Road TestsClassic CarsInterviewsQ&AAbout/Bio

2016 Acura ILX
The redesigned 2016 Acura ILX is a top sports sedan


Does Acura readily come to mind  if you're thinking about buying an upscale sports sedan?

No? I thought so. Audi, BMW and Mercedes generally are considered by more buyers. However, the redesigned 2016 Acura ILX may cause more upscale spots sedan buyers to consider this more-refined model.

There's much to like about the new front-drive ILX, which lists at from $27,900 to $32,900. It fits in the growing entry luxury sedan category, and Acura hopes it will attract more younger buyers under 35 with new styling, new engine, new transmission and more features.

The new Acura comes as the standard ILX, the ILX with a Premium package and the line-topping ILX Tech Plus package, supplemented by the addition of new AcuraWatch Plus and A-SPEC packages. (Who dreams up these designations?)

New features for the base ILX include a "next-generation" body structure, while the ILX with the Premium package receives such items as blind spot information, cross-traffic monitor and front power seats.

The  ILX with the Tech Plus package has new features added or changed from the Premium package, while the A-SPEC has 18-inch (vs. standard 17-inch) wheels, sport seats with lux-suede inserts and contrast stitching and aluminum sport pedals.

The Acura Watch Plus package has adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, collision mitigating braking, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning. Only an idiot could get into trouble driving an ILX with  these features.

I tested the the $32,900 top-line version, which, like all ILXs, has more leading edge technology, such as GPS-linked automatic climate control and a 7-inch multi-use display touch screen that minimizes instrument panel clutter.

The evolved touch-screen connectivity and media system receives more than 50 design changes to enhance intuitive operation and functionality. Acura's cloud-based connected-car system offers a broad range of cloud-based and embedded convenience, connectivity and available security features. The navigation system has 3D view.

All well and good, but how does the 105.1-inch wheelbase ILX drive? The steering is quick with the right amount of feel, handling is in the sports sedan class and the anti-lock brakes provide short stops for the 3,093-3,137 pound car.

The ride is supple, and the brake pedal has a firm feel and engages the anti-lock brakes very near the top of its travel.

The new ILX looks the part of an athletic sports sedan, with a lower, wider stance. It's got new "Jewel Eye"" headlights, a new grille design and more aggressive lower fascia for a sportier looking front end. Then there's redone rear-end styling with new LED combination lights and lower fascia enhancements.

The available A-SPEC package enhances the performance look even more with the addition of sport side sill garnishes, nicely integrated trunk spoiler, fog lights and the new 18-inch machined alloy wheels.

The new engine for the ILX is a 2.4-liter, 16-valve, direct-injected dual overhead camshaft I-VTEC four-cylinder. It produces 201 horsepower at  6,800 r.p.m. and 180 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 r.p.m. That's up 51 horsepower and 40 pound-feet compared to the outgoing 2-liter four-cylinder.

Estimated fuel economy is 25 miles per gallon in the city and a sparkling 36 on highways.

 Acura says the 0-60 m.p.h. time is 7 seconds  with the new engine, which calls for premium fuel. It works extremely well with a smooth, responsive new 8-speed dual clutch transmission with torque converter. The car is quick off the line and good at high-speed highway driving, although the engine emits a fairly loud roar when the throttle is floored during quick passing. .

The roomy interior has upgraded materials. You can get "Euro-style" stitching and new high-intensity silver trim for the instrument panel and other areas. Gauges can be quickly read, and front seats are supportive in curves. There are a fairly good number of cabin storage areas.

Except for some tire noise at freeway speeds, my test car was very quiet. The new ILX has more noise-insulating materials, thicker front door glass and Active Noise Control technology.

The large trunk has a low, wide opening, but there's no interior trunk lid feature, such as a small handle,  to help close it.

The rear seatback folds flat to enhance cargo capacity but, curiously, it isn't split 60/40 as are most folding seatbacks. The pass-through area from the trunk to the backseat area is only moderately large with the seatback folded. However, the rear seat has a center fold-down armrest with twin cupholders.

Acura sells far more SUVs and crossovers than cars, but the ILX might appreciably help change that picture  if Acura successfully gets the word  out about it.

Why let better-known rivals take home all the marbles when you have such a competitive car?