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2021 Acura ILX Review: Expected Release Date, Redesign, Prices and Specs

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist

July 10, 2020 at 05:37 AM

The 2021 Acura ILX received a major overhaul a few years ago, however, nothing much has changed and the underpinnings remain similar to the 2012 model. Riding on an older generation Civic Si platform the ILX offers the luxury of german sedans at a price of a Honda Accord.

Acura’s SUVs like the RDX and MDX have been considerably more famous in the market, but the luxury label hasn’t given up on passenger cars just yet. The Acura ILX sedan was debuted few years after the discontinuation of the RSX in 2006 and since then it has seen a series of changes while a major redesign occurred in 2016 and the outgoing model which was updated in 2019.

What is the expected release date of 2021 Acura ILX?

Acura has not yet declared a release date for the 2021 ILX, but it will start appearing at the dealer's lot in October. The updated Acura ILX is supposed to be more refined and looks out to lure buyers away from Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz A-class.

Also, it makes for a tempting choice in a cost-effective luxury sedan. Acura, unlike other luxury manufacturers, has gone for a slightly unconventional approach with the ILX, where other manufacturers have an update cycle where they completely revamp a model every 3 to 4 years, Acura has instead stuck with the ILX and given it two facelifts.

2021 Acura ILX will remain largely unchanged

 It received its first major facelift in 2016 and the most recent one in 2019, but it still isn't as modern as many of its competitors, so in order to keep this relevant in the current market, the Acura has slashed the price of the ILX, so it undercuts its direct competition significantly and as a result, also competes with some vehicles form a segment below. For 2021 we do not expect major exterior or interior updates but new hardware could make its way into the 2021 Acura ILX.

What is the price of 2021 Acura ILX?

Acura offers the 2020 ILX in three varying trims: Base, Premium, and Technology. The base package starting at $26,995 doesn't offer a lot. Most people go with premium trim that costs $1,750 extra and adds smartphone integration(Apple Car Play and Android Auto), leather seats, and some additional features to AcuraWatch driver safety aids. For 2021 we expect Acura to continue with the same model lineup but they may witness a difference in price.

Trims

Base

Premium Package

Technology Package

Premium and A-SPEC Package

Technology and A-SPEC Package

MSRP

$26,995

$28,745

$30,650

$30,750

$32,650

Features

Power Moonroof with remote operation

All the features in Base trim included and:

All the Features in Premium Package included and:

All the features in Premium Package included and:

All the Features in Technology Package included and:

 

LED Headlights

Auto-Dimming Rear-View Mirror

GPS Linked Climate Control

Unique Interior upholstery colors

Acura Connected Services

 

17-inch alloy wheels

Front Passenger 4-Way Power Seat

Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines

A-SPEC Sport seats with ultra suede-trimmed interior

Graphite and chrome dash trim

 

Heated Side Mirrors

2 Driver Position Memory for Seats and Side Mirrors

Acura Navigation with 3D view

18-inch alloy wheels

Stainless Steel Sport Pedals

 

Acoustic Glass Windshield

Acura Premium Audio System

ELS Studio Premium Audio System

LED Fog lamps

 
 

Leatherette wrapped sport seats

Sport seats with perforated leather upholstery

     
 

Heated Front Seats

       
 

Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control

       
 

Adaptive Cruise Control

       

The A-Spec Package can be added with the Premium($30,750) or Technology($32,650) packages. It adds unique exterior and interior features. If a turbocharged powertrain arrives, people may have a choice to equip the ILX with it otherwise the price will not see a major change. The 8 -speed automatic transmission is a plus point because most of the rivals still use a six or seven-speed automatic transmission.

Will it be a turbocharged engine for 2021?

The 2020 Acura ILX is powered by naturally-aspirated a 2.4-liter inline-four motor that puts out 201 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Engine specification for the 2021 ILX prevails to be a riddle. However, since its Acura's entry-level offering based on the Honda Civic, we expect the addition of the new 1.5 -the turbocharged motor as seen in the latest Civic to replace the outgoing motor for punchier power delivery and better fuel economy.

2020 Acura ILX Sedan will see a minor design changes

The forced induction method will be able to add 50 more horsepower and 40 pound-feet of more torque. The current dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission is already a cut above the competition and we think that it will carry forward for 2021. But largely the 2.4 L naturally Aspirated engine will be replaced as its dated and not as efficient as its competition. 

