Initially, we weren’t sure about the ILX, but have found, the more we drive it, the more we like it. The 2014 Acura ILX might have started with the mechanicals of the Honda but like many upscale models with modest beginnings, the ILX is a full-fledged luxurious Acura.

The 2014 model rolls into dealerships with even more luxury appeal including eight new standard features designed to enhance its curb appeal, interior comfort and overall driving enjoyment. Now standard are features like upgraded 17-inch alloy wheels, new leather seating surfaces and leatherette door liners, an eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats and a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera. There is also a new audio-system subwoofer and an Active Noise Cancellation system.

The front-wheel drive ILX has three four-cylinder powertrain offerings: a 150 horsepower, 2.0-liter SOHC with a five-speed sequential shift automatic transmission, a 201-hp 2.4-liter DOHC with a six-speed manual transmission and the Hybrid which employs a 111-hp, 1.5-liter gasoline engine, electric motor and a continuously variable transmission.

The 2.4-liter with the manual transmission makes a 0-to-60 mph run in 6.4 seconds while the 2.0-liter with the automatic transmission takes 9.3 seconds. The 2.0-liter has an EPA rating of 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. The 2.4-liter is 22/31 mpg and the hybrid is 39/38 mpg.

The 2.0-liter engine is adequate for normal driving conditions but we thought it was a little weak and a bit disappointing when the car is filled with friends or when you want to get around a slower moving vehicle on a hill.

The ILX has four-wheel independent suspension with double-wishbone in the front, multi-link rear suspension, stabilizer bars front and rear along with a precise electric assist power-assist rack-and-pinion steering. The combination produces a supple ride with good control and handling. The four-wheel disc brakes provide very plenty of stopping power for everyday driving.

We are fortunate to have a great test track almost in our back yard. From our neighborhood, our test route takes us up into the Cascade foothills toward the volcanic peaks of Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams. The roads have a nice mix of well paved, twisty roads with a combination of fast sweeping corners, hills, quick straight stretches and sharp hairpins. The route requires great concentration, though, because the scenery tries to steal your eyes from the road.

After spending some quality time exercising both the 2.0 automatic and the 2.4-liter manual over these wonderful roads we were able to pronounce them as fun-to-drive for the average driver. However, we’re sure some of the hot dog drivers we know might think otherwise. For the market, they are right on target.

Acura has always been generous with features and the ILX follows the same pattern offering buyers an extensive list of standard equipment like moonroof, aluminum wheels, heated mirrors, Bluetooth, Pandora Internet radio and pushbutton start.

The Premium Package adds leather-seating surfaces, Xenon lighting, heated front seats, premium audio with XM and multi-view rear camera for $2,300 more. The Technology package includes the Acura/ELS surround sound system, GPS-link solar-sensing climate control, HomeLink remote, premium audio, Acura’s excellent navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather for another $4,700.

We like the way Acura simplifies the buying process. They have one car, with three powertrain choices and two available option packages. Selecting your ILX is a simple matter of choosing a performance or fuel economy level and then selecting the features most important to you. The only down side is that you can’t get the 2.4-liter engine with an automatic transmission nor can you get the Technology package (which includes the navigation system) with the larger engine.

ILX pricing starts at $27,795, including the destination charge, for the 2.0L. The 2.4L, which includes the Premium Package, is $30,095. The Hybrid starts and $29,795 or is $35,495 with the Technology Package.

The 2014 Acura ILX is well designed and built. It’s also earned the Consumer Reports “Recommended” checkmark. It’s a perfect “step up” car for the younger buyer or a nice “step down” for older buyers that are in the process of downsizing but don’t want to give up the accoutrements of their larger luxury car.

— Courtesy of Auto Digest

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