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Acura ILX: It's Like A Civic With A Newish Nose

Illustration for article titled Acura ILX: Its Like A Civic With A Newish Nose

The Acura ILX, the Honda Civic with a proboscis prosthetic first shown as a "concept" last month at the Detroit Auto Show, was whipped out here at the Chicago Auto Show today in its full production trim.

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But, while the ILX might be born off the same Civic platform, and with at least one of the same powertrain options, and be built by the same Indiana workers, the exterior shares not a single component with its lowly brother-from-another-mother.

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In fact, it doesn't even look quite as unfortunate as some had expected. And that nose. Oh, that nose. It's, umm, something!

There are three trim levels and engines available. The base ILX gets power from a 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-four mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The ILX 2.4 — you know, for "enthusiasts" — uses a 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-banger mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

There's also an ILX hybrid — it looks the exact same as the non-hybrid ILX, but under the hood it'll use something a bit different. Well, not really. Actually, it's a 111-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission plus a mild-hybrid plus regenerative braking and auto start/stop system — the same powertrain/gearbox combo found in the Honda Civic hybrid. But, thanks to some added heft, the ILX is expected to get a lower EPA rating — 35/38 mpg city/highway.

Acura is looking to attract first-time luxury buyers to the brand — which is why they're adding in all the same toys (like ELS surround sound and a 60 GB hard drive) as the rest of the lineup — although it's hard to believe a luxury brand could possibly be selling a car that's priced "well below $30,000."

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But what do you think of the new baby to the Acura family?

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DISCUSSION

What do I think of th new baby to the Acura family? I think it sucks.

Honda has, for the past 10 years or so, demonstrated a complete detachment from its market base. It also seems that they haven't a clue as to what they're trying to achieve with branding anymore.

New NSX to attract enthusiast buyers to the brand? Good.

Rebadged/sheet-metaled Civic to cut costs and offer less expensive models? Bad.

Acura has, throughout its life, never gone past the "near luxury" mark. The RL couldn't break into serious luxo competition, and I suspect the whole powertrain thing was a major reason why. While Richard Hammond once said of the NSX-R "...nobody is going to want to pay that for a Honda," I think if the company were smart about things and wanted to move the Acura brand upmarket, they could. But the way to do so is not by upping the price of the RL, as they did in the past.

No, the way is to shake up its existing Honda corporate mantra of "we know what's good for you. Not you." They need to get rid of a lot of the brass that are making decisions about the vehicle lineup. Looking back at the 1990's, it took them forever to put a V6 in an Accord. Afterall, "who needs anything more than a four-cylinder?" It's not about giving the customer what you think he *needs*...it's about giving the customer what he *wants*. The ILX is going to be a sales disaster. Where is the market for this thing? They ditched the Integra, presumably because it wasn't luxo-enough, so why make one again? Budget-priced luxury? Less than $30,000? C'mon. Who are they trying to compete with? The G25? Ain't happening. At least that car is based on a RWD/AWD architecture, and still has a 2.5L V6, to boot.

I just don't get it. Apparently, neither does Honda.