The 2018 Acura ILX is essentially the entry-level luxury car. With a price tag that starts under $30,000, the ILX is the easiest way to separate yourself from the people who drive normal cars. Based on the last-generation Honda Civic, the ILX manages to feel like something greater than a Honda, even if the latest Civic's top trim can provide more for less in many ways. It's comfortable, quiet, and a bit sporty, but competition with other entry-level luxury sedans gets fierce as you add options and packages.

Best Value

The Acura ILX really shines value-wise if you can keep it below $32,000 – above there, it starts running into stiff competition from the BMW 320i, Audi A3, and Mercedes CLA 250 which are more fun to drive, and provide a slightly more luxurious experience compared to the Acura. On the other end of the spectrum, a loaded Civic easily eclipses the base model ILX in features.

Therefore, it's smart to choose an ILX with the Premium Package, which adds leather seats, a premium audio system, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alerts among other things. Unfortunately, you can't get the AcuraWatch Plus driver assistance package without also getting the Technology Plus Package, which quickly inflates the ILX's price past $34,000. Follow our advice, and you'll end up with a $31,065 sedan.

  • Model: 2018 Acura ILX
  • Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 201 hp/ 180 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 24 City / 35 Hwy
  • Options: Premium Package ($2,000, Leather Sport Seats, Premium Audio System, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alerts, eight-inch infotainment display)
  • Base Price: $29,065 (including a $965 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $31,065

Performance

Acura ILX

The ILX has a bit of a split personality. The engine is a 201 horsepower four-cylinder with Honda's famous VTEC variable valve timing that makes the engine love to rev when you put your foot down. While other cars in its class have a bit more torque thanks to turbochargers, the ILX's engine has a lot of character in the power delivery that reminds us of classic Acura compacts like the RSX and Integra. This engine is tied to an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission that changes gears quickly, especially when using the paddle shifters in manual mode, and smart shifting with quick downshifts.

On the other hand, the ILX is not built for handling, focusing instead on comfort. This translates to a softer suspension that flattens the road – it's great for commuting on neglected streets, but not so great for those who want a sportier driving experience like many entry-level luxury car shoppers. Likewise the steering disengaged from the road, lacking the connection that made many older Acuras so much fun.

Interior and Exterior

The ILX's style inside and out isn't going to turn many heads in either awe or revulsion. It's nice, but it's not exciting in any way. That's something of a trend with many luxury cars, but the exterior of the ILX manages to look even more staid than the competition. Inside the ILX is also bland – there are nice materials all around, but the ILX only gives customers the choice of three interiors color schemes – a fairly subdued grey, black, or tan. For a more sporty look, Acura offers the A-Spec package that adds an aerodynamic body kit and bigger wheels, but nothing that actually makes the ILX quicker.

It is a comfortable car, though, that's surprisingly capable of insulating passengers from the outside world. There's active noise cancellation and heavy amounts sound deadening material that makes it feel quite refined. The front seats hold you well with good bolstering and supportive cushioning. The biggest downside of the ILX is that it is a bit cramped, owing to its compact car beginnings. There isn't a lot of headroom for the front seats due to the sunroof, and the rear seat will force all but the shortest adults to feel constrained against the roof.

The Best and Worst Things

Quietness is an underappreciated aspect to cars, and the ILX is very good at it. A luxury car should help the driver forget about the bustle of the outside world. On longer trips, wind and tire noise can really start to wear on you, especially when the roads aren't that great, so it's commendable that Acura has taken efforts to offer a car with active and passive noise reduction at a fairly affordable price point.

The downside of the ILX is that it's fairly boring. It's not exciting to look at, it's not exciting to sit in, and while the engine wants to go fast, the suspension does not. Its Germanic rivals put an emphasis on the driving experience, but the Acura comes up short.

Right For? Wrong For?

Acura ILX

The Acura ILX is a slightly nicer way to get to work, for a slightly higher price than a high-end economy car. This makes it perfect for a driver that wants to treat themselves to the fruits of their labor, but without completely blowing the budget. The Acura is reliable, comfortable, and affordable, but it does feel like the next level up from your everyday cars.

If you're looking for car that's fun to drive, avoid the ILX. While the engine's nice, it won't put a smile on your face as you're approaching an on-ramp. It's built to comfort, not to thrill.

The Bottom Line

The Acura ILX is a good entry level luxury car that doesn't do anything wrong, but doesn't exactly tingle the senses in any way. If you want to take a baby step into the world of luxury car ownership, the Acura is there for you, but closely examine what you want and consider the vehicles that are slightly more and slightly less expensive than the ILX if you can.