Home » The Acura ILX Is Now A Dirt-Cheap Luxury Civic With Extra Power And An Available DCT

The Acura ILX Is Now A Dirt-Cheap Luxury Civic With Extra Power And An Available DCT

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When it was first unveiled, the current Acura Integra was certainly controversial. To a certain extent, it still is. Whether or not you think the name fits the car, it’s difficult to deny that Integra is a more memorable name than the one bestowed upon the car’s predecessor, the Acura ILX.

Actually, was there anything wrong with the ILX other than being a bit outdated by the end of its production run? Wasn’t it offered, at various points in the production run, with K24 power, a six-speed manual gearbox, or an eight-speed DCT? Indeed it was, and it’s now a genuine used car bargain.

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Welcome back to Beige Cars You’re Sleeping On, a weekly series in which we raise the profile of some quiet greats. We’re talking vehicles that are secretly awesome, but go unsung because of either a boring image or the lack of an image altogether.

Oh, Canada

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Our story starts not with the launch of the ILX, but way back in 1997 across America’s northern border. See, the Acura Integra sedan wasn’t doing so hot in Canada, so Acura had an idea — why not replace it with a nicer version of the locally-produced Civic? With some reasonably thorough restyling shared with the Honda Domani, increased amenities like a moonroof and a CD player, and a 127-horsepower D16Y8 1.6-liter single-cam four-cylinder engine under the hood, the Acura 1.6 EL was born. Overnight, the 1.6 EL became the best-selling Acura in Canada. It turns out, it was exactly what the nation needed.

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For years, the Honda Civic was Canada’s best-selling car, and many people just wanted a nicer Civic. With increased sound deadening, VTEC power, and available leather, the 1.6 EL was the start of something sensible, but great. For the tricky follow-up act, Acura turned the 2001 Civic into the 1.7 EL, which was then replaced by the Acura CSX. That’s the car that took this concept to the moon.

Photos Acura Csx 2006 1

See, the Acura CSX wasn’t just a nicer Civic for Canada, it was a Civic sedan for the rest of the world. See, Honda liked the styling direction of the CSX so much, it became the de facto Civic sedan look outside of North America. Now that’s a win. Under the hood, the D-Series four-banger was out, replaced with two different two-liter K-Series engines — a 155-horsepower K20Z2 on standard models and a 197-horsepower K20Z3 on the hot Type-S. Picture the CSX Type-S as a Civic Si with nicer lighting and leather. It ruled,

Truthfully, even the base model whipped the llama’s ass, because it was fundamentally a nicer eighth-generation Civic with a slightly more powerful engine — a great car made better. With a production run from 2006 until 2011, it built one hell of an internal legacy, and forced Acura’s American division to take notice of its northern neighbors.

Crossing Over

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Just after the turn of the 2010s, Acura had a new problem in America —the German luxury manufacturers were on their way to undercut everything. From the F30 BMW 320i to the $30,000 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250, new depths in lease specials were plumbed and Acura needed to compete. Why not with a nicer Civic?

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In effect, the Acura ILX did to the ninth-generation Civic what the CSX did to the eighth-generation car: Revamp the styling, add toys, give it a zestier standard engine, and sell it as an Acura. Oh, and what toys it got. How about available goodies like a 415-watt 10-speaker audio system, HID headlights, heated leather seats, GPS-linked automatic climate control, and the Zagat guide built into the navigation system? In the beginning, three different powertrains were also on offer: A 1.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid setup, a two-liter R20 four-banger, and the 201-horsepower 2.4-liter K24Z3 that came only with a six-speed manual transmission. Now that’s a lot of choice.

Acura Ilx 2013 1600 65

The result? Unsurprisingly, the 2013 Acura ILX worked alright, but was a little light on luxury compared to its German rivals. During a long-term test, Car And Driver called it “Effervescence in a plain bottle,” but noted that “The ILX let us down again once we focused on the “L” word—that’d be luxury.” In the context of a used car, it’s usually worth trading some luxury for reliability, but that tradeoff just didn’t work when new. However, that didn’t stop Acura from fiddling with the ILX, and a facelift came three model years after its 2013 model year launch.

