How a nearly 8-year-old sedan is beating the odds.
At present, automakers are forced to update the vehicles in their lineups every two to three years. These mid-life facelifts, which range from minor styling and packaging updates to significant overhauls, are only a stop-gap measure until the redesigned models arrive. Automotive life cycles are getting shorter because the competition is fierce. There are a few exceptions to this, however, and the Acura ILX is one of them. Acura's premium compact sedan, which shares its platform with the previous generation Honda Civic, has been around since the 2013 model year but has received two facelifts since, in 2016 and 2019. It remains unchanged for the 2020 model year.
Acura faced a choice with the latest model year update: another facelift or price cuts. Something had to be done to keep sales alive, not an easy task considering the ILX still featured the brand's old styling language and an outdated interior.
As Automotive News reports, Acura executives opted for a major interior and exterior refresh – and a price cut. So far, the risk is paying off. Through last month, ILX sales are up by 30 percent despite the compact luxury sedan segment as a whole decreasing by double digits. The average ILX price cut amounts to $2,200 and this will continue for 2020. The 2020 ILX has a starting price of $26,895. Despite lowering the ILX's price tag, as well as incentives, buyers actually ended up spending more. The average transaction price, it turns out, increased by $700 because buyers opted for higher trims, such as the A-Spec appearance package. About one-third of ILX buyers opt for it.
"What makes this ILX story different from virtually every other refresh and redesign - in addition to all of the exterior and interior and technology upgrades - is really the repositioning of the product in the marketplace, which makes it very unique," said Mamadou Diallo, Acura's assistant vice president of national sales. Basically, Acura turned the ILX into a bargain luxury compact sedan aimed at younger buyers, who have since responded in kind.
"You look at all of these brands, they're all sort of vying for that sub-$30K market, and there are two ways to go about it: You can either be above $30K and throw in a whole bunch of incentives that gets you below it, or you can just basically reposition your car and not have to spend the incentives," he said. The A-Spec pack that begins at $31,145, has another benefit: fewer leases. Younger customers who are getting into their first luxury car are opting to buy instead of lease, a fact dealerships appreciate.
Acura claims ILX conquests from rival brands have increased by 3.5 percent and conquests from mainstream rivals by 2.5 percent. The ILX has also given Acura an image boost among millennial buyers, half of whom claim they'll stick with the brand for their next vehicle.