2016 Acura ILX Review

Don’t Call It a Fancy Civic

2016 Acura ILX Review

The Acura Integra was a big deal for Acura.

Well loved by many, it became synonymous with Acura and elevated the young luxury brand’s image. But the ILX, Acura’s new take on a small premium sedans, has yet to catch on. Lacking an identity of its own, the ILX’s mundane styling, ho-hum powertrain and absence of a family resemblance meant most people forgot about it before it even had a chance to make an impression.

Acura is aware of the issues and is intent on fixing them for the 2016 model year. To start, the ILX receives new front and rear styling that mimics the larger TLX. In Acura’s quest to give everything “Jewel Eyes.” the ILX now wears the brand’s familiar multi-LED headlights. But it isn’t a full LED design because the inside two squares are actually hollow and house a traditional halogen high beam light behind them.

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Big Changes Under the Hood

But the biggest issue with the lackluster ILX is the mechanics. Let’s forget the slow selling, 201 HP manual model for a second. Over 95 percent of all ILXs sold came equipped with a 150 HP 2.0-liter engine and a five-speed automatic. Even if the engine was exclusive to the ILX, it barely had any more power than its corporate cousin, the Honda Civic. Worse still, compared to the standard engine in other premium compact sedans like the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA 250, the original ILX is short a few gears and woefully underpowered.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Acura ILX Ditches 2.0L Engine, Adds 8-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission

Thankfully, the ILX may finally be equipped to compete. The direct injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that debuted in the TLX is standard on all six versions of the 2016 ILX. It may make the same 201 HP as the old engine that came exclusively with the manual, but torque has gone up to 180 lb-ft. The engine is now paired exclusively to Acura’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. For those keeping score at home, that’s an additional 51 HP and three more gears than the standard 2015 ILX. You might also notice that the manual transmission has been axed.

Death of a Manual, Birth of a Terrific Transmission

As much as I lament the death of another manual, at least Acura’s DCT is a great automatic. After driving the TLX last year, I decided that the front-wheel drive, four-cylinder, dual-clutch set-up was the car to have. Now you can have the same drivetrain in a smaller, lighter package. Weighing roughly 3,100 lbs., the 2016 ILX is heavier than the old car, but still 400 lbs. lighter than the TLX.

The weight gain has a negative effect on forward progress though. Despite that large power gain, the extra oomph in the car really isn’t obvious until high in the RPM range. That makes sense for a naturally aspirated engine but I was still hoping for a little more push-me-into-my-seat acceleration.

The eight-speed dual clutch on the other hand is terrific. Using a torque converter, it’s incredibly smooth at slow speeds and fires off near-seamless up-shifts at redline. Best of all, drive the car in sport mode and it will aggressively rev match downshift when hard on the brakes.

Fuel economy actually goes up one MPG all around compared to the old ILX thanks to the extra gearing and more advanced engine despite the considerable horsepower gain. For 2016 the ratings are now officially listed at 25 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway.

Safer, Stronger, More Responsive

In a quest for greater safety, Acura’s engineers have improved the ILX’s body structure with the added benefit of increased chassis rigidity and better handling. That’s the one area where the ILX was always good, but I’ll gladly take a more responsive car. The 2016 ILX is indeed a fun car to drive that likes being pushed hard through the twisting mountain roads around Napa Valley, Calif. Further enhancing the car’s capabilities, Acura claims to have improved steering response and feel, but I didn’t notice much difference after a back-to-back drive with the 2015 ILX.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid Review

Where the big change can be felt though is ride refinement. It took me less than two minutes to notice just how much quieter the 2016 ILX compared to the old model. Similarly, the suspension is a great balance of comfort and agility.

Upgrades Inside

Inside, the design and materials have been tweaked to give the ILX a more upscale look. Now included are the usual Honda/Acura dual screens that actually display song information on the lower screen unlike Honda’s system. Interior dimensions essentially remain unchanged, which means 34-inches of legroom for rear seat passengers and a cramped 38-inches of front seat headroom that will have anyone over six-feet tall brushing their hair against the headliner.

If you’re looking for a little more style, there’s also the “A-Spec” package. It adds a rear spoiler, body colored side sills, fog lights and a few interior trim enhancements. And, to keep up with the ILX’s competitors, features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation can be had.

The Verdict

The 2016 ILX begins at $28,820 after destination charges and is on sale now. That’s roughly a $850 increase over the 2015 model, which isn’t bad when you consider that this is a substantially improved car. But get crazy with the option boxes and the ILX can easily break the $35,000 mark.

Acura keeps stating that the 2016 ILX is more than just a mid-cycle refresh and after driving it, I have to agree. It took Acura two tries, but the ILX is finally ready to take the fight to other entry-level luxury cars.

Discuss this review on our Acura ILX forum

  • Felix James

    So, what happened to the hybrid model?

  • FantsticA

    Just heard the rumor of the 2.0T engine. It’ll need that to keep up with the A3.

