The second verse is much better than first for the 2016 Acura ILX. It has had a mild do-over from last year, but it was a significant layering on of improvements from the launch of the first generation model in 2012.
The ILX is a compact-class, entry-luxury sedan, which has become a trend-setting segment with several new models, including the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Buick Verano and Mercedes-Benz CLA.
The first-generation ILX wasn’t much more inspired than a pricey Civic, from which ILX shares much from parent company Honda. Making money from a compact isn’t all that easy, which is why some of the luxury models have sexy makeup covering budget bones — but these small sedans make great “gateways” to the brand, or so the manufacturers think. The ILX, however, now distills the best of Acura into a smaller package. And small definitely has its benefits here.
Updates for 2016 include new front and rear styling, which creates a lower and leaner stance. The styling may not be gorgeous to behold, but it has a professional crispness. And the new “jewel eye” headlights — beady LEDs — with the Acura “V” grille should blaze some brand awareness on the road.
There are several package levels, each in front-wheel drive with the same engine and transmission. Starting prices range from $28,820 to $35,810, including the $920 freight charge from Marysville, Ohio. Today’s ILX Tech Plus tester is a step down from the top and had a starting price and as-tested price of $33,820. The only feature I would have wanted is ventilated seats in addition to the standard heated seats.
Other standard equipment includes smart-key entry and push-button ignition, acoustic glass windshield, power moonroof, heated front seats, active sound control, ambient lighting, leather-trimmed sport seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, four-way power front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate (and humidity) control, power (heated) mirrors, six-speaker audio with Siri eyes-free and text-messaging capacity, streaming Bluetooth phone and audio, USB-audio inputs, remote open-close to windows and sunroof, fog lights and tire sealant and inflator kit.
Particularly important to the Acura-ness of the ILX is its new engine and transmission (not available for Civic), big brakes and hefty front and rear stabilizer bars.
The 201-horsepower, direct-injection four-cylinder engine is paired with a slick eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, with paddle shifters at the steering wheel and a Sport mode.
Fuel economy ratings for all models is 25 mpg city, 36 highway and 29 combined on the recommended premium. I was averaging 26-28 mpg, while heavily exercising the Sport mode. The fuel tank is smallish at 13.2 gallons.
The improvements add 167 pounds over last year, so performance is good but not demonstrative. Sport mode is a fun equalizer with a track-ready calibration, giving much sharper engine response and shifting, with throttle blips on downshifts and usable engine braking. It is quite effective to guard your line on the daily commute.
With a capable four-wheel independent suspension and vented 12.3-inch front discs with 11.1-inch solid discs, it turns and stops as a little sport sedan should.
Under the skin are more noise-insulating materials, including thicker front door glass, an acoustic-laminated windshield and a noise-reducing wheel design. Ride quality is svelte with graceful weight transitions. And road noise at highway speeds is much reduced, but there is some forgivable tire “graininess” from the 17-inch Michelin XSE high-performance touring tires.
The cabin has classy lines and simple ergonomic placement of controls, most of which are easily accessed by actual buttons and not through a controller and digital screen. But there dual screens, which seem redundant and somewhat distracting until you figure out which one does what.
Back-seat space is functional with a flat floor, raised bench, full seat bottoms (at the window seats) comfortable seatback angle and 34 inches of legroom, which will be snug for adults. The seatback folds to modestly expand trunk space of 13.2 cubic feet.
The new ILX is more like what people will expect from a compact Acura.
Now how about giving fans an ILX coupe!.
Mark Maynard is online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage