Just over 3 years ago, we were treated to a sneak preview of the Acura ILX concept. After seeing this concept alongside the NSX Concept, we held some optimism for Acura's future. Once we drove the production ILX several months later, some of that optimism faded a bit, and we were left hoping for a solid update of the ILX at the mid-cycle.
That time has come, and Acura has worked very hard to improve on many the areas where the ILX fell short. First of all, the ILX's inoffensive, yet nearly anonymous styling was updated to match Acura's current corporate face, starting with the Jewel-Eye LED headlights up front, along with a more aggressive grille and fascia treatment, and finishing in the rear with more stylish LED taillights and a bit of tactical brightwork here and there. An all-new A-spec trim level brings a bit of additional "aero" bodywork along with a snazzy set of 18x7.5" wheels that look like they were patterned after the blades of a ninja blender.
Inside the car, the A-spec treatment (available as a bump up in Premium or Tech Plus trim levels) brings new seats with "lux-suede" inserts, red gauge illumination, gray upholstery stitching, aluminum "sport" pedals, and a black fabric headliner. On Premium and Tech trim levels, last year's radio knobs and buttons have been replaced by a 7-inch Multi-Use-Display™ (MUD?!?) touch screen. On Premium models, Acura includes the "Display Audio" i-Phone Acuralink Navi capability (as currently seen on the Honda Civic, Fit, and CR-V), while the Tech Plus model gets a traditional HDD-based navi system. Base ILXs get a 6-speaker stereo, Premium models add a subwoofer to that system, while the Tech Plus model gets the full tilt 10-speaker Acura/ELS Premium system, featuring 415W of output.
Perhaps the most important changes are the ones you can't see. The most noticeable upgrade comes under the hood in the form of a new 2.4L Direct Injection i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission. Both are lifted pretty much intact from the ILX's bigger brother, the TLX. Mechanically the engine is identical to the TLX's, but there are some subtle differences to the intake and exhaust system. The intake in the ILX quite obviously has been tuned with a different sonic resonance, and this manifests itself as a nice little growl (if you've driven a K20Z-powered Civic Si, it's similar to that, though not necessarily as pronounced) that emerges once the dual stage intake manifold switches over to the short runners at higher engine rpms. On the exhaust side, the ILX makes due with a single muffler, where the TLX runs a dual exhaust setup, resulting in slightly better exhaust flow at higher rpms. Consequentially, the ILX develops 5 fewer horsepower, with a max output of 201hp at 6800rpm. This engine packs an extra 51hp and +40lb ft compared to the outgoing ILX's 2.0L 4-cylinder + 5-speed automatic package, all while delivering better fuel economy. Acura claims a whopping 2.5 second improvement in 0-60 performance and +1mpg in every category, with an estimated 25/36/29 city/highway/combined rating.
Elsewhere, under the category of "invisible but significant upgrades" comes all of the work that Honda performed on the ILX's chassis. These upgrades result in big improvements in torsional rigidity (+11% stiffer) and crash safety. Work was also done to stiffen the front subframe in order to improve steering response as well as overall ride quality and interior noise. Amplitude reactive dampers have been employed to improve ride quality and dynamic performance. And perhaps the most noticeable chassis upgrade: the brakes have been enlarged at all 4 corners. Can we get a Hallelujah!?
It all sounds great on paper, but all of this new stuff comes at a cost, and that cost is body weight. Compared to the wheezy old 2.0L ILX that you'll find heavily discounted at your local Acura lots, this "more awesome-er" ILX is a tad bit heftier. At 3093lb, base weight is up by about 140lbs compared to the '15 model. With the fully equipped Technology Plus A-spec package, the total comes in at 3137lbs, or roughly 170lbs heavier than the heaviest available '15 ILX. Unfortunately this weight gain sours the weight distribution a bit, moving it from the '15's 61%/39% F/R split, to a 63%/37% split for the '16 model.
How does this all come together in terms of driving the ILX? Well, click on to the next page to find out.