2020 Acura ILX

2020 Acura ILX Review: Stylish But Flawed

by Jay Traugott

As an entry-point to the Acura brand, the ILX competes in the premium subcompact segment. Along with the established Audi A3 sedan, the ILX now also finds itself needing to compete with the brand new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. It's formidable competition and, following a comprehensive update in 2019, the ILX not only wants to draw younger buyers away from these premium-badged rivals, but also introduce new buyers to the Acura stable. While the ILX is well-equipped and offers a high-value price tag, it's undone by a 2.4-liter engine that could desperately use turbocharging. There's also a cheap-feeling interior that doesn't come close to the A3's for quality or refinement. Of course, being based on the previous-generation Honda Civic provides some explanation as to why the ILX doesn't feel as high-end as it's intended to be. Still, Acura claims that the 2019 update helped the ILX appeal to a greater percentage of under-35 buyers than before, so the range isn't without some appeal.

2020 Acura ILX Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 ILX?

Following a comprehensive update in 2019, the Acura ILX enters 2020 largely unchanged. The most recent update included a redesigned exterior, an updated infotainment system, and the re-introduction of the sporty A-Spec Package.

Pros and Cons

  • Attractive price tag for a luxury brand
  • Many standard convenience and safety features
  • Sporty looks following most recent update
  • Decent choice of trims
  • Smooth and slick-shifting dual-clutch transmission
  • Interior features too many cheap-feeling plastics
  • Road noise intrudes more than it should
  • Space for passengers is limited
  • 2.4-liter engine lacks low-down torque

ILX Exterior

The ILX's latest redesign was a success and the small sedan still cuts quite a stylish figure. The brand's diamond-pentagon grille dominates the face and is flanked by distinctive Jewel Eye LED headlights. All models also get a power moonroof and a chrome exhaust outlet. The sporty A-Spec is the looker of the range and gets dark chrome trim detailing, LED fog lights, 18-inch Shark Gray alloy wheels, a decklid spoiler, and a piano black rear diffuser. The windows and the moonroof can be remotely controlled.

2020 Acura ILX Front View Acura
2020 Acura ILX Rear View Acura
2020 Acura ILX Front Angle View Acura
See All 2020 Acura ILX Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Key dimensions for the ILX are a height of 55.6 inches, a width of 70.6 inches, and a length of 182.2 inches. The wheelbase measures 105.1 inches. The base curb weight is 3,095 pounds, while the heaviest model is 3,148 lbs (when equipped with both the Technology and A-Spec packages). Ground clearance for all models is 5.3 inches.

Exterior Colors

A choice of seven colors are available for the ILX: Platinum White Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic (not available for the A-Spec), Majestic Black Pearl, Modern Steel Metallic, Apex Blue Pearl (A-Spec only), and Canyon Bronze Metallic (requires the Premium package). The Apex Blue Pearl is an especially striking shade that suits the A-Spec's more flamboyant exterior upgrades.

  • Majestic Black Pearl
  • Performance Red Pearl
  • Canyon Bronze Metallic
  • Apex Blue Pearl
  • Platinum White Pearl
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Lunar Silver Metallic

ILX Performance

No matter which ILX you choose, you'll get the same 2.4-liter four-pot with 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Power isn't the issue - it's more the absence of a turbocharger that equates to limited low-down grunt. Driving the front wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the ILX isn't as quick as the best of its rivals, hitting 60 mph in around seven seconds. It also lacks the availability of all-wheel-drive that you can get with the Audi A3 sedan. Revving out the four-cylinder provokes a decent turn of speed, but you simply don't have to work as hard to get the same performance out of an A3 or Mercedes A-Class. At least the dual-clutch is a great transmission and makes the most of the available power, but there's no doubt that a turbocharged engine option would increase the ILX's competitiveness.

2020 Acura ILX Front View Driving Acura
2020 Acura ILX Rear Angle View Acura
2020 Acura ILX Engine Acura

Engine and Transmission

The ILX's sole engine option is a 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated four-pot with 201 hp and 180 lb-ft. It's matched with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and power is sent to the front wheels exclusively.

