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Review Of The 2016 Acura ILX: Moving Up In The World

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On: Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 1:21PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review Of The 2016 Acura ILX:  Moving Up In The World

There comes a point in everyone's life when they have to grow up. It starts with something small, like getting your own credit card, paying your own cell phone bill, or getting your first job to facilitate those things. Then there are bigger steps:  Moving away from home for the first time (not scary at all), or going away to college, or finding that first special someone to share your time with.

Typically, your car can dictate where you are in the world in terms of maturity. This isn't the same thing as when some people mistakenly use their car as a bragging point to display their success at being the best whatever they are. Those braggarts aside, a new or newer car can usually be a sign of a change in the right direction. So while your first car might be something cheap like a 1997 Hyundai Excel, impractical like a 1965 Mustang convertible, prone to breaking down like a used 1985 Pontiac Fiero, or just something that was a hand-me-down, and doesn't really reflect your own self-image—like a 2001 Buick LeSabre you got from your grandfather for $1—there comes a time you have to move up and move on in the world and get to that next level of life, and your next choice in automobile can say a lot about you. There may be no better entry-level grown-up car than the 2016 Acura ILX. It is a luxury car with the price tag well within the reach of aspiring-but-not-there-yet professionals that are looking for a serious upgrade, or may be justkids that have moved up in the world.

While BMW and Mercedes vie to be the best at acceleration, or have the best interior, or one of any single category, and offer up a million options to pick and choose from to customize your car however you want, Acura seems to fly under the radar. While it is true that Acura may not be the Ultimate Driving Machine or command the cachet of a Benz around the office, what it does do is offer up an incredible amount of standard luxury features, and very sound performance at a price that is impossible to beat.

The new ILX takes over where the 2015 model left off, and addresses and updates some issues from the outgoing model. The most noticeable right away are Acura's Jewel Eye LED headlights that make the ILX impossible to ignore driving down the highway. The car also looks lower and wider from the frontthan last year, and gets a new rear fascia, making it looks a little meaner than the old I'm-trying-not-to-be-offensive look. This car looks like it's trying to make a statement, and it does. Under the hood, the all-aluminum direct-injected 2.4-liter i-VTEC inline four-cylinder is a beauty. No turbo needed here, as this engine gets it done the old-fashioned way. Although Acura claims the engine pumps out 201 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, off the line, those numbers feel very underrated. Then again, it might also be the perfectly matched 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or the relatively svelte 3100 or so pounds the engine has to move around; this car feels plenty quick. 0–60 mph comes up in about 6.4 seconds on its way to a quarter mile of 14.6 seconds @ 94 mph and a top speed of just shy of 140 mph. The 2.4 is also extremely thrifty on fuel. It posts 25/36/29 city/highway/combined mpg, which is very livable on any salary, even if it does require premium fuel.

Moving to the chassis, the front suspension bushings have been revamped to help reduce body roll, and what is really fun is the Amplitude Reactive Dampers that have two pistons per shock. The first is for little bumps, while the second stiffer piston is used more for roadholding and stability. The electric power steering has also been reworked to increase feel and feedback. Acura has also reinforced joints around the front suspension to decrease flex, and used high-tensile steel in nearly 60% of the car's weight, which is not only stronger, but lighter than the regular stuff; on the track that translates to a skidpad number of 0.83 g, which isn't NSX-worthy, but good enough for an entry level vehicle. The brakes have been enlarged to 12.3 inches up front and 11.1 inches out back, along with strengthened calipers and bigger splash shields to help decrease fade. Braking from 60–0 mph takes only 120 feet, which, again, is respectable, all things considered.

Inside the ILX, Acura makes things very simple to choose. Unlike companies like BMW where every option needs to be checked separately, Acura has streamlined the process and whittled it down to basically four package decisions. The base model starts at $27,900. The base model plus, what's called the AcuraWatch Plus package, tacks another $2,000 to the bottom line and includes things like Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation. Next up is the Premium Package that starts at $29,900 and includes leather, memory seats, power passenger seat, iPhone AcuraLink Navigation, an 8-inch infotainment screen, blind spot and rear traffic assist, SiriusXM, as well as email compatibility for those I-need-it-now up-and-comers. The Technology Plus Package starts at $32,900 and includes just about everything you might need. It incorporates both the Premium Package and AcuraWatch features and adds things like: Navigations, Traffic Rerouting, Voice Recognition, a premium ELS Studio 10-speaker sound system, GPS-linked climate control, and even a compass.

Finally Acura introduces its A-Spec Package, which brings us back to our Gran Tourismo Playstation days of modifying cars. The A-Spec package is just for esthetics, but adds things like fog lights, a rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, contrast stitching, red instrument dash lights, aluminum pedals, and extended side sills to help the ILX look a little more sporting. The A-Spec package can be added to either the Premium Package or the Technology Plus Package for an additional $1,900. Admittedly, we do wish that the A-Spec package was a bit more like the video game upgrade, and added some sort of performance boosters of some kind. Sportier exhaust, less muted engine intake noise, or maybe an even tighter suspension would all be things we would be interested in paying more for (hint, hint, Acura). But, for now, the visual upgrades will have to suffice.

When it comes to showing the world that you've grown up, you can say a lot with your new car. The 2016 Acura ILX says a lot of things, and almost all of them are good. It carries equal parts practicality and prestige, and says that you've grown up quite a bit. So while you might not want to part with that old Pontiac Fiero or '65 Mustang (keep the Mustang), you can at least garage them and have a very classy daily driver that does everything well, and like a grown-up would… Or at least a kid who's moved up in the world would.

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