Acura is smartly bringing back one of its most revered nameplates for 2023, and simultaneously ditching a three-letter moniker that never managed to garner as much devoted loyalty. The ILX has long been…

New Acura Integra five-door priced right for June launch

Acura is smartly bringing back one of its most revered nameplates for 2023, and simultaneously ditching a three-letter moniker that never managed to garner as much devoted loyalty.

The ILX has long been a very impressiv

The new 2023 Acura Integra pulls recent memories of the old ILX.
While this five-door hatch could’ve easily been the 2nd-generation ILX, Acura smartly chose to bring back its legendary Integra nameplate.

e compact sedan capable of running alongside the smallest offerings from Europe’s, Asia’s and the U.S.’ biggest luxury players, thanks to a combination of the previous ninth-generation (2012–2015) Honda Civic Si underpinnings and 2.4-litre engine with a much more sophisticated eight-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox. Certainly, the compact four-door has needed a redesign for years, so therefore sales have waned, but along with a significant update for 2023, Acura has blessed it with a much more endearing name.

Along with the new designation, a much-needed restyling, and a host of other improvements, the new 2023 Integra receives a base price of $34,350 (plus freight and PDI) that’s closer to upper trims of the outgoing ILX, which currently ranges from $31,400 to $36,800.

Integra roots go back 37 years

2023 Acura Integra in the city.
Those wanting a compact, efficient performance car might want to consider the new Integra, especially now that it provides more interior room.

The ILX has already been with us for a decade, although it was given two facelifts in 2016 and 2019, the first one upgrading the drivetrain to its current iteration, and last one being a more dramatic visual departure, in that it received the brand’s latest “Diamond Pentagon” grille. Plenty of additional upgrades were made to each iteration as well, including the model’s sportiest A-Spec trim added to the latter.

Before the ILX, Canadians wanting an entry-level Acura had the option of the 2006–2011 CSX, which was exclusive to our market, albeit with styling shared with the Honda’s domestic-market Civic, while once again it shared plenty of parts with Honda’s Civic Si, albeit only in Type-S trim (beginning in 2007).

The new 2023 Acura Integra from the rear.
The new Integra actually looks closer to the past RSX (4th-gen Integra) from the rear than any Integra sold in North America.

The CLX replaced the Canadian-exclusive 1997–2005 EL, which was more of a gussied up Civic in that it offered no performance option, yet nevertheless managed to accumulate 51-percent of Acura Canada’s sales in its first year and remain the Canadian division’s best-selling model from 1997 to 2003.

Up until 1996 the point of entry into the Acura brand was this article’s subject namesake Integra, or at least the inspiration for the name, which started life in 1986 and therefore joined the mid-size Accord-based Legend as one of the Japanese luxury brand’s initial two launch models.

Following Acura tradition by riding on affordable Honda Civic underpinnings

2023 Acura Integra under lights.
The Integra’s sloping rear window is a convenient hatchback, aiding practicality.

Like that original Integra, the renewed 2023 version is based on Honda’s ultra-popular Civic, although back in the mid ‘80s Acura had a Civic Coupe (and hatchback) to utilize for two-door hard-points, whereas the most recent 11th-generation Civic is only available in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles.

Understandably, fans of the original Integra were disappointed when the new 2023 model showed up as a five-door hatchback in prototype form and once again in production trim, despite early first-, second- and third-generation Integras being sold as four-door sedans (plus four-door pillared hardtops) and five-door liftbacks, not only as three-door liftbacks, often referred to coupes (the fourth-gen Integra, which only came in three-door liftback form, was known as the RSX here).

Five-door Integra makes sense in today’s market

The 2023 Acura Integra in production.
The new Integra is now in production, and this photo shows its hatchback lifted in the background.

Old Integras are most collectable in sportier looking three-door form, which, by the hubbub of controversy surrounding the new Integra’s initial announcement, must have been how many fans initially imagined the majorly-hyped new version before it came out. Looking across the auto mall at Ford, disgruntled Acura enthusiasts might just want to be grateful the new Integra isn’t a crossover SUV (looking at your Mustang Mach-E).

With no three-door model in the Civic lineup, and the need to base the Integra on an existing body style, it makes sense Acura chose the liftback option to pay tribute to the luxury brand’s past. Doing so also results in the sportiest of its two Civic donor platforms, plus better access to the cargo area than the outgoing ILX’ trunk.

High-revving Honda Si engine making way for more efficient 1.5-litre turbo-four

The new 2023 Acura Integra's interior.
The new Integra will be offered with both manual and automatic transmissions.

Those who love the high-revving 2.4-litre ILX engine might be disappointed that its replacement loses 900 cubic centimetres, but take heart because the new Civic-sourced 1.5-litre unit is much more efficient (which matters these days) and utilizes a turbo to produce more output overall at 200 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, compared to 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft for the ILX.

Where the outgoing engine has been both lauded and criticized for its quick-spinning, peaky performance, with serious enthusiasts loving its mechanical audio track and intense accelerative VTEC forces in the upper rev-range, it was always a bit too sporting for some. After all, the current ILX, and soon this new Integra, need to serve as Acura’s entry-level product for all.

The 2023 Acura Integra as viewed from the driver.
The new Integra promises to be a strong performer.

Therefore, the new model’s more subdued engine note and broader, more automatic-friendly torque band, which ranges from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm, should make it much more enjoyable with the eight-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox, not to mention easier to drive casually around town, while max power can still be found at a lofty 6,000 rpm, or 800 rpm lower than the ILX, meaning that those wanting to rev the engine out will still have an adrenaline inducing, VTEC-enhanced soundtrack to draw upon. That this engine is also used in today’s Civic Si is just another nod to both the ILX’ past and previous Integra’s, et al.

Acura incorporates fabulous six-speed manual transmission from Civic Si

The new 2023 Acura Integra's six-speed manual transmission.
Honda has long been lauded for its manual transmission, which means the new six-speed in the top-line Integra should be very special.

