By on September 6, 2018

Acura treated the world to a surprise — and much-needed — refresh for the 2019 ILX this week. While it hasn’t abandoned the brand’s signature visuals, it finally made the model interesting enough to warrant a closer examination. Previous incarnations of the ILX — including the post-2016 facelift — have proven excruciatingly dull, resulting in the quick onset of a cripplingly severe mental malaise.

Based on the ninth-generation Honda Civic, all one could really say about the 2018 ILX was that it was a competent vehicle and perfect for someone seeking luxury on a budget. Then came the brow furrowing, a long sigh, and an extended speech about the superiority of Acura’s TSX.

Normal people also appear to have noticed something was missing, as ILX sales have followed a downward trajectory since 2015. However, Acura’s new styling attempts to remedy that by injecting the sedan with some personality. 

It hasn’t yielded the Farrah Fawcett of cars (or whoever is professionally attractive in 2018) but the changes are transformative. Acura says the ILX is new “from the A-pillars forward,” borrowing aspects of its Precision Concept. That has resulted in the removal of the brand’s iconic metal beak and the installation of a new diamond pentagon grille — which is the single biggest improvement to the car’s exterior.

Other big changes include upsized center badging, a revised front fascia, updated headlamps, and new taillights. There’s also a simulated rear diffuser, helping the back end of the vehicle match the front’s new sporting looks. If you want more of that, you can wrangle yourself the ILX A-Spec and net a set of 18-inch alloys, some darker trim pieces, and LED fog lamps. There’s A-Spec badging, as well, but we’re not sure why you’d want to advertise this — the option doesn’t influence the powertrain one iota.

You’ll still have a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both of these are holdovers from the previous model year. But it’s still a peppier package than the base engine in the current Honda Civic and its ubiquitous CVT. Acura ILX buyers get a standard suite of active and passive safety systems, too — including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist.

The 2019 model also brings new seats with added support controls, fancier interior trim bits, and a two-screen infotainment system. Acura redesigned the layout to appear more modern, while new software is said to shorten the old digital response time by about 30 percent while making it easier to use. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard now.

While we would have liked to see the A-Spec offering more than a unique color scheme and some visual baubles, the sedan seems to be steering itself in the right direction. Pricing hasn’t been announced. But all variants of the 2019 Acura ILX are expected to arrive on dealer lots in October, so we don’t anticipate a long wait.

[Images: Acura]

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32 Comments on “2019 Acura ILX Gains New Tech, Visual Intrigue, Some Personality...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The only reason I could see anyone buying this over a Civic 1.5T is if they need an automatic transmission and have an irrational aversion to CVTs (Honda’s CVT programming is excellent). By any other metric the 10th gen Civic absolutely levels this thing. Same with the Accord/TLX. Acura needs to get on the new platform ASAP. The current situation is flat out embarrassing for the Acura brand.

    • 0 avatar
      cammark

      My guess (…and hope) is that this is a move to keep the ILX name in the minds of the buying public and wring some more drops of cash out of this platform over the next two years while the 10th-gen-civic-based replacement is being developed.

      With sales already trash on this model they couldn’t afford to NOT slap the new “family face” on it and make the best of it

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Civics cycles are 4-5 years long…. by that time they will be gearing up for the next Civic.

        Not to mention market conditions… interest rates will be higher and the public will be even less enamored with sedans. The time for this was really with the release of the 10th gen Civic.

        • 0 avatar
          cammark

          oh, right.

          The ILX is on a weird cycle, I hadn’t realized. It came out with the 2013 civic, then everyone hated the civic, Honda did a “do-over” but left the ILX as-is. ILX got a mid-model refresh in 2016 when the new civic came out, so 2019 is the second mid-model refresh… will this be the sedan equivalent of the Nissan Frontier? …fox-body Mustang?

      • 0 avatar
        NeilM

        “My guess (…and hope) is that this is a move to keep the ILX name in the minds of the buying public”

        Assumes facts not in evidence! The ILX has been in anybody’s mind? I don’t think so.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      “irrational aversion to CVTs”

      There’s nothing irrational about disliking CVTs. They are droning little fun-suckers that only the most self-loathing human could ever love.

      Perhaps what you meant to reference are people who put subjective driving pleasure over that last incremental improvement in fuel efficiency.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Nissan CVT kept a Maxima from sitting in my driveway. I want to love the car, there is a lot to love, but I just can’t get past the CVT and the reputation in particular of Nissan’s CVTs

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      That’s the danger of sharing platforms w/ a mainstream and lux brand.

      Lexus has the same problem as the Camry got the new platform first – as the far bigger seller will tend to get the newer stuff first.

  • avatar
    iddqd

    pertty neat- not available here in germany since germans are too dull…

  • avatar
    iddqd

    pertty neat- not available here in germany since germans are too dull…

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Pretty sad when your mainstream compact car is riding on a newer platform two full years before your compact “luxury” option gets a cosmetic refresh instead of the full-on redesign it needed five years ago.