Models

2021 Acura ILX Base

2020 Kia Optima Ex

2020 Mazda 3 Preferred AWD

2020 Ford Fusion SE

MSRP

$26,995

$26,990

$26,200

$24,500

Engine

2.4L I4

2.4L I4

2.5L I4

1.5L Turbo I4

Transmission

8-Speed Automated Manual

6-Speed Automatic

6-Speed Automatic

6-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

201 hp

@6800 rpm

185 hp

@6000 rpm

186 hp

@6000 rpm

181 hp

@6000 rpm

Torque

180 lb-ft

@3600 rpm

178 lb-ft

@4000 rpm

186 lb-ft

@ 4000 rpm

185 lb-ft

@4320 rpm

The engine feels more potent at higher revs and with 201 horsepower, the ILX has a bit more oomph than most of its competitors. However, the lack of a turbocharger makes the ILX sluggish at lower rpm's as compared to the other rivals. Even the Mazda 3, which is powered by a naturally aspirated powertrain but it disappoints to master the dual-nature provided by the Acura ILX.

Acura ILX 0 to 60

With the expected addition of the turbocharged engine, the 2021 Acura ILX should be substantially quicker than the outgoing version. The 2020 Acura ILX sedan is capable of touching the 60 mph mark from standstill in a little under 7 seconds so expect a 0 to 60 mph time of under 6 seconds for the upcoming ILX and that should also give it a higher top speed than the outgoing model which is electronically limited to 134 mph.

Models

2021 Acura ILX Base

2020 Kia Optima S

2020 Mazda 3 Preferred

2020 Ford Fusion SE

0-60 MPH

6.4 s

6.9 s

7.5

9.1 s

Quarter mile

14.9 s

15.3 s

15.5

18.9

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr)

6.3

7.3*

5.8

6.5

The ILX’s 180 lb-ft of torque is one of the lowest in competition, and you’ll surely discern while trying to pass alongside turbocharged rivals. The Ford Fusion proves to be a slower one because of the undesired extra weight it bears. Kia Optima comes close to Acura in terms of 0 to 60 acceleration time. The Mazda 3 sedan takes the second last spot despite having the biggest powertrain in the lot.

Ride and Handling

The 2021 Acura ILX is expected to carry the same suspension setup as the one seen in the outgoing model. Its comfort-tuned suspension is excellent for getting around, but not as skilled when it comes to having outright fun. It is easy to maneuver around town and presents a comparably satisfying experience from behind the wheel as compared to the rivals. 

The ILX feels cemented to the road even over bigger bumps. Even though it feels sporty there are not many performance makeups in the suspension and the ILX experiences notable body roll while cornering with enthusiasm.

2020 Acura ILX suffers in the handling department due to its vague steering

The 8-speed dual-clutch transmission is apparently the most beneficial part of this entry-level luxury sedan it is seamlessly synced with the engine with steering-mounted paddle shifters on offer. You get front-wheel-drive and standard and we don’t expect the all-wheel-drive option for 2021.

The brakes are quite prickly with a responsive pedal modulation. The ILX was held out of Top Safety Pick claim by its poorly rated headlights while its automated emergency braking system was rated “Superior.” For 2021 we can expect it to make it among the list.

MPG Ratings

A satisfying fuel economy is not among the reason for choosing the Acura ILX. The 2020 Acura ILX returns an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which is above average for this segment.

If a new engine option is added to the 2021 variant, you can expect some better power and fuel economy estimates. The 13.2-gallon fuel tank is scantier than the rivals in this segment and we expect Acura to increase the capacity for longer hauls.

Models

2021 Acura ILX Base

2020 Kia Optima S

2020 Mazda 3 Preferred

2020 Ford Fusion SE

MPG (city)

24

24

26

23

MPG (highway)

34

32

35

34

MPG (combined)

28

27

30

27

Fuel Tank Capacity (Gal.)

13.2

18.5

13.2

16.5

Range

(City/Highway)

317/449

444/592

343/462

380/561

Fuel economy and good range are crucial for new vehicles to survive and thrive in this segment and the Kia optima will be preferred for the long hauls as it has got the biggest fuel tank of 18.5 gallons, which is significantly bigger in competition. The Mazda 3 provides an extraordinary 30 mpg combined followed by the ILX. The Kia Optima and Ford Fusion return a similar average of 27 mpg combined.

