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REVIEW
From Edmunds.com
2015 Acura  ILX Picture
PROS
  • Generous number of standard features
  • Balanced approach to ride quality and handling ability
CONS
  • Lackluster base engine
  • Smallish trunk
  • No automatic transmission or top-end features for sport-oriented 2.4-liter model
  • Lacks certain useful electronic safety features

If you've looked at new-car pricing recently, you've probably noticed that entry-level luxury sedans (think BMW 3 Series) aren't so "entry" anymore. To compensate, many automakers are coming out with smaller, less expensive sedans that still provide premium amenities and entertaining performance. The Acura ILX was one of the first sedans to pioneer this trend, and for 2015 it's still going strong. But it also faces some upstart rivals.

As is the case with other Acura products, the ILX's appeal lies in its ability to deliver solid quality and superlative value. The sedan comes with a long list of standard features, including leather upholstery, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats and a reasonable price that makes it one of the more affordable models in its segment. We also like its balanced approach to ride comfort and handling: In an Edmunds.com "B" rating, we found that it offers the control and engagement you'd expect from a sport sedan, but there's also a forgiving ride quality that makes this Acura easy to live with.

Still, the 2015 Acura ILX falls short of certain rivals in a few areas, particularly in regard to what's under the hood. With the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the ILX is quite a bit slower than its peers -- a notable deficiency, since this is, after all, a sedan with sporty aspirations. An upgrade is available with the ILX 2.4, which is guided by a more muscular 2.4-liter powertrain. However, the sole transmission choice with the 2.4 is a six-speed manual, which greatly limits its appeal.

There's some serious talent to consider within the compact luxury sedan segment. Though the 2015 Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class have smaller backseats than the ILX and are more expensive, they boast more robust engines, more opulent interiors and higher levels of brand cachet. Another superior pick is the Buick Verano, which comes with a lower starting price than the ILX, more safety features and a potent 250-horsepower engine upgrade that's available with an automatic transmission.

Also, for roughly the same amount as a loaded ILX, you could step up in size and get a fully equipped version of a more spacious midsize sedan like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Nissan Altima. Overall, the 2015 Acura ILX is a likable enough car, but with this many desirable alternatives, you'll certainly want to shop around before making a final decision.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015

For 2015, the Acura ILX sees a minor reshuffling of feature content across trim levels. The ILX Hybrid has been discontinued.

2015 Acura  ILX Picture

TRIMS & EQUIPMENT

The 2015 Acura ILX entry-level luxury sedan comes in four trim levels: 2.0, 2.0 with Premium package, 2.0 with Technology package and 2.4 with Premium package.

Standard equipment for the base 2.0 includes 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, keyless ignition and entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a fold-down rear seatback, active noise cancellation, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5-inch information display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod audio interface and Pandora radio smartphone app integration.

The 2.0 with Premium package and 2.4 with Premium package include the amenities listed above and add xenon headlights, foglights, satellite radio and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The 2.0 with Technology package (not available on the 2.4) includes all of the features of the Premium package along with a navigation system with a slightly larger display, voice commands, AcuraLink, GPS-linked climate control and a 10-speaker ELS surround-sound audio system.

2015 Acura  ILX Picture

INTERIOR & SAFETY

The ILX's interior is well-constructed, but the materials used aren't really a step up from top non-luxury sedans. Similarly, the design features Acura's typical high-tech vibe, but it's nowhere near as luxurious as in the classy A3. You do get a fair amount of features, though. There is a 5-inch display screen topping the center stack for the myriad infotainment functions, and smartly placed buttons and knobs to control them. A 6-inch screen comes with the navigation system, as do voice command functionality (navigation and audio) and a nice-sounding ELS audio system.

Special care was used in designing the seats, which are supportive without giving the impression of confinement or hardness. The ILX is also pretty spacious for a compact car, with a decent amount of backseat room. Still, headroom can be snug for 6-footers, due to the car's standard sunroof.

Trunk space, at 12.3 cubic feet, is average, and the opening is a little narrow. The rear seat folds down to facilitate carrying longer items, but the seatback is not split to permit a mix of long cargo and a passenger or two in the backseat.

The 2015 Acura ILX comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard, but useful safety features like blind-spot monitoring and a lane-departure warning system aren't available.

In government crash tests, the Acura ILX earned a top five-star rating for overall protection in crash tests, with four stars total for frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the ILX a top score of "Good" for the car's performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its head restraint and seats design also earned a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

In Edmunds brake testing, the ILX 2.0 Premium came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is a little better than average. Curiously, the supposedly sportier ILX 2.4 stopped in 130 feet, which is longer than average.

2015 Acura  ILX Picture

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

Powering the base 2015 ILX is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 150 hp and 140 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission offered is a five-speed automatic that sends its power to the front wheels. In Edmunds performance testing, this powertrain brought the ILX from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds. That's average for a compact economy car, but slow for a compact sedan wearing a premium badge. EPA-estimated fuel economy is respectable at 28 mpg combined (24 city/35 highway).

The ILX 2.4 with the Premium package comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 201 hp and 170 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is the only available transmission. In Edmunds performance testing, the ILX 2.4 went from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. This is still a little slower than many entry-level luxury sedans with a base engine or regular midsize sedans with an upgraded four-cylinder or V6 engine. Fuel economy ratings stand at 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway).

Nobody is going to mistake the 2015 Acura ILX for a BMW 3 Series, but overall performance is more than adequate for everyday commuting duty. The standard 2.0-liter engine is quite smooth, so wringing the most from it is not an annoying task. Equipped with the 2.4-liter engine, the ILX is a different animal, as its sporting exhaust note and greater horsepower translate to quicker acceleration. We're also quite fond of the precision-machined action of the six-speed manual transmission, which is one of the easiest and most enjoyable to use in any car. Still, the fact that you can't get the 2.4 with an automatic transmission limits this model's appeal for commuters.

Ride quality is a strength for all versions of the 2015 Acura ILX. This car offers a nearly ideal compromise between control and comfort, and it's quiet on the highway. Driving enthusiasts might be disappointed that the ILX 2.4 doesn't come with a sportier suspension tune, but the car is sure-footed around turns and generally enjoyable to pilot.

VERDICT

Attractive and well-equipped, the 2015 Acura ILX is a respectable choice for a compact luxury sedan. Still, there are a number of worthy alternatives that savvy shoppers should consider.

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