Where the outgoing ILX was not available with a manual transmission (odd considering the Civic Si that donated its 2.4-litre four only was offered with a six-speed manual), the new Integra can now be had with a six-speed DIY gearbox in top-line Elite A-Spec trim at no extra charge, with both the manual and automatic models starting at $42,550, while positioned between base and Elite A-Spec trims is the regular A-Spec at $37,050. According to Acura, the six-speed manual is a “segment-exclusive” feature (sad, but true), which could cause plenty of traditional performance enthusiasts to flock to this front-wheel drive model, despite rear-wheel drive normally being the configuration of choice for the go-fast crowd.

The 2023 Acura Integra's instrument cluster and centre stack.
Acura has clearly biased the Integra’s interior toward a performance-oriented buyer.

Then again, Honda’s Civic is quite possibly the best-handling front-driver ever created, in 306-horsepower 10th-generation Type R trim at least (the new one is expected later this year as a 2023 model, incidentally), so the automaker knows a thing or two about maximizing handling prowess in this less-than-optimal layout.

Making the most of its dynamic chassis design is a standard sport-tuned suspension, plus the Elite A-Spec adds an Adaptive Damper System that provides even more control of the road below. Likewise, the Elite A-Spec model features a customizable Individual mode for its Integrated Dynamics System, with the rest of the Integra’s trim lines coming standard with the usual Comfort, Normal, and Sport driving modes.

Impressive top-level technologies included

2023 Acura Integra
All Integra trims come standard with a configurable 10.2-inch digital driver’s display dubbed Acura Precision Cockpit.

So far, no Tech trim (currently top-of-the-line with the ILX) will be offered, which kind of makes sense being that all 2023 Integras will feature a standard configurable 10.2-inch digital driver’s display, dubbed Acura Precision Cockpit. Then again, a head-up display unit is optional with the Elite A-Spec package, as is a higher-end 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The just-noted wireless capability of its smartphone integration will once again make this package’s Qi-compatible wireless charging pad something useful (it isn’t when forced to plug-in for smartphone integration), while this top-tier upgrade also includes a 16-speaker ELS STUDIO 3D audio system.

Back to standard kit, the Integra’s advanced safety features include a special set of driver and passenger airbags that were “designed to control head rotation in a crash,” says Acura, while rear seat airbags are also included. What’s more, a new single-camera AcuraWatch system boasts enhanced Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR). Lastly, a one-year free trial of AcuraLink services will also be included across the line, also incorporating the brand’s Security and Remote packages at no extra cost.

All Integra trims come standard with best-in-class roominess

The Integra offers red leather upholstery in A-Spec trim.
Once again available with rich red leather upholstery in A-Spec trims, the new Integra promises class-leading interior room.

According to Acura, the Integra also promises class-leading rear legroom and cargo volume (the latter partially due to its convenient hatchback design), which are two bonuses the ILX couldn’t boast of.

After all is said and done, it’s difficult to criticize Acura for making a much better ILX and then rebranding it with a legendary name. Calling this five-door model an Integra brought it much more press than merely making it the second-generation ILX, while badging it with a memorable moniker also pulls on the heartstrings while making it easier to bring up in conversation with friends. Just ask anyone not seriously into cars what an ILX is, and you’ll get a stunned look. Do the same for the new Integra, and while you might get a quizzical, doe-eyed gaze, you’re also more likely to receive a curious response. A name like Integra is more easily embedded in one’s memory too, aiding Acura’s marketing efforts, while reducing its spend. Overall, it just makes sense.

Introducing the Next-Gen Integra (0:30):

Next Generation 2023 Acura Integra Debut Featuring Pierre Gasly (1:02):

2023 Acura Integra Production Model Walkaround (6:02):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Acura

Looking for a great deal on a very good premium sedan? I can think of a number of reasons to consider the Acura ILX, but the opportunity for a heavily discounted final purchase price is definitely on…

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech Road Test

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The ILX A-Spec still looks good, even if this photo seems a bit out of place in the heat of summer.

Looking for a great deal on a very good premium sedan? I can think of a number of reasons to consider the Acura ILX, but the opportunity for a heavily discounted final purchase price is definitely on top of the list.

The ILX’ MSRP ranges from a base of $30,805, plus freight and fees, to $36,205 for the top-line A-Spec Tech shown here, which is a seriously competitive starting point. This said, the ability to obtain a significant discount has never been better. In fact, Acura Canada is offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives with no questions asked, while CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $7,500! With discounts like that, Civic buyers should even be taking a look at the good old ILX.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The ILX’ sharp styling was part of a 2019 update.

To be clear, the ILX isn’t just a Civic with a body kit, as some like to refer to it. Way back in the early days of Acura, the ILX’ predecessor only provided a few mild styling modifications, a leather-trimmed interior, some other cabin enhancements, a slightly stiffer suspension, and Civic Si engine-tuning in its top trim in order to earn its Acura badge. Nevertheless, the long forgotten 1.6EL (1997–2000), which was based on the Japanese domestic market (JDM) Honda Domani and optionally used the same 127-horsepower engine as the Si here in Canada, plus the 1.7EL (2001–2005), which still made 127 horses despite getting a 100-cc bump in displacement, sold quite well, paving the way for the much-improved CSX (2006-2011), a model that was only sold in Canada, and actually inspired the JDM Civic’s styling (not the other way around, like so many critics have wrongly stated).

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
Acura’s new “Diamond Pentagon” grille now graces all of its models.

The ILX entered the import scene in 2012 as a 2013 model, and believe it or not is still based on the ninth-generation Civic that first appeared in 2011 (2022 will see an all-new 11th-gen Civic, to put that into perspective). That’s an antiquated platform architecture, to be sure, but this oldie was a goodie. It looked like it was designed from the ground up to be an Acura too, as did the interior, while performance from its optional 201-hp Si-derived powerplant was strong, albeit this engine’s sole six-speed manual transmission kept it from being as popular as the 150-hp 1.5-litre variant. A Civic-sourced hybrid drivetrain was also offered.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
Acura’s “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps are unique in the industry.

Acura provided a stiffer steering shaft for sharper turn-in, plus special “Amplitude Reactive” dampers to further improve handling as well as ride quality, and voila, its new compact competitor found serious traction on the sales charts, achieving a height of 3,192 Canadian deliveries in 2013, which put it fourth behind Buick’s now defunct Verano (with 5,573 units sold that year), Mini’s Cooper (3,946), and Mercedes’ discontinued B-Class (3,207).

