2016 Acura ILX
When the Acura ILX arrived for 2013, even we had a hard time not dwelling too much on its civic-minded origins. Fortunately for Acura, the ILX did appeal to buyers; more importantly, to that holy grail of demographics, elusive younger buyers. So, let’s see if that group might find a new ILX even more appealing.
While the 2016 Acura ILX is not all-new, as far as mid-cycle re-freshing goes, this one is quite thorough.
Now assembled in Honda’s Marysville, Ohio plant right alongside the recently introduced mid-size TLX. And, much like it, the compact ILX takes the majority of its design cues from Acura’s flagship RLX, yet also adds enough sporty elements to keep those 20 and 30-somethings interested.
So understandably Acura’s Jewel-Eye headlights are now standard; as well as an aggressive looking front fascia with large air intakes down below.
ILX wheelbase is unchanged at 105.1-inches, as are most exterior dimensions, save for overall length which grows by almost 3-inches. A-SPEC trim adds a rear spoiler, sweet-looking 10-spoke 18-inch machined-finished alloy wheels with 225/40 tires, fog lights, and some tacked-on rocker trim.
Inside, it augments the seats with Luxe-suede coverings, and adds sport pedals to what has become a very roomy and increasingly premium feeling interior. Other highlights include adopting the familiar Honda/Acura dual screen center stack, and making a multitude of additional AcuraWatch radar and camera-based safety systems, like Collision Mitigation and Lane Keeping, available.
Push button ignition and a Multi-View rear camera are standard. The Tech Plus package adds navigation with AcuraLink, as well as a color Multi-Information Display in the sporty looking gauge panel and 415-watt ELS premium audio with 10-speakers.
The front seating area is indeed spacious, and surprisingly luxurious in feel; very reminiscent of the TLX and RLX. The seats are quite comfortable in back as well; but head and knee room are both insufficient for full-size adults. Cargo space is unchanged at 12.3 cubic-ft. and the area is well-finished.
A folding rear seatback is standard, but it’s a single piece, not split; and the only release is located in the trunk. It’s probably the only remaining real reminder of this ride’s economy car roots.
Perhaps because of the shorter attention span of all of those younger buyers, engine options have been simplified; with now just a 2.4-liter I4 available. The direct-injected piece outputs 201–horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque. Gone, are the base 2.0-liter I4 and, at least for now, the ILX Hybrid.
Attached to the 2.4 is an 8-speed DCT, but unlike most dual-clutch units; there’s a slushbox-style torque converter to maintain the feel of a traditional automatic, particularly when accelerating from a stop.
Most of our drivers had good things to say about the trans, and the overall surprisingly sporty driving experience as well; though like many 8-speeds, it can at times be in a hurry to find higher gears.
Of course you can learn a lot more about a car on the track, and here we were equally impressed with how nicely the ILX handled our slalom test. Accurate turn-ins without a peep of understeer, and a well-balanced chassis had us scooting through the cones with ease.
The body structure has been stiffened; and the MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension re-tuned.
But, there’s not really enough power to get you into too much trouble; as we found out when doing straight-line runs.
It took us a leisurely - for a sporty sedan - 7.1-seconds to hit 60, and 14.7 to finish out the ¼ at 93 miles-per-hour. There was zero torque steer at launch, and not a lot of grunt either. But the engine does rev quickly, and like most 4’s pulls strongest in the upper rev ranges. Shifts were quick and firm.
Braking from 60 averaged a good 121-feet. Stability was excellent and fade minimal.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 25-City, 36-Highway, and 29-Combined. We averaged a very good 31.6 miles-per-gallon on Premium fuel. So, the Energy Impact Score is much better than average with 11.4-barrels of oil ingested yearly, while expelling 5.0-tons of CO2.
Pricing for the ILX starts at a very sensible $28,820. And even the top line A-SPECs starts at just $35,810.
It’s an unfortunate truism that the more successful you become, the harder it is to become more successful. But we think Acura is certainly heading in a great direction now. And injecting the 2016 Acura ILX with both more performance and more prestige will ensure that it not only stays appealing to those hip, young trendsetters, but it will become a whole lot more appealing to a broader spectrum of sport-luxury sedan buyers.
- Engine: 2.4 liter
- Horsepower: 201
- Torque: 180 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 14.7 seconds @ 93 mph
- EPA: 25 mpg city/ 36 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.0 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined