By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – Acura is quietly on a quest to reassert itself in the luxury car market. The company has always produced technologically advanced yet simple cars and crossovers. And of late, it is introducing products that line up nicely with its prime competitors, other Asian luxury brands.
A couple of calendar years ago Acura introduced its ILX sport sedan. The model was supposed to nab younger buyers and create a more appetizing doorway into the brand. By most accounts, it succeeded. But one model does not make a turnaround.
While more sophisticated products are undoubtedly in the pipeline, Acura is wasting little time. It has upgraded the 2016 ILX. The exterior styling has been freshened, the car has a new direct injection four cylinder engine, a new eight-speed dual clutch transmission and more trim packages.
The new 2.4-liter four cylinder engine made 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Coupled with the eight-speed dual clutch transmission, the 2016 Acura ILX had an EPA fuel rating of 25 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combine.
The engine was relatively quiet, acceleration was pretty good and the midrange pickup was sufficient. The car had a MacPherson strut front suspension with reactive dampers and a multilink suspension in the rear with reactive dampers.
This setup gave the ILX a light ride without feeling floaty. The car’s suspension seemed to bottom out when going over bumps but it really didn’t. That was just the articulation in the suspension. It was a light riding suspension that adjusted quickly to road conditions. Ventilated 12.3-inch brakes in the front and 11.1 solid rear disc brakes in the rear provided plenty of stopping power.
Inside was a cloth interior with patterned seats. It was understated and to the point. The car had dual information screens. One embedded in the dash provided real time fuel consumption amongst its information. The other was a more traditional screen with infotainment goodies and the navigation screen.
We gave a lift to a friend who happened to be at 6’7”, maybe taller. He got in the front seat without too much bending but we doubt that he could have gotten in the back seats. It was cramped for a near six footer. The doorway was tight and sitting up straight brought our head into contact with the headliner. Though legroom was okay.
Our test vehicle had LED taillights as well as LED headlights. It had heated power door mirrors, a moonroof and heated front seats as well as a smart key. It had tire sealant with inflator kit in place of a spare tire. That was certainly different.
Front passengers had power seats that were heated. The ILX had a rearview camera with cross traffic alert and satellite radio. The navigation system was part of the Tech Package. It included voice controls, real time traffic alert, a premium sound system, dual zone climate controls and a hard disc drive.
The test car also featured the Acurawatch Plus Package. Included were adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, road departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keeping assistance and lane departure warning.
Aluminum brake pedals, 18-inch alloy wheels, sport seats with luxury suede inserts, fog lights, all-season tires and a rear decklid spoiler were part of the A-Spec Package.
The cost for all this equipment and car was a surprisingly reasonable $34,890. Add the $920 freight charge and the total came to $35,810. The best way to increase market share is a quality product at a reasonable price. Acura seems to have learned that equation with the 2016 ILX.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.