For starters, there's the plushier leather upholstery that wraps the new eight-way power adjustable driver's seat that comes as part of the Premium package. There's the new curvaceous, soft-touch dashboard that rises before you. Keyless entry and push-button start are my favorite new features. The Civic's bi-level digital gauges have been replaced with a more traditional dual analog, speedometer and tachometer gauge setup. Automatic climate controls do most of the HVAC fiddling for you and heated seating surfaces on the front buckets keep your rear end toasty in the wintertime.
However, that tall dashboard means that I had to raise the seat a bit more than I was comfortable with to see out over the extremely tall hood at the center of the dashboard, which cuts into available headroom. The soft-touch, Godzllla-skin material that covers much of the dashboard just feels cheap and rubbery. Those more cushy leather seats don't offer very much lateral support during cornering. The ILX's cabin does look better than a Civic's on paper and in photos, but ergonomically, I think I prefer the cheaper model.
And then there's the cabin tech. Models, like our tester, that don't come equipped with navigation utilize the same 5-inch i-MID system that is found on the Honda Civic. The only difference is that now it's commanded with a large knob and button system found in the center of the dashboard, rather than with steering-wheel controls as is on the Civic. This makes it harder to work with while driving, since you have to take a hand off of the wheel.
In this configuration, the ILX features Bluetooth hands-free calling with address book sync, but the voice command system that controls the hands-free system doesn't feature automatic voice tagging or speech-to-text recognition. So, after syncing your address book, you'll have to go in and manually choose favorites to manually add voice tags for -- a tedious process that I'd rather just skip. Of course, the full address book can be browsed manually as well, but that requires using the big control knob and taking a hand off of the wheel and eyes, momentarily, off of the road.
The system also features standard Bluetooth audio streaming, USB connectivity for mass storage devices and iPods/iPhones, an auxiliary audio input, and the ability to interface with the Pandora Internet Radio app on a connected iPhone. SiriusXM Satellite Radio, AM/FM radio, and a single-slot CD player round out the audio sources that feed the Premium model's seven-speaker, 200-watt audio system (including an 8-inch subwoofer).
There is a step-up Technology package available that replaces the 5-inch interface with an 8-inch AcuraLink navigation system with traffic, weather, and Zagat reviews. This package also upgrades the audio system to a 410-watt, 10-speaker ELS surround sound system with a more robust voice command system that lets passengers select from songs on a connected iPhone with the sound of their voice. This is probably the trim level to get because the Premium configuration already looks pretty dated compared to even the Hyundai Veloster. However, Acura doesn't offer the technology package in conjunction with the 2.4-liter engine, so you'll have to step down to the 2.0-liter model or up to the Hybrid to even have a shot at this....but, is it worth the premium price?
The short answer is "probably not."
The ILX starts at $25,900 for the 2.0-liter base model with the standard five-speed automatic transmission. However, for $5,245 more than a Civic EX, you only get a 10-horsepower bump, less fuel economy, and an Acura badge. Even Honda's own vehicle comparison tool shows the 2013 Civic as the clear winner in this comparison.
As tested, our 2013 ILX 2.4 Premium's sticker price jumps up to $30,095 (including an $895 destination charge), a whopping $6,750 more than a fully loaded Civic Si sedan with navigation with which it shares its bones. For the extra dough, you get the leather trim with heated front seats, power adjustment on driver's seat, a slightly nicer stereo system, a rearview camera, HID headlamps, and, of course, an Acura badge. That may not sound like that bad of a deal until you realize that you're also losing the Si's navigation system, summer performance tires, and limited-slip differential. Whether you're comparing performance, cabin technology, or bang for the buck, at this trim level the Civic Si simply wins again.
One could make an argument for the fully loaded, teched-out ILX Hybrid with Technology package with its AcuraLink navigation and ELS premium audio rig, but its $35,295 price tag ventures far too deeply into BMW territory for what is ostensibly still just a Honda Civic.
|Model||2013 Acura ILX|
|Power train||2.4-liter, FWD, six-speed manual|
|EPA fuel economy||22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, 25 mpg combined mpg|
|Observed fuel economy||n/a|
|Navigation||Available AcuraLink with traffic, weather, and Zagat POIs|
|Bluetooth phone support||Yes, standard|
|Disc player||Single-slot CD|
|MP3 player support||Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection|
|Other digital audio||Optional SiriusXM Satellite Radio|
|Audio system||Seven-speaker Premium audio system with 8-inch subwoofer|
|Driver aids||Rearview camera|
|Price as tested||$30,095|