The ILX shares a familiar Honda platform, so it’s fair to ask if this new entry-level Acura is “just a Civic with a fancier set of clothes and a softer ride.” The Millennials it aims to attract should appreciate that its cabin is far plusher than the current Civic’s “low-rent digs,” but “even the sportiest” of the three editions available, which pairs a 2.4-liter engine with a six-speed manual transmission, doesn’t feel very sporty.
The cheaper base model is actually more fun to drive because of “the sheer pep and personality” of its smaller engine. Opt for the gas-electric hybrid and you’ll regret it: It’s “almost painfully slow to accelerate” and adds only 6 mpg in highway fuel economy. Both gas-only models come much closer to achieving that mix of near-luxury and “sportyish” performance you might remember from small cars of the 1990s. But with its somewhat “vague” steering and suspension, the ILX doesn’t quite hit that sweet spot.
It might even “butt heads” with the next-largest car in the Acura stable. Load the ILX with such basic options as leather seats and a navigation system, and its price inches to within $900 of the TSX. Is the TSX meant for an older audience? Maybe. But “only time will tell” if the kids really care enough about having an Acura to call their own.