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Acura ILX: More power, polish for 2016

Acura is taking another shot at the small premium sedan segment by retooling the entry-level ILX for 2016. The Honda Civic-based compact has been re-engineered with a more powerful engine and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Here is a sampling of recent reviews:

"The latest mid-cycle update has done a good job of distancing the ILX from its Honda Civic roots. While there's still plenty of hard black plastic on the inside, there's also an abundance of sumptuously padded pleather and leather. The seats stand out with their subtle black-and-white patterned fake suede inserts. The NVH is far better than any Civic variant ... with a smooth-idling inline four. The eight-speed dual-clutch helps smooth out the 2.4-liter engine and, not surprisingly, it's programmed to quickly upshift through the first four or five gears while under moderate throttle." -- Automobile

"The 2016 ILX upgrades to the same 2.4-liter engine powering Acura's new TLX, bringing peak horsepower to 201 and bumping peak torque from 140 to 180 pound feet. The transmission transforms from a traditional 5-speed automatic to the same 8-speed dual clutch found in the TLX, improving shift speed and making full use of the engine's torque curve ... 'Track ready might still be a stretch for this car, but the 2016 ILX is much more competent and competitive with entry-luxury sedans at its price point ... We also noticed a considerable drop in NVH, making the new ILX quieter and more refined than previous versions. For the 2016 model year it benefits from a 12 percent boost in torsional rigidity through the use of increased high-strength steel in the body and frame. There's also thicker front door glass, active noise canceling via the audio system and improved engine mounts to reduce drivetrain vibration." -- Forbes

"The reborn 2016 Acura ILX doesn't come across as an upscale car. A really nice Honda Civic it may be, but a Civic nonetheless. Sure, it has leather seats and improved interior trim, with a soft dash, two-tiered screen displays, and LED headlights. But none of it addresses the stiff, jumpy ride and the noisy cabin that undermine any sort of premium intent right from the start. Not to mention the flimsy sunroof shade and the lack of adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat.  For 2016, Acura discontinued the Hybrid version and replaced both engines previously offered with the new 201-hp, 2.4-liter engine from the TLX. And as with the TLX, the 2.4 is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Power is ample, but the engine is rather noisy and less refined than we'd expect from an Acura. The transmission, however, is slick, delivering swift, direct shifts. So far we've observed about 30 mpg according to the trip computer, which is commendable. In the handling department, the ILX goes about its cornering in a mundane kind of way. Not only is it no match for an athletic Audi A3, it's less sporty than a Mazda3." -- Consumer Reports

"However you choose to drive the ILX, there's no fuel economy penalty to pay: Over approximately 200 miles of mixed driving, we saw as high as 36 mpg with a gentle touch of the throttle. Keep the transmission in Sport, as the car's chief engineer suggested to us, row through the gears on your own, and your mileage may vary. Overall, this re-examined ILX is much-improved over the vehicle it replaces, and it remains a great car to drive. It may not be as configurable as the A3, as luxurious as the CLA, or as stylish as the Cadillac ATS, but that's not the point. Acura is keeping entry-level luxury right where it wants to be, while adding a healthy serving of safety features where it matters most." -- New York Daily News

You can reach at autonews@crain.com. -- Follow on Twitter
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