The i-VTEC engine is at its best at over 4,000 rpm, but of course, slow-moving traffic makes it difficult to explore the upper regions of the rev range with any regularity. This can make the ILX feel rather flat at lower speeds and from a standing start. Once on the move, there's more fun to be had, but passing power is only average alongside turbocharged competitors. There are fewer complaints to be had with the transmission, which shifts gears smoothly and quickly. You can also reduce shifting in Sport mode, where the transmission effectively keeps the engine on the boil. Still, one can't help but wonder how a turbocharged engine would transform the ILX driving experience.

  • Engine
    2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Thanks to a light steering setup and compact dimensions, the ILX is easy to maneuver around town and, as speeds rise, provides a relatively entertaining experience from behind the wheel - the steering also isn't completely lifeless, with some feedback filtering through to let you know what the front wheels are up to. It's no hot hatch in its reactions, though, and the ILX's cornering limits aren't as high as they are in the grippy Audi A3 sedan.

Ride comfort benefits from a suspension that has been tuned more for comfort than outright dynamism. The ILX quite effectively smothers bumps and ruts and most buyers will appreciate this. What they won't love is the ILX's inability to keep external noises at bay - both wind and road noise are much too noticeable and, when coupled with the mediocre build quality and a few squeaks from the cabin, it doesn't add up to the most premium experience. Many competitors trump the ILX in this aspect, so we'd advise your test drive to include some highway driving to see how much the Acura's minimal refinement matters to you. The brakes are up to the task, though, with good pedal modulation and sufficient bite at normal speeds, and when executing an emergency stop.

ILX Gas Mileage

The ILX matches the Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the economy stakes but falls short of the Audi A3 sedan's figures. EPA-rated estimates for the ILX work out to 24/34/28 mpg city/highway/combined, identical figures to the Mercedes A220 4Matic. With a rather small 13.2-gallon gas tank, the ILX should manage a combined cruising range of around 370 miles on a full tank of premium gasoline.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 24/34 mpg
* 2020 Acura ILX FWD

ILX Interior

The ILX's interior lags behind the best in this class, unfortunately. An A-Class has a much more striking design and rivals from Audi and BMW have it soundly beaten for the quality of materials used. You're also going to want to carefully assess the ILX's available space if you or your family are on the tall side as there's not an abundance of room, especially at the back where three passengers will be a tight squeeze. If you can fit, though, there are few issues with the comfortable and supportive seats, although the side bolsters could be better. Most of the controls are also easy to use and clearly marked, though the dual-screen infotainment system was not designed with user-friendliness as a top priority. All versions get a power-adjustable driver's seat, seat heating in front, and a power moonroof - the latter feature does eat into the available headroom, however.

2020 Acura ILX Front Seats Acura
2020 Acura ILX Dashboard Acura
2020 Acura ILX Infotainment System Acura
See All 2020 Acura ILX Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Technically a five-seater, the ILX is better suited to four passengers. The interior's main issue is limited headroom, even for adults of average height. Legroom is better, although it can hardly be described as exceptional, and rear passengers benefit from a flat floor with good foot space. While side armrests are fitted, they're mounted quite low and, therefore, don't add to comfort levels significantly. The driver's seat has standard eight-way power adjustment, but even this can't completely overcome a seating position that feels too high-set. Ingress and egress are fine, and visibility is only marred by the positioning of the windshield wipers.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The base model is fitted with leatherette sports seats in a predominantly dark environment - the seats are finished in Ebony, although Bright Silver and Chrome finish trim does give the cabin a bit of a lift. Making a more positive impression are the perforated Milano leather seats (with contrast stitching and piping) fitted to the Premium and Technology models. These seats are available in Ebony, Graystone, or Espresso. The sporty A-Spec gets uniquely trimmed seats in a combination of Milano leather and Ultrasuede, in either Ebony or Red. All models also get leather wrapping for the shift knob and the steering wheel.

ILX Trunk and Cargo Space

The ILX has 12.4 cubic feet of trunk space, which is what you'd expect in this segment. Two suitcases should be able to fit at a squeeze, or you will be able to accommodate a week's worth of groceries with some extra space to spare. The rear seat does fold down, but it isn't a split-folding seat so you can either seat passengers at the back or increase cargo capacity - but you can't do both, which is a nuisance at times.

While there are door pockets for stashing small items, these aren't particularly large in size. A center console/armrest is more useful for storing small items. Rear-seat passengers get a center armrest with integrated cupholders, but overall, small-item storage isn't anything to write home about.

