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2018 Acura ILX

$28,100 - $35,100
Price Range (MSRP)
Acura ILX

2018 Acura ILX Review

by Roger Biermann

Acura's ILX is the brand's smallest sedan offering, falling into the subcompact executive class. With a base MSRP of under $30,000, the ILX is a tempting proposition for buyers looking for a premium badge at an affordable price. However, the ILX's promising veneer begins to fade away when digging a bit deeper, where you'll find underpinnings of an old Honda Civic. All models use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing a reasonable 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels through an eight-speed DCT. The ILX also feels several notches below class rivals, the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA, for interior finish and ambiance, with some rough finishes proving disappointing for anything wearing an Acura badge. Available specification may be high through package add-ons, but in a world where 'premium' is more than just a badge, can an old Civic really cut the mustard as a premium sedan?

2018 Acura ILX Changes: What’s the difference vs 2017 ILX?

The ILX continues into 2018 with few changes following a more extensive update in 2016. For 2018, a new Special Edition package has been added. For just $800 more than the base model, the Special Edition borrows some - but not all - of the more expensive A-Spec Package's exterior add-ons for a more stylish appearance. These are 18-inch machine-finished wheels, a rear spoiler, and side sills.

Pros and Cons

  • Good handling at lower speeds
  • Smooth-shifting transmission
  • Excellent gas mileage
  • Strong value across the range
  • Decent safety ratings
  • Ordinary performance from its 2.4-liter engine
  • Harsh ride quality
  • No split-folding rear seat
  • Inferior infotainment system
  • Can't escape the feeling of being last-generation

ILX Exterior

As the most compact Acura sedan, the ILX's truncated proportions make for an attractive and inoffensive appearance. While it lacks the more modern grille treatment found on some other Acura models, the face benefits from standard Jewel Eye LED headlights. The slim taillights also get the LED treatment and a power sunroof is standard on all models. Both the Special Edition and A-Spec Packages up the ante with larger, 18-inch wheels (the base gets 17-inch items), a rear spoiler, and side sills, but only the A-Spec includes fog lights.

2018 Acura ILX Front View
2018 Acura ILX Rear View
2018 Acura ILX Left Front Three Quarter View
See All 2018 Acura ILX Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The ILX is 181.9 inches long, 70.6 inches wide, 55.6 inches tall, and has a wheelbase measuring 105.1 inches, making it similar in size to both the Audi A3 sedan and the Mercedes-Benz CLA. The ILX is however 6.6 inches longer than the A3. Being based on the ninth-generation Honda Civic, the ILX's wheelbase length is identical to that model's. Curb weight ranges between 3,093 pounds for the base model to 3,137 lbs for the range-topping version specified with both the Technology Plus and A-Spec packages.

Exterior Colors

For 2018, a range of six exterior color options is carried over for the ILX range, with all colors being available regardless of the model you select. They are Bellanova White Pearl, Catalina Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, and San Marino Red.

  • Lunar Silver Metallic
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Crystal Black Pearl
  • Catalina Blue Pearl
  • Bellanova White Pearl
  • San Marino Red

ILX Performance

Every ILX is powered by the same 2.4-liter, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 201 hop and 180 lb-ft of torque. Only front-wheel drive is available - rivals offer available all-wheel-drive - while the single transmission option is an eight-speed DCT. The combination will see the ILX get from 0-60 mph in 6.9-seconds, which is acceptable but still slower than many turbocharged rivals. The acceleration deficit would perhaps be less of an issue if a more powerful engine option was available higher up in the range. As you'd expect without the presence of a turbocharger, the four-cylinder needs to be revved out to deliver decent performance, so it's a relief that it at least sounds sporty while doing so. The DCT shifts gear quickly, although it can sometimes feel indecisive as it attempts to keep the engine on the boil. Overall, a competitor like the A3 is a stronger performer and also offers the optional benefit of an all-wheel-drive system.

2018 Acura ILX Left Front Three Quarter View
2018 Acura ILX Left Rear Three Quarter View
2018 Acura ILX Engine Bay

Engine and Transmission

Every ILX model uses a 2.4-liter, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine coupled to an eight-speed DCT. The engine delivers 201 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, the latter figure rather ordinary relative to turbocharged competitors in this segment. All models are also front-wheel-drive, with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system not being available on the ILX.

