Honda’s luxury division, Acura, has been trying to peddle a Civic dressed in a tuxedo with the ILX, but not everyone is impressed. The first iteration of the compact sedan was roundly dismissed for not feeling very premium and being grossly underpowered, so Acura went back and made some changes it says make a huge improvement. Consumer Reports, an organization that sometimes can be an automaker’s worst enemy, has come back and said it still isn’t sold.
Tom Mutchler of Consumer Reports took the facelifted Acura ILX for a first drive and was clearly not impressed with the “improvements.” His reasons are many, but to sum them up the price isn’t justified based on how cheap and unsubstantial the car feels. With a starting price of $30,820, it’s in direct competition with the Mercedes CLA, which offers a far plusher interior and a superior ride quality, for starters.
Mutchler came right out at the beginning of his review and said “the Acura ILX is basically a gussied-up Honda Civic. There, I said it.” Ouch. That doesn’t mean he thinks all mass-market cars that are launched as luxury models are cheap and unsubstantial. For example, he cites the Buick Verano, which is basically the Chevy Cruze, as an example of how to do it properly. The difference between the Verano and the ILX is that GM successfully translated the car for a luxury consumer.
The devil’s in the details, as Mutchler points out. For example, the ILX doesn’t come with adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, something that has been a standard in the luxury car market since at least the 1990s and even comes in mass-market vehicles like the Toyota Camry.
Acura’s been struggling for some time as consumers question its relevance in today’s market. The MDX is a wildly popular vehicle, and if it weren’t for the three-row crossover, Acura might not even still be around. It’s mistakes like the ILX and weird beak grilles that cast doubt on whether Honda’s luxury line will ever become relevant again.