Simply put, Acura is a brand that desperately needs a shot of new life. Over the past decade, Honda's luxury arm has lost market share, suffered through some questionable designs and has often failed to inspire critics and car shoppers alike. It's a shame, too, since Acura brought some of the most interesting and important technological advancements to automobiles in the later part of the last century (drive by wire tech, GPS, etc.).

On top of that, Honda, Acura's parent company, has among the best, most reliable engines in the world, so all Honda and Acura models should be in demand for their dependability.

But with a new RLX flagship sedan, a new NSX on the way and, now, the new entry-level ILX, the Japanese luxury brand seems to be putting some extra effort towards winning back customers lost to BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and others over the past few years.

The 2013 Acura ILX is a compact luxury sedan (basically, a very nice Honda Civic) that comes in a few different configurations: A 2.0L, a 2.4L and 1.5L hybrid. With a relatively low base MSRP, lots of options and standard features, and much more attractive aesthetics than recent Acura sedans, the ILX looks to get the first-time luxury buyer hooked on these luxury Hondas.

Is it good enough to peel customers away from its competition? I drove the 2.4L and Hybrid ILX for a week each to find out. Click through to see how it performed.

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MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200 / $28,900
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507 / $27,229

As Tested: $29,200 / $34,400

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-2.4 liter I4 engine / 1.5 liter I4 hybrid engine
-201 hp, 170 lb-ft torque / 93 hp, 89 lb-ft torque
-6-speed manual transmission / CVT
-24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway / 39 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway
-12.3 cu. ft. max cargo capacity / 10.0 cu. ft. max cargo capacity
-Seats 5

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Michael: I'm a pretty big fan of the exterior aesthetics. This is essentially a gussied up Honda Civic, but a cursory glance doesn't suggest that in the slightest. Acura has gotten away from its infamous beaked nose that graced the TL and TSX and has replaced it with a handsome and refined front fascia. The exterior flows very well from front to back and the car has a nice stance when at a standstill.

Inside, both the 2.4L and the Hybrid are comfortable and quiet. For around the town driving, this is a great place to be. The seats are nice and provide good support and there is a surprising amount of room in the back. I hauled around a friend of mine who stands at about 6 foot 4 inches, and he didn't have any problems when we banished him to the backseat. Granted, it was a pretty short trip, but I was impressed nonetheless.

What Autoblog Says: The 2.4-liter powerplant, coupled to a sweet-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, has enough gumption to make the ILX legitimately entertaining when the road opens up a bit. There aren't any changes to the suspension with the larger engine, but the standard MacPherson struts up front and multi-link arrangement in back are more than up to the task when the going gets twisty. Coupled to a steering ratio that's 6.8-percent quicker than the one used in the Honda Civic, plus a more rigid steering shaft with a forged yoke joint, and the hardware underpinnings, the Acura ILX is capable of delivering on the sporty promise of its 2.4-liter engine and manual transmission.

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Michael: The ILX has a bizarre trim situation. While both the 2.0L and hybrid powertrains can be had with the high-end "Technology Package", which comes with navigation, Acura's Real-Time Traffic and Weather, a 10-speaker, 365-Watt ELS Surround Sound system and a 15-gigabyte internal hard drive, the package is nowhere to be found on the 2.4L. This means that the best engine cannot have the best trim package. If you want nav and the more performance-oriented engine, you're simply out of luck and will be on your own buying an aftermarket GPS and audio system. Honda is notorious for its odd feature package planning, like when we couldn't get satellite radio on a loaded Honda Fit.

Additionally, fuel economy is good, but not great for a hybrid at 39 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway. This falls short of the similarly priced Lexus CT 200h and Audi A3 TDI on the highway. For many consumers in this category, mileage is everything.

What Autoblog Says: We think Acura is charging too much for the 2013 ILX. The car itself, while not terribly exciting to drive, is a pretty nice way to get from point A to point B, but so is the Buick Verano, which, with a starting price of $23,470, is several thousand dollars cheaper. If you want a sportier option, we suggest you wait for the upcoming turbocharged Verano that will be available with a six-speed manual – we predict that car will come pretty well equipped for about the same price as the ILX 2.4, except that it will have navigation, a big LCD screen in the dash and considerably more than the ILX's maximum of 201 horsepower.

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The ILX is a nice car, but it's a little overpriced, isn't quite as engaging to drive as I'd like and has a bizarre trim configuration. All in all, it's simply not as good of a car as the Verano from a performance and features standpoint and fuel economy in the hybrid version isn't beating its competition (it's losing to the Audi A3 TDI on the highway and the Lexus CT 200h in city and highway mpg). It's not a bad vehicle by any means – comfortable, quiet and stylish – but if looking at entry level luxury cars, you'll be better served shopping the competition a little bit before you pull the trigger on this one.

AOL Autos Score:

3/5 Stars