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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2016 ACURA ILX REVIEW


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE ACURA ILX VEHICLE
The ILX is the compact and more affordable sedan choice within the Acura lineup, a smart and sporty vehicle for those with a limited budget yet seeking the same stylish approach used in the bigger TLX. The exterior has been refreshed, a once-optional engine is now standard, and more safety features are available for the 2016 model with the AcuraWatch Plus Package.

I drove a 2016 Acura ILX with the now-standard 201-horsepower 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine and new eight-speed manual transmission. Available as one trim distinguished by optional packages, an ILX comes with the following features: premium vinyl upholstery; an eight-way power driver’s seat; sunroof; multi-view rear camera; Bluetooth; Siri Eyes Free; five-inch color display; internet radio; a six-speaker audio system; USB and iPod integration; seventeen-inch wheels; and all-season tires. Total vehicle price as described without options comes to $27,900.

For an entry-level luxury sedan on the smaller size, the Acura ILX stands out for its inexpensive price tag. Premium models in the same segment include the Buick Verano and Lexus IS 200t. It also might be beneficial to turn to a fully loaded Honda Civic, which received an excellent redesign for the model year, or a Kia Optima.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Tighter interior dimensions of these compact luxury sedans do take some getting used to, but the center stack holds as many tech features as the bigger counterparts. Look closer, however, and you’ll realize the cheaper price tag has much to do with the sub-par materials used (especially when compared to a rival like the Lexus IS 200t). It’s all about the extras on the ILX, as my test drive featured a Tech Package (navigation, AcuraLink Communication System, upgraded sound system), the AcuraWatch Plus Package (Collision Mitigation System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning) and the A-SPEC Package (eighteen-inch wheels, sport seats with Lux Suede inserts, fog lights, rear decklid spoiler).

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2016 Acura ILX with “Good” performance front, side, rollover, and rear crash tests. It also has a 5-Star rating with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The ILX features a standard rearview camera, ACE body structure, anti-lock brakes, hill start assist, traction control, and an advanced airbag system. The optional AcuraWatch Plus package adds a suite of safety technology.

Cost Issues: The 2016 Acura ILX starts at reasonable $27,900 with my test drive topping out at $34,890 with all the aforementioned options. The Lexus IS series ranges from a base price of $37,325 for the 200t to $44,025 for the IS 350 F SPORT, a performance package that blows the doors off Acura’s A-SPEC offerings.

Activity & Performance Ability: It’s a good move for Acura to upgrade buyers to a bigger four-cylinder engine and eight-speed transmission, but sadly trumped by the Lexus IS 200t’s new turbocharged 2-liter delivering 241 horsepower. The powertrain also cannot compete with the gusto from some of the spicier, non-luxury choices from Mazda. I’m also not convinced the A-SPEC increases road appeal, whereas the optional Lexus F SPORT package is well worth the extra dough.

The Green Concern: Here the Acura ILX makes a strong point: 25-city and 36-highway for a combined 29 miles-per-gallon. The Lexus IS 200t outputs 22-city and 33-highway for a combined 26 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2016 Acura ILX’s sleek and sporty design with certainly attract drivers, as will the reasonable price tag for a entry-level luxury sedan on the smaller side – but stronger performance and refinement can be found in such competitors as the Lexus IS 200t or even a dressed up Kia Optima.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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