2013 Acura ILX

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Acura ILX. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    25-28 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    150-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Decent ride quality
  • Contemporary styling
  • Clean interior layout
  • Roomy backseat
  • Folding backseat (except hybrid)

The Bad

  • Steering feel
  • Leather not standard
  • Body roll in 2.4L version
  • Some cabin materials
  • Hybrid's braking feel
  • No folding backseat on hybrid

Notable Features of the 2013 Acura ILX

  • All-new compact sedan
  • Priced below TSX sedan
  • Three drivetrains, including hybrid
  • Manual or automatic (depends on engine)
  • Relatively high mileage
  • Keyless access standard

2013 Acura ILX Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

With its new 2013 ILX sedan, Acura creates a new point of entry for the brand. The ILX is slightly smaller than the TSX sedan, which costs $30,905 (including a destination charge of $895). The ILX starts at $26,795; as of this writing, complete pricing information is available only here.

The ILX's three versions are the 2.0L, the performance-oriented 2.4L and Acura's first gas-electric model, the 1.5L Hybrid. I drove all three.

The 2013 Acura ILX is sure to appeal to some efficiency-seeking entry-luxury shoppers, but the demand for any car in this expanding category remains to be seen.

Civic Roots
The ILX shares its foundation with the Honda Civic, making it the first model to do so since the sporty RSX coupe, which left the market in 2007. Automakers get cagey when you start talking about shared platforms, especially between brands of disparate cost and reputation, but Acura openly acknowledges the relationship and points out many mechanical differences between the two.

For one, the ILX is lower and about 1.5 inches wider than the Civic, and its torsional rigidity (the body's resistance to twisting) is greater, by 18 percent in front and 11 percent in rear. The ILX uses different shock absorbers, called amplitude reactive dampers, typically found in European luxury cars. The two-piston systems are said to provide a soft ride without sacrificing sharper bump absorption or cornering performance.

The ILX also has a faster steering ratio and upgraded hardware, such ...

With its new 2013 ILX sedan, Acura creates a new point of entry for the brand. The ILX is slightly smaller than the TSX sedan, which costs $30,905 (including a destination charge of $895). The ILX starts at $26,795; as of this writing, complete pricing information is available only here.

The ILX's three versions are the 2.0L, the performance-oriented 2.4L and Acura's first gas-electric model, the 1.5L Hybrid. I drove all three.

The 2013 Acura ILX is sure to appeal to some efficiency-seeking entry-luxury shoppers, but the demand for any car in this expanding category remains to be seen.

Civic Roots
The ILX shares its foundation with the Honda Civic, making it the first model to do so since the sporty RSX coupe, which left the market in 2007. Automakers get cagey when you start talking about shared platforms, especially between brands of disparate cost and reputation, but Acura openly acknowledges the relationship and points out many mechanical differences between the two.

For one, the ILX is lower and about 1.5 inches wider than the Civic, and its torsional rigidity (the body's resistance to twisting) is greater, by 18 percent in front and 11 percent in rear. The ILX uses different shock absorbers, called amplitude reactive dampers, typically found in European luxury cars. The two-piston systems are said to provide a soft ride without sacrificing sharper bump absorption or cornering performance.

The ILX also has a faster steering ratio and upgraded hardware, such as a larger-diameter steering shaft, for improved feel. There's more noise abatement as well: thicker window glass, more insulation and active noise cancellation in models with 17-inch wheels, among other measures.

How does this all translate to the driving experience?

ILX 2.0L
The expected best-selling version is the ILX 2.0L, where the number represents a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which teams only with a five-speed automatic transmission. All versions of the ILX are front-wheel drive. In place of the Civic's 1.8-liter, this 150-horsepower engine didn't feel demonstrably quicker than the Civic to me, perhaps because of the increased weight — about 145 pounds more than the automatic-equipped Civic EX. But it's quick enough. The five-speed automatic is well-behaved, providing smooth shifts and quicker kickdown when it's time to pass. Of the three ILX versions, the ILX 2.0L strikes a good balance of power and mileage, which is what Acura intended. It's EPA-rated 24/35 mpg city/highway and 28 mpg combined. Sadly, premium gas is recommended.

The ride quality is pretty good, exhibiting the road-surface awareness we expect from Acura — without undue punishment on one extreme or wallow on the other.

The ILX's handling is competent, with good front/rear balance for a front-drive car, but there's noticeable body roll, and the car simply doesn't beg you to drive it hard. Despite the special provisions versus the Civic, the steering feedback is lacking.

ILX 2.4L
The 2.4L is most like the Civic Si in that it has a 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. As expected, it's quick, though the torque peak of 170 pounds-feet doesn't give the car the urgency some drivers want off the line. The engine and exhaust sound pretty good, but it gets loud and intrusive as the revs climb to where you'll get the most out of it. The manual is satisfying enough, and the gear ratios are well-matched to the cause. The car is EPA-rated 22/31 mpg and 25 mpg combined.

Torque steer is under control, though it seems to come with a stiffening of the steering wheel, perhaps a countermeasure enacted through the electric power steering.