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Acura Ilx 2016 1600 01

Things got more interesting in 2016 when Acura tweaked the styling and scrapped the entire powertrain lineup for one solution. Starting with a 201 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 180 lb.-ft. of torque and a much less peaky powerband than in the ninth-generation Honda Civic Si, Acura then paired that engine with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that was reasonably fast and could easily get into first gear for tight hairpins and steep driveway entries. Add in the fact that aftermarket suspension components already exist for this thing, and it could be a promising autocross sleeper. Of course, it would need some aftermarket goodies to do so, as Car And Driver noted that:

As with so many Acuras of late, there’s no interaction with the jejune ILX that we think we’ll remember in a decade. On the road, it handles competently enough, the understeer gradually building well before the tires lose grip. There seems to be more real-world adhesion than the 0.83-g skidpad score suggests, and the ILX glides through corners with surprising confidence and body control, at least some credit belonging to the A-Spec’s slightly wider tires.

However, there’s another exceptionally good reason to buy a used ILX over a tenth-generation Civic, and that’s a matter of reliability. More comprehensively equipped Civic trims got a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine known for occasionally diluting its oil supply with fuel. Not ideal. The ILX? It’s rock-solid, a compact car that just works. How about that?

Acura Ilx 2019 1600 01

For 2019, the Acura ILX received one final facelift before being replaced by the Integra for the 2023 model year, and this was the most handsome the model got. The new headlights and grille looked expensive, and even though the interior was a little last-generation, the updated infotainment system was nice.

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Second-Hand Bargain

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Of course, because the Acura ILX is largely forgotten, used examples are going for cheap. Want a second-facelift car with all the trimmings? Here’s a 2019 ILX A-Spec in Superman-spec blue-over-red, and it’s going for cheap. Listed with 40,728 miles on the clock by a dealership in Columbus, Ohio for $17,882, it’s a pretty good deal for a five-year-old compact car, let alone one with GPS-linked climate control and a subwoofer. You certainly aren’t getting a comparable 2019 Civic Touring for that sort of money, so if you’re feature-driven, an ILX could be a solid way of saving some coin.

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Want one of the rare manual models? They’re hard to find, but they exist. This 2013 Acura ILX with the six-speed manual transmission and revvy K24 engine is up for sale in Richmond, Va. for $9,995 with 137,156 miles on the clock. Admittedly, that is a lot of money for an eleven-year-old compact sedan, but at least it has a reputation for reliability.

Acura Ilx 2019 1600 1d

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So, if you’re on the hunt for a recent yet well-equipped compact sedan that won’t break the bank, or an older compact premium sedan with a slick-shifting six-speed, you might want to put the Acura ILX on your radar. Sure, a nicer Civic isn’t exactly a sexy proposition, but for A-to-B transportation, it hits the nail on the head and offers a little intrigue. Plus, the K24 is a juggernaut of an engine, so imagine an ILX as the base for a modern sleeper Honda. Now that would be cool.

(Photo credits: Acura, Autotrader Sellers)

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GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
19 days ago

It’s not a bad used buy now, but at the time it had several things that counted against it thus the reception it received.

It was based off the “bad” Civic so it started off with points against it.

It was something of a TSX replacement, the Euro Accord and larger, roomier, previous entry level Acura. You got the K24 motor if you got the manual, but between automatics the ILX stepped down to the 2.0 (which recommended premium for 150hp).

And then price: a 2013 was like $27k to start, and $30k when you added the Premium package for leather and a power driver’s seat (made standard next year). That was right on top of the bigger TSX, but it was also the same price or more as the also-new 9th gen Accord in EX & EX-L trim. That Accord was much better received, and was much bigger, better equipped, and between automatics (despite the Accord’s was a CVT) both more powerful and more efficient. A V6 Accord was pretty close in price even.

SBMtbiker
SBMtbiker
20 days ago

The outside of the 19′ and up is gorgeous, but the interior is a deal breaker for me. So ugly!

Kalieaire
Kalieaire
20 days ago

the grill is so hideous. it’s like putting the superman badge on superman’s crotch since the grill is shaped like granny panties.

