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2013 Acura ILX Designed for the Starter Buyer

By Arv Voss, October 20th, 2012

With the new 2013 ILX, Acura is targeting the successful 20- and 30-somethings who want a starter luxury car. Acura says for this young market segment it had to invent, adapt and innovate at a rapid pace to meet the demands for the high-content, value-for-money ILX compact luxury sedan.

Basically, it comes down to the old-fashioned expression "bang-for-the-buck." Starting at $25,900, the ILX is well equipped with features wrapped in a luxury marquee badge. Acura calls the ILX's design edgy and fluid, with expressive lines flowing from the front of the signature grille back to the crisply styled trunk. Broad and pronounced front and rear wheel arches give the ILX an athletic presence, highlighted with a five-spoke wheel design.

A selection of three powertrains gives the buyer a decisive choice on performance for the dollar. First up is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 150 horsepower while also delivering 140 lb.-ft. of torque. It mates to a five-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift and Grade Logic Control.

Next up is a 2.4-liter that delivers 201 horsepower, along with 170 lb.-ft. of torque and connects to a six-speed manual gearbox with a single disk, dry-style diaphragm spring clutch. The final entry is the ILX Hybrid with a 1.5-liter engine that generates 111 horses and 127 lb.-ft. of torque linked to a Continuously Variable Transmission.

I spent most of my time piloting the 150-horsepwer, 2.0-liter ILX, with shorter stints in the 2.4-liter during the national press launch held in Arizona. The 2.0-liter performed well but seemed lacking in sufficient power in passing other vehicles on a grade. My test vehicle featured both the Premium and Technology Packages, bringing the as-tested price to $32,295.

The 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter with the manual transmission was the most pleasing in terms of sporty performance characteristics, but Acura should really offer the availability of the automatic transmission for buyers who don't enjoy shifting gears.

Handling characteristics are responsive in the Acura ILX models, thanks to the Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering. Noise isolation properties are upscale as they should be and the ride quality is compliant and comfortable. All Acura ILX models are front-wheel drive.

Interestingly, we discovered the ILX does not come with a gas strut hood prop, but rather offers a manual prop rod for the relatively heavy hood, and there's only one auxiliary power outlet that's placed in the center console -- too far back for the coiled cord of a radar detector to reach. Even with a longer cord, personal connectivity is restricted for plugging in the phone for charging, or for a portable GPS navigation unit in the case of the 2.4-liter ILX, which has no Nav system available. The Technology Package with the Nav system is offered for 2.0L and Hybrid models.

Standard features for the $3,300 Premium Package include: a power moonroof, Keyless access system with smart entry and pushbutton ignition, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink wireless telephone interface, a 5-inch LCD screen, 16-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone climate control system, USB with iPod/iPhone compatibility, Pandora Internet radio interface and SMS text message function.

The available Premium Package for 2.0L and 2.4L adds a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, 8-way power driver seat, HID headlights, 17-inch aluminum wheels, multi-view rear camera, 360-watt premium audio system with XM radio, fog lights, and an automatic dimming rearview mirror.


Base price $25,900 (as tested: $32,295)
Curb weight 2,970 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 150 at 6500 rpm
Motor type 16-valve 4-cylinder w/PGM-FI
Overall length 179.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 140 at 4300 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact sedan
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