Mercedes dominates this segment these days, its second-generation CLA-Class now joined by a new A-Class Sedan and Hatch for a total of 3,440-unit sales in 2020, while the ILX slipped from fourth to fifth in popularity due to just 774 deliveries last year. Being that the entire premium C-segment (and B-segment) includes a mere six models, that’s nothing to write home about, but then again managing to still sell anything after being around so long is a feat in itself.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
These black-painted 18-inch alloys are part of the A-Spec upgrade.

To be fair, Acura has made some big changes to the ILX throughout its nine-year tenure, the most significant in 2016 when an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddles was mated to the potent 2.4-litre four-cylinder, which became the standard engine that year. It received a 10 lb-ft bump in max torque as well, the new mill putting out 180 lb-ft in total, while Acura also gave this upgraded ILX its distinctive “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps and a slightly revised “shield” grille for 2016, along with standard LED taillights. Sportier A-Spec trim was added too, the test car shown here finished off top-tier A-Spec Tech trim.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
Acura updated the LED taillights for its 2019 update, and they still look sharp.

This one wears the much more visually dramatic “Diamond Pentagon” grille, however, which was added for the 2019 model. That car also received more aggressive headlights along with more sharply angled tail lamps, plus updates to most every other exterior panel, while the cabin incorporated new seats, with optional red leather upholstery in the microsuede-enhanced A-Spec. Finally, the infotainment system responded to inputs 30 percent faster than its predecessor, and Acura’s suite of advanced AcuraWatch safety features became standard. The car on these pages hasn’t changed since, which is probably why sales have steadily dropped, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your attention.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The fit, finish and materials quality of the ILX’ interior is on par with others in this class.

Today’s 2.4-litre four still makes 201 horsepower, which while not as strong as some in this class, remains naturally aspirated and therefore a joy to rev well past its 7,000 rpm redline. It sounds fabulous when doing so too, while the fully-automated eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox delivers quick, smooth shifts that are ideally matched to the powerplant, its front-wheel drive layout the only negative in an otherwise wholly positive experience. Even then, the 225/40R18 Continentals hooked up well, with very little pull on the steering wheel at full throttle, even when taking off from a corner, with the overall driving feel coming across like a particularly well-finished Civic Si Sedan.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The look might come across a bit dated, but it’s a mostly premium interior with features that function well.

Yes, I know the 10th-generation Civic Si Sedan’s interior is much more modern than this ILX, especially when it comes to the primary gauge cluster and steering wheel controls. The former is made up of analogue dials bookending a simple two-colour multi-information display (MID), with the otherwise grey screen highlighted by some nice bright greens when using adaptive cruise control, but Acura’s dual-stack of infotainment displays was pretty high-tech when introduced, and still works well. The lower touchscreen is especially easy to operate, and while the graphics are a bit dated and display quality not quite up to today’s high-definition standards, I’m not going to rag on this system or any of Acura’s infotainment foibles right now, other than to say their unnecessary complexity isn’t as appealing to me as Honda’s excellent touchscreen systems. To that tend, the ILX offers a bit of both worlds, resulting in a system I certainly like better than some of the brand’s more recent concoctions.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The gauge cluster is almost retro, thanks to a small, mostly monochromatic MID at centre.

Just the same, purchasing a car as well-seasoned as the ILX means you’ll need to forgo some of the industry’s latest features and design elements. I didn’t mind the aforementioned MID, as all info was crisply and clearly displayed, plus a fair bit of info was available, from audio stations, to phone and voice prompt controls, plus the aforementioned cruise control. Likewise, the analogue dials were bright and easy to read in all conditions. The steering wheel controls, while not including the outgoing Civic’s ergonomically-designed volume switch and four-way rockers on both sides for most other functions, are made from high quality composites with good fit and decent damping.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The A-Spec’s aluminum pedals look great.

The infotainment’s system’s upper display is controlled by rotating a big knob and pressing surrounding buttons found just below the lower centre touchscreen, this top monitor being dedicated to navigation info, smartphone connectivity, car settings, and a few other functions. The touch capacitive screen just below, on the other hand, allows comprehensive control of the audio system. Both displays are full-colour, albeit only various blue hues are used for the latter. Again, it’s dated look will only matter to those enamoured with more modern systems, because the screen is reasonably high in resolution and the interface is nicely laid out with decent enough graphics. It all works well too, while the navigation system was especially accurate. What’s more, my tester’s ELS Studio sound system pumped out tunes brilliantly, plus its satellite radio signal came in nice and clear most of the time.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
Two infotainment displays provide a lot of information at all times.

The ILX’ dual-zone automatic climate control interface is pretty straightforward, with big dials to each side and buttons in between. Again, the quality of the switchgear is pretty good, with nice, tightly fitted buttons, but Acura hasn’t even included a digital display to accompany the controls, so it all looks fairly basic. Likewise, the lower console-mounted two-way rocker switches for the heatable front seats are throwbacks to simpler times, as are the classic Honda-sourced power window and mirror controls on the driver’s door, while the fuel and trunk release levers attached to the driver’s inside rocker panel next to the floor are so old school they’re cool.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The upper display houses the navigation system and some other features.

A classic handbrake is another sign this is an older model, and I suppose, being that Acura now uses push-buttons and pull-tabs for gear selection on most of its vehicles these days, the conventional gear lever and its time-tested PRND layout is just one more reminder of yesterday. There’s no way to shift manually by the lever itself, but that hardly matters being that, as noted earlier, the ILX comes complete with paddles. Therefore, simply slot it into “D” to eke the most from a tank of fuel or “S” for Sport mode, and drive like a miser or, alternatively, shift to your heart’s content.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The lower display is a touchscreen for the audio system, while the large rotating knob just below is for controlling the screen above.

Sport mode allows for higher revs between gear changes, the engine freely spinning past 7,000 revs per minute when wrung out for all its worth, resulting in motive force that’s as wonderfully engaging and every bit as capable as when found in the old Si. Yes, I’m aware that I’m repeating myself, but I absolutely love this 2.4-litre four, so allow me some fanboy leeway. I’ll also reiterate that the dual-clutch automated manual is superbly matched to this peaky engine, allowing some playful fun when called upon, yet shifting early enough to save on fuel when in normal default mode.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The ILX’ dual-zone auto HVAC interface is a bit rudimentary looking, but it all works well.

