Why The 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid Just Doesn't Cut It

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid
2014 Acura ILX Hybrid.

You have no idea how much I want to say really good things about the 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid.  Not gonna happen here, I'm afraid.  13 months ago, I compared the transformation of a Honda Civic into an Acura ILX to the Ford Granada/Lincoln Versailles and Chevrolet Citation/Cadillac Cimarron rebadges.  Silk purse from sow's ear.

Yes, this is the ILX Hybrid, which buys you 15 miles more per gallon in city traffic, according to the EPA and 3 more on the highway than a gasoline-powered ILX (39 city/38 highway, if you're keeping track)...but that's about it.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid
2014 Acura ILX Hybrid.

It's still essentially a cleaned-up Civic on the outside (and for 2014, Civic has cleaned itself up), and its lack of kicks at the wheel only gets worse in the hybrid version. You can get a Civic sedan for $18,390.  Heck, if you live in California (hello, neighbor) you can get the Civic Natural Gas for $26,640.  But the ILX Hybrid Tech we drove is $34,600.  With $895 for destination and handling, that's $35,495.

You do get some value for your money in the way of features, most of them expected, like anti-lock disc brakes, every possible safety nanny electronic assist and a full complement of airbags. You also get pushbutton ignition, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, a power moonroof, fog lamps, heated door mirrors and keyless entry.

Interior view of 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid
2014 Acura ILX Hybrid interior.

And with the Tech Package, you fold in nav with voice recognition and a rearview camera, real-time traffic and weather, an upgrade to an Acura/ELS surround-sound system with 10-speakers, DVD, a hard drive, and XM Satellite Radio, leather-trimmed sport seats (the driver's is an 8-way power seat and the two fronts are heated), the climate control gets upgraded to a GPS-linked unit (the car figures out whether you're on a shady road, facing the sun...what angle the sun is hitting you from based on your position), an auto-dimming rearview mirror (Really? You have to have the Tech package for that?) and Xenon HID headlights.

The best I can summon up is damning with faint praise.  It's not a bad car.  It needs (for the price and for what Acura needs to be to move forward in an incredibly competitive marketplace) to be a great one.

There's a young man I met when I lived in Arizona named Tyson Hugie.  He drove a 1994 Acura Legend 6-Speed Coupe to 500,000 miles (and now beyond).  Acura gave him the keys to an ILX two years ago. He's up to 77,000 miles and change as I write this.  His travels are well worth following.  But I can't imagine that if he gets to half a million miles in the ILX (if anyone can, it's Tyson, a maintenance monster), he'll have the same big smile and satisfied feeling he had when he got there in the Legend.