Chicago Show 2012 Highlights: 2013 Acura ILX

Previewed as a concept at this year’s Detroit auto show, Acura’s new ILX sedan wears production-ready sheetmetal as the curtain rises on the 2012 Chicago show. Consistent with Honda/Acura practice, the distinctions between the Detroit concept and the production car on display in Chicago’s McCormick Place are subtle indeed: a little character crease in the side mirrors, a little less bright trim around the trademark Acura chrome overbite grille, minor distinctions in the lower fascia and air dam, and a simpler wheel design.

It takes a keen eye to see the differences between the so-called concept and the production car, which isn’t really a bad thing. It takes a much keener eye—X-ray vision, in fact—to see the similarities between the ILX and theHonda Civic. And this is a good thing, since the relatively humble Civic provided the structure and mechanical elements for this new entry-level luxury compact, and it wouldn’t do for it to look like a mere badge job.

On the other hand, it doesn’t require a particularly keen eye to see Civic genetics in the powertrain specifications. There are three power choices, including Acura’s first-ever hybrid, all traceable to the Civic warehouse.

The standard engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, making 150 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque (as distinct from the Civic’s 140-hp, 1.8-liter SOHC four). The go-fast choice is a 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve four—shared with the Acura TSX and Civic Si—which puts out 201 hp at 7000 rpm and 170 lb-ft at 4300 rpm. EPA numbers for the basic ILX 2.0, which is limited to a five-speed automatic transmission, are 24/32 mpg, while the ILX 2.4, paired only with a six-speed manual, is rated for 20/29.

Option three is a hybrid; its powertrain is essentially a direct lift from theCivic hybrid, with a 1.5-liter SOHC 8-valve four boosted by a 20-hp electric motor sandwiched between the engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Total system output is rated at 111 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. Like the gas-electric Civic, the Acura version features a stop/start function that shuts down the engine at stoplights. However, EPA fuel economy ratings—35 mpg city, 38 highway—aren’t nearly as compelling as the Civic’s 44/44.

Why the disparity? Tech details are skimpy at this point and include no mention of curb weight. Given what we anticipate will be a higher level of content, richer materials, and more sound-suppression material than in Civic sedans, we suspect mass may be the culprit. Don’t be surprised if this also means the ILX hybrid is less fleet than the already slow Civic hybrid.

While the ILX began with the latest Civic platform, it’s not a carbon copy. At 105.1 inches, the wheelbase is the same as the Civic sedan’s. But the Acura is longer (179.1 inches versus 177.3), lower (55.6 inches versus 56.5), and wider (70.6 inches versus 69.0), yielding a slightly sportier appearance. Though bigger than its mechanical cousin, it’s worth noting that the ILX is smaller than the TSX, the European Accord–based sedan that has been Acura’s entry model up until now.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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