Acura ILX vs Acura TLX: Which Luxury Sport Sedan is Right for You?

If you are in the market for a luxury sport sedan and you want legendary reliability, the Acura ILX and TLX are great options.

They both offer a sporty exterior, engines that balance performance and efficiency, loads of premium amenities, and the reliability that comes with every vehicle built by the Honda Motor Company.

While these two vehicles look similar at a glance, they compete in two different size classes, with the Acura ILX being a compact sport sedan while the Acura TLX is a midsized sport sedan. They also have different drivetrain options, so when coupled with the differently sized cabins, there are more differences than you might expect. At the same time, they have very similar interior features, so picking between the ILX and TLX can be tough for a buyer who doesn’t have their heart set on a particular model.

To help those shoppers who can’t decide between the Acura ILX and Acura TLX, below you will find a head-to-head comparison in every major category, including which vehicle shines brightest in each area.

Cabin Space

The Acura ILX is a compact sedan and the Acura TLX is a mid-size sedan, so it should come as little surprise that the ILX has a smaller cabin, but the differences aren’t as vast as you might expect. In fact, the smaller ILX has some interior space advantages over the larger TLX, even though they are both designed to seat five people.

ILX: Up front, the Acura ILX offers 38 inches (965 mm) of headroom, 55.6 inches (1,412 mm) of shoulder room, 50.3 inches (1,278 mm) of hip room, and 42.3 inches (1,074 mm) of legroom. For the rear passengers, the ILX offers 35.9 inches (912 mm) of headroom, 53.6 inches (1,361 mm) of shoulder room, 51.7 inches (1,313 mm) of hip room, and 34 inches (864 mm) of legroom.

TLX: For comparison, the front seats of the Acura TLX offer 37.2 inches (945 mm) of headroom, 58.2 inches (1,478 mm) of shoulder room, 55.8 inches (1,417 mm) of hip room, and 42.4 inches (1,077 mm) of legroom. The rear seat offers 36.3 inches (922 mm) of headroom, 55 inches (1,397 mm) of shoulder room, 54.6 inches (1,387 mm) of hip room, and 34.9 inches (886 mm) of legroom.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Acura ILX A-Spec Review

Bottom Line: The Acura ILX offers a surprising advantage in front-seat headroom and is nearly identical to the TLX in terms of legroom, but the TLX offers a big advantage in interior width, offering gobs more shoulder and hip room. That leads to a far more comfortable cabin when you are hauling four or five people, so if you plan to use all of the seats, the TLX is the better choice. If you are a taller driver, but you rarely have passengers, the ILX is likely to suit your needs.

Cargo Space

While you can obviously load smaller cargo into the front passenger and rear seating area, the actual cargo hauling area in the Acura ILX and TLX is restricted to the trunk. Once again, with the TLX being a mid-size sedan, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that it has a larger trunk than the ILX, but once again, it isn’t a huge difference.

ILX: The Acura ILX trunk measures 12.4 cubic feet.

TLX: The Acura TLX trunk measures 13.5 cubic feet.

Bottom Line: While Acura doesn’t offer an official measurement for cargo space in the rear seating area, anyone who is really concerned with cargo hauling capacity should take the larger rear seat into account as well. The TLX has a little more space in the trunk, but it also has a wider rear seat, allowing for more room for hauling when there aren’t passengers seated in the rear.

Technology and Features

The Acura ILX and Acura TLX are different sizes, but they are both packed with all the premium features that you expect from any modern luxury sedan. This includes standard features like leather-wrapped sport seats and touchscreen infotainment systems, as well as some package-specific features including a premium sound system, HD radio and more premium leather surfaces.

ILX: The Acura ILX comes standard with a five-inch infotainment screen, a six-speaker audio system, and a color Multi-Information Display in the gauge cluster. Standard features on all models include Bluetooth connectivity, USB Audio Interface, Pandora and, text message capability. When you step up to the ILX Premium Package, you get an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, the On-Demand Multi-Use Display system, and a seven-speaker sound system. The Premium infotainment system also includes SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the Homelink system. A-Spec models come with seven speakers and A-Spec ILX sedans with the Technology Package have 10 speakers while sharing the rest of the infotainment components with the Premium Package. A dual-zone automatic climate control system with humidity control and air filtration is standard on all models.

