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2013 Acura ILX Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2013 Acura ILX Road Test Review

by Bob Plunkett

Luxury Car Buyer's Guide - RTM's Top 8 Picks for 2013

Acura ILX

Kia Optima SX

Buick Verano Turbo

Lexus GS

A corkscrew road ripping over Appalachian foothills in Pennsylvania works like a Formula One course to challenge both driver and car in tests we devised to sample the aggressive character of a sporty new sedan by Acura, the line of performance and luxury vehicles derived from Honda of Japan.

A trunk tag labels the new car as the ILX and Acura describes it as a new gateway vehicle to the brand offering sporty handling traits plus premium features and value on a luxury scale.

Cast on a rigid chassis with a four-cylinder engine directing all torque to the two front wheels which also steer, the ILX stocks all of the hardware components to make a responsive sports sedan.

Apply a tape measure to the ILX and the numbers reveal a package size fitting in the compact class with a wheelbase of 105.1 inches and wheel track width of 59.4 inches front and 60.3 inches rear, the car body stretching to 179.1 inches long, a body width of 70.6 inches and the roofline rising to 55.6 inches.

Acura offers only one style for the ILX package -- a shapely 4-door notchback sedan -- but delivers three powertrain choices including the brand's first high-mileage gasoline-electric hybrid.

The price-leading base model ILX 2.0L stocks a gasoline-powered four-cylinder aluminum engine which displaces 2.0 liters and carries Honda's special i-VTEC (variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion in order to maximize horsepower and disperse torque across a broad band.

This plant generates 150 hp at 6500 rpm plus torque of 140 lb-ft at 4300 rpm.

Sole transaxle for the 2.0-liter engine is a silky electronically controlled automatic with five forward speeds plus Acura's Sequential SportShift override for clutch-less manual shifts.

Federal EPA fuel consumption numbers for this ILX powertrain tally to 24 miles per gallon for city driving and 35 mpg on a highway, and it earns ULEV-2 certification as an ultra low emission vehicle.

Acura's performance model ILX 2.4L carries a single-cam 2.4-liter inline-4 gasoline engine with iVTEC that delivers 201 hp at 7000 rpm and torque of 170 lb-ft at 4400 rpm.

The 2.4-liter four links exclusively to a shift-it-yourself 5-speed manual transmission with EPA fuel-burn estimates of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

ILX 1.5L Hybrid uses an ultra-efficient 1.5-liter inline-4 gasoline-sipping engine rated at 111 hp at 5500 rpm and teamed with an IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) electric motor plus CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) to score EPA fuel consumption numbers of 39/38 mpg city/highway.

Sharp exterior lines mark the 2013 editions of ILX. Note the ultra-fast windshield rake, curt overhangs front and rear, and minimal gaps between tires and fenders.

Wheels are positioned near corners of a rectangular body for a sporty posture, and there's a low hood line to enhance forward visibility for the driver, a front fascia with integrated foglamps and squinty narrow projector beam headlamps -- with optional HID (high intensity discharge) bulbs -- on front corners of a pointed prow crowned by Acura's pentagonal grille in silver paint.

Shapely flanks in monochromic treatment break for exaggerated round wheelwells as side doors blend into the panels due to black roof pillars on each side which disguise the four-door format and make this sedan seem like a coupe.

All trim versions get an independent suspension system consisting of front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link.

A big disc brake applies at every wheel, with ABS (anti-lock brake system) plus EBD (electronic brake distribution) and BA (brake assist) units, a TCS (traction control system) and VSA (vehicle stability assist) mechanism to correct lateral car skidding.

ILX 2.0L and 1.5L Hybrid roll on 16-inch split-spoke aluminum wheels capped by 205/55HR16 Continental ContiProContact M+S tires.

ILX 2.4L upgrades to 17-inch 5-spoke aluminum wheels bound in 215/45VR17 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 M+S tires.

The ILX passenger compartment contains two broad bucket seats in front of a rear bench with center armrest and 60/40 split fold-down seatback plus trunk pass-through portal.

Standard equipment includes Acura's Keyless Access System with smart entry and pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic climate system, power moonroof, leather-bound steering wheel, back-up camera with rearview display, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/RDS/USB/Pandora.

For the ILX 2.0L, Acura offers the optional Premium package with leather seats, heated front seats, power driver seat, 360-watt audio system with XM radio, HID headlights, foglamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels, multi-view rearview camera and Active Sound Cancellation system.

For ILX 2.0L and ILX 1.5L Hybrid, the optional Technology package installs the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition and rearview camera, AcuraLink Satellite Communication System with real-time traffic and weather radar mapping, and Acura/ELS Surround audio system with 60-gb hard-disk drive.

Acura's price chart for 2013 ILX models begins at $25,900 for ILX 2.0L.

For more information on Acura vehicles, click here.