The 2018 Acura ILX Special Edition Is, Uh, Um… Just What the Acura ILX Needed?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

It 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.

It’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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  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Oct 11, 2017

    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.

  • Cheezman88 Cheezman88 on Oct 12, 2017

    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.

    • Tennessee_Speed Tennessee_Speed on Oct 12, 2017

      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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