The economic recession may have reduced the number of buyers who could afford a luxury vehicle, but it certainly didn't cut the number of buyers who aspired to own one. First-time luxury shoppers still want amenities, but only if they're bundled with an attractive price tag -- and Honda thinks the 2013 Acura ILX may be just the solution.
This isn't our first time laying eyes on the 2013 Acura ILX (a "concept" was shown last month in Detroit), but it was the first time we had a chance to check out the production-ready Acura ILX sedan, along with its cabin. Company officials are quick to throw out the "millennial" word when describing the ILX's target audience at the 2012 Chicago auto show, but unlike other cars and concepts designed expressly for that coveted demographic, the Acura ILX feels surprisingly mature, especially within. Plastics used to trim upper door panels and the top of the dashboard are are quite soft, and very nicely grained. Leather used on both the door panel insert and armrests boasts contrasting accent stitching. We're also happy to see the slew of inscrutable buttons on the center stack -- a trait that long plagued Acura's interior designs -- is no more; controls even on models equipped with navigation are legible and cleanly arranged.
Although there are few external cues to suggest as much, the 2013 Acura ILX will be offered with three different powertrain combinations. Base models pair a 150-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 with a five-speed automatic. We're most interested in driving the "enthusiast-tuned" model, which bolts a 201-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 -- the same engine used in the TSX and the 2012 Honda Civic Si -- to a six-speed manual. Buyers seeking a stingier option can always spring for the 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid, which uses the Honda Civic Hybrid's 1.5-liter I-4 and Integrated Motor Assist driveline.
Despite its shared architecture with the Honda Civic, Acura says unique suspension and dampener tuning lends the car it's own personality. We'll find out for sure in April, when we finally have our first opportunity to slide behind the wheel.
For more on the 2013 Acura ILX, check out our First Look here. For more on the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Chicago Show homepage.