By on February 7, 2012

In a forthcoming review of Steve Lynch’s book “Arrogance and Accords“, you’ll see that Acura was doomed from the start by inept management and internal politics that relegated the worst of American Honda’s corrupt to a division that needed its best players. On the other hand, they had the Integra, a wildly popular sedan that sold well – at the expensive of its prestige and Acura’s brand equity. Hoping to re-capture some of that magic is the ILX.

You already know that the ILX, like the Integra, uses a Civic platform, with the 2.4L 200-horsepower Civic Si motor and a 6-speed gearbox, a 150 horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder with a 5-speed automatic and the Civic Hybrid’s 1.5L IMA powertrain. The hybrid will return 35/38 mpg, the 2.0L will get 24/32 mpg and the 2.4L will get 20/29 mpg. The ILX’s press photos don’t show the most dramatic angle – the extremely truncated rear deck that looks a bit like the Chevy Sonic sedan. It is, dare we say, ZDX-like when viewed from the side, although the C-Pillar is not as steeply angled. The new NSX cannot come soon enough.

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74 Comments on “2013 Acura ILX Is The Brand’s Hail Mary Pass: 2012 Chicago Auto Show...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    So, basically this is the Acura EL (now CSX) that’s been on dale (and Acura’s top seller here in Canada) for more than a decade?

    • 0 avatar

      No, this replaces the CSX. Based on the new Civic chassis. EL/CSX was previous generations.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “No, this replaces the CSX.”

        It would appear that this is also meant to be a replacement for the TSX/ Euro Accord. (The exchange rate can’t be good for the TSX’s profitability.)

        If these photos are accurate, then the interior is a disappointment, not suited to a luxury brand. The exterior seems attractive enough, but it needs appointments inside to match the near-luxury pretensions.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        The interior depends on the pricing – the CSX/EL usually started within spitting distance of the (non-Si) top of the line Civic (in this case, $1000 more than a 2011 EX-L). In that context, it’s a perfectly nice interior as long as the materials aren’t horrendous. If they’re looking for more than $30k, you might have a point.

        But don’t forget, except for being logical and properly screwed together, the Integra’s interior was nothing special.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “the Integra’s interior was nothing special.”

        One of Honda’s issues is that it should not have branded the Integra as an Acura. Its presence in the lineup harmed the prestige of everything above it. The Integra should have been sold as a special Honda, not as an Acura.

        Luxury cars need superior interiors — that is one of the features that sets apart a luxury car from a mainstream one. Regardless of the price point, they shouldn’t brand it with a luxury marque if they don’t want to invest in the interior.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        But had the Integra been sold as a Honda, it would have overlapped too much with the existing Civics and Accords. Putting it in the Acura lineup meant that it would be sold in a different (in theory) dealer network.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “But had the Integra been sold as a Honda, it would have overlapped too much with the existing Civics and Accords.”

        I don’t personally agree with that — I think that the car could have been uniquely positioned in the Honda lineup here as it was abroad. But regardless, if Honda concurred with your view, then the solution would have been to not sell it at all. Destroying what is supposed to be a luxury brand for the sake of a few low-end sales isn’t a prudent move. (GM has considerable experience with this sort of brand mismanagement.)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Integra came to the US market in order to give new Acura dealers a volume model. In a Honda dealership, it would have overlapped on price range with the Accord and Prelude. One was a bigger family sedan and the other was a sportier coupe. Perhaps the compact segment was more accommodating in other countries, but the chances are that here it wouldn’t have been worthwhile for Honda dealers to compete with themselves by selling two more Civic body styles. They already had the hatchback, the sedan, the wagon, and the CRX. As for how luxurious it was, it had everything available in an E30 combined with a higher tech engine and FWD. The Integra was introduced in 1986 with 116 hp when the top 3 series had 121 hp. Side by side street races in the period showed them to be interchangeable in performance. The BMW wouldn’t go as far as cheaply, but it also didn’t rattle as much at high mileage and the interior aged better. Looking at the Integra through today’s eyes and saying the Integra wasn’t well matched to sell against Saab 900s or Audi 80s is a dead give away of a nouveau riche that didn’t know anything about the near luxury market of the ’80s. There were other 4 cylinder ‘luxury’ cars at the time that were positively pathetic relative to the Integra, like the Peugeot 405 and Volvo 240.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The Integra came to the US market in order to give new Acura dealers a volume model.”

