2019 ILX fin­ishes Acura’s up­graded lineup

The Review - - AUTOMOTIVE - By David Sch­midt If you have any ques­tions, com­ments or ideas, please send them to com­[email protected]­toWrit­er­sInk.com.

With the re­freshed Acura ILX hit­ting the streets, Acura com­pletes their plan to im­prove the ap­peal of their cars and crossovers.

The goal was to make them more at­trac­tive as a group and of­fer­ing more per­for­mance op­tions among them.

To demon­strate, they took a group of jour­nal­ists to their prov­ing grounds near the two huge Ohio assem­bly plants where many Acuras and Hon­das are built.

The high-per­for­mance Acura NSX is also built here, and ex­cept for two ro­bots — one to weld the car and one to paint it — ev­ery­thing else is done by work­ers. Granted, the su­per­car costs north of $160,000, but that gets you a car were every sin­gle bolt is torqued by hand. Acura even has a pro­gram where buy­ers can come in and fol­low their car through assem­bly. Buy­ers even can choose to “help,” by mount­ing two of the in­signia on their own car.

We then spent the rest of the day at their prov­ing grounds eval­u­at­ing Acura’s claims and cars. We par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral events to demon­strate Acura ca­pa­bil­i­ties. One was a fling down a gravel road in the MDX and RDX be­ing told by the in­struc­tor to go faster and slide the car more ag­gres­sively, so we could feel the car’s ca­pa­bil­ity to get it back un­der con­trol.

We did the same thing on a wet skid pad, with a pro try­ing to get us to do ev­ery­thing wrong with the car so that we could feel the drive’s ca­pa­bil­ity. While I nor­mally seem to have lit­tle dif­fi­culty do­ing things wrong, do­ing wrong on pur­pose just seems wrong.

Then we moved to the NSX start­ing by us­ing the car’s launch con­trol to fling an NSX from 0 to 60 mph in 2.7-sec. One could say this was an ex­cel­lent way of demon­strat­ing the value of hav­ing 573-hp. and 476 lb.-ft. of peak torque.

And fi­nally, for my group, we ended up push­ing the NSX around the race track at the test grounds where it was ini­tially de­vel­oped. With driv­ing in­struc­tors be­side us were able to drive as quickly as we safely could.

What be­came quickly clear is that the NSX is a se­ri­ously sta­ble plat­form with ter­rific torque. Even go­ing fast through cor­ners, the NSX gen­er­ated com­plete con­fi­dence. The com­puter con­trol­ling the sus­pen­sion clearly felt it was a For­mula One driver who just didn’t get a chance. The re­sult is that not-quite-so-ca­pa­ble driv­ers are bet­ter in an NSX at speed that they would be in many other su­per­cars.

The NSX is a tech­no­log­i­cal won­der, but it is com­pet­ing with cars which are emo­tional won­ders. Fer­rari Ma­cLaren and Porsche are all su­perb cars which have deep psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact on those who de­sire them. It is hard for as many wealthy men to de­velop such feel­ings for the NSX, whether this one or the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. Both are tech­ni­cally rev­o­lu­tion­ary but sim­ply don’t have the her­itage ap­peal of those other cars.

Per­son­ally, I’d go with the NSX, and that’s from some­one who owns a Porsche. Granted, not one which is a com­peti­tor of this, but a Porsche none­the­less.

As happy as the Acura folks were that we en­joyed driv­ing the NSX, they were much more in­ter­ested in hav­ing us spend some time be­hind the wheel of the re­freshed for 2019 ILX. This is the car which gets peo­ple in­ter­est­ing and at­tached to the Acura brand. Of­fi­cials say that more Mil­len­ni­als own the ILX than any other en­try-lux­ury sedan.

Plus, it com­pletes the re­set of the brand, as all the mod­els now have the “new” and more ag­gres­sive look. For 2019, ILX de­sign is all-new from the wind­shield for­ward. This means the “fam­ily” grille, seven-el­e­ment LED head­lights and a new hood. In back there’s a new deck­lid, fas­cia, LED tail­lights and lower dif­fuser with ex­posed ex­haust pipes. New 17-in. and A-Spec 18in. wheels.

The cabin gets up­dated sport seats, front and rear. with twoway, power ad­justable lum­bar sup­port for the driver’s seat. There as been fo­cus on mak­ing the cabin more up­scale. The idea of this, both in­side and out is to look sportier and more so­phis­ti­cated.

For 2019, every ILX comes stan­dard with the Acu­raWatch suite of ac­tive safety and driveras­sis­tive tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing col­li­sion-mit­i­ga­tion brak­ing sys­tem with for­ward-col­li­sion warn­ing, lane-keep­ing as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol, and road-de­par­ture mit­i­ga­tion with lane-de­par­ture warn­ing.

The ILX drives well. While the en­gine isn’t par­tic­u­larly strong, when you put the car’s com­puter in Sport, things get a lot more in­ter­est­ing. This en­gine type cre­ates most of its power close to the red­line. So, the Sport set­tings make the car op­er­ate much more ef­fec­tively be­cause its op­er­at­ing in a much bet­ter place so that more power’s there when you want it. Most of us agreed that if we owned the car we’d never take it out of Sport mode.

The brakes and steer­ing are pos­i­tive and con­sis­tent. We drive some curvy farm-coun­try roads, and the ILX en­joyed flow­ing left and right at a com­fort­able cruis­ing speed. My guess it would have en­joyed a bit more speed in those curves, but that was for an­other day.

It also rides well, with enough room in a small sedan for pas­sen­gers to be com­fort­able. The seats are com­fort­able, the mu­sic sys­tem, like all Acura ve­hi­cles, ex­cel­lent and the cabin is quiet — at least when the stereo’s off.

The ILX comes with three op­tion pack­ages, the Pre­mium, Tech­nol­ogy and A-Spec. Prices start at $25,900 to the top of the lineup, the ILX A-Spec with Tech­nol­ogy Pack­age with an MSRP of $31,550. It went on sale last month.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF ACURA

For 2019, the ILX de­sign is all-new from the wind­shield for­ward.

The 2019 Acura ILX fea­tures up­dated sport seats — front and rear — with two-way, power ad­justable lum­bar sup­port for the driver’s seat.

The 2019 Acura NSX’s launch con­trol flings the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.7-sec.

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