How I Almost Came To Love The 2014 Acura ILX

Front 3/4 view of the 2014 Acura ILX Premium
2014 Acura ILX Premium.

Regular readers know I haven't been especially kind to the Acura ILX.  In April of 2013, I directly compared it to its close cousin, the Honda Civic, found the price differential to be too extreme and called it "silk purse/sow's ear stuff"...comparing it to the gone and completely unmissed Lincoln Versailles (badge-engineered from a Ford Granada) and Cadillac Cimarron (a tarted-up Chevrolet Citation).

More recently, just six and a half weeks ago, in fact, I reviewed the ILX Hybrid.

And found it lacking. Especially at the price ($35,495).

Now comes the ILX Premium...and it's different.  Instead of the poky hybrid or the 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter four with an automatic, this one had the 201 horsepower, 2.4-liter four.....with a stick.

Yes, that's right, a stick.

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

Manual transmission.  One more pedal to the left of the brake.

These are rare as hens' teeth, even in press fleets.  The fact is, the percentage of cars sold in the U.S. with stick shifts is a bit less than seven percent.  Seven!   There's an entire generation of people the vast majority of whom have never driven a stick...and thus, can't.

But this...this is the Acura equivalent of the Honda Civic Si sedan.  A bit more than 200 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission.  Promising stuff.

And I will say that, at the wheel, I started to like the ILX.  Honda still makes the slickest manual transmissions on earth (at least in mass-market vehicles), the clutch light but positive, the shifter itself snicking into gear after gear without ambiguity or hesitation.  The ILX began to feel like a contender.


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

Once again, it's the Civic comparison.  If you buy the Civic Si sedan, you get 205 horsepower instead of 201, but the ILX is actually a few pounds lighter than the Civic, so it's advantage ILX.

I much prefer the ILX's dashboard to the Civic's split-level affair (more on that in a soon-to-be-posted review of the Civic EX-L), so I'd give the ILX the edge there as well.

EPA fuel economy estimates? Identical. 22 city/31 highway for both cars.

But it's money that undoes the deal.  The Civic Si sedan starts at $22,990. The ILX Premium at $29,200. That's $6,210, or just a shade under three years' worth of fuel for the Civic.

The only way the ILX would work as what it is is if Honda didn't build a Civic Si sedan.  But they do.  And there's just not six grand worth of any kind of difference in the two cars.