2013 Acura ILX Hybrid review

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
Photo courtesy of Honda Canada

With the introduction of the Acura ILX for 2013, the luxury car manufacturer is offering a few firsts: its foray into the hybrid market, and an upscale entry vehicle that isn’t just a dressed up Honda Civic.

The ILX hybrid shares a 111-horsepower 1.5-litre engine with the Honda Civic Hybrid and is still based off of the Honda platform, but the similarities end there. Featuring a completely new design, the ILX is immediately recognizable as a member of the TSX/TL/RLX family that wasn’t the case with the CSX it is replacing.

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid dash
Photo courtesy of Honda Canada

Aesthetics

Sleek with just a hint of aggressiveness, the car has aerodynamic bodylines throughout with a low and wide silhouette. The hybrid model gets all the modern accouterments like HID headlamps, fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels and tilt/slide moonroof. Step into the vehicle and you are treated with a similar experience — comfortable leather seats, dual-zone climate control, backup camera, navigation system with voice control, LED backlighting for the instrument cluster and a myriad of other bells and whistles are standard. You also get an eight-way power adjustable seat, but curiously only on the driver’s side (perhaps for weight savings?) A couple of worthy mentions include a feature that can read out your text messages over the audio system, unless you own an iPhone which isn’t compatible, and one-touch turn signals that flashes the signals three times before self-cancelling when you touch the lever lightly. Note: don’t forget about the latter and become flustered during a routine lane change thinking your turn indicator stalk is broken.

Performance

As you might expect from a hybrid, the ILX is quiet. Not just from the outside, but the cabin does a good job of insulating all incoming sounds while driving. At a standstill, the car becomes virtually silent as the gasoline engine deactivates and an idle-stop mode comes on utilizing the 17.2-kilowatt electric motor. This replenishes a lithium ion battery stored behind the rear seats, which is why you won’t find a fold-down feature on this model. An indicator pops up on the dash every time you brake and approach a stop, and you can actually feel the gas engine slightly jar back to life when you lift off the brake to accelerate again. Surprisingly, even with a combined 111-horspower — 23 of that coming from the electric power plant — the 127 foot-pounds of torque at a low 1,000 to 3,500 rpm makes the ILX feel faster than it is. The Econ Mode, controlled by a button on the dash, is neat: when on, it helps improve fuel efficiency by changing or limiting the operation of certain systems like throttle control or air conditioning. It comes at a price — the car can feel sluggish with it on in exchange for great gas mileage to the tune of 4.8L/100 km on the highway and 5.0L city.

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid engine bay
Photo courtesy of Honda Canada

Acura is marketing this vehicle to young 20 or 30-something professionals thinking about making the jump to the wonderful world of luxury automobiles. At $35,050 MSRP it’s a strong contender, although it comes in at bit higher of a price point than its competitors like the hybrid Lexus CT 200h that starts at $31,450. If you don’t care for electric, there is also a 2.0L 150 hp version that goes for $27,850 and a 2.4L “Dynamic” model making 201 hp priced at $30,050.

Notable features (as tested)

Price: MSRP $35,050 (hybrid model)

Engine: 1.5L, SOHC, inline four-cylinder engine making 111 hp at 5,500 rpm and 127 lb-ft torque between 1,000 to 3,000 rpm

Drivetrain: Continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters, front engine front wheel drive

Seats: five

Curb weight: 1,342-kilograms

Safety: Vehicle stability assist and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist, dual-stage front airbags, front seat and side curtain airbags

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