Quick Spin: 2013 Acura ILX
A premium compact without the premium performance; by Kirk Bell
Ahead of a full report, MSN Autos reviewers report to Exhaust Notes about their initial driving impressions in our Quick Spin segment. Here, Kirk Bell talks about Acura's ILX, one of the first premium segment models to favor MPGs over BHPs -- and which loses a little something in the transition.
Federal regulations call for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for all automakers to reach 34.5 mpg by 2016, followed by 54.5 mpg by 2025. Reaching these numbers will require automakers to downsize engines, offer more hybrids, and find several other ways to reduce fleet-wide fuel consumption. While it hasn't happened yet, especially among many luxury models, power may be … well, curtailed.
With the release of its 2013 ILX, Acura is among the first premium automakers to downsize power in favor of thrift. The result is pleasant and comfortable entry model for Acura, though one with uninspired performance.
We drove the ILX in Phoenix. Here are our initial thoughts.
Premium interior: The ILX's cabin offers the quality materials and high-tech control layout of other Acuras, which is a good thing.
Good gas mileage: With its three tepid engines, every ILX gets good fuel economy, topped by the 1.5L hybrid model's 38 mpg overall.
Pleasant road manners: The ILX is based on the Honda Civic, but offers better road manners thanks to a stiffer body, dual-action shock absorbers, and plenty of sound deadening.
The ILX is overpriced: Starting at about $26,000, the ILX is only $4,000 less than the far more substantial TSX. It feels overpriced by a substantial $4,000 to $5,000.
Underwhelming performance: The 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder is the ILX's best engine, but will likely account for about 5 percent of sales because it's only offered with a manual transmission. We'd like to see this as the base engine, with a turbocharged four-cylinder as an option.
No 6-speed automatic: The ILX comes with a 5-speed automatic, whereas just about every other automaker has an automatic with at least one more gear. If Acura would follow suit, fuel economy would improve even further.
I just don't understand why anyone would want a luxury car that's based off the Civic.
Hmmm, "Luxury car based on a Civic", that just sounds like an oxymoron.
Years ago, the Integra was a civic based car. the main difference is that the Integra was marketed as a sporty car with a premium heritage (brand). It worked, and they sold boatloads of them. Then the import scene came, and a bunch of PR people decided Acura shouldn't be known for that (what will rich people think?! Oh my!); so they killed the integra, turned it into the "RSX"; and they've been searching for an identity sense. Nothing they introduced after 2004 has been class leading. Everything since has been bland, middle of the road. Honda really needs to let Acura grow up.
Here's an example of the class leading stuff: 1987 - First Japanese luxury brand. 1991 - The NSX. 1993 - First Variable valve timing in regularly available car. 1997 - Integra Type R largely viewed as best front drive car ever. 1999 - first "sportshift" automatic in car under $40k. 2000- Acura MDX debuts. First luxury crossover that holds 7. 2004 - 3rd Gen TL and first TSX introduced. Since then, a whole lot of crap. The 2005 RL, the current MDX, the ZDX, the new "power plenum" grills...yuck.
I understand the corporate average fuel economy thing, but this was not the way to do it. The real reason this car exist is because Acura wants a more profitable small car to sell. They don't make much on the TSX's, and the TSX has started eating into TL sales (which are more profitable) since they're essentially the same size. So the ILX creates a new bottom, allowing Acura to mold the TSX and TL into one, American made (and thus more profitable) vehicle in the near future (2013 or 2014). I really hope they start figuring this out.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at email@example.com.