2016 Acura ILX

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2016 Acura ILX. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Handling
  • Engine power
  • Contemporary styling
  • Clean interior layout
  • Folding backseat
  • Available safety systems

The Bad

  • Tight headroom front and rear
  • Lots of road and engine noise
  • Transmission quick to upshift at low speeds
  • No more manual transmission option
  • No all-wheel-drive option

Notable Features of the 2016 Acura ILX

  • Slightly restyled exterior
  • Compact luxury sedan
  • Hybrid discontinued
  • One engine and transmission
  • Sporty A-SPEC model

2016 Acura ILX Road Test

Bill Jackson

The restyled 2016 Acura ILX is a competent, fun-driving car in the entry-level compact luxury field, but it doesn't live up to some luxury-class expectations.

The ILX gets a lightly revised exterior, minor interior cabin updates, and more available technology and safety features this year. Acura also discontinued the base engine, leaving only one, and replaced lesser manual and automatic transmissions with a new eight-speed automatic that features the unique combination of a dual-clutch paired to a torque converter.

Another change for the Acura ILX is the number of option packages available, which serve as its trim levels. For 2016, Acura offers six trims instead of last year's three. You can compare the 2016 model with the 2015 here. We tested a 2016 Acura ILX with the AcuraWatch Plus option package.

Exterior & Styling
The new  
Acura ILX A-Spec looks slightly different from the 2015, with a front end that really resembles the larger Acura TLX; it features the same linear LED headlights and a slightly pumped-up grille. Overall, the changes are subtle but well-done to my eye.

Aside from being a good-looking car, the Acura ILX won't be mistaken for anything but an Acura. I think this is really important if you're introducing a brand to customers.

How It Drives
Driving the 
Acura ILX has some drawbacks, but overall it's rewarding compared with other entry-level luxury cars.

The 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine has good power for the class...

The restyled 2016 Acura ILX is a competent, fun-driving car in the entry-level compact luxury field, but it doesn't live up to some luxury-class expectations.

The ILX gets a lightly revised exterior, minor interior cabin updates, and more available technology and safety features this year. Acura also discontinued the base engine, leaving only one, and replaced lesser manual and automatic transmissions with a new eight-speed automatic that features the unique combination of a dual-clutch paired to a torque converter.

Another change for the Acura ILX is the number of option packages available, which serve as its trim levels. For 2016, Acura offers six trims instead of last year's three. You can compare the 2016 model with the 2015 here. We tested a 2016 Acura ILX with the AcuraWatch Plus option package.

Exterior & Styling
The new  
Acura ILX A-Spec looks slightly different from the 2015, with a front end that really resembles the larger Acura TLX; it features the same linear LED headlights and a slightly pumped-up grille. Overall, the changes are subtle but well-done to my eye.

Aside from being a good-looking car, the Acura ILX won't be mistaken for anything but an Acura. I think this is really important if you're introducing a brand to customers.

How It Drives
Driving the 
Acura ILX has some drawbacks, but overall it's rewarding compared with other entry-level luxury cars.

The 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine has good power for the class, but there's a lag when accelerating from around 40 mph or so. That's because the eight-speed transmission is quick to upshift as you accelerate, so when you want to make a pass you have to wait for the transmission to kick back down several gears. This gives the impression that the engine makes less power than it does.

There are two ways to counteract this, one of which is to use the steering wheel's paddle shifters to manually select gears — but how "automatic" is the transmission if you're required to do anything? The other way around that is to use Sport mode, because then the ILX holds onto lower gears longer before shifting up.

The Acura ILX's engine also stays revving at a higher speed when you lift off the gas for longer than other engines, particularly in Sport mode. The downside to all that, though, is that there's a lot more engine noise. It's really noticeable, and while I like the sound of the engine, it's unexpected to have so much noise in the luxury class.

Further, the ILX is fairly loud inside overall. There's the engine noise, yes, but I also heard a lot of road noise in my test — not only on rough roads, where you'd expect it, but also on smoother pavement. That's odd considering Acura said it had added more sound-deadening material in the 2016 ILX.

But then there's the ride and handling. The ILX is stiffer than a lot of compact luxury cars, and you're rewarded with handling that's better than most in its class. On smooth roads, it was a lot of fun to rush up to a turn, brake, and shoot away from the corner.

While the suspension does a decent job of absorbing normal bumps, the larger ones really send a shock through the car. It's also not the most settled car on really rough, broken pavement. Others in the entry-level luxury class — notably the Buick Verano and Audi A3 — cope with this sort of road better.

The Acura ILX gets an EPA-estimated 25/36/29 mpg city/highway/ combined, and premium gas is required. The numbers beat the Verano's 21/32/25 mpg, the turbocharged Verano's 21/30/24 mpg and the Audi A3's 23/33/27 mpg. While the ILX posts better figures, though, it should be noted that neither the A3 nor Verano require premium gas. That could make a difference when it comes to the cost of driving.

Interior
The biggest drawback I found in the ILX is its cramped headroom, both up front and in back. Granted, I'm 6 feet 2 inches tall and sit very upright when I drive, but this car was uncommonly tight. Up front, I could not wear a hat without it scraping the roof, and I couldn't sit in back without my head itself touching the roof. The latter fact is particularly unfortunate, because there was adequate legroom in back for a compact car.