2020 Acura ILX Trunk Space Acura
2020 Acura ILX Maximum Cargo Space Acura
2020 Acura ILX Rear Angle View 1 Acura
  • Trunk Volume
    12.4 ft³

ILX Infotainment and Features

Features

Despite its friendly price tag, the ILX ships with a decent amount of kit as standard. All models get automatic dual-zone climate control, a keyless access system, push-button ignition, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, ambient cabin lighting, cruise control, hill start assist and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel column. Models equipped with the Premium and/or Technology packages additionally get a four-way power front passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. A moonroof and LED lights are further standard features across the range. The A-Spec's focus is generally on sportier trim such as stainless steel sport pedals, red illumination for the instruments, and an Ebony headliner.

Infotainment

As on more expensive Acura models, the dual-screen infotainment system may look impressive at first glance but is actually less intuitive to operate than a single-screen layout. Base models use a five-inch central color display, and all others have an eight-inch LED backlit VGA display along with the touchscreen. Bluetooth streaming audio, a USB audio interface, MP3/auxiliary input jack, Pandora compatibility, Siri Eyes Free, and SMS/MMS text message capability are standard on all models. The Premium package adds HD radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the Technology package also packs in Song By Voice, a navigation system with 3D view, and AcuraLink real-time traffic information. The audio system has either six, seven or ten speakers depending on the packages specified - the Technology package brings with it a ten-speaker Acura/ELS premium audio system.

ILX Problems and Reliability

A J.D. Power rating of 76 out of a maximum 100 is average, although the Japanese brand generally has a solid reputation for reliability. The engine, too, should prove pretty bulletproof. Although the 2020 model has, so far, not been subject to any problems, the 2019 ILX was recalled by the NHTSA for two issues, one being an inaccurate fuel gauge and the other for a potentially separated driveshaft that could cause the vehicle to roll even when it is parking.

Acura covers the ILX with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, outer body rust-through for five years with unlimited miles, and roadside assistance for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.

ILX Safety

The ILX is a safe car and this is backed up by an overall NHTSA safety score of five stars, along with a spread of Good ratings for crashworthiness from the IIHS. The same agency did, however, rate the effectiveness of the ILX's headlights as Poor.

Key Safety Features

For a premium subcompact, the ILX features a really good standard of safety features and driving aids. Front, front side, and side curtain airbags are standard on every model, along with ABS/EBD brakes, hill start assist and LED daytime running lights. There's an array of driver aids which fall under the AcuraWatch moniker - included is collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control (an optional feature on many cars costing far more), lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and a multi-view rear camera. Adding on any of the available packages also includes blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic monitor.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Acura ILX a good car?

It's easy to understand the initial appeal of the Acura ILX. For a good price, you're getting a fairly luxurious subcompact with loads of features, smart looks, and excellent safety. It's beyond the surface level appeal of Acura's smallest sedan that things start looking less rosy. The interior lacks space, features too many cheap-feeling materials, and is stuck with an infotainment system that trails the best for user-friendliness. The cabin is also too noisy once the speeds rise and the engine, while fun to occasionally rev to its maximum, requires too much hard work to get the ILX moving at a rapid pace. It also doesn't help that the competition is incredibly polished, from the super solid Audi A3 to the snazzy Mercedes A-Class and now, the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. They're all more expensive, though, but if you want a sedan of this size, why not go for the even cheaper and hugely accomplished Honda Civic? At the end of the day, while it isn't an awful car by any means, there are simply too few good reasons to recommend the Acura ILX.

What's the Price of the 2020 Acura ILX?

The cheapest way into an Acura ILX is the standard model at an MSRP of $25,900. This price excludes tax, licensing, registration, and Acura's destination charge of $995. Next is the ILX with the Premium package at $27,750, followed by the more advanced Technology package at $29,650. The Premium and A-Spec package will cost you $29,750, and finally, the fully-loaded ILX with the Technology and A-Spec package will total $31,650. Overall, considering the amount of equipment on offer, the ILX represents good value in this segment.

2020 Acura ILX Models

Unlike most other manufacturers, Acura eschews traditional standalone trims and instead provides the choice of several packages that build on top of each other. There are essentially five different ILX models to choose from: the standard model, the Premium Package, the Technology Package (which includes the Premium Package), the A-Spec and Premium Package, and the A-Spec and Technology Package. All are fitted with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic and front-wheel-drive.

