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Where Affordable Meets Envy: The 2016 Acura ILX

In recent years, we’ve seen an influx of luxury car brands releasing vehicles that strive to fit the solid middle ground between affordable and envy. Among them, you’ll find the 2016 Acura ILX sitting comfortably between the BMW 2 Series, Audi A3, and many other the basic luxury sedans. The $30,000 range is a hot little market.

There’s a specific target audience for this vehicle. If you can afford $40,000 and up, and you knowingly feel you deserve so, there’s an entire line-up of fantastic Acura sedans for your price range – from the RLX to the TLX. These cars are hot. Heck, if the RLX were on the soccer field, it’s all-around capabilities put it as the Striker (here’s why).

But assuming you’re the type to have a realistic budget prepared, and it pains you to flip through the catalog of affordable, entry level vehicles on the market, the ILX may be exactly what you’re looking for. Let me explain.

2016 Acura ILX Stats


  • Reviewed Model: Base • Premium • Tech • A-Spec
  • Type: Luxury Sport Sedan
  • Engine: 2.4-liter, Direct Injection, 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC® 4-cylinder
  • Power: 201 hp @ 6800 rpm
  • Torque: 180 lb.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 50L
  • Fuel Economy: 9.3 / 6.6 / 8.1
  • MSRP of Base: Starts at $29,490 (CAD)
  • MSRP of A-Spec: $34,890 (CAD)

Aesthetic of the ILX A-Spec

The 2016 Acura ILX A-Spec sits somewhere between sporty race car and luxurious 4-door sedan. Granted it isn’t nearly as spacious as the TLX, and you most likely will be left in the dirt on the track, but if you’re favouring a nice in-between that puts up points in the looks and power categories, you’re in luck. Lets start with the exterior.

Sporty is the word of the day, my friends. It’s angular and low to the ground, and separates itself from the pack with its dagger-like contours and risky edges. The bright Jewel Eye LED headlamps light up the evening for an enhanced and elegant viewpoint. It sits on 18×7.5″ alloy wheels for a splendid finish. The A-Spec model takes a more sporty approach with side skirts and a decklid spoiler, which I must say, completes the look if you’re looking to inject a bit of youth to it.

Thoughts: My test vehicle came in Graphite Luster Metallic, and while grey doesn’t generally have an associated feeling, it has a nice lighter tone that doesn’t make it feel grey. But if grey isn’t your shtick, there are five other fashionable colour options in Crystal Black Pearl, Slate Silver Metallic, Catalina Blue Pearl, Basque Red Pearl II, and Bellanova White Pearl. Not exactly the biggest fan of the uninspiring rear, but man, the front is a whole ‘nother story. I personally love the front finish and grill, which has a villainous or Batman’s Tumbler tone to it.

There’s lots to play with inside the ILX’s cockpit. The A-Spec features 8-way power adjustment seating with Lux Suede seat surfaces for extra comfort, complete with seat heaters and a sunroof directly above the front passengers. The dashboard features an On-Demand Multi-Use Display (on all models except basic), which equate to not one but three interfaces for you to feel in control (if you count the dual screens in the console). And since the A-Spec has the side skirts and racing spoiler, the obligatory metal racing pedal has been added for good measure.

Thoughts: The Ebony interior may be good for hiding the scuffs and dirt, but I prefer their Greystone and Patchment colours because it just looks more refined. The console is just as sporty as the exterior, but compared to its luxury counterparts, it still looks like it could use a redesign to elevate its finish. Who am I kidding – I just don’t like chunky buttons. The cabin lights are very bright, and there’s ample room for storage including numerous cup holders. The rear seating is spacious enough for a 4-door, but there are times where I felt I was in a 2-door.

Technology in the ILX A-Spec

Check it. I’m naturally a huge fan of Acura’s technology, as per my recent nearly-touchless cross Canada adventure in the 2015 Acura RLX. Many of those features can be found in the ILX, which is a great sign for things to come as Acura clearly cares about the safety of their drivers, and the reliability of their software.

All models of the ILX include:

  • Lane Departure Warning, which beeps in case you mistakably veer into the next lane.
  • Lane Keeping Assist System, which literally will steer your car if you mistakably veer into the next lane.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control, for automatic acceleration/deceleration when there’s a car in front of you.
  • Forward Collision Warning, which again beeps when the ILX believes you need to brake immediately, preventing you from a messy collision.
  • Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™controls, in case your battery is running out on your phone and can’t use Google Maps.
  • Blind Spot Information System, for peripheral assistance when there’s a car in your blind spot. (not available on the base model).
  • Remote Engine Starter is also available on all models.

The Tech and A-Spec models come with a ton of experience enhancing features, which really elevate you forward towards the luxury market.

  • AcuraLink® Connectivity System, for third party assistance when in emergencies. Live Concierge Support, 24-7 is available.
  • Acura/ELS Surround® AM/FM/CD/XM® Premium Audio System with Dolby Pro Logic II®, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, and 10 speakers. Trust me, if music is your life, or you just hate poor audio, this is a far better option than the stock offering.
  • Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers, so you can focus on driving instead of fiddling with your washer stick. Err, wait.
  • HomeLink® remote system, which integrate with your garage door, gates and other RF devices.

Thoughts: While I’ve made it clear many times before that I’m probably more confident in Acura’s driving technology than my own, as well as synchronizations with your phone via Bluetooth, I do believe the touch screen interface could use an upgrade. It’s definitely easy to use. I just feel the interface design has been replicated on so many past models of Acura’s and Honda’s that a 2015 upgrade would be welcome. Especially in light of the latest standards to user experience and design improvements. By the way, I mostly use Spotify + Bluetooth for music, but I noticed myself playing music off Sirius far more in this car.

Driving the ILX A-Spec

The healthy bump in horsepower is evident in the 2016 model, which carries hefty 201hp that you can absolutely feel on the road. It’s the most noticeable upgrade to its previous year, which only had 150hp. It has great handling for a front wheel drive vehicle, and with the added horsepower, the 2016 model is a fine cut ahead of the rest in terms of power and control. Its fuel economy on premium gas is more efficient than my previous review on the RLX (although not by much).

The Bottom Line

At a shave over $29K, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more fluid and fully functioning vehicle. However if you’re debating between other basic luxury cars, you’re better of adding a couple thousands for the Tech and A-Spec models, which really make the car stand out. I didn’t get to test drive the base model, but I feel that it may tread more towards a Honda than as an Acura.

The upgrades to the 2016 model are substantial, and very much worthy of successor to Acura’s entry level vehicle. If sporty is important, the ILX A-Spec will easily be your best bet. I mean, just look at it. What a beaute!

Got questions about the 2016 Acura ILX A-Spec? Hit me in the comments below.

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