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First Impressions: 2013 Acura ILX in Detroit

The 2013 Acura ILX concept made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, bringing the Acura sedan offerings to four different models in the coming model year.

In form true to its name, my very old Acura - 1994 Legend 6-speed - crested the 500,000 mile mark last November on its original drivetrain. Naturally I have been asked repeatedly by others about my level of interest in getting a new vehicle that’s a bit “younger.” I took particular interest in seeing what Acura’s fleet looks like today and had the opportunity to see firsthand at NAIAS. The all new ILX, according to Acura’s executives, will serve as the gateway model to Honda’s luxury brand.

At the conclusion of Honda’s President Ito-San’s remarks at the Acura Press Conference on the afternoon of January 9th, most of the anxious press stampeded to the front of the display to lay closer eyes on the next generation all-wheel-drive, hybrid NSX concept. The ILX to its left was largely overlooked – at least initially. Only after the NSX buzz died down did I see a few folks eyeballing its smaller sibling.

The ILX will be a Civic-based sedan offered in three distinct powerplants: 2.0 and 2.4 liter 4 cylinders or a 1.5 liter hybrid. Reportedly targeting a sales price of under $30k, this Acura sedan promises to be an attractive entry into the Acura fleet for young buyers. Jeff Conrad, Acura VP, proudly states that the ILX carries with it the Acura fundamental DNA elements of performance and luxury. As someone who demands complete control over my transmission, I was happy to learn that the ILX will indeed be offered with a standard 6-speed manual. Long-time Acura designer Jon Ikeda sculpted some unique body lines on this model that swoop up in the rear doors, but a characteristic Acura signature grill (which itself has been subject to plenty of criticism) adorns the front making this model a true member of the family.

In a segment flooded by other alternatives it remains to be seen if the ILX will have what it takes to be competitive. Acura dealerships are excited about the new offering. As I admired the ILX up-close, a district manager from Acura happened to be alongside me. While he admittedly shared in the excitement of the latest NSX unveil, the ILX is what most interested him at this year’s Detroit show. “This ILX is going to be our bread and butter,” he said. With a Honda powerplant under the hood, no doubt this one will be good for 500,000 and beyond, too.

Written by Tyson Hugie