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2021 Acura ILX Overview

Acura’s gussied-up Civic rolls into showrooms for the second year in a row with no significant changes. This comes after the ILX finally got Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for the 2019 model year, but the entry-level luxury segment has been exploding of late, and the competition is getting better every year. Still, there are those who are looking to fall somewhere between a Honda and a BMW, and the ILX fits the bill nicely.

The front-wheel-drive-only ILX is powered by a 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that pumps out 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. While that doesn’t sound like an impressive amount of power these days, you’ll be very happy with the long list of standard features the ILX offers. LED headlights, sunroof, heated front pleather seats, and the AcuraWatch safety suite, including adaptive cruise, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane-keep assist.

A Premium package will expand the list of safety features to include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as bump up the upholstery to real leather. One weak spot of the base ILX is an underpowered stereo, but the Premium Package rectifies that, as well as adding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making it a must for most consumers. A Technology Package adds native navigation to the Premium Package, as well as a 10-speaker stereo, while the A-Spec offers unique styling inside and out, along with unique 18-inch wheels.

With 12.4 cubic feet of trunk space, the ILX falls behind the competition, and don’t think this was a concession to bring more interior space to back-seat passengers. There’s a dearth of space back there as well, so don’t expect to carry any more than four adults at a time—and two of those adults could find things a little cramped. Where the ILX really falls short is in styling and technology. As well equipped as the base trim level is, it doesn’t come with a touchscreen for its infotainment system, and the 8-inch touchscreen you get with every other trim doesn’t exactly impress. To be honest, the whole dash setup simply looks dated, which is a shame in an otherwise attractive vehicle, but out-of-fashion graphics and low resolution really drive that nail home.

Still, the ILX represents a good option in a great category that is going through some changes. With competitors like the BMW 2 Series and Mercedes A-Class setting new standards, the ILX is feeling the pressure to step up its game and deliver better, more versatile tech. But with a sub-$30,000 price tag, there’s a lot to forgive in a car that drives this nicely and looks this good. Besides, it’ll reliably deliver 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, which proves it can keep up with the big boys, but if you need something with a little more flash, look out for a Type S version, rumored to arrive in the very near future.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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