2016 ILX New Car Test Drive
The Acura ILX gets a significant makeover for 2016. One of a handful of compact sedans in the growing entry-level luxury segment, the 2016 ILX benefits from a new high-performance engine, a new 8-speed transmission, retuned suspension and steering, a reinforced chassis, fresh styling, an upgraded interior, and updated technology.
All 2016 Acura ILX models come with Honda's 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine, good for 210 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) with a torque converter, borrowed from Acura's midsize TLX.
The gearbox is significant, because it's the first application to pair a dual-clutch transmission, which usually operates on its own like an automatic, with a torque converter, used historically with automatic transmissions. What this means for the driver is smoother shifts off the line and at lower speeds, unlike standalone DCTs, whose shifts can feel abrupt. We put the transmission to the test on demanding roads, and found it capable and smooth, especially in Sport mode. In fact, we found it one of the most significant improvements compared to the outgoing model.
Exterior design of the 2016 ILX is more refined than the previous-generation (2013-2015) car. A new front fascia uses Acura's new signature front grille and five square-shaped jewel headlamps, which are also used on the newest Acura TLX. A new A-Spec package makes the 2016 ILX look more aggressive, with round fog lamps mounted in the flared lower air intakes, sculpted side sills, unique 17-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.
Inside, design and materials are greatly improved for 2016, with soft-touch materials and sporty touches like contrast stitching on the steering wheel. The A-Spec package gets a black interior with suede-like seat inserts, as well as aluminum pedals.
New in-car technology for 2016 includes a tethered navigation system for the mid-level ILX Premium, which allows users to pipe navigation information from their smartphone to the car's display via an Acura-specific navigation app. A new optional suite of safety features, dubbed AcuraWatch, includes adaptive cruise control, a multi-view rear camera, lane keep assist, collision mitigation and a road departure mitigation feature, which will actively steer the car back onto the road in case the driver drifts.
Another significant improvement to the 2016 Acura ILX is the steering, which feels much more responsive compared with the previous model. Steering feel is comfortable, without feeling numb or overly heavy. The ILX suspension has also been revised, and additional reinforcements around the ILX chassis makes it stiffer, which equates to improved collision safety and less body roll around turns.
Road and wind noise is reduced on the 2016 ILX thanks to thicker window glass and more sound dampening, as well as active noise cancellation, which picks up engine and road sounds from a microphone and pipes in noise-combating frequencies through the car's speakers. Though improved from the outgoing model, we still noticed some mild to moderate road noise on bumpier roads, especially with the A-Spec model's larger tires.
The 2016 Acura ILX is a comfortable, capable compact sedan, with a lower starting price than those of its competitors, which include the Audi A3 sedan and the Mercedes-Benz CLA, as well as the two-door BMW 2 Series. While the ILX may lack the performance and brand cachet of its German rivals, it's much improved over the previous model and offers good value.
The 2016 Acura ILX ($27,900) comes equipped with leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with multifunction controls, pushbutton start, power door locks and windows, cruise control, heated front seats with 8-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, center display screen, Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming audio, 6-speaker audio system with Siri eyes free connectivity, Pandora compatibility, USB port and auxiliary audio jack, rearview camera, heated side mirrors, LED headlights, LED tail lights and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
ILX Premium ($29,900) comes standard with leather upholstery and adds a adds a four-way power passenger seat, second center display with touchscreen, handsfree text and email capability, a 7-speaker premium audio system with enhanced audio features including HD radio and satellite radio capability, HomeLink remote, AcuraLink navigation capability (requires Acura app and subscription), auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic detection. Optional Acura Watch Plus ($29,200) adds a color display on the instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation. ILX Premium A-Spec ($31,890) adds an ebony headliner, aluminum pedals, fog lights, side sills, a decklid spoiler, and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
ILX Technology Plus ($32,900) includes the Acura Watch Plus features and adds built-in navigation with real-time traffic, an enhanced rearview camera and an upgraded 10-speaker audio system.
ILX Premium A-Spec ($31,890) and Technology Plus A-Spec ($34,890) feature an ebony headliner, aluminum pedals, fog lights, side sills, decklid spoiler, and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
The hybrid model and other previous engine and transmission choices are no longer available. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.).