Sammy B
Sammy B
20 days ago

I picked up the last new 2015 ILX 6MT in Ohio years ago. It’s at about 101K miles now and certainly hasn’t been flawless, but I’ve been generally happy with it. Still puts a smile on my face lets me enjoy the nice K24 engine with a tad more luxury than a Civic Si. It really could have used a LSD, though. To be honest, I probably would put a front LSD above leather and a few other goodies that the Si doesn’t offer. But it’s what I bought 9 years ago and I know it’s been generally well cared for 🙂

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
20 days ago
Reply to  Sammy B

I just did some internet searching, I had no idea the REMOVED THE LSD for the Acura version. Only Honda. A truly boneheaded move that makes no sense – I had a 2016 Accord 4-cyl 6MT before my 8th gen Si, and just in everyday driving, I notice the LSD and really appreciate it.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
19 days ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

Honda loves cutting costs in ways it thinks we won’t notice. And to be fair, the average ILX buyer probably didn’t.

Rdub231
Rdub231
20 days ago

The 2019 caught my eye, but 2-3 accidents on the carfax. Pass.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
21 days ago

Whut. I’m sorry but the 2020 one I tried was inhuman on road noise and felt chintzy. It handled peppily enough, but I wasn’t happy with having to shout at the sales guy going 50 on smooth blacktop.

Maybe I got a bad example but I remember thinking it was more a pepboy special’d civic than the jumped up civic/Integra successor.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
21 days ago

Miss my ‘88 integra. My first not a beater.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
21 days ago

Honda is always the answer where Miata isn’t.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
21 days ago

Toyota has made millions off of selling a nicer Camry in the form of the Lexus ES (the thinking man’s E-Class, think about it); so its a little odd that Honda hasn’t been able to make as big of a success out of selling luxury Civics, but I guess its a difference in execution. Although the Integra does seem like a pretty damn good value, all things considered, and we did maybe sleep on the ILX a bit in retrospect.

V10omous
V10omous
20 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I don’t think it’s just execution; the Camry is much bigger and more powerful than the Civic, so the luxury version will have those attributes as well. The larger size then lets Lexus charge more for the ES, include more features, etc. The real comparison to the ILX would be the CT200, which I believe was also a poor seller.

Dingus
Dingus
20 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

The CT200h was very dull which is a damn shame. With a hot hatch body, it could have been a fun entry-level sporting affair if desired. Treat it more like they did with the IS300 and it would have been far more interesting.
I’m not sure who the target buyer was. So you have a luxury brand selling a hatchback and it’s not even fast. So the buyer is a European expatriate who still thinks gas is $9 a gallon? I would imagine the average entry-level Lexus buyer would skew a bit younger and might want some fun to go with the practicality of a hatch, but doesn’t want a crossover.
Such a shame the opportunity was squandered.

V10omous
V10omous
20 days ago
Reply to  Dingus

I believe the CT200h had the misfortune to be developed while gas was very expensive (2010-11) and go on sale right as prices were collapsing.

I’m not sure higher prices would have been enough to save it, because no one has really ever successfully sold a small luxury branded car here, but it might have had a better shot.

Joke #119!
Joke #119!
20 days ago
Reply to  Dingus

The CT200h was very dull which is a damn shame. 

Eh, we have one. It gets us places. Would definitely prefer a more fun gas engine connected to the electric motor. Or some more batteries and make it a plug-in.
More like a (gasp) station wagon with the slightly more vertical hatch (as opposed to a more slanted hatch).
A nice version of a Prius V, IMO.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
19 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

The size also just made for a poor comparison at the pricepoint. For the ES’ price, there’s not usually been a lot of physically larger sedans to switch to unless you go SUV. I mentioned it in my comment above, but for the ILX’s price, you were up against Honda’s own Accord which was a bigger, better-equipped car – and that unlocked a lot of other midsized cars too, unless you really needed a Honda product.

I don’t think the Integra vs. a Honda suffers as much now because today’s Civic is a vastly better starting point, to the extent it might be eating in to Accord territory, whereas the ILX was based off a poorly reviewed Civic. They do still paywall some Civic features for both Accord and Acura, but the cars themselves are more similar.

The closest Honda came to the exact ES formula was probably the first couple generations of TL, and the 99-03 was quite successful. But Acura’s done quite well with the MDX, a more luxurious Pilot effectively.

Also everyone understandably forgot about the Lexus HS as the original hybrid entry-level offering (although I guess it wasn’t quite a 1:1 Prius sedan)

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
19 days ago

The HS was, weirdly enough, basically a Hybrid Avensis (aka the mini-Camry they made for Europe). Basically the only way any form of Avensis ever made it stateside.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
17 days ago

The Scion tC used the Avensis as a base too, although a considerably different body of course and in hindsight I don’t know how extensively each actually was from some other platforms (like a Corolla of the era also being MC platform). But that could be me thinking more in the context of the newer TNGA platform and other brands also shifting to “one platform fits all.”

