Used Vehicle Review: Acura ILX, 2013-2018

Vehicle Type

The growly performance of the ILX’s 2.4-litre engine, the fast-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and a nice balance of performance and fuel mileage are all highly rated by ILX owners.

Luxury Sedan

History/Description

Launched as a gateway product to the Acura brand, the ILX sedan was a high-value entry-luxury model that delivered robust feature content alongside premium styling and quality. The compact Acura also offered plenty of selection – thanks to three available powertrains and various trim levels. In fact, with pricing from under $30,000 when new, a used ILX might just make an ideal buy for the shopper after an upscale and thrifty sedan that delivers an upscale drive, without breaking the bank.

Feature content included a full-colour information screen, leather-wrapped surfaces, an available Dynamic Package for improved performance, and a Tech package – complete with navigation, voice recognition, a potent ELS audio system, and more. A rear-view camera, HID lighting, adaptive radar cruise, and universal remote-control system were also on offer.

All units were four-door, five-seat sedans that should provide adequate room for four adults and their gear. Notably, the ILX earned numerous awards for overall value, residual value, and owner satisfaction.

It also earned top marks for safety from industry authorities for exemplary crash-test results. Note that the Acura Watch network of safety systems may be fitted to the model you’re considering, networking numerous outward-looking hazard detection systems together for improved situational awareness.

Engines

Engine choices included a 2.0-litre four-cylinder VTEC engine with 150 horsepower, or a snarly 2.4-litre unit with around 200. The ILX was also available as a hybrid, and Acura’s first, delivering electrically assisted output and improved fuel economy. Depending on the model and year in question, transmission choices included a six-speed manual, an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle-shift, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT; hybrid only).

What Owners Like

The growly performance of the ILX’s 2.4-litre engine, the fast-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and a nice balance of performance and fuel mileage are all highly rated by ILX owners; as is overall brand confidence, and good headlight performance from the LED headlamps fitted to later models from this generation.

What Owners Dislike

Gripes include tight rear-seat headroom, and a sometimes-abrupt radar cruise control system. Some owners also wish for less of a learning curve to the central command interface.

Here are some Acura ILX Owner Reviews.

Pro Tip

Go just one year into the ILX’s life for the best value. Though it launched for model year 2013, the 2014 ILX packed in more standard features, including upgraded wheels, better stereo systems, and improved electronics.

Here’s Your Test Drive To-Do List

The ILX looks like a relatively solid used entry-luxury buy, but shoppers are advised to keep a few checks and tips in mind to help ensure they wind up with a top-notch, second-hand ILX. Read on below for some ILX-specific tips, as well as a few useful general tips when buying a used luxury car

Check the Back-Up Camera

At multiple points on your test drive, confirm that the ILX’s back-up camera isn’t suffering from an unexplained blurry image, which likely indicates the need to replace the camera module. This problem is rare and should be apparent on your test drive, but it’s worth testing multiple times on your drive.

Pay Close Attention to the Brakes

Some owners have reported brake system issues relating to unwanted scraping, squealing, and grinding noises, and a soft pedal and poor brake performance that materializes sporadically. Confirm that the brakes bite hard from an initial press, perform consistently, and that stopping power is sufficient to engage the ABS brake action during a simulated panic stop. A soft or mushy pedal, poor stopping performance, or any unwelcomed sounds from the brakes indicate the need for professional attention. Some noises are fixed easily by dealers with the application of a well-known Technical Service Bulletin (TSB). Do not buy an ILX that exhibits sub-par braking system performance without first seeking a professional assessment.

Check the Electronics Carefully

Confirm proper operation of both available sets of key fobs, all power windows, all power locks, the push-button start system, and the central command interface / Bluetooth system before buying. Some issues, including reported instances of the radio head-unit losing its presets, may be fixed with updated software installed at the dealer. Provide the VIN number of the unit you’re considering to an Acura dealer to see if any outstanding software updates may be applicable: it’s advisable to have any outstanding software updates applied as soon as possible, to prevent headaches.

Scrutinize the DCT Transmission

In this discussion thread on a popular ILX owner forum, dozens of owners discuss unbecoming behaviour from the model’s dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Issues reported include clumsy and inconsistent shifting, hard shifting, and other strange behaviour – including a possible two- to three-second delay when shifting from reverse to drive.

Rarely, some owners also report occasional occurrences where throttle application only revs the engine, but fails to cause any acceleration. Though this form of transmission has some mild quirks, it should, by and large, feel and operate like a regular automatic. Hard shifting and excessive delays between gear selection are not normal and warrant further investigation.

If the DCT transmission in the ILX you’re considering doesn’t feel quite right, be sure to have a dealer check it out. Note that updated transmission control software may help solve problems like those listed above. Ask the dealer to check into TSB 17-015, which specifies the installation of updated software and a break-in procedure to help solve problems. Do not buy an ILX that’s exhibiting any transmission-related issues without a professional assessment.

Scrutinize Oil Levels

Be aware of the ILX’s oil level at all times, starting from your first pre-purchase test drive. Some owners say the ILX may consume oil between oil changes, and others don’t. Monitor your oil levels regularly (at least at each fuel fill) and bring any concerns to your dealer service department as soon as possible, confirming that they’re documented in case a warranty claim is required down the line.

Other Useful Checks

Vibrations/Noises

Some owners have reported various unwelcome noises and sensations from beneath the ILX as they drive along. If you notice any, be sure to have a technician investigate. Likely causes include worn suspension parts or out-of-balance wheels. Remember that healthy vehicles don’t make popping, banging, or clunking noises when travelling over rough roads. Have any such issues investigated before you buy.

Assume the Worst

When approaching any used ILX, assume that it needs new tires, brakes, and a new clutch (manual transmission), as well as some attention to the suspension system, until you or a technician confirms otherwise. Now’s the time to ensure that the seller isn’t trying to pass a hefty repair bill off to you.

Diagnostic Scan

Given the volume of advanced, high-end electronics, and safety systems available in the ILX, a pre-purchase diagnostic scan of the vehicle’s systems is highly advised ahead of your purchase, whether or not any warning lights are present. In moments, an Acura technician can determine if the model you’re considering has any possibly hidden issues that you’ll want to be aware of.

Three recalls were issued for this generation of ILX.

The Verdict

With a clean bill of health for the DCT transmission and all high-end electronics, a used Acura ILX can be bought with relative confidence. For maximum peace of mind, an earlier model from this generation with the six-speed manual transmission, or with the 2.0-litre engine and five-speed automatic, may be the safest bet.

Crash Test Ratings

IIHS: Top Safety Pick+ (2016)
NHTSA: 5/5 stars (2015)

Check ILX’s DCT transmission carefully before purchase. 4/5/2018 6:30:00 AM