On that note, claimed fuel economy is thrifty considering the available performance, at 9.9 L/100km in the city, 7.0 on the highway and 8.6 combined, incidentally beating BMW’s 228i xDrive Gran Coupe that’s only good for 8.8 L/100km combined city/highway, but take note the Bimmer comes standard with AWD, while Mercedes’ A220 4Matic Sedan is even stingier at 8.4 L/100km combined (4Matic means AWD in Mercedes-speak, incidentally), while Audi’s FWD A3 is good for a near hybrid-like 7.8 L/100km combined.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
That’s a real gear lever in an Acura, and if you think that’s retro, check out the two-way rocker switches just ahead for controlling the heated front seats.

Now that we’ve slowed down, some finely crafted detailing worth noting includes a soft leather-wrapped steering wheel rim with nicely carved thumb spats and contrast-stitched baseball-style stitching around the inside, plus the same treatment applied to the shift knob and the handbrake lever’s grip. That handbrake feels incredibly well-made too, with a level of solidity not normally found with such devices, and this said, I must attest to preferring a hand-applied parking brake to an electromechanical one when driving a performance car. In fact, as good as the eight-speed auto is, the very inclusion of a handbrake made me long for the Si’s phenomenal six-speed manual, although I can understand why Acura didn’t bother bringing one to market, being that the take-rate would probably be less than 10 percent.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The dash top and facing is made from premium-quality soft composite, while all plastics below the waste are of a less appealing hard variety.

Driver’s position is important for any performance car, and to that end Acura has done a fine job with this ILX. The beautifully finished front seats, complete with contrast-stitched leather bolsters and insets, the latter adorned with an hourglass-shaped strip of ultra-suede down the middle, hug the backside nicely for optimal control through tight, twisting curves. The driver seat’s adjustability was excellent, with enough fore and aft movement for most body types, which when combined with ample reach from the tilt and telescopic steering column made for adequate comfort and control.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The leather and psuede seats are fabulous.

When seated behind the driver’s seat, which was set up for my long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight frame, I still had plenty of space for my knees and feet, plus about three inches over my head. Likewise, Acura provides good side-to-side spaciousness, although I wouldn’t have been as comfortable if three were abreast in back. The usual flip-down centre armrest was wide enough for two arms resting, but the dual cupholders infused within were substandard for this class, particularly compared to the innovative drink-holding contraptions offered by the Germans. A magazine pouch on the backside of the front passenger seat sums up everything else provided for rear passenger pampering, while no centre pass-through or divided rear seatback means that skiers are forced to strap boards to a rooftop rack when more than two occupants are aboard.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The glass sunroof is a bit smaller than some others in this category, but it powers open with one touch.

At least those rear outboard seats are comfortable and covered with the same high-grade leather and suede upholstery as those up front, while the aft compartment’s door panels are finished off just as nicely as the one ahead as well. This means high-quality soft padded synthetic covers the door uppers, while a nicer stitched leatherette with even softer padding is applied to the inserts and armrests, plus this segment’s usual hard composite for the lower third of each door.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The rear seating area is comfortable and roomy enough for two adults.

Some less significant areas of weakness include a lack of fabric wrapping for the roof pillars, which is kind of a premium brand status staple, plus the ILX only gets a simple moonroof overhead, when others in the class offer larger panoramic glass openings. Also, where the soft-touch synthetic dash top is finished all the way down to its midpoint, and the dark grey inlays are up to par, the plastic used for the lower half of the dash, including the glove box lid, as well as that on the lower centre console, is less than ideal.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
The trunk is certainly large enough when compared to others in this class.

Of course, this reflects in the ILX’ aforementioned pricing, and becomes an absolute nonissue when factoring in available discounts. Adding to this car’s list of accolades is Acura’s seventh out of 17 premium brand ranking (Buick, Mini and Tesla were included as premium brands) in J.D. Power’s latest 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study, in which it was only beaten by Lexus, Porsche, Buick, Cadillac, Genesis and Lincoln, none of which compete in the ILX’ entry-level B category. Hopefully, now knowing this, plus the ILX’ many additional attributes, might leave you seriously considering a car that might not have caused you much deliberation before reading this review.

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec Tech
Not having split-folding rear seats was never good enough for this premium category.

All said, be sure to visit CarCostCanada’s 2021 Acura ILX Canada Prices page to find out more, including detailed trim pricing and available options, and while you’re at it find out how accessing dealer invoice pricing can help out when negotiating your best deal on a new vehicle, not to mention how having all this information on a smartphone app will turn you into a car buying pro the next time you’re visiting any retail dealership. Download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store now.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

Anyone who believes the Acura ILX is merely a badge-engineered Honda Civic might want to rethink their point of view.  First off, since the 10th-generation Civic arrived for 2017 the two don’t even…

Acura ILX gets significant refresh for 2019

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The 2019 Acura ILX gets a major refresh, and looks especially nice in sporty A-Spec trim. (Photo: Acura)

Anyone who believes the Acura ILX is merely a badge-engineered Honda Civic might want to rethink their point of view. 

First off, since the 10th-generation Civic arrived for 2017 the two don’t even share underpinnings, with even this latest 2019 upgrade riding on the previous ninth-gen Civic platform architecture, not that this really matters to those behind the wheel, who no doubt will continue to enjoy rewarding driving dynamics and extremely good efficiency. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The ILX continues to be a fun car to drive thanks to a standard 201-hp 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddles. (Photo: Acura)

Despite getting a dramatic refresh that brings it inline with the rest of the Acura lineup, the 2019 ILX continues forward with a wonderfully rev-happy 201-horsepower, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC-infused 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine borrowed from the previous Civic Si albeit refined for this car’s more luxury-oriented gateway-to-premium role. As part of its repurposed application the potent engine joins up to an automated dual-clutch eight-speed transmission with paddle-shifters, providing both smooth ease of use and quick-shifting performance, while its front-wheel drivetrain aids fuel economy. If it seems familiar, this formidable powertrain is also used in the base TLX. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The ILX is the most popular car in its class with millennial buyers, no doubt because of its stylish, sporty character and excellent value. (Photo: Acura)

