The 2017 Acura ILX Tech Plus
Buyers looking for an upmarket compact sedan will find a compelling value equation in this vehicle, says auto writer Greg Rubenstein.
By Greg Rubenstein
Entry-level luxury is sometimes hard to define. Cars considered mainstream can be loaded with tech features and comfort amenities formerly reserved for all but the most exclusive vehicles. Globalization and the enormous expense in automotive development also mean virtually all premium cars have some lineage shared with mass-appeal cousins.
While shared corporate underpinnings aren’t by default a negative, it can make justification for premium expense a bit harder to internalize. Apart from sometimes fleeting exclusivity and the typically improved buying and service experiences, prime luxury cues are often less obvious; hidden inside bodywork, under the hood, or apparent by unlikely direct comparison.
Case-in-point is Acura’s 2017 ILX. Built on a platform shared with parent Honda’s volume-leading Civic, this premium sedan is differentiated by use of higher-quality interior appointments and insulating materials to provide an experience appropriate for the premium vehicle segment. Mechanical systems, including suspension and brakes, are also retuned, tweaked or otherwise augmented over the components found in the plebeian Civic, producing a feature-rich entry-level luxury sport sedan both fun to drive and a top safety pick.
The tested, range-topping ILX with Tech Plus package, as well as the midline Premium package variant, is available with Acura’s A-SPEC body-cladding enhancement group, while the $28,930 base model can be optioned with the “AcuraWatch Plus” group, which includes features also found in Tech Plus. Standard goodies across all versions include rear-view backup camera, multi-function touch display, dual-zone automated climate control, heated side mirrors, heated front seats with eight-way power for the driver, Bluetooth-enabled sound system, and LED headlights and taillights.
At $33,930, the ILX with Tech Plus is further enhanced with a full complement of safety, connectivity, and convenience perks. While all versions score a five-star overall vehicle safety rating, only Tech Plus receives the complete lineup of safety systems: forward collision and lane departure warning, collision mitigation, road departure mitigation braking, lane keeping assist, blind spot information, and rear cross traffic monitor.
Tech Plus package features designed to keep driver and occupants tuned in and turned on include a 3D navigation system, AcuraLink real-time traffic information with re-routing, multi-media capable integrated text messaging, dual multi-function color infotainment displays, 10-speaker audio system with subwoofer, HD, and satellite radio plus Homelink. Tech Plus convenience features provide full leather-trimmed seating with four-way power for the front passenger, adaptive cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and integrated compass.
Inside this Acura, touch points have a terrific feel with pliant plastics present on the door panels, dash, and center console. Interior panel fit is tight and consistent throughout. Although the Acura’s interior design is a half-step behind rival Audi A3’s best-in-class looks, the ILX’s solid ergonomics, including well-placed switchgear, logical steering wheel-mounted controls, and a multi-function infotainment system controller, which can be put to use without consulting the owner’s manual provide for an overall compelling proposition.
Given the ILX’s sporting nature, some engine and exhaust sound is allowed into the cabin, although not so much noise to become intrusive on long drives or to inhibit conversation. Overall driving dynamics are fun, with perhaps a bit more sporting aspiration than what’s actually available; it’s still a satisfying driving experience, whether serving daily commute chores or packed up for a driving vacation.
Available cargo hauling capacity is on par for the class, as is fuel economy, which is EPA rated at 29 mpg overall, with a city rating of 25 mpg and a highway rating of 35 mpg. In more than 300 miles of highway-weighted commuting over a week spent test driving the ILX, it returned a respectable 32 mpg average.
The ILX’s primary mission is to provide a gateway into the brand, and while its condensed dimensions help keep cost down, buyers looking for an upmarket compact sedan will find a compelling value equation comprised of quality content, fun driving dynamics, and the ownership benefits offered by a luxury marque.
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