ILX combines the virtues of a dual-clutch transmission with the smooth take-off of a torque-converter automatic. It sounds like a complicated arrangement, yet the trickery produces snappy, precise gear changes without any lurching or clunkiness at low speeds. Read more...

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10 Feb 2017