The most notable update is the Japanese luxury brand’s new trademark Diamond Pentagon grille up front and centre, complemented by a new front bumper and lower fascia. The latter is made more dramatic in new A-Spec trim, while the rest of the car gets minor updates from front to rear. Truly, only the seven-element Jewel Eye LED headlamps look unchanged, although Acura points out the 2019 ILX is entirely new from the A-pillars forward, with even the hood more sharply sculpted. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Now the entire Acura line-up (NSX aside) has been transformed with the new Diamond Pentagon grille design. (Photo: Acura)

The shape of the LED taillights appear totally new, while the rear bumper and apron are revised as well, once again more significantly in A-Spec guise. No doubt if you like the look of the new TLX you’ll also appreciate the changes made to the ILX, and no one should argue that the updated 2019 version is wholly more upscale looking than the car it replaces. Of course, no mid-cycle update would be complete without new wheel designs, which means lower end models get fresh sets of 17-inch split-five-spoke alloys with trim-specific finishes, and the new A-Spec sports exclusive 18-inch rims. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
All 2019 ILX trims get attractive new LED taillights, while the A-Spec features a more aggressive rear apron. (Photo: Acura)

Changes inside are less noticeable at first glance, with many of the same high-quality finishings remaining for 2019, albeit Acura talks of “more luxurious and sporty cabin appointments” too, which we’ll report on in an upcoming road test. Acura also highlights new silver-finish dash trim featuring a new chrome insert, plus a machine-finished ignition button. Even more consequential to real-world comfort, the reworked ILX receives “more intricately styled and reshaped sport seats, front and rear, with available high-contrast piping and stitching.” Driver’s seat power-adjustable lumbar support is standard across the line as well, making comfort priority one. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Once again, full LED headlights are standard. (Photo: Acura)

Additionally, the dual-screen On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD 2.0) infotainment system gets a much-needed update with fresh graphics, new software, a faster responding operating system (by up to 30 percent), more intuitive menus and command structures, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Acura says the 7.0-inch touchscreen portion of its dual-screen setup features a capacitive display that’s “more responsive to touch and is positioned within easy reach of the driver and front passenger,” so we look forward to testing this out in an upcoming review. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Acura has improved interior refinement and significantly upgraded the infotainment system. (Photo: Acura)

The new 2019 ILX gets five new exterior colours as well, including Platinum White Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, Canyon Bronze Metallic and A-Spec-exclusive Apex Blue Pearl, while Lunar Silver Metallic and Modern Steel Metallic carryover. Likewise, Ebony and Graystone colourways continue forward inside, although take note new Espresso provides some upscale colour to the ILX cabin, while the sportier A-Spec model gets exclusive Ebony on Red or Red on Ebony combinations, mixed with soft, grippy Ultrasuede seat inserts. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Acura’s dual-display infotainment setup carries forward into the refreshed model, but the graphics are new, it’s faster, and better organized. (Photo: Acura)

Speaking of the A-Spec upgrade, along with the exterior enhancements mentioned earlier, which also include distinctive styling with more aggressive aero components, plus dark chrome grille and lower fascia trim, darker headlights and taillights, LED fog lamps, a gloss-black rear deck lid spoiler, and unique new 18-inch alloys in a Shark Gray finish, the A-Spec gets a special graphite-silver dash accent with chrome insert, an A-Spec badged steering wheel with contrast stitching, and aluminum sport pedals. The aforementioned sport seats feature high contrast stitching as well. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The top display is not touch capacitive, but instead is controlled via a knob below the bottom display. (Photo: Acura)

Additionally, the 2019 ILX joins every other model in the brand’s lineup in providing the AcuraWatch suite of active safety and driver-assistive technologies as standard equipment, including Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW). 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The graphics certainly look better, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (shown) now come standard. (Photo: Acura)

Acura is the only premium brand to provide such standard advanced safety features to all of its models, and this focus has pushed it up the U.S. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s (IIHS) rankings, resulting in three of its recently updated models receiving Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick + scores. The 2019 ILX should benefit from the AcuraWatch upgrade too, as the 2018 model already earns 5 safety stars from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), plus zero complaints, zero investigations and zero recalls. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
ILX A-Spec trim gets the choice of either black leather with red highlights or this bold red on black theme. (Photo: Acura)

The current ILX’ high NHTSA score results from Acura’s Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure as well as other standard safety and driver assistive features, such as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control, an Expanded View Driver’s Mirror, advanced front airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), not to mention pedestrian injury-mitigation exterior design elements, while the new 2019 ILX will also be available with blind spot information (BSI) and rear cross traffic monitoring. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The A-Spec sport seats are upholstered in perforated leather with a grippy suede-like Alcantara insert down the middle. (Photo: Acura)

Also notable, the outgoing 2018 ILX earned a top Initial Quality Study (IQS) ranking for its segment this year. In more detail, it received a Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 and a quality award in the Small Premium Car segment. The ILX also earned the top position in the entry-luxury car category of Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own Luxury Brand Awards, while Acura was the top ranked brand for the third consecutive year. 

Will the redesigned 2019 ILX continue to attract more millennial buyers than any of its compact luxury competitors? It’s been the class leader amongst young millennials every year since 2013, so only time will tell if the refreshed model continues this trend. Still, the new ILX’ more distinctive styling, continued strong performance, and high quality, comfortable interior should help it maintain a steady influx of new and repeat customers. 

The new 2019 Acura ILX will go on sale later this month.