For everyday needs, the 2.4L provides acceptable performance, revving freely and coping well with the compact sedan's weight. Above 4,000 rpm, both the soundtrack and power delivery feel quite satisfying, although, in reality, you won't be going any faster than competitors. The eight-speed DCT is unique in having a torque converter. This helps with enabling gentle pullaways from a standstill, where it feels as smooth as a regular automatic. Being a DCT, gear shifts are smooth and fast under heavy acceleration. You could say, then, that the transmission offers a neat balance between traditional automatic and a regular dual-clutch. It's only when depressing the throttle less aggressively that the DCT can struggle to decide between one or two upshifts. For drivers seeking some extra engagement, the ILX is fitted with standard Sequential SportShift paddle shifters, which are fun to use but don't tangibly increase the available performance.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

The ILX makes a positive first impression from behind the wheel. The steering wheel is great to hold and there's just enough feedback to decipher what the front wheels are up to. The sedan feels suitably planted and balanced around corners and isn't thrown off by smaller bumps. However, pushing on reveals lower peaks than first promised. The ILX doesn't enjoy being driven too hard and grip levels aren't as high as they are in an Audi A3.

Still, the handling characteristics trump the Acura's ride quality, which is where it feels most removed from its bigger brother, the TLX. The ILX responds too harshly to bigger bumps and doesn't do enough to isolate occupants from them. It simply lacks the sophisticated step up in ride quality you'd expect if you're buying a model in the compact luxury sedan segment. Opting for the Special Edition or A-Spec, each of which rides on bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, only serves to highlight the ILX's shortcomings in the ride comfort department.

It's in this department that the ILX's reliance on the previous Civic platform rears its ugly head. The game has moved on, but Acura is still dabbling in aged tech and tuning, yielding sub-standard results in a competitive premium segment.

ILX Gas Mileage

While the engine may not produce the most power in this class, it puts in a strong performance for fuel economy. EPA-rated estimates for the ILX are 25/35/31 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. For a large-capacity four-cylinder, these are positive numbers and comparable to the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA, both of which use smaller turbocharged engines. With its 17.2-gallon gas tank, the ILX will manage a mixed driving range of 533 miles. The recommended fuel type is 91 octane unleaded.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 25/35 mpg
* 2018 Acura ILX FWD

ILX Interior

While it does have a soft-touch upper dashboard, classy and clear instrumentation, and a dual-screen infotainment interface on higher specification models, the ILX's interior is nevertheless lacking in perceived quality, passenger space, and imaginative design. From a quality perspective, some plastics lack the substance you'd find in a German sedan. Hard plastics are used in several areas, but at least the switchgear operates with a reassuringly robust feel. The dual-screen infotainment system isn't ergonomically sound and can prove distracting to use. More worryingly, headroom is a problem both front and rear for even passengers of average height, so even though the seats themselves are comfortable, taller drivers and passengers will not be happy. Standard equipment includes leatherette-trimmed seats which are heated in front, an eight-way power driver's seat, automatic dual-zone climate control, push-button ignition, and a six-speaker audio system. Unfortunately, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't available.

2018 Acura ILX Front Compartment
2018 Acura ILX Front Seats Space
2018 Acura ILX Driver Area
See All 2018 Acura ILX Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The ILX provides seating for five passengers, but none of them have a generous amount of available headroom, especially those at the back. While a standard sunroof is appreciated, this feature eats into already limited headroom, even for passengers of average height. More competitive is legroom, which is good both at the front and rear, and foot space beneath the front seats is excellent. The rear floor is also flat, making it easier to accommodate a passenger in the middle rear seat. The driving position is mostly good, but a lack of adjustable lumbar support and insufficient lateral bolstering is disappointing. Side armrests are also positioned too low to be ultimately useful. Ingress and egress are satisfactory, but ingress does require one to duck down a bit more than usual, the first sign of the limited headroom. From the driver's seat, there is a clear view out all around thanks to narrow pillars - only the A-pillars result in a slightly obstructed view when turning into a corner.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The ILX range is available with three interior colors: Parchment, Ebony, and Graystone. However, if the A-Spec Package is specified, Ebony is the only color option. Base, Special Edition, and AcuraWatchPlus models use leatherette trim for the seats, while Premium and Technology models feature perforated leather-trimmed sports seats. A-Spec models are unique with their perforated Lux Suede seating surfaces, contrast stitching for the interior trim, Ebony headliner, and aluminum sport pedals. The steering wheel and gearshift lever are leather-wrapped on all models.

ILX Trunk and Cargo Space

The ILX offers 12.3 cubic feet of trunk space, identical to what an Audi A3 sedan offers, but marginally down on the Mercedes-Benz CLA's capacity. The more affordable Honda Civic offers a useful 15.1 cu-ft of space. While the trunk opening is large and practical in its design, a standard-sized suitcase won't be able to stand upright as the depth is limited. The rear seat can be folded down, but unfortunately it doesn't have a split folding design - this means that expanding cargo space while still accommodating one or two rear seat passengers won't be an option for ILX owners. The trunk lid also doesn't have a handle to make closing the lid easier.