        When Acura began in the 80s, that made some sense. This was the first experiment in Japanese luxury car branding, and the car market was still transitioning after the OPEC collapse.

        But over time, the market evolved to the point that the Integra became a liability to the Acura brand. The focus should have moved to capitalizing on the success of the Legend with the addition of a credible alternative to the 3-series, but Honda dropped the ball. Trying to use the JDM Accord as a sort of 3-series competitor was not the wisest of moves.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Also the Integra would have taken even more sales from the Prelude.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “No, this replaces the CSX. Based on the new Civic chassis. EL/CSX was previous generations.”

        That’s what I meant: that the US basically getting a riff on the EL/CSX that Acura Canada has been selling for years.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      My comments about Acura dropping into the abyss of the mundane are way down, but as far as Honda is concerned, the glory days of the 1994 Honda Civic EX (5 Speed Manual) and 1992 Prelude seem so far away (time wise and quality/distinctiveness wise).

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    So a 200hp 4 pot in a ~3000lb sedan gets 20/29
    And a 273hp 3.5l V6 in a compact SUV that’s at least 3400lb gets 20/28

    HOW.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Because one is a high volume model tuned for a high score on the treadmill test and the other is a low volume model tuned to be enjoyable to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      eventualhorizon

      Or a 300hp v6 in a 3400lb ford that is rated at 19/31.

      Does anyone here have the v6 mt Mustang? I wonder what real world mileage is like.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I know someone who has a 2012 V6 Premium with the automatic. He’s got a lead foot, and mostly drives in a mountainous, small city with many traffic lights. The dash is hovering right around 16 MPG. Then again, in the same area with possibly even shorter trips (i.e. car doesn’t really get warm), I get around 14-15 in my 1995 Avalon. I can easily hit 28 on the highway (2 better than I can seem to get in multiple new Chevy Cruzes on the same highway), so I’m thinking our problems are mostly environmental.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      How? VCM. The V6 Accord sedan/coupe with automatic gets 30 highway because it drops down to 4- or 3- cylinder mode at cruising speed, then becomes a full V6 again when the power is needed.

      The K24 is made for high revving performance.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So is this where we gritch about its too small, not worthy of Acura, has too many engine and transmission options, and will never sell.

    Oh wait, that’s the Buick, sorry, sorry.

    Civic good enough for Acura

    Cruze not good enough for Buick

    Makes sense to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I have rose colored memories of respectable Buicks and a 4 pot econobox pisses all over those memories.

      Honda-with-leather has no such problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Honda has built quite a lovely Verano…

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I think the problem is that the Verano interior actually looks quite a bit nicer.

        If Acura, as a luxury brand, can’t come up with a better interior than Buick, which operates in that weird nether-region between mainstream and luxury, there’s a problem.

        Maybe it would look better if all the metal were replaced with wood. A luxury car just has to have wood.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      APaGttH, I’m usually very much on board with your posts, but you’ve got to admit Acura’s established its own compact-car legacy with a decade or so of rave reviews and enthusiast drool for the Integra Type-R and GS-R–both of which were very impressive standalone engineering jobs.

      Buick, on the other hand–at least since the ’70s–has only resorted to compact four-cylinders when they thought the austerity market demanded it, e.g. the N-body Skylark and Iron Duke Century.

      You’ve got to admit that in that segment, there’s a significant ambition disparity between the two brands’ missions.

      The really interesting bit will be finding out what kind of disparity, if any, exists between today’s watered-down Acura and today’s ambitiously marketed Buick…

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        The Acura is based on the new Civic that is factory installed with shortcomings. Bad interior is just part of it. The Verano is based on the Chevy Cruze that may be cramped yet is a very nice place to spend time in. Improving on a loaded LTZ is not as hard as stating with a Civic EX-L.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        It might have a compact car legacy, the Integra/RSX was discontinued to slow sales. Enthusiasts can’t keep a car alive by themselves.