The entry-level luxury car segment is different than most others in the industry. Unlike the larger compact D- and mid-size E-segments that see the Acura TLX and RLX sport-luxury sedans respectively fight…

2018 Acura ILX Technology Road Test

2018 Acura ILX Technology
At less than $30k the 2018 Acura ILX is such a good dollar value that it’s easy to overlook its many other attributes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The entry-level luxury car segment is different than most others in the industry. Unlike the larger compact D- and mid-size E-segments that see the Acura TLX and RLX sport-luxury sedans respectively fight it out against similarly sized four-door models (plus the odd wagon), such as BMW’s 3 and 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz’ C- and E-Class, and Audi’s A4 and A6, the Japanese brand’s ILX compact sedan goes up against a four-door coupe and five-door hatch from Mercedes, two-door coupe and convertible models from BMW, a (now defunct) five-door hybrid hatch from Lexus, and yes another four-door sedan plus a two-door convertible and five-door plug-in hybrid wagon from Audi. It’s an eclectic mix for sure.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
Despite getting on in years, the ILX still delivers attractive premium styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I can’t see many luxury buyers cross shopping the ILX against a BMW 2 Series or any of the five-door family haulers in the class, but the Audi A3 Sedan is the ILX’ closest rival, followed by Mercedes’ CLA. And yes, I can’t be the only one still shaking my head that BMW never entered the North American fray with a four-door sedan version of its 1 Series, but I suppose now that compact SUVs have taken over most brands’ entry-level duties its previous sin of omission may now be seen as clever foresight.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
Yes, these five-element full LED headlamps come standard across the entire ILX line, unlike rivals that charge extra for LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Yes, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding SUVs as of late, but BMW aside, which sold more than three times the number of X1 crossovers as 2 Series models last year, Mercedes obliterates GLA sales with its one-two CLA/B punch, Audi handily outsells the Q3 with its A3, and Acura sells 100 percent more ILX sedans than its… CDX? Of course, we’re still waiting for Acura to show up with a subcompact SUV of its own, so for now the ILX carries the entire entry-level show.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
You’ll need to move up to A-Spec trim to upgrade these 17-inch alloys to a sportier set of 18s. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Other than being a bit past its stale date, the ILX carries that mantle well. Styling, while still attractive, gives away the car’s age, at least when put beside the aforementioned TLX and RLX sedans that have already been updated with the brand’s new trademark “Diamond Pentagon” grille and complementary body augmentation. Instead, the ILX continues to wear the brand’s outgoing aluminum-tone “Dynamic Power Plenum” grille, a more attractive adaptation of the earlier “shield” grille that’s more commonly and less respectfully known as the “beak”.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
These sharp looking LED taillights have always been a design highlight. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Either way, the ILX wears its front fascia proudly, its centermost portion protruding pointedly, flanking headlamps made up of five “Jewel-Eye” LEDs apiece, and lower apron suitably sporty thanks to a narrow centre air slit and assertive set of corner vents. An upswept shoulder line, shapely waste line, and yet more sculpting along the rocker panels adds depth to its side profile, while an angular set of slim LED taillights has always been an elegant addition to its backside, these topping off a rear bumper cap that nearly mirrors the car’s frontal design when it comes to corner vents. It’s a smart looking ride, rounded out by silver-painted multi-spoke 17-inch alloys on my Technology trimmed tester.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The ILX delivers a premium experience for very little money. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

True, 17s seem a bit small for an optioned out premium sport sedan, but their size will be appreciated when it comes time to replace their 215/45R17 Michelins. Smaller diameter rubber can lead to substantial savings, and value continues to be an important element of the ILX’ success.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The gauge cluster and dual-display infotainment system could use an upgrade, but they’re still plenty functional and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At just $29,990 for a base 2018 ILX, it undercuts the A3 by almost 10 percent or $2,810, and the CLA by nearly 20 percent or $5,710, and even more when including freight and fees, while its impressive load of features makes it an even bigger bargain. Standard with the ILX yet optional on the two Germans in question are full LED headlamps, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, SMS text message reading capability, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and more.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The ILX houses its colour multi-info display on the centre stack and just slots a simple trip computer between the primary gauges. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It shares many features with its closest rivals too, including auto on/off headlights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, ambient interior lighting, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a rearview camera with guidelines, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with streaming audio, tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist, all the usual active and passive safety features, etcetera.

Of note, both the ILX and CLA include standard shift paddles, forward collision warning, and autonomous collision mitigation braking, whereas the ILX and A3 boast standard dual-zone automatic climate control and glass sunroofs.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
Acura’s navigation system is easy to use and very accurate. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, I’m not going to disrespect the Audi or Merc by neglecting to mention features they include in standard trim that are either extra with the Acura or not available at all, such items being rain sensing wipers, heated front seats, rear seat centre pass-thrus, and auto start/stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling to reduce emissions and save fuel, all but the latter two features optional with the ILX, while the CLA also gets standard memory for its powered driver’s seat, and both of the A3’s front seats are powered while it also includes standard leather upholstery. Additionally, the ILX can’t be had with an electromechanical parking brake, standard on both German models, but (call me a luddite) I must admit to preferring the classic leather-clad handbrake more anyway.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The standard multi-angle rearview camera covers a lot of ground. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On that note, the ILX doesn’t offer all-wheel drive either. To be clear, the three cars in this comparison feature standard front-wheel drive, but both German models offer the low- and high-speed traction benefits of four-wheel power, at a significant cost mind you, Mercedes’ 4Matic upping the CLA’s price point by $2,200 and Audi’s Quattro adding $4,800 to the A3’s bottom line. Once again we’re back to the ILX value proposition, these all-wheel drive alternatives retailing for $37,900 and $37,600 respectively, while we haven’t even passed the $30k threshold with the ILX yet.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
Switchgear is well made, but it looks a bit dated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In order to do that, $32,490 Premium trim is still less expensive than either German yet adds perforated Milano leather upholstery, powered heatable front seats with two-way driver-side memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a larger 8.0-inch backlit colour VGA upper infotainment display controlled by a rotating knob and various buttons on the centre stack, plus a second 7.0-inch multi-use colour touchscreen display below that, a higher grade seven-speaker and subwoofer-enhanced audio system with satellite radio, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
No one can complain about the ILX’ advanced 8-speed automatic gearbox, which boasts standard steering wheel paddle shifters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My third-rung $33,990 Technology trimmed test car, priced slightly higher than the base A3 yet still more affordably than the CLA, added rain-sensing wipers, accurate navigation with detailed mapping, voice recognition, an excellent 10-speaker ELS surround sound audio system with Dolby Pro Logic, enhanced AcuraLink smartphone connectivity, and a HomeLink garage door remote.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
My tester’s powered driver’s seat with memory proved very comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Lastly, if you want to spice up the ILX styling, the $35,390 A-Spec gets everything noted above as well as an aerodynamic body kit featuring side skirts and a rear spoiler, plus fog lamps, sportier machine-finished 18-inch alloys with black painted pockets, metal sport pedals, Lux-Suede upholstery, and a black headliner. I tested this model last year and quite liked its upgraded styling and interior enhancements, while its mere $1,400 bump up from the Tech model is once again easy to budget for.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The ILX’ powered moonroof isn’t the largest in the class, but it comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All of this value would be moot if the ILX wasn’t a well-built car with the kind of performance expected in the premium sector, and to that end it really does measure up to its European competition. At its heart is a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre four-cylinder that makes wonderful mechanical noises, including some brilliantly raspy highlights when revs near the 6,900 rpm limiter and a suitably sensational exhaust note when pushed hard too. Output is 201 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, making it an engine that likes to be pushed higher into the revs than the lazier 2.0-litre turbos on offer from Mercedes and Audi, the former good for 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the latter making 186 and 221 respectively.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
Rear seat roominess is an ILX forte. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The ILX partially makes up for slightly less go-power by adding an additional forward gear, its eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox wonderfully responsive yet extremely smooth too, while I can’t argue against the two seven-speed Teutonic boxes either.