Where the ILX 2.4L is most like the Civic Si is in the most disappointing way: body roll. This trim level has the same suspension tuning as the other models, and it simply needs more control over body lean. Without the confidence and roadholding that comes with competent body control, the 2.4L's extra power is mostly wasted.

ILX 1.5 Hybrid
I also drove the ILX Hybrid, whose EPA-estimated mileage is 39/38 mpg — more than respectable, especially in city driving, but significantly lower than the Civic Hybrid, at 44/44 mpg.

Even though the drivetrain hardware is the same as the Civic Hybrid's and the ILX Hybrid has a rear spoiler and low-rolling-resistance tires, the Acura doesn't make as many aerodynamic concessions. It also weighs about 100 pounds heavier, and its hybrid system is tuned for greater responsiveness.

On the road, the hybrid doesn't exhibit too much of the delayed acceleration response we've come to tolerate in many hybrids — known as the rubber band or motorboat effect — at least not when accelerating from a stop. There's more of it if you nail the gas once already in motion, but three drive modes let you trade mileage for responsiveness: The Econ button makes the car reticent to rev the engine, the Sport mode keeps the revs higher all the time, and the normal Drive mode, as you'd expect, is right in between. Not a bad arrangement. If those don't work for you, you can use the steering-wheel paddles to select among seven fixed ratios for the continuously variable automatic transmission.

The ILX Hybrid isn't quick, and the brakes have a dreadfully mushy pedal, but if you go into it with proper hybrid expectations — quirky acceleration and braking, not much liveliness or fun — it should satisfy you.

As usual, there's a cargo tradeoff with the hybrid, in this case a decrease of more than 2 cubic feet of trunk volume, and the backseat won't fold or split, a feature that's standard in the other versions.

In the Cabin
The ILX is definitely quieter than a Civic, though not exceptionally quiet, and not as serene as the Buick Verano. Rather than a pitter-patter when traversing pavement cracks and tar patches, the tires emit more of a distant low-frequency drumbeat. Some of our editors complained of more-sustained tire noise on the highway.

Cloth seats with manual adjustments are standard on the 2.0L and Hybrid. Leather seats with eight-way power and heaters in front come in the optional Premium and Technology packages. My test of the ILX 2.0L included an interstate trip, and I found the seat comfortable even after five hours of highway driving. One of our editors thought it wasn't padded and supportive in the right places. The backseat is admirably roomy for a compact car, and the floor back there is virtually flat, which goes a long way in making the center seat truly usable.

It goes without saying that the ILX's interior quality is better than the Civic's widely criticized cabin (which Honda has acknowledged). All of the test cars I drove had at least the Premium option package and thus perforated leather-and-vinyl seats, which are well-executed. The dashboard has low-gloss soft surfaces, and the center control panel has an interesting finish. Less impressive is the silver-gray trim elsewhere and the black plastic at the front of the armrests and around the door handles.

A little more consistency would help, as would some color, especially when the ILX is up against the Verano. Except for the optional ivory-colored seats and select surfaces in our 2.0L test car, this Acura is characteristically black and gray.

Safety
As an all-new model, the Acura ILX hadn't been crash-tested as of this report.

As required of all new vehicles, the ILX comes standard with front airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control. Also included are front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtains for the front and rear seats.

A backup camera that comes in the optional Premium Package displays the image on a 5-inch color screen, mid-dash. The Technology Package adds a larger screen, along with the navigation system.

ILX in the Market
When Acura introduced its 2013 ILX sedan at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, we had three questions: Why would the company add another small sedan, just under the TSX in size and price? Can it improve enough on the car's humble Honda roots? Perhaps most important, does demand truly exist for a luxury car of this size and price?

As for the why, it's probably because the company perceives demand for a more affordable sedan in its lineup, and because the car's high gas mileage will both appeal to cost-conscious buyers and help meet federal fuel-economy requirements. (The TSX tops out at 26 mpg combined.)

Did Acura produce a better Civic? Of course. But with the Verano, Buick fielded a better Chevrolet Cruze, at a starting price $3,325 lower than the ILX. Though the Verano's mileage maxes out at 25 mpg combined, we were mightily impressed with its luxury feel and appointments.

As for the greater question, demand for cars of this type in general is yet to be determined.

Send Joe an email  



2013 ILX Video

The ILX is the first Acura to share underpinnings with a Honda Civic since the late Acura RSX. Despite the shared foundation, the two vehicles are very different, according to Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder.

Latest 2013 ILX Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

This is a great economy car with all the frills.

by danders from portland, or on October 19, 2018

The technology package has all the bells and whistles while looking beautiful on the road. Great little car with pep and looks. Great gas mileage Read full review

(5.0)

This has been a great little car.

by SkiUMatty from Alabama on October 13, 2018

Great little car. Very comfortable for driver and passenger. Good sound system, Bluetooth works well, very good MPG, and all the niceties like leather heated seats, sunroof, and power everything. Most ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Acura ILX currently has 3 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Acura ILX 2.0L

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Head Restraint
good
Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Acura
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Less than 6 years/less than 80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles

  • Powertrain warranty

    7 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    182-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The ILX received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker