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Quick Spin: 2013 Acura ILX

I don’t think it’s wrong to want to wear nice clothes. When I’m wearing items that might be a bit more expensive than my usual threads I wind up feeling better. No, I’m not a depressed person by any means, but good clothes can take me from an eight to a nine. Ten is reserved for when I’m not wearing any clothes.

So maybe the Honda Civic wanted to upgrade its wardrobe a bit. I think that’s the case, because the 2013 Acura ILX is essentially a Civic that shops at Nordstrom.

2013 Acura ILX 013 rear three quarter

Of course, the appeal exterior style of this modern Acura is up for debate. I expect some love and hate will be had by both sides, but I think it looks rather handsome. There’s some muscularity in the rear haunches, and the nose out front has been nipped and tucked into the right shape. Still, looks only get you in the door, it’s what’s under the skin that really counts.

Here’s what you need to know about the Acura ILX. I’ve only driven the 2.4-liter-equipped variety, which is fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s dubbed the “enthusiast” version, and it’s sort of just that. In fact, it’s the same powertrain found under the skin of the latest Honda Civic Si. That means the engine likes to rev, and the gearbox should be solid.

It’s not though. The gear lever action feels vague and disconnected, and then it behaves oddly notchy at times. I expected the engine response to be immediate, but it’s merely mediocre until VTEC engages and everything wakes up. This engine does sound great throughout the rev range, however, but it doesn’t match the rest of the car’s character.

2013 Acura ILX engine

As relatively sedate as the engine can be, the clutch feel and handling fall into step in the same way. The clutch needs to communicate with my foot in a more precise manner, and the steering wheel needs to fork over its Ambien prescription. With 201 horsepower on tap, it should be fun to drive, but it really isn’t unless you’re revving its brains out. Yes, I know that is sort of a calling card for any fun Honda vehicle, but the Acura badge up front means it should be a little more refined while still allowing for fun. See: Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT for reference.

Still, Acura did a fine job on the interior. The seats are typical-Acura comfortable, and the standard and optional tech gadgetry are top notch. Everything in the cabin works, and it does so flawlessly.

2013 Acura ILX interior

So, a fancy suit and upgraded interior can’t hide the fact that this is a gussied up Civic Si. Unfortunately, it’s also not as fun to drive as the Honda thanks to the better interior materials and features. Make it a baby TL, and not a Civic that went to Law School, and we’d be on to something here.

Currently there are "17 comments" on this Article:

  1. Devin says:

    I find myself oddly smitten with the exterior of this thing, I think the rear door cutline might be among my favorite rear door cutlines – and yes, I am the kind of person who has a favorite rear door cutline, I spend way too much time thinking about these kinds of things. A lot the details are really clever. and it's oddly rewarding to look at.

    I'm fully expecting someone might disagree with me on this point and I'm okay with that.

  2. Tanshanomi says:

    Well, that did it. My level of interest in contemporary, normally sized four-door sedans has officially sunk below the harddeck.

  3. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    This Acura belongs to a select group of cars that look massively better with a front license plate holder.

    Occupies some of the real estate on that Bruce Forsyth chinny chin chin.

  4. Jeff_Glucker says:

    You broke a major rule of engagement?

  5. CABEZAGRANDE says:

    I've seen two of these out and about (not on the dealer lot, where they only have 2), and they look surprisingly good. And if it was cheaper, it would make a great alternative to the Civic Si, as I like how the ILX looks and sort of hate how the new Si looks. But at the price, I'll never consider one. There are SO many better options for the price. $30k for 200 hp, no limited slip, no nav, and sparse rear headroom? No thanks.

    • Jeff_Glucker says:

      Yep.

      Even the Chevy Sonic RS that I'm driving right now seems to be a far more entertaining option. Plus the interior is pretty sweet too. Not that anyone would ever cross shop those two.

  6. skitter says:

    The worse my clothes are, the better I feel.
    Kind of like how I like actually almost seeing some stuff in the ILX's engine compartment.

    Edit: It might be that the nicer my clothes are, the more unhappy I am, and I've long since made the connection.

  7. rpdred6 says:

    "Make it a baby TL, and not a Civic that went to Law School, and we’d be on to something here." Jeff that's brilliant

  8. Van_Sarockin says:

    I'm not the target demographic for this, and it does noting for me. But it seems like your opinion boils down to: The interiors too nice, so everything about the car sucks. I don't get it. If someone really wants a slightly plusher Civic for a bunch more money, then Honda's earned their profit margin.

  9. craigsu says:

    So, basically Honda has resurrected the Gen1 Integra. As I owned one for 11 years, I have no problem with this line of thinking. Now if they would only remember that the original was a hatchback.

  10. mseoul says:

    It seems tailored for the US market only with the all red tail-turn signals and sedan styling. What happened to the TSX? Is it being dropped as Honda believes they can get the same price or near for the Civic based car? How would they mess up the gearchange too? This must be the only Acura or Honda manual with a bad gearchange unless it was just one bad example.

  11. lincoln says:

    I just bought an 05 Acdura RSX Type-s. It has 61k miles, and as a used car it is not factory fresh. But I would soooo much rather have my used RSX than a new ILX. Its not even close IMO.

  12. Guest says:

    You must have drove a car that was crashed and repaired. I test drove this car twice and had a friend test drive it. The stick was as smooth as butter and not the least bit vague. My friend drives a standard transmission A4 and wouldn't shut up about how much better the Acura felt. And as for the motor I was shocked that you felt it only exciting on top. This is Honda/Acura motor that is okay on top but fantastic through low to midrange. The power delivery was excellent, it was eager like no other Honda/Acura 4 cylinder I have driven. To each their own I guess because while you thought it sounded great I didn't buy it because the exhaust was way too zingy and ever-present.

    Anyway just my $.02, coming from a Prelude Type SH and 2006 Civic Si owner.

  13. "A civic that shops at Nordstrom's" is literally the best description I have ever heard for the new Acura. Great writing.

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