The 2020 Acura ILX Is the Worst Luxury Small Car You Should Avoid

Acura has established itself as an approachable luxury automobile brand, making vehicles that bridge the gap between non-luxury brands such as Honda and ultra-premium brands like Aston Martin. Drivers can count on getting loads of standard features and plush cabins with an Acura at a great price point — most of the time. In the case of the 2020 Acura ILX, the automaker falls a bit short.

Car and Driver put it perfectly in its comprehensive review, saying, “The ILX sedan is essentially a gussied-up version of the already excellent Honda Civic. However, the Acura interpretation lacks the performance that its namesake promotes and the excitement that certain Civic models provide.”

While the Acura ILX does have a long list of desirable standard features and an attractive starting price, it under-delivers in several ways as a luxury car

The 2020 Acura ILX misses the mark

Most people shopping for a vehicle within the luxury segment have, understandably, high expectations. Because the 2020 Acura ILX falls short, U.S. News ranked it near the bottom on its list of Best Luxury Small Cars for 2020 — No. 14 out of 20. 

The reason for the low ranking specifically cited the “subpar cabin materials and lackluster performance.” While the Acura ILX will certainly get you from A to B, a luxury car should offer far more than that. Class rivals including the BMW 2 Series and even the surprisingly luxurious Kia Stinger have far nicer interiors, offer more space, and are much more dynamic to drive.

Pros and cons

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One thing the 2020 Acura ILX does have going for it is its long list of standard features. There’s only one trim level (and therefore, only one engine option); although, there are a number of add-on packages to choose from. Even on the most basic ILX, heated front seats, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, and a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system come standard. However, competing luxury small cars come with larger touchscreens as well as standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.

The AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assist features also comes standard and includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, a collision mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view parking camera system. Also in the safety department, the 2020 Acura ILX received the highest-possible “Good” scores in all five IIHS crash tests, and the NHTSA gave it an overall safety rating of five out of five stars.

On the slightly less positive side, the ILX’s cabin is inexplicably noisy. Driving it is just OK, but it’s certainly not as exciting to drive as, say, the Honda Civic, because its engine is simply lackluster. The materials used in the cabin also look and feel like what you’d expect to see in a non-luxury vehicle.

Fortunately, the Acura ILX has an attractive price tag. A bare-bones model (which, remember, is still pretty well-equipped) starts at $25,900, and even a fully-loaded model will set you back only $37,700. Considering the BMW 2 Series starts at $35,300 and an entry-model Kia Stinger is $33,090, the ILX is quite a value.

The bottom line

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If you’re committed to the Acura ILX, it’s worth considering a 2019 model instead of a 2020 model. Acura restyled the ILX in and out in 2019, plus the automaker made a number of its driver-assist features standard, but the 2020 model carries over unchanged. You may be able to find a 2019 model loaded with package options for an even better price.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for alternatives to the 2020 Acura ILX, take a look at the very similar — but slightly less luxurious and far more spacious — Honda Civic and the Acura TLX. The midsize TLX is a step up in size from the ILX and is remarkably similar, but it offers substantially more room.