Acura’s newest sedan, the 2013 ILX, looks good, is fuel-conscious and has a controlled, comfortable ride.
Best of all, the ILX isn’t a barebones Acura. The starting price includes noteworthy features such as moonroof, six-speaker audio system, 5-inch color information display on the dashboard, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, dual, automatic climate control, keyless entry and push-button start.
Also standard is a feature that can read text messages to the driver and respond to them with one of six replies, such as, “Talk to you later, I’m driving.” A driver must have a compatible device to use the feature.
Acura said the ILX is designed to attract young buyers to the luxury brand, which is part of Honda. In fact, most drivers wouldn’t have a clue the ILX is based on the Honda Civic, a compact that has been a staple of young people for years.
The ILX is much more than a revamped Civic. While the ILX uses the Civic’s front-wheel drive platform, there’s not a single piece of metal on the outside that’s from the Civic. In fact, the ILX is a bit longer and wider than a Civic sedan.
The interior is all Acura, with good use of textures and materials and thoughtful design of controls to craft a pleasing passenger compartment. The suspension, which gives the five-seater a composed ride, is better than the Civic’s, too. Extra sound insulation makes the interior far quieter than a Civic.
The starting price, including destination charge, is for a base ILX with 150-horsepower four-cylinder mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
There’s no manual transmission for the base engine, but a 201-horsepower four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission is available on a ILX Premium model for a starting price of $30,095.
There is no automatic transmission for this higher-powered version, but it comes with standard heated, leather-trimmed seats; larger 17-inch wheels and tires; and high-intensity discharge headlights.
A third ILX model is a gasoline-electric hybrid – Acura’s first – that has a starting price of $29,795.
The hybrid, with technology similar to the Civic’s, has a federal government fuel economy rating of 39 mpg in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway.
That compares with 24/35-mpg rating for the ILX with 150-horsepower engine and 22/31-mpg rating for the 201-horsepower engine.
The test ILX nonhybrid model with 201-horse engine and manual six-speed averaged 28 mpg in city/highway travel. This 28 mpg is 12 percent higher than the government’s city/highway rating of 25 mpg for this model, and translated into a range of nearly 370 miles on a single tank of fuel.
Acura recommends but does not require premium unleaded gasoline
The most surprising experience in the ILX was how confidently it handled in curves and turns. It tracked solidly and felt stable.
The 2.4-liter, double-overhead-cam four-cylinder in the tester is the same one that’s in Acura’s slightly larger TSX sedan. Power came on quickly and the car moved through traffic with pep. Torque peaks at 170 foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm.
The six-speed manual moved smoothly and precisely from gear to gear in satisfying fashion. There was little wind noise, but some road noise came through to passengers.
There’s hardly a hump in the middle of the rear floor, but three adults back there would sit touching each other.
Everyone in the ILX rests on comfortable cushions that have some give and support.
Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, front, side-seat and curtain air bags, traction control and electronic stability control.
A driver can select the color for the background of the information display on the dashboard, and Pandora radio interface is standard.
The ILX has been the subject of a safety recall. Last month, the government said a cable connecting a door handle to a door latch might become loose and affect the ability of the door latch to operate properly.