As for fuel economy, it’s a dead heat with the ILX achieving a claimed rating of 9.4 L/100km in the city, 6.8 on the highway and 8.2 combined, the CLA near identical at 9.6 city, 6.6 highway and 8.2 combined, and the A3 a fraction better at 9.1 city, 6.8 highway and 8.0 combined.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The ILX trunk is on the small side. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At the limit handling is a toss-up too, although after extensive testing of all three I probably prefer either German due to their slightly firmer suspension tuning and more exacting responsiveness at the limit. Still, all three deliver great handling dynamics, with the ILX really impressing when pushed aggressively. Likewise, all can be driven comfortably all day long, whether in the confines of the city, enjoying the wide openness of the highway, or winding along a tight, twisting seashore drive. Your choice will come down to personal preference in the end, but no one competitor is necessarily better than the other in this respect.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
Without split-folding rear seats or a centre pass-through, the ILX lacks passenger/cargo flexibility. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On that note this class isn’t only about performance, as most luxury buyers would probably want quiet refinement more often than not. I have to say all of these entry-level sedans do a good job of coddling their occupants, thanks to generous insulation and high-quality soft-touch synthetic surfaces above the waste, not to mention effective electronic noise canceling systems. The more modern cabins of the CLA and A3 might make them more appealing visually, plus some of their switchgear is nicer, but all stand up to this segment’s expected quality.

2018 Acura ILX Technology
The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine is sourced from the previous Honda Civic Si, by the way, but comes mated to a much more advanced 8-speed automatic. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All are roomy and comfortable up front too, while only the CLA lacks rear seat room, it being a four-door coupe and all. As for cargo capacity the CLA’s 470 litres and A3’s 480 beat the ILX’ 350 hands down, the Acura’s smaller trunk strange considering its near identical length to the former and longer dimensions when compared to the latter. What’s more, its single-piece folding rear seatback makes it the least flexible for loading in long cargo when rear passengers are aboard.

I expect Acura to address most of the current model’s shortcomings when the next-generation ILX debuts near the end of this year as a 2019 model, but until then the current model will continue forward as one of the better value propositions in the luxury car market. After all, we can’t expect perfection at such an accommodating base MSRP, especially when factoring in its many standard and agreeably priced options.

The ILX really does delivery solidly above its asking price, with sharp styling, a quality interior, best-in-class standard safety, good economy, and excellent driving dynamics, all for a price that’s thousands less than key competitors. In fact, its fiercest rival is probably the new Civic in top-tier Touring trim, but unless moving up into Si or Type R trim, which won’t allow for an automatic transmission, the ILX delivers much better driving dynamics. In other words, there are still plenty of reasons to choose an ILX over its four-door rivals.

Acura has long been a performance-oriented luxury brand, and in an announcement made at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month it appears to be upping the go-fast ante.…

Type-S trim and new V6 turbo promised for future core Acura models

2019 Acura RDX Prototype
The new 2019 RDX will feature sporty A-Spec styling and will likely get Type-S performance tuning too. (Photo: Acura)

Acura has long been a performance-oriented luxury brand, and in an announcement made at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month it appears to be upping the go-fast ante.

Along with a decision to expand sporty A-Spec styling from the current ILX and TLX sedans to more models in the Acura lineup, starting with the upcoming 2019 RDX compact luxury SUV that was simultaneously soft-launched in “Prototype” guise, Acura will also bring back its once popular Type-S performance sub-brand, to be included as an upgrade to core models as well.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec
The recently refreshed 2018 TLX is available in sharp looking A-Spec trim, and would even be more alluring with a turbo-V6 under the hood. (Photo: Acura)

What’s more, with the concurrent announcement of a new high-performance turbocharged V6 powerplant, Acura will also be rejoining the ranks of automakers using turbos to boost performance while reducing fuel economy. The Japanese luxury brand previously offered a turbocharged four-cylinder in its first-generation 2007–2012 RDX, but that engine made way for the current model’s V6, which put an end the turbo in Acura’s lineup until the twin-turbocharged V6 arrived as part of the new NSX Sport Hybrid’s electrified power unit, but that 573 horsepower mid-engine exotic sports car can hardly be called a “core” model.

New Type S Logo
Along with the announcement, Acura introduced a new Type S logo. (Photo: Acura)

No doubt some commonalities will exist between the two engines, one certainly being their exclusivity to the Acura brand. That’s right, unlike the 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 engines currently found in most Acura models, you won’t see this new turbo V6 in any future Honda products. Additionally, it will be exclusive to cars and SUVs fitted with Acura’s newest generation Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which was introduced with the aforementioned 2019 RDX.

2002 Acura TL Type-S
The original 2002 TL Type-S was the epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (Photo: Acura)

“We have made a major commitment to Acura to bring each element of Precision Crafted Performance to life through a new generation of products,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Acura will pursue a unique powertrain strategy that underscores the brand’s rightful place as the performance division of Honda.”