The base model gets standard Jewel Eye LED headlights, a power moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver's seat, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and an almost full suite of driver aids including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Upgrading to the Premium Package adds more comfort and connectivity in the form of leather upholstery, four-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a dual-screen infotainment system including an eight-inch display. The Technology Package lives up to its name and encompasses a ten-speaker Acura/ELS audio system, navigation, real-time traffic information, and AcuraLink connected services. The A-Spec Package requires the Premium package as well, and adds interior and exterior trim enhancements such as 18-inch Shark Gray alloy wheels, LED fog lights, a decklid spoiler, premium leather/Ultrasuede upholstery, A-Spec badging, and graphite/chrome trim for the dashboard.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$25,900
Premium Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$27,750
Technology Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,650
Premium & A-Spec Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,750
Technology & A-Spec Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$31,650
See All 2020 Acura ILX Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Acura's unique packages provide choice within the ILX range, with each building on top of the next.

The Premium Package costs $1,850 and some of its highlights include perforated leather seats, a driver memory system for the seat and mirrors, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, a premium audio system with an additional speaker (taking the total to seven), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and HD radio.

The next level up is the Technology Package at $1,900, but to get it, you'll need to specify the Premium Package first. This package gains dynamic guidelines for the multi-view camera, a navigation system with 3D view, an Els audio system with ten speakers, traffic rerouting, and real-time traffic information.

The A-Spec Package further builds upon these features but is for those who want the best-looking ILX. It adds 18-inch wheels with a bespoke finish, darkened exterior trim, a decklid spoiler, Ultrasuede inserts for the leather seats, a unique instrument panel, and the $400 option of Apex Blue Pearl paint.

There are comparatively few standalone accessories, although you can add on back-up parking sensors for $528, a decklid spoiler for $399 (not on the A-Spec), and additional interior illumination for $159.

What Acura ILX Model Should I Buy?

The ILX's strong value proposition remains one of its primary selling points, so for that reason, we'd recommend going no higher than the Premium Package. It adds worthwhile extras like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a superior sound system, a bigger display screen, and blind-spot monitoring without breaking the bank. If we were to go for an Acura ILX, this is the variant we'd choose, but it still isn't close to the best of what this segment can offer.

2020 Acura ILX Comparisons

Acura TLX Acura
Honda Civic Sedan Honda

2020 Acura ILX vs Acura TLX

The TLX is bigger, more luxurious - and of course - pricier than the ILX. Starting at $33,000, it's a worthwhile consideration for buyers looking at a top-line ILX. Cheaper TLX models make use of the same 2.4-liter engine (with a tad more power) as the ILX, so it offers similar performance. However, the TLX range also has an available V6 with a lot more punch, as well as the option of all-wheel-drive. Being the bigger car, the TLX has a much more spacious cabin that is also better built. On the highway, you'll easily be able to tell which is the more expensive vehicle as the TLX rides with more composure and is also quieter. Ultimately, it's easy to see why the TLX costs more and, if you can make the stretch, it's the better vehicle. If appearance matters to you more than anything else, then the A-Spec ILX is the more sharply attired of the two.

See Acura TLX Review

2020 Acura ILX vs Honda Civic Sedan

The Acura ILX is based on the previous-generation Honda Civic, so its bones are older than those of the fresh, current Civic. You can tell the difference out on the road quite quickly because it's the Civic that is not only more fun to drive, but more comfortable as well. The Honda's available 174-horsepower 1.5-liter engine may be less powerful than the Acura's 2.4-liter, but thanks to turbocharging, it feels sprightlier than the ILX at lower speeds. Look beyond the Acura's perforated leather seats, and you'll also see that it is in no way a better-built car than the smartly finished, solid-feeling Civic. Plus, you get access to much of the same technologies on the Honda. The final nails in the ILX's coffin are the Civic's more spacious seating and its lower price - you can get one for under $20,000. The new Honda Civic is a far better car than the old Honda Civic, and it's better than the Acura ILX, too.

See Honda Civic Sedan Review

Acura ILX Popular Comparisons

$25,900 - $31,650
Price Range (MSRP)
Acura ILX
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