By Eric Peters
What if you want a Honda Civic Si but don’t want a manual transmission or a turbocharged engine?
You might want to have a look at the Acura ILX.
It shares a platform with the Civic and comes standard with the engine that used to be the Civic Si’s engine (which has been replaced in the current Civic by a smaller, turbocharged engine) and an automatic transmission, which you can’t get with the current Civic Si.
For about the same price.
The ILX stickers for $25,900 to start — automatic transmission included.
The Civic Si stickers for $25,000 — automatic transmission not available.
What It Is
The ILX is Acura’s entry-level, compact, luxury sport sedan.
Base price is $25,900 — an almost-Honda price — with the Acura badge and Acura amenities.
A top-of-the-line ILX with the A-Spec performance/handling upgrades and the Technology Package — which includes a 10-speaker premium sound system — lists for $31,650.
The ILX carries on without any major changes — except a major reduction in its price.
The 2020’s base price is $2,000 less than it was back in 2016. And you can buy a top-of-the-line A-Spec version (with the performance enhancements) and the Technology Package for $3,250 less than the same thing stickered for four years ago.
Probably because the 2020 ILX is pretty much the same car that it was four years ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Especially if you like paying less than you would have four years ago.
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It’s Acura’s option for what you can’t get from Honda anymore.
There’s more engine — with no turbo.
It’s $10K-plus less to start than rivals such as the Lexus IS 300 sedan.
What’s Not So Good
There’s no optional engine to compete with stronger available engines in rivals from Lexus and Mercedes.
Like other small sedans, the ILX has a very small trunk (12.4 cubic feet).
Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto cost extra.
Under the Hood
The ILX comes standard with the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that used to be the Civic Si’s standard engine four years ago.
The current Civic Si’s engine is a smaller 1.5-liter engine — turbocharged to make up for the decrease in displacement.
But the difference between the two is Electoral College-close.
The Acura’s 2.4-liter engine makes 201 horsepower and 180 foot-pounds of torque; the current Civic Si’s 1.5-liter engine made 205 horsepower and 192 foot-pounds of torque.
No surprise, both cars perform about the same — each getting to 60 mph in about 6.5 and 6.8 seconds, respectively.
But the performance is applied differently. The Acura comes only with an eight-speed automatic, while the Honda comes only with a six-speed manual.
On the Road
It’s nice to hear the war song of the previous Civic Si’s engine under the hood of this Acura. It spins like a two-stroke motorcycle engine to 7,000-plus revolutions per minute — a very different sound (and feel) versus the turbocharged four in the new Si and rivals such as the Benz A-Class.
Turbo engines rely on boost — more forceful explosions — to make power, while the Acura’s engine relies on more airflow to do it.
It’s the difference between a Hayabusa and a Harley.
That example’s extreme — but the point’s solid.
Some will lament the loss of the shifted-by-you six-speed manual transmission. But drive the car before you set your opinion in cement.
In Sport mode, you get rev-matched downshifts, lightning-quick upshifts coming out of the corners (without upshifts in the middle of the corner) and — when you disengage Sport mode — immediate quiet and calm. The revs fall, and the tachometer needle settles down. Higher, more fuel-conserving gears are engaged.
This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde quality suits an Acura.
At the Curb
The ILX’s biggest minus is that it’s a sedan.
It has a lot of front seat legroom — 42.3 inches and a backseat that’s got as much legroom as most — here it comes — crossovers its size or even larger.
But because it’s a sedan, it has a tiny trunk — 12.4 cubic feet of capacity.
Which is less than a third of the total cargo capacity of a crossover about the same overall size (182.2 inches long).
It’s revelatory that the new Civic has a 15.1-cubic-foot trunk. But there’s still only so much you can do with a trunk. The hatchback layout makes a sedan more cargo-competitive with a crossover.
All trims come standard with a sunroof, heated seats and LED headlights — but you will have to buy the Premium package to get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The Bottom Line
If you’re missing the old Civic Si — and not wanting to shift for yourself — the ILX might just suit you!
Eric’s new book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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