We know we have a ringer. Our ILX, with its top-spec 2.4-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission, is definitely the pick of the litter where Acura's smallest sedan is concerned. And indeed, we have roundly praised its smooth-revving four-cylinder, and even more so, its sweet-shifting manual gearbox. But that's not the whole story of this car.
No doubt, the best ILX is the one we have, and that isn't great news for Acura.
"While we love our car's 2.4-liter engine and the six-speed manual bolted to it, the vast majority of ILX intenders won't even glance at it," says associate editor David Zenlea. This powertrain will account for but a sliver of sales. Most of those who are lured to the luxury marque's most affordable entry will probably live with a base model or a hybrid. Unfortunately for them, the base model's 2.0-liter engine is gutless and underwhelming, and the ILX Hybrid put senior web editor Phil Floraday off so much that he begged to get out of the CVT-hobbled car after only one night behind the wheel.
No doubt, the best ILX is the one we have, and that isn't great news for Acura. That's not just because so few customers are likely to choose this iteration -- even when they do, that delicious powertrain can't mask some this model's blunders.
We complained that the car's engine was noisy in last month's update, and we've noticed that a lot of ambient noise worms its way in as well. "The ILX is in desperate need of sound insulation," says Floraday. Managing editor Amy Skogstrom agrees, saying that highway crosswinds caused a racket. She also called out the grainy rear-view camera, which deputy editor Joe DeMatio had previously harped on as well: "At night, what you see looks like a fuzzy old black-and-white movie on a crappy old TV."
The rear suspension is a multilink unit, not a torsion beam, but Floraday said, "The ILX could use better suspension tuning at the rear axle. Several times over the weekend I felt a well-damped bump under the front tires and then a moment later heard a thud and felt a much sharper impact from the rear tires. I don't feel like I'm in a luxury car when the impacts are this loud or jarring."
Word has it that Acura is working on an emergency refresh for its smallest offering, much like what parent company Honda recently did with the Civic. We'd like to see better sound insulation, as well as a more powerful base engine. And while we love the six-speed manual, Acura should offer buyers of the 2.4-liter an automatic option. That's what Buick does with the Verano turbo, and looking at last month's sales numbers, Buick sold almost twice as many Veranos as Acura did ILXs.