    Re-fold the front origami all you want, this car still retains the ungainly tall & narrow FWD proportions of the ninth generation Civic. It does not look sporty, it does not look premium.

    Good powertrain, though.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      +1. My ILX hatred knows no bounds. They wasted their money on this refresh when it should have been killed if they weren’t going to redesign it on the Civic or new Acura platform. The horrible faux luxury interior and mediocre 9g Civic bones make this thing a total loser. The powertrain is indeed competitive, but it can’t make up for the rest of the failings.

      These regularly go for 6-8k off MSRP. Even so, one in their right mind would buy an ILX over a Civic EX. I have never understood the point of this vehicle. It was always a half baked, dispassionate attempt.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I actually like the looks of it. But I have no idea why someone would choose this over an A3.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      $3,000 starting price difference, and an Acura dealer is probably even more desperate to get one of these things off the lot. For A3 money, an Acura shopper could be looking at a TLX.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    “(or whoever is professionally attractive in 2018)“

    May I nominate JLaw?

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    But the Buick Verano is 0.189 seconds faster around the Motor Trend Figure 8! This car blows!!

    All kidding aside, even though this thing is old, it nice to see Honda at least try to keep it fresh. However, they better have their sub-compact SUV ready soon at the rate those things are selling.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      It’s been ready for some time now. For whatever reason, HMA just hasn’t brought it here. Google “Acura CDX”

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Actually this was always faster in ficure-8 tests but the turbo-4 in the Verano was always faster. The Verano also won most every comparison test between the two with the higher output motors, and then again with their lower output motors by Autoblog or Motor Trend.

      The Buick Verano did almost triple ILX sales with 40% market at one time.

      The CDX is not allowed by Honda to be able to pass our crash requirements as even Ford brought Brazilian Ecosport here.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    As far as Acura’s new front end goes, I think it works better here than it does on the ungainly TLX. The problem with the ILX though wasn’t the way the front end looked. It was everything rear of the A-pillars, ie the car, and the fact that it’s not very good.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Why do cars all have to look so angry? Need more restrained luxury.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    @ Cactuar
    I believe that when the main critizism of a car is that it’s too boring and too bland and that it looks too old, you’re beyond ‘restrained’ already.
    This car is bought by people who want most of what a base version of the other premium compacts (A3/A4/C-class/3-series etc.) can provide, without sticking out in a crowd, and without falling apart after less than 15 years…

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Is that a badge or a bat-signal? It’s huge.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      > Is that a badge or a bat-signal? It’s huge.

      Started with the MDX and now this. You know those Ralph Lauren shirts they sell in outlet malls to tourists where the Polo stiching is literally 6 inches tall? This looks like that, “Make the logo bigger!”

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    This may be the one model where the old beak-nose looked better than the new oversized diamond grille (though it looks ungainly on the TLX too). Not sure what market segment this car is aimed at. Maybe Civic owners who got a promotion and don’t want a bigger vehicle? Regardless, probably don’t need to worry about seeing very many of them.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Agree that the revised/smaller “beak” was better than this ungainly look.

      That being said, neither made Acura products a compelling buy based on aesthetics.

      The last good looking Acura sedan was the TL from a couple of generations ago.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    The 2019 Cimarron lives on! (“A-spec” is just the way millennials pronounce “D’Oro”)

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m surprised they updated it at all. I predicted it was dead in the water. Which is why you should not take my advice on anything. I actually like the looks of the ILX and I generally enjoy small cars. But, without a hatch/wagon/5 door configuration I’m not really interested. It would also be great with a manual too. I didn’t buy the new A3 to replace my 2007 because it didn’t get those options. The third strike was the price, so maybe the ILX would still be in the running, but I doubt it.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    This is embarrassing. If Honda doesn’t think the ILX sells enough to merit the expense of a full redesign on the new Civic platform, they should just kill it. This car is outdated and not remotely class competitive, and every year they keep selling it, Acura becomes an even bigger joke.

    The same could be said for the TLX and RLX. The only remotely bright spots are the CUVs, but even those are still just slightly fancier Hondas.

    All that money spent developing the over-engineered NSX no one cares about could have been spent making a mainstream Acura actually worth a damn.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Pretty sure this is based on the 8th gen Civic, not the 9th gen. If this is just a refresh, it’s one of a few models that come to mind that received more than one refresh to scrape the mold off.

    The 2016 refresh had a great front end design, fast, cohesive, and sharp lines. This droopy abomination is just another nail in the coffin. Maybe it’s just me, but the ILX would sell better if it weren’t 12 years old underneath.

  • avatar
    lon888

    What’s that I spot by the drivers seat? An actual, real mechanical parking brake. I’m so tired of those cursed electric parking brakes. Kudos to Honda for keeping some things simple.


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