Last edited 17 days ago by GreatFallsGreen
Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
20 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Lexus has traditionally marketed the ES as a “soft” cruiser. I think they offer a somewhat comical F-Sport version now, but even that is really just an appearance package.

IMO, it is easier to take a Camry and make it quieter, “smoother” and upgrade the interior materials versus trying to sell the Civic as a near luxury sports sedan as Acura tends to do.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
21 days ago

I’m sure the ILX is a perfectly decent reliable sedan. However, it always seemed to me like they didn’t try very hard. The Integra, while being Civic based had an entirely unique body, engine, well, like almost everything. The ILX looks like a Civic with a different nose. Isn’t the greenhouse the same? It doesn’t seem differentiated enough to be a true luxury model.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
20 days ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

That’s what made it successful in the EL/CSX. It was a nicer Civic.
Perhaps working against Honda’s efforts is that the Civic is pretty nice already.

Frustratingly: the new Integra is the only way to get a LSD/6MT with a hatchback without going full Type-R.

The Dude
The Dude
21 days ago

The early versions were kinda meh but the late cycle refresh was how this car should’ve launched.

I took a passing look at these when I was bought a TSX and I remember the two being close enough in price that the ILX was never worth considering.

Eslader
Eslader
21 days ago

I mean, the ILX was the Integra. Just because the company changed the name doesn’t mean it’s not the same mission.

And the Integra was always a goosed-up Civic. Take a Civic, give it a more interesting body and a bigger engine and call it a day. The Integra was never meant to be a luxury car because it was always part of Honda’s confusion with Acura.

Honda saw Acura as “Honda-Plus,” which sometimes meant “more luxurious” and sometimes meant “faster” and on rare, perfect occasions like the Legend and the TL meant “both and you need to buy this damn thing right now,” but positioned it against Lexus and Infiniti which means the public saw Acura as “oh, that’s Honda’s luxury lineup.” That identity schism caused Acura a lot of problems, because many of them weren’t lux enough to hang with Lexus, and weren’t cheap enough to appeal to the boy-racer sporty car shoppers. Yet the 1st and 2nd gen Integras were so damned good that they managed to sell well anyway.

They got the perfect blend with the 3rd gen TL. It was fancy (for the time), luxurious, fun to drive, faster than the Accord it was based on, looked great. Perfect. I still miss mine, and I sold that car years ago.

Acura is still screwing up. They’re still not lux enough to keep up with Lexus. But now they’re priced so high that you can legit cross-shop a BMW, and at the end of the day when given a choice, a lot of people are going to go for the “status” of that roundel over the Acura if the money works out to be close.

Acura needs to take a lesson from Genesis. Make cars that can stand up to Lexus, but are cheaper. Watch the customers roll in.

Last edited 21 days ago by Eslader
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
20 days ago
Reply to  Eslader

This, all of this. There isn’t a single Acura that isn’t just a higher trim Honda. No bespoke platforms, only one unique engine, the TLX is smaller on the inside than an Accord ffs!

I understand that creating unique offerings cost money but if your goal is a luxury brand, then it has to look like you spent the money!

Doug Schaefer
Doug Schaefer
18 days ago

The TLX actually has a unique platform not shared with other vehicles. Acura made a point of saying that they pushed the dash back for a more RWD like dash to axle look. This compromised rear seat space, but Acura’s thinking is that buyers looking for rear seat space were buying MDXs. Premium sedan customers saw the rear seat as occasional use and would trade a smaller seat for better styling. I’m not sure if they’re right, but that’s what they were saying.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
17 days ago
Reply to  Doug Schaefer

I didn’t realize that! That’s weird to me that Acura developed a whole new platform but kept it FWD based. I know that’s what they’re known for but a RWD TLX would be a very compelling offer

Doug Schaefer
Doug Schaefer
12 days ago

A RWD platform would have meant a new transmission designed for a N-S application. And, while the platform may be unique, a lot of the engineering knowledge of decades of transverse FWD architecture would have been applied. A longitudinal platform would have meant a lot more would be all new which meant more risk of failure.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
21 days ago

“…a nicer Civic isn’t exactly a sexy proposition…”

Well, great. Couldn’t you have mentioned that before I got my Triumph Acclaim?

