By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.9
There's a new luxury sedan segment that's opening up, and the 2015 Acura ILX is at the forefront. Priced well below cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, the ILX is also smaller, but it packs a lot into its compact dimensions. It looks great, and is easily one of the more attractive Acura sedans to come along in recent years. Its 4-cylinder engines come with excellent fuel-economy numbers, and the ILX has enough technology and performance to convince luxury-sedan buyers that they're being smart, and not cheap. Granted, the Acura nameplate doesn't have the cachet of the Audi A3 or Lexus CT 200h, but like the similar Buick Verano, the ILX does have one significant advantage: price.
If you want a bit more sophistication and a more status-conscious brand, but without spending a lot of money, the 2015 Acura ILX may be right up your alley. The 6-speed manual-transmission model comes with a bigger, more powerful engine, turning the ILX into a compelling luxury sports sedan.
While definitely a premium offering, the 2015 Acura ILX still isn't exactly bursting with the luxury-sedan cachet you get from BMW, Audi, or Cadillac. It's definitely on the small side, and there are still folks out there who think that luxury engines start at six cylinders.
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Aside from a new paint color, the only major difference in the 2015 Acura ILX lineup is the absence of the ILX Hybrid. That's fine, since the ILX got a few much-needed upgrades last year, like the addition of active noise cancellation and an upgraded audio system.
Driving Impressions The 2015 Acura ILX is based on the Honda Civic, and it'd be easy to say it drives like a fancy version of that Honda. Except, it...... doesn't. Although the ILX is small and light like a Civic, its sophisticated interior layout and quieter cabin make for an overall more pleasant driving experience. The light steering effort and comfortably firm ride are also at odds with its Honda cousin. With the hybrid gone, there are two models to choose from. The first has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder connected to a 5-speed automatic transmission. This version is fine around town, but don't expect to break speed records. The second ILX packs a more powerful 2.4-liter engine available only with a 6-speed manual transmission. This turns the ILX from an entry-level luxury sedan into one with the considerable performance street cred of a Honda Civic Si or, if you're old-school, an Acura RSX.
2.4-LITER i-VTEC ENGINE
If you like driving a manual transmission car, you're in for a treat. Not only is the 6-speed available in the ILX sedan one of the sweetest you'll find, but it's also connected to a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder taken straight out of the Honda Civic Si.
Acura's styling has charitably been called "controversial" or "polarizing" in recent years, but the company navigated into calmer waters with the Acura ILX. While not jaw-droppingly beautiful, the clean lines and uncluttered surfaces even make the signature "power plenum" grille look good.
The 2015 Acura ILX sedan offers up roomy seating for its front two passengers, both of whom will find the clean layout of the dash and simple-to-use entertainment system refreshing. Last year, the ILX added much-needed active noise cancellation, helping to calm an otherwise obnoxious level of road noise. Comfort and convenience items like keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, and a power tilt/slide moonroof are standard, as are an iPhone-compatible USB port, text messaging and Pandora radio. Rear-seat passengers aren't quite as coddled as the front, but there's still room for three should the need arise.Exterior
The exterior styling on the 2015 ILX is what we'd call "subtly elegant." In fact, Acura's design language is evolving into much more comfortable territory, putting an emphasis on timeless class than shock value. The controversial "power plenum" grille treatment is still there, but toned down and integrated much better. Compare it to the overly plain Buick Verano sedan or the restyled Lexus CT 200h and its outrageous grille, and the ILX looks better and better.
What the 2015 Acura ILX includes as standard equipment would once have been considered "loaded." The list is long, and includes a power sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, Bluetooth and audio connectivity, and a 6-speaker audio system with a USB/iPod interface, and Pandora integration. Also standard are leather seating, an 8-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
If the plentiful standard equipment isn't enough, the 2015 ILX is available with two option packages. The Premium Package adds a multi-view rear camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HID low-beam headlights and fog lights. The Technology Package includes navigation, Real-Time Traffic and Weather, a 10-speaker Surround Sound audio system, 15GB Media Storage and Song By Voice, voice recognition, and GPS-linked solar-sensing temperature control. However, the Technology Package isn't available with the 2.4-liter engine, an odd omission in our opinion.
Two distinctly different engines are available for the 2015 Acura ILX. The first is a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. An enlarged version of the powerplant available in the Honda Civic, this engine sends its power through a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission. That's fine, except that virtually every sedan the ILX competes with has a 6-speed or better. If you're the kind of person who always asks for the Tapatio, you might be more interested in the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. With 201 horsepower, this engine gives the ILX some extra kick. Be forewarned though: You'll have to shift for yourself, as the only available transmission is a 6-speed manual. However, using it is no chore, as it's one of the slickest manual transmissions you'll find anywhere.
150 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
140 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 mpg
201 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg
The base ILX starts at about $28,000, including destination. Adding the Premium Package sounds like a $30,000 ILX, but it requires adding the Technology Package, so you'll really pay about $32,500. The more powerful ILX sedan will set you back about $31,200, but there's a catch: It's not available with the Technology Package. That means no factory navigation, high-end audio, or other niceties with the powerful engine. Unless you're mad with power, stick with the regular ILX and load up on the luxury. It's still a decent value. The Buick Verano starts about $2,000 less, but tops out at about the same price, while the Lexus CT 200h and the Audi A3 start closer to $30,000. Check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what other buyers are paying. Expect the Acura to hold its value better than the Buick, and on par with the Audi and Lexus.