  • Eric Cameron

    Exterior looks nice, but that interior still looks like it’s budget level. Not up to par for an entry level luxury sedan. And I’m not fond of that dual screen centre console…

  • roundthings

    I’ll take a Caddy ATS for this amount, thanks

  • Disqus11111

    $35k plus dealer’s fees and taxes for this? Not on your life. Honda just can;t seem to learn any lessons. Everything that once made Acuras great cars has been dumped on and destroyed by Honda.

  • Abhi Basu

    It’s too bad the well loved TSX had to die for this car. Not loving it. This is Civic sized and then there is the TLX (back seats are cramped) and then the huge RLX. Cmon Honda, luxury car drivers want RWD!!

  • Phil

    I think it looks better and sounds like a much better car all around. Now if we can get a type S version with perhaps a 2L turbo and most importantly a manual,.. i’ll rush in and trade my Si right away

  • Rickers

    Definitely need a turbo motor!

  • craigcole

    Damn straight! I’m sure the ILX is a fine car and all but where’s the passion, where’s the excitement? There’s not much here that gets me going …

  • Pete Flynn

    This is not an engaging car. It’s very nice, something I’d buy for my Mom. If you want a car that encourages you to drive it, keep looking. Plus, I found the salespeople at the local dealer to be complete losers. They were uninformed about the car and ignorant of many key details. They didn’t deserve any possible sale.

  • john appelseed

    what is the difference between this and the acura tlx 4 cylinder?

  • Informed

    Interesting comments. Most people agree the 1st. gen TSX was a more engaging and fun to drive car than the 2nd. gen. This ILX, is identical in almost every dimension as the 1st. gen TSX that everyone loved so much. Except its going to be better in every area. From acceleration to fuel economy to luxury amenities. But you don’t like it because its based on the U.S. Civic chassis instead of the Euro Accord chassis? (which was a smaller version of our Accord anyway) You guys make no sense. No, it doesn’t need a turbo engine and less fuel economy. Prob. wouldn’t even account for 5% of sales. Nobody bought the stick in the last ILX, either. (which is why it was dropped) I think Acura hit it out of the park with this car. Just ones persons opinion.

  • Difference?

    I have no idea what the difference is between this model and the base tlx…

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    What do you expect from an entry level vehicle? The only one ignorant is you and your comments because you do not know vehicles and there respective class.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    It is called RLX and only available with the V6.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    Most entry level vehicles seem to do that chief.

  • Gino

    ILX can’t compete with A3, CLA. But you should buy Cadillac ATS 2.0T and shut up about the rest of it.

  • Phil

    Difference is that this car is smaller, based on the Civic and generally a piece of rolling horse shit.

  • Shiratori90

    You’re an idiot…..

  • Shiratori90

    ^Troll

  • Shiratori90

    You and about 5 other people. Those cars are collecting dust at dealers across the country.

  • roundthings

    I know, I could get one for a great price! Unfortunately I’m not in the market right now

  • tonye

    No need for a turbo… just drop the K24Wx and put in a nice K22Zx (*), add the LSD, the 6MT, Brembos, Recaros, summer tires… keep the TECH package and forget all the useless nanny stuff (all turned off in my 15 HAH Touring).

    Hmm.. can I ask for a Type R wing too? 😉

    While we’re at it… make sure it sounds like the B18C1.

    (*) Say, tuned to 240bhp and a 7500 rpm redline… make sure the VTEC kick is more like the H22A of yore ( my Prelude SH used to have a crazy kick around 4000 rpm) instead of the smooth B18C or later K20As and K20Zs.

  • phil

    lol,.. okay so someone else is using my name

    no hard to guess who based on previous comments from the most notorious trolls on here

    now this is lame

  • Alex_nma

    $28k is not entry level money. $17k is entry level.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    Entry level for Acura. Sad that I have spoon feed people because they are clueless.

  • Alex_nma

    Sad that you can’t figure out that when comparison shopping people will look at other cars.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    Because you couldn’t understand I was referring to Acura’s, the subject, doesn’t mean others do. It only goes to show some people can’t read or stay on the subject line but have to show their ass thinking they know it all while making a fool of themselves.

  • Alex_nma

    Name calling only makes you look stupid. I’m done with this.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    The stupid one is you for calling me out, not knowing what you’re doing. Dummies like you shouldn’t be posting. Scared to admit you’re wrong is a weakness cowards live with every day. Now run along boy.

  • Rae

    I just purchase the 2016 ilx premium a-spec package about 3 months ago. Im loving every sec of ownership so far. I get lots compliments on my car especially on the a-spec rims and the new led turn signals on the headlights.

  • Pete Flynn

    There are cars that are low-cost and fun to drive. There is no excuse for Honda/Acura isolating the driver from the driving experience. It’s a problem with the Civic that has not been eliminated in upscaling it to the ILX. BTW, learn to spell. “Their” not “there”.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    Their is people – there is cars. Sorry for your ignorance and lack of understanding the English language. Maybe it’s time to attend class and learn where their and there is utilized. Kids!!!