        Buick doesn’t have a great history of small cars. But they have to improve, and I think the Verano is a great improvement of the Buick’s you mentioned.

        Each car really needs to stand on its own merits. The history of the Integra/RSX won’t help sell this vehicle for long, if it does at all. The Skylark and Century won’t help Buick at ALL. But, hopefully the Verano is a car that can sell on its own merits.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The ILX prototype and production Verano were at the Philadelphia Auto show.

      I’m not seing any funny proportions on the ILX. It looked quite good to me at the auto show – far better than the Verano. Given that it was a prototype, I could not open the doors, so I have no way of judging the interior quality (or lack thereof).

      The Verano looked awkward from the side view. The hood was too long in relation to the trunk – ironically enough, the same complaint that that this post makes about the production ILX. The interior of the Verano, however, was quite nice. But, from the outside, it manages to be neither sporty nor elegant.

    • 0 avatar
      GMis4GoodManners

      This is the argument I made when this story first appeared weeks ago. The Buick is _slightly_ larger, the Buick has better fuel economy (2.4 vs. 2.4), the Buick has features not available on the Acura, the Buick is cheaper item for item, but – in the GREAT MINDS of “auto critics” – the Acura is the Better Car.

      Why? Because the Acura isn’t an American Car.

      And for the even smaller minds who think “Buick can’t have a 4 pot”? WAKE UP. BMW’s now come with turbo 4’s as their base engines. As does the MB C250. No one ever complained that Saab had them (and Saabs were higher up the GM food chain than Buick). The world has changed, adapt or die.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Wow, how’d you find that book? It’s impossible to find…. Look forward to your review.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I think this is a good looking compact, relatively so. Give it some nice cloth sport seats and I’d consider this to replace my old TL… Which is probably similar in size.

    • 0 avatar
      B.C.

      I’m not a fan of the upswept character line on the side view — it makes the back look much higher than it really is.

      http://www.autoblog.com/photos/2013-acura-ilx-live-photos/#photo-4802574/

  • avatar
    Motorbreath

    Sign me up. The only reason I would not buy a new Civic is because of the “mini 2003 Camry” styling and that horrible digital dash layout. The lines are crisp and subtle without the atrocious Acura beak. Now my choices will be between a Focus and this baby Acura.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Start the Honda Deathwatch. Now.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Previously, we had a fine VW Impala. Now, we have a fine Acura Verano. When are we going to get the TMC Permafrost 1500 HD?

  • avatar
    donatolla

    It’s not that bad…although it would make me sad if this also replaces the TSX (not the bloated V6 one, the awesome 1G TSX). The wheels though! Teeny Tiny wheels in gigantic wheel wells (at least that’s what it looks like). I still say – turbo 4 from the RDX and SH-AWD and it would get interesting.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Their Hail Mary is a Buick copy? Well, the car will do well in China

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    They need a decontented version of this dash in the 10th gen Civic. That God awful dash… yeech

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    The 2.0 L mill has the easiest O2 sensor access ever on that exhaust manifold.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Probably no easier than a Nissan SR20DE. I changed both O2 sensors on my ’95 G20 in less than 20 minutes in a parking lot. I did have to use the spare tire jack to raise the car up for the downstream. No, I do not recommend that!! Car could have fallen on me. Ah well.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Acura = Yawn.

    It’s actually worse than that.

    They’ve gone from an athletic, dynamic, road sensory input oriented (with great steering, brakes and chassis) experience, to a muddy, lazy one, with worse reliability and quality to add to the downgrade.

    I am having a hard time thinking of another formerly good lineup of vehicles that has been allowed to sink so badly, so quickly.

    The interior on this car would be right at home in a Mitsubishi.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      I think the issue is that Honda frankly has never been that good at making good, large, premium cars.

      I’ve driven first-gen (new-for-’86, IIRC?) Legends, and remember thinking that they must have felt spectacular compared to the domestics of the time–but still weren’t too far off the basic goodness of a contemporary Accord. The second-gen was improved, but still must have felt awfully Accord-like to any luxury buyer who’d driven an LS400.