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/53730959692_1dd60e25e5_c.jpg

FiveOhNo
FiveOhNo
21 days ago

My wife’s car is a 2017 Acura ILX. It’s DCT is brilliant paired to that K24.

But you keep talking about aftermarket stuff for this car, and I have found ZERO performance parts or anything.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
21 days ago
Reply to  FiveOhNo

I would think any suspension stuff for the civic would work, and then there are mountains of parts for a k24, is there anything special about the one in the ILX that makes normal stuff not work? It may not say it’s for the ILX but I’ll bet a lot works for it

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
21 days ago

I test drove an ILX with the 6 speed in 2013 and loved it. Ended up with a BMW 320i because the lease special was too hard to beat. I should have gotten the Acura.

In late 2021 I test drove a “new” ILX with the DCT and hated it. Interior felt so dated.

EVDesigner
EVDesigner
21 days ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

Even the newest ILX came with the last generation of Honda-sense which was a big disappointment. It meant no traffic jam assist with the adaptive cruise control and it couldn’t even slow you down to a stop. The lowest it could do was 25mph. Oh also the interior was extremely bad as you said. Doorcards flexed like crazy

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
20 days ago
Reply to  EVDesigner

I ended up getting the TLX A Spec, which could be leased for about the same price as it was to buy the ILX at the time. Much nicer car with better features, but honestly should have waited for the Integra as its a much more usable package.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
21 days ago

I was going to ask why the hell the DCT didn’t make it into the Integra…but if it had Honda couldn’t lock the manual behind a massive paywall and saddle the base cars with a goddamn CVT. It seems weird to me that they essentially used this transmission in a single application then abandoned it.

It would legitimately be a selling point in a car like the Integra or even a nice option for folks in the Civic SI or CTR, but alas. Japanese manufacturers do not give a shit about sporty autos. It’s pretty much manual or CVT with nothing in between outside of specialty cars like the LC500 and GTR.

I still think it’s a mistake to not have any auto option in the Integra Type S, and based on the fact that there are currently 102 listed for sale within 250 miles of me it seems like the market agrees.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
21 days ago

there was a DCT in the RDX

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
20 days ago

It also doesn’t help that the Type S is $50k, there are so many other options at that price point. It’s way too close to new RWD German sport sedans not to mention anything that’s only 2-3 years old used.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
20 days ago

You can get nice S4s and S5s in the high 30s/low to mid 40s all day. Blackwings are now comfortably in the low 50s as well. M340is are stubbornly expensive but you can certainly get into a nice one for the same price as the ITS…and if you’re someone who’s EV curious the BMW EV sedans are constantly available on cheap leases.

Hell you can find a second gen Panamera in this price range. I actually love the Type S and will likely consider one the next time I’m in the market, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very misguided product.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
20 days ago

I think the real nail for the Type S is the IS350 or Q50. If a buyer is looking for a luxury sport sedan with Japanese reliability at $50k, they’re going to get a RWD based sedan. The Integra may drive better than either one but most buyers are armchair racers and want maximum hp for their dollar.

Holy hell I found a Lexus IS500 for Type S money!

Last edited 20 days ago by Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
20 days ago

Or if they want to vape, hoon, and go TOTALLY JDM BRO they just get the Type R because it’s cheaper and has more street cred.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
20 days ago

Get a WRX for $40k and have $10k worth of mods would be a pretty crazy car.

Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
21 days ago

I totally forgot that the ILX got that refresh before being replaced. That’s a really nice looking car. The proportions feel a little bit off in that rear 3/4 view, no doubt due to its Civic underpinnings, but I still dig it.

Data
Data
21 days ago

Isn’t the ILX just the alphabet soup variant of the Integra?

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
21 days ago
Reply to  Data

Integra Luxury X
(XX was a Honda trimline for a number of years)

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
21 days ago

I have always thought the design on these was sort of bland, and until they released the A-Spec trim, not superior to the Civic. The 2019 refresh is certainly the best looking, but the rear 3/4 view is still kind of “meh”.

J Hyman
J Hyman
21 days ago

Didn’t the DCT in these things get a torque converter slapped on it so it would feel more like a slushbox? Or am I remembering some other Acura? If true, seems like a great item to delete.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
21 days ago

I’m glad it’s not just me – on the road, I still visually confuse the ILX with the Integra all the time (and I mean that as a compliment to the ILX).

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