The 2019 Acura ILX gets yet another update, a price reduction, and more standard features. The powertrain stays the same. But the addition of safety technologies and self-driving features makes this entry-level luxury sports sedan a great deal for first-timers and loyal fans. Some might argue that it doesn't quite reach the entry-level luxury level; especially since it doesn't offer a choice of up-to-date performance options. In fact, its cousin the Honda Civic in some ways has more to offer dedicated driving enthusiasts.
Where does the ILX stand in renewals and updates, especially relative to the related Honda Civic line?
The 2019 Acura ILX actually falls behind the current generation of the Honda Civic and stays focused on creating a luxury ride with balanced, smooth performance without disruptive overhauls. Mechanical updates are few, but there are still plenty of new features to consider, especially in the base model. It may be that Acura, like most manufacturers, is trying to keep some sedan lines going while they feed the hunger for SUVs and crossovers and decided to wait a bit longer to make a major update to this sedan line. Fans of the ILX would surely be receptive to the turbo and hybrid versions if or when the next generational jump comes.
What's the current powertrain?
The ILX gets 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque from the non-turbo, 2.4-liter inline four. The gearbox is an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) which combines with the broad torque curve of the engine to provide very satisfying acceleration and driving. Quick paddle-shifter gear control enhances the driving experience for hands-on pilots.
Acura has added to the standard features for 2019 on the ILX. What do they include?
Starting with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless access, and push-button start, there's also a power driver's seat and heat for both front seats. Above is a power moonroof and the climate control system has dual zones. Acura has extended the ILX to include AcuraWatch Plus safety technology and self-driving features which include lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. Going up to Premium and Technology trim levels adds leather, a power passenger seat, dual-screen infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which are new to the ILX, satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and a seven-speaker ELS Studio premium audio package or ten-speaker high-end system. Acura has also added Siri Eyes Free which helps keep the driver focused on the road while using voice commands and blind spot monitoring.
How's the interior? Is it sports-sedan tight, or is there room for rear seat passengers?
Even in the back, test drivers report comfortable space for average adults under six feet tall, both in head and leg room. The front seats, of course, are increasingly comfortable as the trim levels rise, adding power to the passenger side with Premium and leather or Ultrasuede upholstery for the top level. Interior equipment and controls are carefully thought out and laid out for easy access, but in a glaring exception, the steering wheel resembles a child's busy box with an excess of buttons.
How's the handling and driving experience?
The DCT is reportedly very smooth shifting with well-chosen ratios for an enjoyable country-road drive. The ILX handles well on curves and complex roads, but drivers report a light touch to the steering which can be disconcerting for those expecting a more direct connection. There is a bit of electric steering assist defining the handling. When working the curves, the engine powers through them in a confident, sustained manner. Though paddles are available for shifting, they are the remaining vestiges of the manual transmission experience in this generation of ILX.
How about the A-Spec package, what does that involve?
A-Spec adds 18-inch wheels (from 17) with all-season performance tires, a rear spoiler and diffuser, and underbody treatments. For the ILX it's mostly appearance and styling but adds well to the sporty new appearance for 2019.
How has the exterior been updated?
First reactions to the 2019 Acura ILX have included excitement at the new exterior styling. The badges, updated grille, headlights which are now LED-based and more refined taillights all add up to a sportier, more brand-consistent image. The ILX no longer looks like it had somehow gotten left behind in exterior updates. For 2019, all trim levels also have the choice of new interior and exterior colors.