The 2017 Acura ILX isn't long on glamor, but it's a focused and comfortable compact sedan on the first rung of the luxury ladder.
The 2017 Acura ILX is proof of addition through subtraction. The automaker's luxury compact survives in a segment littered with myriad powertrains and options, expensive add-ons and ultra-performance variants, and it scores a 6.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Initially, Acura went down a similar road. Yet, this year the ILX is limited to one powertrain across three trims. The sporty, 2.4-liter inline-4 is sharp and willing, and its 8-speed automatic transmission is a ready companion. (We'd argue for a manual transmission, but we always do that.)
Styling and performance
Last year, the Acura ILX received a slight refresh in front and back—mostly the front, where the new LED headlamps were subbed in. We're not convinced that's what the ILX needed, but thankfully the sedan is already handsome.
Inside, you’ll find improved interior materials and some changes at the center of the dash, where connectivity features have been given an upgrade with the introduction of Acura’s dual-screen infotainment systems to the ILX. It's a pleasant place to travel, looking like a typical Acura: edgy curves, contoured surfaces, and easy-to-read gauges.
Last year Acura dumped the slow-selling, base model with the 2.0-liter inline-4. Another underwhelming model, the ILX Hybrid, was discontinued after the 2014 model year.
The ILX now sports a version of the powertrain found in the base version of the next-larger Acura sedan, the TLX. With a dual-clutch transmission and a 2.4-liter inline-4, the ILX now offers up 201 hp and 180 pound-feet of torque (up 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter), with nice features like direct injection for better fuel efficiency.
The unusual design of Acura’s 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox gives it smoother shift feel. There’s a torque converter inserted in the process, which blends torque better between shifts—and that improves low-speed smoothness but hangs on to the quick shift feel that dual-clutches can offer. Downshifts are rev-matched, and the driver can control gears with shift paddles. It’s an excellent transmission, responsive and smooth.
Comfort, safety, and features
The ILX feels smooth and solid throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura bettered the ILX’s refinement and quietness in the 2016 model year with noise-isolating wheels and thicker window glass. It also made active noise cancellation standard last year.
Front seats are supportive and very adjustable for the driver. Although what’s sorely missing is height adjustability for the passenger front seat. Head room is rather tight in front—due to the sunroof housing, which takes up an extra inch or two—while there’s probably a bit more rear head room than you’ll find in most models in this class. Leg room and knee room are quite good in back, too—enough to fit a couple of 6-footers.
The independent IIHS rated the 2017 ILX with top scores all the way around. The Acura notched "Good" scores in all of its tests, including the difficult small-overlap crash. Acura's suite of advanced safety systems was rated "Superior" by the agency and helped the sedan earn a Top Safety Pick award by the agency. In federal testing by the NHTSA last year, the ILX received five-star overall rating, with four- and five-star ratings for frontal and side crash protection, respectively.
Acura (and Honda) offer a nifty LaneWatch camera, and it’s on the ILX. It uses a wide-angle camera down the right side of the car to display curbside obstacles and cars when turning right. The new AcuraWatch suite of safety gear adds lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Blind-spot monitors with rear traffic alerts are available across most of the ILX lineup.
The ILX is available as standard, or with a Premium Package or with Tech Plus. The Premium and Tech Plus packages can be fitted with an A-Spec package that adds 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels; a trunk-mounted spoiler; and fog lights.
All ILX models include hands-free text messaging that'll read messages over the stereo and let the driver reply with one of six programmed responses. The ILX also comes with buffered satellite radio, enhanced traffic and weather info and something called Tune Mix, which lets users compile a single preset that combines their favorite satellite-radio stations.
Base 2017 ILX models include a power moonroof, a power driver’s seat, a multi-view rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. Stepping up to the ILX Premium Package gets you leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage-door opener, the dual-screen infotainment setup, satellite radio, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert. New with the Premium Package there’s Siri Eyes Free compatibility, plus an HDMI port, HD Radio compatibility, and Pandora and Aha internet radio compatibility.
The 2017 ILX achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined with a single powertrain offering.