2017 Acura ILX Tech Road Test Review

August 16 2019, North Shore Acura

2017 Acura ILX Tech Road Test Review

Big on performance and even bigger on value

Acura's ILX should be on your radar. It consistently delivers better reliability than most of its compact luxury competitors, while providing strong performance, good functionality, plenty of creature comforts, and great all around value.

Sporting Acura's familiar shield grille in a classy satin-silver finish, the ILX received its distinctive full LED headlamps and revised front and rear fascias as part of a comprehensive mid-cycle makeover for the 2016 model year, which not only modernized its look, but gave it the brightest and therefore safest standard lighting in its class.

Being that I reviewed a mid-range Premium trimmed model earlier this year, I decided to revisit the 2017 ILX in near top-line Technology guise this time around. As a refresher, the 2017 ILX lineup consists of the very reasonably priced $29,690 base model, $32,190 Premium trim, $33,690 Tech trim being reviewed here, and range-topping $35,090 A-Spec trim.

Loads of standard features despite reasonable base price

As with all Acura models, the ILX balances strong performance with fuel-efficiency, while delivering big value for money. For instance, the sub-$30k base model hits the road with those just noted auto on/off LED headlamps (and particularly attractive ones at that), LED taillights, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, ambient interior lighting, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a colour TFT multi-information display, filtered dual-zone automatic climate control, a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with Bluetooth streaming and hands-free connectivity, Siri Eyes Free, a powered moonroof, and more.

Tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist, and all the usual active and passive safety features are included too, but some might be surprised to hear the ILX also boasts a comprehensive suite of AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance technologies as standard equipment, featuring adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and road departure mitigation, which results in best-possible IIHS Top Safety Pick + status as well as a 5-star NHTSA safety rating.

Premium and Tech trims add even more luxury and value

While we're on the subject of features, Premium trim adds perforated Milano leather upholstery, powered heatable front seats with two-way driver-side memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a larger 8.0-inch backlit colour VGA upper infotainment display controlled by a rotating knob and various buttons on the centre stack, plus a second 7.0-inch multi-use colour touchscreen display below that, a higher grade seven-speaker and subwoofer-enhanced audio system with satellite radio, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

My Tech tester added much-appreciated rain-sensing wipers, very accurate navigation with detailed mapping, voice recognition, an impressive 10-speaker ELS surround-sound audio system with Dolby Pro Logic, enhanced AcuraLink smartphone connectivity, and a HomeLink garage door remote, while the A-Spec gets all of the above plus an aero body kit including side skirts and a rear spoiler, fog lamps, sportier 18-inch alloys, metal sport pedals, Lux-Suede upholstery, and a black headliner.

Strong performance balanced with comfort and economy

Even without the A-Spec upgrade the ILX Tech is plenty sporty and good fun to drive, its exclusive naturally aspirated 2.4-litre four-cylinder powertrain an absolutely wonderful engine, while the aforementioned eight-speed dual-clutch auto provides the kind of direct, positive response that a regular automatic or continuously variable transmission couldn't hope to match.

Along with excellent straight-line acceleration and the engagement of a performance-oriented dual-clutch gearbox that's as smooth and refined as most premium buyers should want, the ILX' fully independent suspension setup balances an ability to carve up canyon two-laners with ease yet provide the kind of comfortable ride quality required by the luxury set.

Truly, I'd be happy with the ILX as a daily driver, especially when factoring in its fairly stingy 9.4 L/100km city, 6.8 highway and 8.2 combined five-cycle fuel economy. It's an extremely easy car to wind through congested city traffic too, yet it's wonderfully stable at highway speeds and thoroughly engaging when pushing hard through a tight set of S-curves. Likewise the engine seems totally docile when merely puttering along, yet open the ILX up and its 201 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque launch it forward with a vengeance, the engine revving freely and sounding sensational when spinning up toward its 6,900 rpm redline. Paddles at the fingertips, each shift is quick yet smooth, the entire car feeling more hands-on and in control than some others in the class that seem as if they want to control you. Yes, Acura, and its Honda parent, are well steeped in building compact performance cars, the ILX closest to the previous Civic Si than anything else currently available, but it's a lot more grown up.

Premium detailing measures up to the class standard

Slowing down enough to take a good look around, the cabin is nicely finished with the types of materials and details expected in the premium class. Most everything above the waist is finished in high-quality synthetics, with the soft-touch door uppers extending down to the midway point before making way for even plusher stitched leatherette, while the armrests are plenty nice too.

Likewise, the rear quarters are finished to the same high level as those up front, with each window seat carved out like an individual bucket for extra lateral support. As expected, a sizeable armrest folds down from centre, integrating dual cupholders. As for roominess, I had about five inches ahead of my knees and plenty of space for my feet when sitting behind the driver's seat, which was positioned for my five-foot-eight medium-build frame, plus ample room for my shoulders and hips, while the two inches remaining above my head makes the ILX more accommodating than both of its closest four-door rivals.

Great year-end discounts available now

The ILX remains very competitive in its entry-level luxury class, especially when factoring in pricing. On that note, the deals are even better this time of year. I admit it's a bit late for a 2017 model year road test, but there are still plenty available with deep discounts of $3,500 when financing or leasing and $4,500 when paying cash for Premium, Tech and A-Spec trims, plus there's no notable difference between this 2017 and the 2018 model that's already on sale, so why not sock away the savings? I'd recommend acting fast if you want to take advantage.