If you haven’t noticed, Acura is currently in the middle of a renaissance, which includes not only great new models like the latest RDX crossover, but a new face for the entire brand. For the 2019 model year, Acura is wrapping up its facial makeover with the 2019 ILX being the last of its mainstream models to get the new corporate face, which was originally previewed by the Precision concept.
The Acura ILX debuted back in 2012 as a new sporty and somewhat luxurious entry-level sedan for the Acura brand. Even with its Honda Civic roots, Acura gave the ILX an extra dose of style and sport that was meant to be the perfect rival to other entry-level luxury sedans, like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA. On paper the ILX may have had what Acura thought would attract entry-level luxury buyers, but it was overshadowed by its rivals. Maybe it was its forgetful styling or the simple interior that never really felt worthy of a luxury label. Now the ILX has received its second facelift, with the new corporate face and a revamped interior that may finally give the ILX what it needs to compete with the Germans.
Beginning with the outside, the 2019 ILX finally stands out. At the front the new Diamond Pentagon grille looks far more upscale than the previous beak and the more sculpted hood and Jewel Eye headlights give the front fascia a more dynamic look. The 2019 ILX is still built on the previous generation Honda Civic platform, but at least now it looks more upscale than its corporate cousin. At the rear you’ll notice a new rear spoiler, LED taillights and a sportier diffuser. Just like the front, the rear of the 2019 ILX now looks more upscale and grown up.
During our drive with the 2019 ILX, the Acura team focused on a renewed focus on “performance” for the entire brand. That obviously hints at the NSX supercar and the upcoming return of the Type-S trim level, but for the 2019 ILX, it gets the sportier A-Spec trim level that gives it a more aggressive exterior. The ILX A-Spec adds dark chrome trim to the front fascia, and darkened headlights and taillights. It also gets a Shark Gray 18-inch wheels and a gloss-black decklid spoiler. Inside the ILX A-Spec also gets unique leather seats in either ebony or red.
While the current Honda Civic has switched to turbocharged engines at the top of the lineup, the 2019 ILX continues with the naturally-aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder from the previous generation Civic Si. The four-cylinder generates 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder sends its power to the front wheels via an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. The ILX is rated at 24/34 mpg.
It would have been nice if Acura chose to swap out the old 2.4L engine with the Civic’s turbocharged 1.5L engine, but it does still work well in the ILX. The 2019 ILX picks up speed with ease and if you push the gear selector into Sport mode, the ILX turns into a compact sport sedan. While its rivals powertrains may feel a bit more refined than the ILX’s, the 2.4L has more bite. The engine fills the cabin with sound and since there’s no turbo, you don’t have to deal with the turbo lag like some of its competitors. Push it hard and the ILX responds eagerly and even though we wish a manual was still available, the 8-speed transmission shifts quickly. There are also paddle shifters if you prefer a bit more control.
On the road, the 2019 ILX’s steering is quick with good feedback. The ILX’s suspension also feels athletic without being too harsh. The ILX will easily carve up a mountain road with little body roll.
Inside the 2019 ILX also gets several updates, which includes new seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Even with the new tech features, the 2019 ILX’s dashboard with its dual screen setup can be a bit confusing to look at and not as clean as the RDX’s new infotainment system. The new seats are a welcome addition, especially in red, but some of the cabin’s materials still feel a bit entry level, aka hard and cheap.
If safety is a priority for you, you’ll be happy to hear that the 2019 Acura ILX comes standard with the AcuraWatch safety suite, which includes collision mitigation, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation.
Even with the styling and tech upgrades, Acura decided to do something that’s rarely heard of – it lowered the price. The 2019 Acura ILX starts at $26,985, which is $2,200 cheaper than the 2018 model.
The Acura ILX debuted in 2012, which makes it a bit old in the segment, but the latest upgrades finally make it feel worthy of its luxury badge.