Introduced as an early 2013 model, Acura’s entry-luxury compact sedan didn’t seem to take hold initially. Targeting successful Generation Y customers, in their 20s and 30s, the ILX was considered a “gateway into the Acura brand.”

A tad nondescript at first glance, the sedan is surprisingly capable and pleasant to drive, for a comparatively reasonable sticker price. Enhancement for 2016 affected styling, powertrain and technology aspects of Acura’s most affordable sport sedan, as well as adding some safety features. Except for three new body colors, little has changed for 2017.

Pricing and Equipment

Initially, the ILX offered a choice of three powertrains, including a hybrid. Now, it’s just one: a 2.4-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine that develops 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, with paddle shifters, is the sole transmission. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 25 mpg in city driving and 35 mpg on the highway (29 mpg combined).

Three levels are available, starting at $27,990 (plus destination charge): base ILX, ILX with Premium Package, and ILX Tech Plus Package. An available AcuraWatch group consists of safety and driver-assistance technologies. An A-SPEC Package is available with Premium and Tech Plus grades, adding sporty side-sill garnishes, foglamps, a trunk spoiler, and 10-spoke machined alloy wheels.

Standard equipment on our Acura ILX with Tech Plus Package, priced at $32,990, included:

  • Eight-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • Six-speaker radio
  • USB interface and iPod integration
  • Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free phone
  • Multi-view rear camera
  • Keyless access and pushbutton start
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • LED headlights
  • Seventeen-inch alloy wheels

Performance Pros

BMW 640
  • Automatic-transmission responses are typically quick and positive. Most shifts are barely noticed.
  • Acceleration is short of stirring, but enthusiastic enough for a vehicle of this class.
  • Steering has sufficient heft for solid control with nice feedback, providing excellent handling overall.

Performance Cons

  • At times, the transmission can feel rather “busy” running through the set of gear ratios.
  • Quiet-running generally, the engine can get slightly buzzy when accelerating even lightly. Push hard on the gas pedal and noise rises appreciably, to the point that it’s acceptable but not exactly pleasing.

Interior Pros

BMW 640 Interior
  • Superior gauges are brightly-lit, good-sized, with white numerals on a black background. They could hardly be easier to read.
  • Front seats are well-cushioned and comfortable, providing excellent thigh support and good back support. Headroom is ample.
  • Good all-around visibility.

Interior Cons

  • The back seat is definitely snug, with minimal head clearance. Leg space is no better. Seatbacks are on the hard side, too—even more so at the center position, where some heads might wind up quite close to the overhead light.
  • Even the front seat can feel a tad cramped. Elbow space could be better, and seat bolsters aren’t especially snug.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Overall refinement emphatically tops the list of positive attributes. In an early ILX, I found little to complain about—but not much to exclaim about, either. The current model has moved ahead, deserving greater acclaim.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Shortage of all-around space in the back seat is clearly a prominent detriment, unless you seldom plan to carry more than one passenger.

The Bottom Line

Except for that back seat, it’s tough to find any flaws in the ILX, which is about as refined as a moderate-cost premium compact could be.