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Acura Buys a Vowel

The 2013 Acura ILX

I’ve never been crazy about car names which aren’t. Names, that is. The jumble of letters and/or numbers seems to run together in my mind until I can’t distinguish one from the other. And lately it seems that Acura has been (in my mind) one of the worst offenders. Mostly three-letter combinations of consonants. Mostly ending in “X.” Until now, with the introduction of—drum roll, please—the ILX. At least they threw in a vowel this time.

Acura, if you haven’t been keeping track, is the performance/luxury arm of Honda, which began sales in North America in 1986 (a few years before Toyota launched Lexus, and Nissan introduced Infiniti). That first year saw the large Legend luxury sedan, and the sporty compact Integra coupe. Sales were good, and the cars got rave reviews.

The 2013 Acura lineup also contains luxury sedans such as the TL and the TSX, while the sporty, compact baton has been handed off this year to the new ILX. (There is also a healthy dose of sport wagons/crossovers, including the top-of-the-line ZDX all-wheel-drive crossover, which is in its final year.)

I headed over to Ray Laks Acura a couple of weeks ago to check out the new ILX, to find out if it held up to the old Integra, with which I was somewhat enamored years ago. Sales guy Shane Baker took time out of his busy day to show me the lineup before we hit the road in both an ILX technology package-equipped sedan (more on that later) and the hybrid model. Both were (almost) identical-looking Crystal Black Pearl four-door sedans. (The original Integra came only as a two-door coupe, while the only available body style is now the four-door.) Both did their best to hide their Honda Civic-based platforms.

The ILX’s styling contains the now-familiar Acura grille, much derided by the automotive press but toned down to a much more agreeable shape these days. The rear styling has a much cleaner look. Trunk space on the ILX is good, aided by a fold-down rear seat. The hybrid’s trunk is a bit smaller, due to the behind-the-rear-seat location of the lithium ion-battery pack. Back seat room itself is also good for two adults; it’s set up for three, but not three typically American-sized adults. The front bucket seats are very accommodating, with all controls handy and easily figured out. I did think, though, that the ebony interior was a bit too much ebony, and could use a splash of color or wood to break up the monochromatic monotony.

The technology package added the following to the CVT automatic-equipped ILX’s $25,900 base price: navigation, 10-speaker premium sound system, 15GB media storage, voice recognition system, real-time traffic and weather, and a GPS-linked solar-sensing temperature control that tracks the sun’s relative position and intensity and automatically adjusts to compensate, bringing the bottom line to $32,295. The hybrid test car, with no option package, listed at $29,795.

Driving both cars was similar but different. Both handled well and were very responsive in the steering and suspension departments. The hybrid lacked some of the other car’s power, but perhaps its 39/38 miles per agllon city/highway rating makes up for it. For a bit more oomph (and a bit fewer miles per gallon) you can turn off the ECON button, which changes some of the engine/transmission settings. The 2.0-liter engine in the other car is rated 24/35 miles per gallon. There’s also a 2.4-liter available, as well as a six-speed manual transmission-equipped car.

If what you desire in a car is sporty luxury in a compact package, you owe it to yourself to check out the new ILX. Now if it only came in a coupe…

More info at

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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