2003 Acura CL Type-S
The 2003 CL Type-S included the most potent FWD engine up to that point at 260-hp. (Photo: Acura)

We’ll likely see that new turbocharged powerplant in future Type-S models, which will feature unique styling along with their uprated performance. The last time we saw an Acura Type-S was in 2010 on the Canadian-exclusive CSX, which was the predecessor to today’s ILX sedan. The CSX Type-S was a performance enthusiast favourite as it combined Acura’s premium finishings and features with Honda Civic Si performance, making these cars popular amongst collectors and the sport compact tuning crowd.

2002 Acura RSX Type-S
Remember the RSX? Acura offered the hottest versions of this sport compact favourite in Type-S trim. (Photo: Acura)

Sport compact tuning in mind, Acura also used the Type-S nomenclature for the 2002–2006 RSX compact sports coupe, still prized by performance fans, while Type-S versions of the 2002–2003 and 2004–2008 TL mid-size sedan (an A-Spec version of the TL was also available in 2004) and 2001–2003 CL mid-size sports-luxury coupe were offered as well, this past multi-model Type-S strategy executed similarly to how Acura will upgrade multiple core models in high-performance Type-S trim once it rolls out this sub-brand again.

2019 Acura RDX Prototype
Could we really see turbo V6-powered Type-S variants of the RDX and MDX in the near future? According to Acura’s announcement, yes! (Photo: Acura)

So what exactly is a core model? A dictionary term is “the central or most important part of something,” which if taken literally would mean that along with a Type-S variant of the popular TLX sport-luxury sedan we can also expect Type-S versions of the brand’s even better selling SUVs, the RDX and MDX. This would be a first for Acura, and potentially position these models against Audi’s SQ series, BMW’s M-branded X series SUVs, and Mercedes’ mighty AMG-badged GLC and GLE entries. Alas, if only Acura still had its sensational RDX they might finally have a true X6 M and AMG GLE 43/63 S Coupe fighter.

An RLX Sport Hybrid flagship won’t likely make the Type S grade, as this slow selling luxury sedan doesn’t fall within Acura’s core model specification and is a strong performer already, but an ILX Type S makes sense if Honda once again is willing to lend Acura its Si powertrain and suspension upgrades or, even better, Type R improvements when the next-generation ILX arrives.

Acura, Honda’s luxury division, topped 20,000 sales in Canada for the third consecutive calendar year in 2017, a solid effort that was given an image boost by the all-new NSX Sport Hybrid supercar and…

Acura tops 20,000 sales in Canada for third year in a row

2018 Acura RDX
Acura’s RDX was once again the star of the show, growing sales despite the current generation being in its last full year of availability. (Photo: Acura)

Acura, Honda’s luxury division, topped 20,000 sales in Canada for the third consecutive calendar year in 2017, a solid effort that was given an image boost by the all-new NSX Sport Hybrid supercar and a real shot in the arm by the refreshed 2017 MDX mid-size SUV, both having arrived partway through the previous year, while an upgraded 2018 TLX sedan that went on sale halfway through 2017 pushed the premium brand over the top.

Acura’s 20,299 2017 deliveries beat last year’s 20,227-unit total, although in a refreshingly honest Honda Canada Inc. (HCI) press release the brand’s parent company called this modest gain “relatively flat sales versus the previous year.” HCI was clearly proud of its combined Acura and Honda brand sales, however, with its 197,251 unit total showing an annual increase of six percent over the same 12 months in 2016, which resulted in an all-time annual sales record for the fourth consecutive year.

2018 Acura MDX
The MDX continues to be a powerhouse in the three-row luxury SUV sector, topping overall sales. (Photo: Acura)

In a comparatively small way next to the 50,443 Honda CR-V deliveries in 2017, HCI’s total was nevertheless helped along by Acura’s top-selling RDX compact SUV that achieved its best-ever sales of 8,101 units despite being near the end of its current lifecycle. This marks six years of consecutive sales growth for the RDX, a vehicle that also managed an impressive second in sales volume out of 17 competitive nameplates, only beaten by Audi’s redesigned Q5 that broke five figures at 10,271 units.

“Acura’s RDX luxury SUV served as the brand’s success story last year, driving sales to surpass the coveted 20,000-unit mark for the third consecutive year, despite being in its final product cycle year,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Honda Canada Inc. “Representing the most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade, the all-new RDX will launch later this year, signaling the beginning of a new era for Acura products inspired by Precision Crafted Performance.”

2018 Acura TLX
Sales of the new 2018 Acura TLX are up too, despite the D-segment slowing for most rivals. (Photo: Acura)

The RDX follows a value packed strategy that benefits all Acura models, with other strong sellers including the just noted MDX that’s up from 5,425 sales in 2016 to 5,838 deliveries in 2017. The MDX is the most popular dedicated three-row SUV in Canada, while at 4,205 unit sales in 2017, also improving on the previous year’s total, the renewed TLX sport-luxury sedan is the most popular non-German car in the highly competitive D-segment, by a long shot.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Acura’s flagship RLX Sport Hybrid gets refreshed for 2018, but that won’t be enough to cause even a ripple in the force. (Photo: Acura)

As for Acura’s entry-level entrant, at just 2,047 deliveries for 2017, down from 2,459 in 2016, 2,551 in 2015, 2,752 in 2014, and a high of 3,192 in 2013, it’s hardly the slowest selling C-segment luxury car. That would be Lexus’ long-in-tooth CT at 367 units, while BMW’s 2 Series also suffered losses with sales coming in at just 1,929 units. Mercedes saw CLA deliveries sag too, albeit at 3,764 units it’s still number two in the segment, while B-Class sales grew to 2,369 units and Audi finished on top with 3,997 A3 sales. Still, Acura dealers (and fans) can hardly wait to get their mitts on the completely redesigned 2020 ILX to be based on Honda’s evermore-popular Civic, which was once again the best-selling car in Canada thanks to 66,935 buyers in 2017.

So what can we expect from Acura in 2018? A fully redesigned 2019 RDX won’t be the only boost to sales this year, albeit despite receiving an attractive refresh for 2018 the brand’s impressive yet slow-as-molasses-selling RLX Sport Hybrid flagship sedan will need a miracle to see it break three figures after finding just 59 buyers in 2017, although a full year with the new TLX should help the Japanese luxury brand grow its sales further.