By on October 11, 2017

2018 Acura ILX Special Edition - Image: AcuraIt has become increasingly evident that America’s compact sedan consumers aren’t terribly interested in a semi-premium-branded version of a previous-generation Honda Civic.


But for 2018, the Acura ILX gains a new Special Edition. Ah, that’ll do the trick.

For the most part, the 2018 Acura ILX continues to operate essentially as a 2017 Acura ILX: a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder hooked up to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic in base, Premium, and Tech trims. Prices range from $29,050 to $36,050, up $110-$120 compared with MY2017.

But just half a rung above the basic $29,050 2018 Acura ILX you will find a similarly equipped ILX, only with the A-Spec bodykit already available on the ILX Premium  and ILX Tech. That means the 2018 Acura ILX Special Edition ramps up the base cost by $800 to $29,700 but adds 18-inch wheels and the A-Spec’s side sills and rear spoiler.2018 Acura ILX Special Edition - Image: AcuraIt’s hardly the kind of stuff that will excite legions of Integra fanatics who’ve long since felt abandoned by Honda’s upmarket brand, but the Special Edition is certainly an upgrade from the humble-looking base model. The ILX was introduced five years ago, but after sales peaked at more than 20,000 units in its first full year, volume tumbled below 15K by 2016. Through the first nine months of 2017, ILX volume has plunged by more than a fifth. A monthly average of just 1,000 U.S. ILX sales represents a 40-percent drop compared with 2013.

And is it any wonder? The ILX is not a bad car — it performs well, is sufficiently spacious, and is suitably equipped. But reaching deep into the $30K range with a car that feels every inch a last-gen Civic requires a major leap when the new version of the cheaper car has been on sale for two years, especially when a revamped 2018 Acura TLX, Acura’s larger and more refined sedan, starts at $33,950.

Yet a basic Acura ILX that doesn’t look like a basic ILX? That’s just what the doctor ordered… five years ago.

[Image: Honda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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31 Comments on “The 2018 Acura ILX Special Edition Is, Uh, Um… Just What the Acura ILX Needed?...”

  • avatar

    Civic Touring will do the trick. Lower price, newer model and regular instead of premium fuel.

    • 0 avatar

      It was the Buick Verano outselling the ILX by triple before being discontinued. Looks like ILX biggest competition wasn’t the Verano which it lost almost every comparison test.

  • avatar

    They are just dolling this up to get em out. I am watching for the next ILX with baited breath, as it may prove to be the Civic everyone actually wanted. Acura’s design language is nice, and I would not be surprised if it comes with the 2.0T. But they would need to revamp the TLX in tandem as an ILX with the 10th gen Civic’s interior space and the corporate 2.0T would render all TLXs irrelevant. Acura can potentially turn the corner with its sedans in this next batch.

    • 0 avatar

      Acura;s design language being “nice”?

      That’s news to me.

      If anything, the new grille design/shape is a step down from the toned-down “beak.”

      In addition, have doubts that Acura can “turn the corner” with its next batch of sedans – as the competition is only getting fiercer with new entrants.

      For instance, the Stinger and TLX start at around the same price – and one’s RWD as opposed to FWD.

    • 0 avatar

      if you’re awaiting it with baited breath, stop eating the worms.

      You mean “bated breath”.

    • 0 avatar

      Or the almost $40K for 180 lb-ft of torque challenge?

  • avatar

    Whoopty frickin’ doo.

    Actually, this can probably describe my reaction to Acura’s entire product line.

  • avatar

    Acura would do well to make 2.0T engine and 10 speed transmission combo available in the ILX, TLX and RDX as soon as possible.

  • avatar

    In my neck of the woods, the ILX ia already a special edition. And the TLX, too.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep… the next gens of all those have the potential to put Acura directly against the Europeans in those segments. If they get those engines right and get more separation between the Honda and Acura interiors they can do some damage.

  • avatar

    I just can’t see a reason to pick one of these over a top level Accord. But hey, 12,000 a year is decent volume for a tarted-up Civic rebadge.

  • avatar

    I will confess that as a 2016 Civic EX owner, some of the posts about how ugly they are makes me keep my mouth shut and not respond. But everyone that hates the front view of the current generation surely can’t find any love for the front of this car. I can’t believe that kbb says I can get $1000 less than I paid for it in August 2016. Quite surprised considering that one usually loses 20-30% for buying new.

    There is no way in hell that I would even consider the ILX, special edition, whatever. Yup, I’m a Honda fanboy but there’s no way I can justify any of the current crop of Acura cars. Either give them some serious advantages beyond AWD, or just shut it down. I remember the first Acura, the Legend, and when a friend showed up with that I was very impressed. As a former Lexus owner (and Toyota as well), Lexus is cleaning Acura’s clock.

  • avatar

    I’d pay a couple thousand more for a better looking Civic, just not on the old platform. Why can’t we have SH-AWD?

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of Acura owners are willing to shell out the $$ for SH-AWD.

      Which is why Acura went with a cheaper/simpler AWD set-up on its crossovers and why they started to offer the MDX in FWD form (buyers in the Sun-belt didn’t want the added cost/weight of AWD, even if it was the cheaper variant).

  • avatar

    “The ILX is not a bad car — it performs well, is sufficiently spacious, and is suitably equipped. But reaching deep into the $30K range with a car that feels every inch a last-gen Civic requires a major leap when the new version of the cheaper car has been on sale for two years”

    you mean, the ugly version of the uglier car.

    As for design language, I saw the 2013 ILX parked right next to a 2013 Civic. OMG, that Civic is so bland. The Acura design people took that car and, with minimal changes, got it right.

    I don’t know why the hate for the ILX. Maybe it’s people who look at new prices. The depreciation curve is bad here, which means the slightly used ones are priced very nicely. And frankly, it’s what an upmarket Civic should be–but never will be ever again, because Honda doesn’t want actual premium materials and features to appear under the Honda nameplate. (How long did it take the Odyssey to get memory seats? FOREVER. Honda just doesn’t do those kinds of features at any price level until Kia has put them onto ALL of their cheapest cars.)

    Acura stands ready to re-make itself, but only if they have the guts to execute on a good plan.

  • avatar

    “Special Edition” is Hondaspeak for “we’re wringing one more year out of this puppy”. They didn’t even change the name of it for Acura. Accord SE was always an LX with a couple EX features, maybe $200 worth of extra content, solely to keep sales numbers up.

  • avatar

    Usually we get new Acuras one year after the Hondas they’re based on. This time they’re making us wait longer. I hope against hope that that means they’ll actually feel more special.

    I miss the Acura that made my 2004 TSX. It was clearly based on an Accord but still had some sense of specialness, thanks to the spot-on ride/handling balance, taut styling, and combination of the Honda 6-speed with full features.

  • avatar

    What they will probably do is put the new Civic Si’s powertrain into the new ILX, then couple it to one of the newer DCTs. And of course the usual treatment of higher end interior and NVH tuning. That would actually be something i’d buy.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes Cheeseman, that makes a lot of sense. Acura has been in the wilderness for so long. Less than competitive sedan products since 1994. My wife & I each bought Legends in 1991. They were something special then, not that far from the Lexus LS of the day except more sporty. They even won comparison tests over the BMW 5 Series of the day. Since those days Honda either just didn’t want to spend the money to keep Acura competitive or maybe it was just horrible management; probably both. The early Legends had very little in common with the Accord. Completely different chassis & engines. They had a premium feel to them.
      I’m sure the next generation Acura sedans will be greatly improved even if they use the latest Accord chassis, but will that be enough to be competitive again?

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