Inside, storage space is no better than average. The door pockets are tiny and the same goes for the front bin. More useful is a center armrest that is big enough to store most odds and ends, while rear passengers get a center armrest with beverage holders. Only the front passenger seat has a map pocket for rear passengers.

2018 Acura ILX Luggage Compartment
2018 Acura ILX Rear Seats With Armrest Down
2018 Acura ILX Middle Fold Flat Seats
  • Trunk Volume
    12.3 ft³

ILX Infotainment and Features

Features

Base ILX models are fairly well specified, but the most appealing features are to be found higher up in the range by way of adding one of Acura's available packages. Every ILX comes standard with LED headlights, a power sunroof, and heated side mirrors. Inside, Base models - as well as those specified with the Special Edition or AcuraWatchPlus Packages - get two-way heated seats up front and an eight-way power driver's seat. Dual-zone climate control, a keyless access system, push-button ignition, cruise control, and a multi-view rear camera are standard features on all models.

The AcuraWatch Plus adds a range of driver assistive and safety features such as adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, and lane keeping assist. The Premium Package boasts four-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat, rear cross traffic monitor, blind spot information system, and memory settings for the driver's seat.

Infotainment

No matter which ILX model you choose, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are unfortunately unavailable, as Acura continues a staggered rollout of these integrations across its various models. The standard audio system on Base, Special Edition, and AcuraWatch Plus models uses six speakers and features Pandora compatibility, a USB audio interface with iPod integration, Bluetooth streaming audio, and auxiliary input jack. Smartphone connectivity includes Bluetooth HandsFreeLink as well as email/text message reading. A multi-information display is included but these lower-rung models do without the dual-screen interface. The benefit of this is that infotainment functions are actually easier to access with hard buttons instead of the somewhat clumsy touchscreen.

Upgrading to the Premium Package brings with it a seven-inch touchscreen, and although usability has improved over time, a well-sorted single-screen layout is still simpler to operate. Premium also adds a sub-woofer, Aha and email compatibility, Siri Eyes Free, iPhone AcuraLink navigation app connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, and HD Radio. The Technology Package enhances infotainment with an ELS premium surround sound system with ten speakers, Acura's navigation system with 3D view, and AcuraLink real-time traffic alerts.

ILX Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power has bestowed the ILX range with a predicted reliability rating of three and a half stars, ranking it as just above average in its segment. 2016 ILX models have the most overall complaints, with issues pertaining to the transmission and brakes being raised, but in recent years complaints have diminished. According to the NHTSA, there has been one recall for the 2018 ILX for inaccurate fuel gauge readings, which could increase the risk of running out of gas.

The ILX is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. Acura's total luxury care with roadside assistance is valid for four years or 50,000 miles. The powertrain warranty is generally superior to what's offered by competitors like the Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz CLA.

ILX Safety

The ILX achieved a full five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. Similarly, the IIHS rated the ILX as Good in all crashworthiness tests, the highest rating available. Crash avoidance via the optionally available crash mitigation system received a Superior rating by the IIHS.

Key Safety Features

All ILX models are fitted as standard with a full complement of six airbags, dual-front, side curtain, and front side airbags. For parents of young children, LATCH child seat anchors are fitted as well, although the IIHS rated these as only Acceptable for ease of use. Driver visibility is enhanced by LED daytime running lights and a multi-view rear camera. Upgrading to the AcuraWatch Plus Package adds adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist system, and road departure mitigation. The Premium Package adds a blind spot information system and rear cross traffic monitor.

Verdict: Is the 2018 Acura ILX a good car?

High on value, the ILX misses the mark in a few key areas that really matter to shoppers in the small luxury sedan segment. The unforgiving ride quality is a fundamental flaw that can't be remedied, no matter which model you choose, while the interior is reasonably solid but lacks the attention to detail and space that buyers would typically expect if upgrading from a Civic. Acura's infotainment system not only lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration but is fiddly to use with its dual-screen layout. While the AcuraWatch Package's long list of driver aids is an impressive addition at this price point, none of these features actually add to the quality of the driving experience. With a capable but far from class-leading 2.4-liter engine, the ILX battles to match competitors, many of which offer a wider range of engine options, making them more broadly appealing. As an entry point into the Acura range, the ILX is positioned to tempt younger shoppers to buy into the Acura brand, but the ILX just doesn't make a strong enough case for itself, especially when a cheaper Honda Civic just offers more in all aspects.

