2013 Acura ILX

Luxury carmakers are constantly looking for ways to get younger buyers interested in their brands, so “entry-level luxury” is blossoming as a new category. Enter the all-new 2013 ILX, the latest offering from Acura. Honda’s luxury car division will build the ILX at its plant in Greensburg, Indiana, the same factory that brings you the Civic.

Actually, the ILX has Civic roots but is a decidedly different car, with three models available: the 150-horsepower ILX 2.0L, the 201-horsepower ILX 2.4L and the ILX 1.5L Hybrid, which is Acura’s first hybrid drivetrain system.

The base ILX with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine starts at $25,900 and will deliver a combined 28 miles per gallon, the 2.4-liter package starts at $29,200 and will get a combined 25 mpg, and the ILX Hybrid starts at $28,900 and will deliver a combined 38 mpg. The ILX has not yet been safety tested by the government or the insurance industry.

“The all-new Acura ILX will serve as the gateway to the Acura brand,” said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales. The new sedan will deliver “style, value, performance and connectivity to younger buyers looking to move into the luxury market,” he said.

Our test ILX was the hybrid version, which gets 39 mpg in city driving. There are three driving modes in the hybrid, one for fuel economy, one for all the push the little engine has, and one in the middle for normal driving.

The 1.5-liter gasoline engine is supplemented by a 23-horsepower electric motor, and the two generate a combined 111 horsepower and send 127 lb.-ft. of torque to the CVT transmission. The combination is not going to snap your head back to the headrest, even if you use the paddle shifters, but don’t forget about the 39 miles you can drive on a gallon of gas. Also saving gas is an idle stop feature that kills the engine during stops and restarts it when the brake pedal is released.

Inside, the ILX is appropriately dressed with technology and luxury, although “world-class” would be a stretch. Standard equipment includes keyless access, a 5-inch display, dual-zone climate control, 6 speakers, a Pandora Internet Radio interface, SMS text messaging, Bluetooth and just about every other standard feature. Two optional packages are available: Premium (adding leather, 8-way driver’s seat, heated seats, 7 speakers and a rear camera), and Premium (adding XM Satellite Radio with surround sound and 365 watts of power, navigation with real-time traffic and weather, AcuraLink satellite communications and a multi-view rear camera).

I’d highly recommend the Technology Package for the weather feature alone. Just about every navigation system has a traffic feature, but in most cases I already know where the traffic is. But the weather radar in the package is an outstanding feature. In fact, I don’t understand why real-time weather radar isn’t available in every car. Maybe someday…

The cabin is roomy enough for five, and headroom was fine for my 6-foot frame, even with the moon roof. Acura’s going to give buyers seven choices when it comes to color: White Orchid Pearl, Alabaster Silver, Polished Metal Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl, Crimson Garnet, Umber Brownstone and Fathom Blue Pearl.

If you’re in the market to “move up” to a luxury brand, more and more options are opening up for you. The 2013 Acura ILX should be one of the options you test drive.

2013 Acura ILX

Engine: 2.0-liter, 2.4-liter, 1.5-liter Hybrid

Transmission: CVT

Horsepower: 150, 201, 111 respectively

Test model base price: $25,900 ($34,400 Hybrid w/technology package)

EPA mileage rating: 28 mpg combined (38 mpg combined Hybrid model)