      In my mind, the only Acuras that have ever stood out were the Integras and the 2004-2008 TSX–still some of the best front-drivers I’ve ever driven–and I wish Acura would just embrace its strength in entry-level luxo-sporty cars (with an NSX flagship) instead of trying to be a full-line competitor to Lexus and the Germans. 20 years of TLs and RLs have never really cut it.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Good car or not, this thread is only hours old and the sheer amount of Pavlovian hate is astounding.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      No hate here! I’m digging it. If the 6MT is as tossable as the Civic Si and you can get the Tech Package with a stick, I will be looking at this hard when the Accord is paid off.

  • avatar

    If this one is sportier than the Civic, consider it the frumpiest sport sedan of all time. More than likely it will just have a carryover suspension and tuning from the Civic, possibly even softened a bit. It seriously looks like a Chinese ripoff of the Dodge Avenger. I’m a former Honda fanboy who has driven and loved Integras. Honda killed my inner child.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Are they kidding?? Are they even aware that Accord with 2.4l returns much better mileage, even better than this car with 2.0l?

    Yet another fail by Honda. Sad.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    If they want to “recapture the magic”, there seems to be little in the way of magic in this car, which looks like any of their bigger sedans that’s been shrunk. Which is OK if these bigger sedan’s styling has been a success, but since they were duds, why don’t they use this opportunity to try something new, which if successful, can be applied to their bigger sedans? Honda used to be known for daring styling. Apparently now they were run by the Japanese version of George Romney. The car seem to inspire about as much passion as a Rambler.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Everyone I know likes their Hondas, it looks nice, the specs sound reasonable and to that end I’m putting this cas on my list to replace my A3 in a couple of years.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    So, the Civic CAN have a nicely proportioned hood …. interesting

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    So… Have we confirmed yet that this will or will not replace the TSX?

    How’s that TSX wagon selling?

  • avatar
    OhioPilot09

    Make it a wagon and I’m sold.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    Does anyone know what sort of suspension setup is under this thing?

  • avatar
    TokyoPlumber

    I wonder if the back doors on the current Dodge Avenger would fit on this. I’ve been looking at photos of the two cars doing a pixel by pixel analysis. It looks like the sweep of the crease above the door handle is slightly off on the Acura. Try harder next time Honda! Your work on the rump of the current Civic was a masterful duplication. Seeing the Avenger in this, on the other hand, requires a bottle of La Fin du Monde and a little squinting.

  • avatar
    tedward

    So…Acura’s new business model is to build a Civic that can compete interior-wise with the Cruze. I can smell the brand decay from here.

    self moderating here…I’m sure this will be nice, just like the TSX, but also hideously overpriced relative to its content.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I wonder how much product development $$ that would have gone into cars ended up going into HondaJet?

      (Also, the K1600GTL is IMO knocking the Wing on its ass.. Methinks they need to at least add a gear and remove 100-150lbs and a few $1000s off to get back in the hunt..)

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I actually like this, and can’t fault Honda or Acura for bucking the trend of increasingly-outrageous styling for every successive generation of model they build. Some people just like a nice, handsome, dignified, understated-looking car. Hardly anyone save Honda seem to understand this.

    I’m not sure how well it will sell, but this is a statement to everyone out there who’s sick of all the flash-in-a-pan: Acura hears you. Here’s a car that just looks like…a CAR.

    • 0 avatar
      aunt_slappy

      Exactly. I’m so happy Acura has abandoned the Cadillac-ish styling with the weird angles and cleft palate grille. I hope to buy another Acura when my ’05 is ready to be replaced if they have one that is handsome, dignified, understated, and kicks ass when necessary.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I think Acura was like the Japanese BMW. It competed against Lexus (M-B) and Infiniti (Audi) but was sportier and more performance oriented.

    To me the only Acura that makes sense to buy is the MDX. Think about it. A well equipped TL is Touching MDX territory. The RL and ZDX are jokes. The TSX is like an A4, but without AWD, same price, which makes it inferior.


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