2021 Acura ILX Interior

As the sedan was completely redesigned for 2019, the interior updates for 2021 Acura ILX will not as extensive as you think. The new Precision Concept-based interiors will not be found in the upcoming ILX and it will most likely continue to feature the split-screen dash layout.

Acura's interior offers a delicate amalgam of effective functionality and upscale design, without being overly showy. Despite all these, it feels outdated as compared to German rivals. 

Models

Acura ILX Base

Kia Optima S

Mazda 3 Preferred

Ford Fusion SE

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

38.0/55.6/42.3

39.8/58.1/45.5

38.0/55.7/42.3

39.2/57.8/44.3

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

35.9/53.6/34.0

37.8/56.4/35.6

37.3/53.5/35.1

37.8/56.9/38.3

The ILX base model only has a modest 5-inch main display screen while the Premium model brings two separate screens that are compatible with smartphone integration. Newer Acura Models have moved to a newer and more modern dashboard layout which was seen in the Precision Concept and feature an NSX inspired dashboard and central console layout.

2021 Acura ILX will not witness any major updates to its Interior

The base ILX front seats mix comfort and support with an attractive style. The seats sit high above the ground with a lot of thigh support and foot support. though the armrest sits relatively lower. In practicality, the ILX is not that liberal. The 12.4 cubic feet of cargo is below average in this segment. The sporty red seats also make a bold statement but they can only be had as a part of the A-spec package.

2021 Acura ILX Exterior

The 2021 Acura ILX will get minute updates on the front and rear bumper. The A-spec package may bring additional features as compared to the 2020 iteration. Acura’s signature Diamond Pentagon grille and jewel-eye LED headlamps and LED tail lamps will remain similar in the upcoming model and we would have to wait at least a year to see a full redesign for the ILX.

Models

2021 Acura ILX Base

2020 Kia Optima S

2020 Mazda 3 Preferred

2020 Ford Fusion SE

Length (in)

182.2

191.1

183.5

191.8

Width (in)

70.6

73.2

70.7

72.9

Height (in)

55.6

57.7

56.9

58.2

Ground clearance (in)

5.3

5.3

5.5

7.8*

Wheelbase (in)

105.1

110.4

107.3

112.2

Track width (in) F/R

59.4/60.2

62.9/63.2

61.7/62.2

62.7/62.4

Curb weight (lbs)

3095

3298

3071

3470

The A-spec package will get the same unique interior and exterior bits liked backed out chrome grille and headlights, a lip spoiler, and a chrome-tipped exhaust. The 2020 Acura looks very sports when compared to other rival and the design still cuts quite a chic figure and this should help it retain its some of that futuristic character in 2021.

Fresh from a significant makeover last year in 2019, the Acura ILX turns with the same look and features, and we don't expect it to change much for the upcoming year. 

2021 Acura ILX Safety and Reliability

When it comes to safety and reliability, Honda is very keen about their cars, and the same blood runs into Acura's nerves. Every trim of the ILX sedan gets AcuraWatch as standard It includes forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and electronic cruise control.

The IIHS gave the ILX Good ratings overall in all crash tests, while the NHTS also gave it a top 5-star overall crash-test rating.

Some of the expected safety features include:

  • Advanced Front and Side Airbags
  • Side Curtain Airbags
  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Monitor
  • Lane Keeping Assist System(LKAS)
  • Multi-View Rear Camera
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Road Departure Mitigation(RDM) System 
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System(CMBS)

Final Verdict

The Acura ILX takes on some of the more fashionable and refined European luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3. Also, it should keep enough price advantage to convince younger buyers. So, it definitely loses some points when opposed to them. Although it’s one of the more affordable means of having a luxury sedan, the Acura ILX is pretty close to being a luxury vehicle

Also read:

2020 Acura ILX Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

2020 Mazda 3 Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

FAQs

Is the Acura RLX reliable?

The Acura is a sister company of Honda, so you can rest assured about the reliability factor.

Can I get the 2021 Acura ILX with all-wheel drive?

Acura ILX offers front-wheel-drive as standard and there is no option of all-wheel drive.

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