Also of note is the fact that a power moonroof is standard on all ILX models, and I have to wonder if not having that feature would give me a little more room up front? That's often the case when a moonroof is an option.

Finally, as the Acura ILX is a sedan, it's reasonable to expect it to be used to haul families, and our certified child-safety seat installers put the ILX to the test. Check out the results in our Car Seat Check.

The Acura ILX's overall cabin quality is quite good, with good-looking — and good-feeling — materials. In particular, the buttons and switches have a substantial feel. Nothing feels cheap or flimsy.

Visibility is also good. Even with the cramped headroom, I was able to feel confident behind the wheel and make quick moves in traffic.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Acura does a nice job in this department. The steering wheel is practically covered in buttons, but with use — they become familiar. It felt as if someone at Acura sat down and figured what combination of controls should be grouped together, then installed the buttons based on that.

The multi-information center control panel took a bit longer to get used to, but that likely was because I was focusing on mastering the steering wheel. It's worth noting that, in this era of vast touch-screen adoption, our test model did not have what Acura calls its On Demand Multi-Use Display touch-screen option, which allows people to set up shortcuts for things such as stereo presets and climate settings. It was refreshing to use a button or knob to adjust climate and radio controls.

The biggest issue with the electronics is how Acura has set up the ILX option packages. The ILX is available as a base ILX, ILX with Premium Package and ILX with Technology Plus Package. Those trims are joined by the sporty new A-SPEC Package for 2016, which is also available with the Premium and Technology packages.

What that means for consumers is that if you opt for the ILX with AcuraWatch Plus that we had, you get features such as adaptive cruise control, but you don't get satellite radio. That's an extra-cost, stand-alone option (excluding the subscription) on this version. Otherwise you have to move up a trim level for about $2,000. To my way of thinking, if you're asking roughly $30,000, why not throw in satellite radio, given the system's ubiquity even in non-luxury cars?

Cargo & Storage
The trunk is large, with 12.3 cubic feet, but the Verano has more space: 14.0 cubic feet. Those who wish to carry larger items will be happy to learn that there are folding rear seats; however, the opening the folded seats create is an odd shape. Hauling long items — such as skis — is easy, but bigger things like TVs or card tables can be an issue.

Inside the cabin, there's a decent-sized center storage console for a compact car, plus a few cubbies that came in handy.

Safety
The 
Acura ILX received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest rating — good — in its tests for the 2015 model. The 2015 results apply to the 2016 but exclude a small overlap result, the results of which will be revealed in fall 2015 in the 2016 report.

Our test model came equipped with a number of optional safety features, including lane departure warning and a lane keeping assist system that will steer the car back into your lane if you wander. There was also a forward collision warning and collision mitigation system that sounds a warning and applies brakes to help avoid a collision.

The lane keeping assist system is interesting because it really feels as if it's steering the car back into your lane, as opposed to other systems that use braking force to "steer" the car back into the lane. The ILX's response is just obtrusive enough — in a good way — to let you know corrective action is being taken, but it doesn't startle you.

I never had to test the collision mitigation system's automated braking, thankfully, but I can report the collision warning that comes on first is effective. It flashes the word "Brake" in bold yellow letters in a way that's hard to miss and sounds a chime that's also hard to miss. It could be seen as annoying, but in this day when more drivers are distracted, a bit of intrusion in the name of safety might just be warranted.

You can see all the ILX's safety features here.

Value in Its Class
The ILX carves out a niche for itself in the entry-level luxury class thanks to its driving dynamics. Stacking the ILX up against cars such as the Audi A3 and Buick Verano, maybe even the Mercedes-Benz CLA250, it offers the spunkiest performance. The Buick isn't as rewarding to drive, but is much, much quieter on the inside. And while the A3 is more composed over rough, broken pavement, it can't match the ILX for driving fun.

I also think the ILX excels in its interior quality, looking richer than either the A3 or Verano and sporting the most substantial-feeling controls and buttons, as well. You can compare all those cars' specs here.

Also, the ILX's starting base price of $28,820 (including $920 destination) is roughly $3,000 less than the Audi A3. (It should be noted, though, that the Verano easily trumps both, with a starting price of $21,990.)

After that, though, the Acura ILX starts to suffer in comparison. It's easily the loudest car of the three, and both the Verano and A3 don't pinch me for headroom. I'd describe the Verano as the most traditional luxury car, with its quiet interior, leather seats and comfortable road manners. The A3 is a more austere version of the same, with a chassis that can really cope with rough roads. The ILX is the sporty one that's a little rough around the edges.

The Acura ILX is OK, but it doesn't exactly fill your heart with aching lust for another Acura.

Send Bill an email  

 


2016 ILX Video

Acura has restyled and simplified the powertrain options for its 2016 ILX. But has the automaker done enough to be competitive in the entry-level luxury-sedan market? Watch the video for more.

Latest 2016 ILX Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.0)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

A highly reliable car.

by Norman from Amherst, NY on August 24, 2018

This car was loaded with safety features. Great car! items lacking in this model: rear wipers, built in GPS, but much cheaper to buy a Garmin Read full review

(5.0)

Acura ILX Aspec/Premium

by ATLec13 on August 20, 2018

Solid luxury model for the price. It?s basically a souped up civic, but the sleek Acura styling is an upgrade. I definitely recommend to anyone. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2016 Acura ILX currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Acura ILX 2.4L

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

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

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
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

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

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
acceptable
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and 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.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

D

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

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