The Acura ILX comes standard with heated leatherette-trimmed sport seats with eight-way power driver’s seat adjustability, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather-wrapped shift handle. The ILX Premium features perforated Milano Leather with contrasting stitching and piping, with eight-way driver’s power adjustability and four-way passenger’s side seat power adjustability. When you step up to the A-Spec, the seats are wrapped in perforated Milano leather and Ultrasuede, with more contrasting stitching and piping.

TLX: The Acura TLX comes with more premium features that are standard across the entire lineup. This includes keyless access, push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote-operated windows and moonroof, an Automatic-Dimming Frameless Rearview Mirror, SiriusXM, HD Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB Audio Interface, Apply CarPlay, Android Auto, AcuraLink connected services a 10.2-inch high definition touchscreen, and the seven-inch color Multi-Informational Display. The “base” TLX comes with the 10-speaker Acura Premium Audio System while the Technology Package moves up to the 13-speaker Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec Review: Making the Grade

The Technology Package also adds the Acura Navigation System with 3D View. The A-Spec and Advance models come with the 17-speaker Acura/ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio System and a wireless charging pad while the Advance models also feature a 10.5-inch head-up display system and a heated steering wheel. A dual-zone automatic climate control system with humidity control and air filtration is standard on all models.

The Acura TLX comes standard with leatherette-trimmed sport seats with heated 12-way power adjustability up front and a 60/40 split in the back. The Technology, A-Spec, and Advance models all come with perforated Milano premium leather with contrasting stitching and piping, with the A-Spec models featuring a unique front seat design. In A-Spec and Advance models, the front seats are also cooled and the rear outboard seating positions are heated in the TLX Advance.

Bottom Line: The Acura ILX and Acura TLX both offer plenty of premium amenities, but the larger of the two offers some higher-end features, and more of those features are standard across the lineup. If interior technology is your thing, you want to get the TLX Advance to enjoy the full spread of Acura luxury.

Powertrain

The area where the Acura ILX and Acura TLX differ the most is in the powertrain options. Both of these sport sedans offer solid power for their size class, but they take completely different approaches to that performance oriented driving experience, from engine size to transmission to drive configuration.

ILX: The Acura ILX comes with front-wheel drive as standard and a naturally aspirated, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels by means of an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

TLX: The Acura TLX also comes with standard front-wheel drive, but features a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to the wheels by means of a 10-speed automatic transmission and while front-drive is standard on all models, Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system is optional on all models.

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Bottom Line: Both of these sport sedans have a powertrain that provides plenty of “fun-to-drive factor”, but the Acura TLX has a defined advantage in power and performance. When you add in the optional all-wheel-drive system, the TLX also has the advantage for those drivers who deal with harsh winter weather. If you are focused on performance numbers or all-season functionality, the TLX is the easy choice.

Fuel Economy

The Acura ILX and Acura TLX are both sport sedans, so you shouldn’t expect insanely high fuel economy numbers, but like all Honda Motor vehicles, these premium models both offer solid MPGs. Not surprisingly, the smaller and less powerful of the two has the advantage, especially when we add the all-wheel-drive system to the TLX.

ILX: The Acura ILX with the standard 2.4-liter engine and front-wheel-drive is rated at 24 mpg in the city, 34 on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. The ILX has a 13.2-gallon fuel tank.

TLX: The Acura TLX with the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel-drive is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31 on the highway and 25 combined. When you add the Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, the numbers drop to 21 city, 29 highway and 24 combined. The TLX has a 15.8-gallon fuel tank.

Bottom Line: If you care about fuel economy, the ILX is the easy choice between these two Acura sport sedans. The ILX is 10% better than the TLX in front-drive form and it is close to 20% better than the all-wheel-drive TLX.

Safety

Safety features are rarely specific to a particular size of sedan, so Acura offers many of the same high tech items in both the ILX and the TLX.

ILX: The Acura ILX comes standard with the Collision Mitigation Braking System, adaptive cruise control, the Lane Keeping Assist System, the Road Departure Mitigation System, the Forward Collision Warning System, the Lane Departure Warning System, the Multi-View rear camera, advanced front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control and Motion Adaptive Steering, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic distribution and brake assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, a theft-deterrent system and the Maintenance Minder System.

The ILX in Premium and A-Spec trim also come with the Blind Spot Information System the Rear Cross Traffic Monitor System.

TLX: The Acura TLX comes standard with an even longer list of safety features, including the Collision Mitigation Braking System, adaptive cruise control, the Lane Keeping Assist System, the Road Departure Mitigation System, the Forward Collision Warning System, the Lane Departure Warning System, the Multi-View rear camera, front and rear parking sensors, advanced front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, front knee airbags, automatic headlights, automatic high beams, hill start assist, Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control and Motion Adaptive Steering, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic distribution and brake assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, a theft-deterrent system and the Maintenance Minder System.

The Acura TLX in Technology, A-Spec and Advance form all feature the Blind Spot Information System and the Rear Cross Traffic Monitor System while the Advance models also come with rain-sensing windshield wipers, a wiper deicer system, a head-up warning system and the Surround-View Camera System.

Bottom Line: The Acura ILX and Acura TLX share many of the same safety features, but the larger of the two does have some key additions. There are a few more airbags and a few more premium features, technically making the TLX the safer of the two Acura sport sedans.

Styling

The Acura ILX and Acura TLX are so similar that in passing, you may not be able to tell the difference. They both feature the same basic face, with LED-trimmed HID headlights in sharply angled housings, flanking a six-sided upper grille. Below the headlights, both the ILX and TLX showcase large, contrasting vents that angle inwards towards the slimmer lower grille, with the fog lights of both sport sedans being tucked into these lower vents as well. Both cars also have low, wide bodies with a slippery silhouette and out back, the angular, LED taillights are similar as well. Even the body lines that run over the top and along the sides of these two Acura sport sedans are similar, creating a pair of differently sized twins.

ILX: The Acura ILX has a shorter wheelbase, a shorter overall length, and it is a bit narrower than the TLX, but it still has the long-and-low look, with the flat hood and hood providing a very wide stance. The fog lights in the lower front fascia vents spread across the black panel with chrome trim surrounding the upper grille and the lower outside vents. There is more chrome around the side windows and a chrome exhaust tip in the integrated rear diffuser design of the rear fascia.

TLX: The Acura TLX is longer and wider, with a broader stance from front to rear. The fog lights are smaller units and there is less chrome trim up front, but there is some chrome around the side windows and on the integrated rear exhaust tips. The TLX has a smooth lower rear fascia rather than a diffuser, giving it a more upscale look, while the black wheels and trim of the A-Spec package drive home the high performance feel.

Bottom Line: If you are basing your decision between the Acura ILX and Acura TLX on appearance, you are in for a tough call. These two cars are nearly identical in their basic design, except that design is stretched over a slightly larger form with the TLX. Ultimately, we like the wider, longer stance of the TLX, but those drivers who prefer a more compact car can enjoy the Acura design language without much compromise with the ILX.

Pricing

Finally, we come to the pricing of the Acura ILX and Acura TLX. Once again, the larger of the two sport sedans is more expensive, but with more space, more standard features and more power, that should be expected.

ILX: The Acura ILX starts at $27,125, which includes the destination fee of $1,025. The ILX Premium starts at $29,225, the A-Spec starts at $31,225 and the ILX A-Spec with the Technology Package starts at $33,125.

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TLX: The Acura TLX with front-wheel drive starts at $38,525, including destination. The TLX with the Technology Package starts at $42,525, the A-Spec models start at $45,275 and the Advanced Package models start at $47,325. The Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system adds $2,000 to every model, so the standard TLX with SH-AWD starts at $40,525, Technology models start at $44,525, A-Spec starts at $47,275 and the Advanced Package, all-wheel-drive models start at $49,325.

Bottom Line: If you are shopping on a budget, the Acura ILX is the easy pick between these two. You can get a fully-loaded ILX A-Spec with the Technology Package for less than the starting price of the base model TLX, but if you want all-wheel-drive and the added performance of the TLX, you are going to pay quite a bit more.

Verdict: Acura ILX vs Acura TLX

If you are cross-shopping the Acura ILX and the Acura TLX, you need to decide which criteria matter the most to you. If you are most concerned with getting the most bang for your buck or the best fuel economy, you want to go with the ILX. If you want greater performance, more interior and safety technology, all-wheel-drive, and more interior space, the TLX is the better choice. Frankly, even with the difference in pricing, the TLX is the better buy of these two Japanese luxury sport sedans, as it offers more luxury and more sport without breaking the bank.

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