What's the Price of the 2018 Acura ILX?

Every ILX is powered by the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder sending power to the front wheels through an eight-speed DCT. The range begins with the base model at an MSRP of $28,100, excluding a destination and handling charge of $940, taxes, and license. The cheapest available package is the Special Edition Package for $28,900. The AcuraWatch Plus Package is $29,400, the Premium Package is $30,100, the Premium with A-Spec Package is $32,100, the Technology Plus Package is $33,100, and finally, the Technology Plus with A-Spec Package has an MSRP of $35,100, undercutting rivals, but ultimately not offering as much as they do.

2018 Acura ILX Models

The ILX range consists of seven models, comprising ILX, ILX Special Edition, ILX with AcuraWatch Plus, ILX with Premium Package, ILX with Premium and A-Spec Package, ILX with Technology Plus Package, and the ILX with Technology Plus and A-Spec Package. All are fitted with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed DCT. Front-wheel-drive is standard.

Base models have leatherette upholstery, 17-inch wheels, a six-speaker audio system, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, and LED headlights.

The Special Edition was added for 2018 and has larger 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, and side sills.

The AcuraWatch Plus Package adds the brand's many driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.

Opting for the Premium Package adds leather-trimmed seats (with a driver's memory function), power adjustment for the front passenger seat, an eight-inch LED backlit VGA display, an on-demand multi-use display, a sub-woofer, and two key safety features: blind spot monitoring and a rear cross traffic monitor.

The Technology Plus Package includes many attractive connectivity add-ons like Acura's navigation system, an upgraded ten-speaker ELS audio system, and GPS-linked climate control.

The A-Spec Package can only be added to the Premium or Technology Plus Packages and gives the styling a lift with features like 18-inch wheels, fog lights, a rear spoiler, suede seats, aluminum pedals, and red illumination for the instrumentation.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,100
Special Edition Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,900
AcuraWatch Plus Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,400
Premium Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$30,100
Premium & A-SPEC Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$32,100
See All 2018 Acura ILX Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

With Acura bundling what are commonly identified as trims under package denomination, things tend to get a little confusing. But in the way of standalone options and traditional package upgrades, these are limited to cosmetic accessories including trunk trays, splash guards, and an A-Spec styled aerodynamic upgrade. All key features are included in the various trim offerings.

What Acura ILX Model Should I Buy?

Unless you must have the driver aids found in the AcuraWatch Plus Package, the Premium Package offers an excellent combination of useful features and high value, still being just over the $30k mark. Premium models also do without the bigger wheels of the Special Edition and A-Spec, which helps to provide a marginally more tolerable ride quality. It strikes the best balance of specification, practicality, and comfort, but is ultimately still lagging behind rivals, and a Honda Civic may be a better alternative.

2018 Acura ILX Comparisons

2018 Acura ILX
2018 Acura ILX

2018 Acura ILX vs Acura TLX

The TLX is the ILX's bigger brother and, with a small overlap in price between the two ranges, is a very real option for buyers choosing one of Acura's sedans. The TLX starts at an MSRP of $33,000, which undercuts the range-topping ILX models (Technology Plus and Technology Plus with A-Spec). Of course, the bigger TLX (it's 8.8-inches longer than the ILX) offers noticeably more interior space and doesn't suffer from the restricted headroom you'll find in the ILX. The TLX's trunk is also larger and its interior is a step up in quality and luxury feel, with wood inlays and superior detailing. While the TLX has a similar 2.4-liter four-cylinder, it offers more power than the ILX's engine and a V6 option is available too. Perhaps most crucially, the TLX is a much better cruiser than the ILX, with smoother and more relaxed ride quality. If you can stretch to the TLX, you'll not only be getting a bigger car but a better one too.

See Acura TLX Review

2018 Acura ILX vs Honda Civic Sedan

The Civic makes a strong case for itself against the ILX. Not only is it cheaper, but it has an excellent ride/handling balance, is more spacious, has a distinctive design, potent turbocharged engine, and other than its complex infotainment system, few vices. It also doesn't help that the ILX is based on the previous generation Civic, which explains its somewhat impractical packaging alongside the newer Civic. While Honda's two engine options are around 20 horsepower down on power relative to the ILX, the performance gap isn't as significant as you'd think, while the Civic is more economical. More conservative buyers will probably prefer the more traditional appearance of the ILX, but the Civic is a brilliant all-rounder and worthy of consideration.

See Honda Civic Sedan Review

Acura ILX Popular Comparisons

2018 Acura ILX Video Review