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REVIEW
From Edmunds.com
2016 Acura  ILX Picture
PROS
  • Price tag is fairly low across the board
  • Generous list of standard features
  • Feels kind of sporty thanks to precise steering
  • Rear seat is roomy for its class
CONS
  • Interior materials don't look or feel premium
  • Engine isn't as powerful as most in this class
  • Engine and road noise are pronounced
  • Harsh ride quality may literally bounce you out of your seat
  • Infotainment interface isn't as user-friendly as some rivals
  • Taller occupants may not fit

Within the growing class of compact entry-level luxury sedans, the Acura ILX has yet to have its standout moment. In past years, the ILX lagged behind competitors because of a lackluster base powertrain and a lack of available safety features to match the competition. For 2016, however, Acura ILX gets a series of updates aimed at bringing it into line with the rest of its (relatively) inexpensive premium-brand rivals.

For starters, the 2016 ILX comes standard with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that was optional in the past. That engine gets a small increase in torque, and it is now paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission rather than a six-speed manual. Along with the updates to power, the 2016 Acura ILX gets several new safety features including a standard multiview rear camera and optional items like a blind-spot warning system and adaptive cruise control with frontal collision mitigation. As icing on the cake, the ILX is still priced lower than some of its top rivals, and within its size class, its rear seat is pretty accommodating for adult passengers.

The 2016 Acura ILX is a handsome-looking sedan. LED headlights are standard this year.

Nonetheless, numerous foibles persist. Materials quality, for example, may not be what you're expecting, as many of the surfaces you'll come in contact with on a regular basis don't feel like they're up to snuff for a luxury sedan. Basically, there isn't a lot inside the cabin that makes an ILX stand out from a well-equipped Honda. Acceleration is tepid unless you like taking the engine to redline, and road noise is a persistent issue. For tech-savvy buyers, things aren't perfect, either. The 2016 Acura ILX gets an additional screen on the center console this year, but, while its graphics are pleasing, functionality leaves a bit to be desired. Systems from Audi and BMW are much more user-friendly.

Accordingly, you'll want to look at some of the excellent alternatives in this price range before making a decision. The 2016 Audi A3 and 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class are more expensive and aren't as roomy in back, but their more potent engines and more refined interiors make them seem more worthy of luxury sedan status. Larger mainstream sedans like the 2016 Ford Fusion and 2016 Honda Accord might not seem luxurious at first, but their loaded-up top trim levels can be very respectable alternatives to the ILX. Ultimately, we're glad that this year's improvements have moved the 2016 Acura ILX up a notch. But this entry-level model still has its work cut out if it wants to stand out from the crowd.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016

For 2016, the Acura ILX gets freshened front and rear end treatments, including new LED headlights, for a sharper look. The base 2.0-liter engine is no longer available, so the previously optional 2.4-liter engine is now standard in every ILX, and this year it produces some additional torque and comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Lastly, there are several new safety features available, including a blind-spot warning system, rear-cross traffic alerts, lane keeping assist, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and a multiview back-up camera.

2016 Acura  ILX Picture

TRIMS & EQUIPMENT

The 2016 Acura ILX entry-level luxury sedan comes with six different equipment levels: base, AcuraWatch Plus package, Premium package, A-Spec Package, Premium and A-Spec package. and Technology Plus package.

Standard equipment for the base model includes 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a fold-down rear seatback, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5-inch information display screen, a multiview rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod audio interface and Pandora radio and Siri Eyes Free smartphone app integration.

With the AcuraWatch Plus package, you'll get all the base ILX equipment plus adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system, automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation, a lane departure warning system, lane-keeping assist and road departure mitigation.

The Premium package builds on the base car's standard equipment as well, but it omits the AcuraWatch Plus equipment in lieu of blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, leather front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch upper information display (in lieu of the 5-inch screen), an additional 7-inch touchscreen and a seven-speaker audio system with HD radio, satellite radio and Aha radio smartphone app integration.

The 2016 ILX Premium receives the larger, 8-inch information display screen.

Further up the ladder, the Technology Plus package adds the contents of the AcuraWatch Plus package and the Premium package as well as a 10-speaker ELS audio system, voice commands (including audio), a navigation system and guidelines for the rearview camera.

You can add the A-Spec package to both the Premium and Technology Plus package equipment lines to get 18-inch wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, side sills and simulated-suede seat inserts with contrasting stitching.

2016 Acura  ILX Picture

INTERIOR & SAFETY

While there are a few improvements to styling, the 2016 ILX's interior mostly carries over from the previous year. That means the materials still aren't really much better than what you'll find in top mainstream sedans like the Accord, though everything seems to be screwed together pretty well. In contrast, the Audi A3 feels much classier and more luxurious inside than the ILX.

You do get a fair number of features, though. The Premium and Tech Plus models benefit from a new, larger touchscreen on the center stack. Even with the optional larger screen however, the ILX's setup isn't our favorite. It splits audio and navigation functions into two screens, and the control knob in the middle of the dash is less intuitive to use than the armrest-mounted controllers in the ILX's German rivals.

Compared to other entry-level sedans, the 2016 ILX has a roomy rear seat.

Special care was used in designing the seats, which are supportive, yet not overly firm or confining. 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 2016 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 also standard.

Optional equipment includes a frontal collision warning system, automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation, a lane departure warning system, lane keeping assist and road-departure mitigation (which detects the potential for veering into objects such as trees or parked cars and applies the lane keeping assist and collision mitigation systems).

In Edmunds testing, the Acura ILX came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, a few feet shorter than similar vehicles with all-season tires.

2016 Acura  ILX Picture

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

Powering the base 2016 ILX is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only available transmission (it's technically an automated manual transmission but it functions like a conventional automatic). The EPA's estimated fuel economy stands at 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway).

In Edmunds performance testing, a 2016 ILX accelerated from zero to 60 mph in an adequate 6.9 seconds.

In prior years, we preferred the ILX's 2.4-liter engine over the underwhelming base 2.0-liter engine, so it's nice to have the bigger engine standard this year. Better yet, you can finally get this engine with an automatic transmission, something most buyers will want in this class of car. Still, the 2016 ILX is hardly a speed demon, and the engine has to work harder and rev higher than most competitors to accelerate with authority. The eight-speed automatic transmission's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and rev-matched downshifts liven up the driving experience, but we noted some low-speed hiccups in full automatic mode.

In terms of handling and acceleration, the 2016 Acura ILX comes up short for its class.

The 2016 Acura ILX's ride quality is also disappointing. The car reacts stiffly over rough surfaces, yet it's overly soft and wallowy when encountering big highway dips. Road noise is also higher than average for this segment. In both regards, the Audi A3 is more refined and pleasing to drive. Around turns, the ILX's precise steering helps the car feel sporty and direct, but its handling limits and fun-to-drive nature are ultimately modest for the segment.

VERDICT

Looking for a luxury sedan without a high price tag? You may be intrigued by the 2016 Acura ILX. Plenty of standard features and a spacious cabin make this sedan comfortable for everyday driving, while its sporty look and feel make it a real driver's car, too. Read on to see if the Acura ILX has the right mix of value, comfort and sport for you.

Copyright Edmunds.com, Inc. All rights reserved. First published on www.edmunds.com and reprinted with permission. Edmunds and the Edmunds.com car logo are registered trademarks of Edmunds.com, Inc.
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