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2021 Acura ILX Review

A disappointing interior quality, troublesome technology, and unimpressive rear-seat space help ensure the 2021 Acura ILX’s spot near the bottom of our luxury small car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Low base price
  • Good fuel economy
  • Mundane interior quality and design
  • Few standard infotainment features and complicated optional system
  • Tight rear legroom
  • Not as fun to drive as rivals

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Acura ILX's #14 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Small Cars category. Currently the Acura ILX has a score of 6.5 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 63 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

6.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 6.1
Performance: 6.9
Interior: 4.8
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Acura ILX?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Acura ILX a Good Car?

No, the Acura ILX isn't a very good car. Its interior is full of lower-end materials unbecoming of an upscale vehicle. The Acura ILX base model comes up short on technology, with just a small display, and the optional infotainment system is an overly complicated dual-screen setup. Cargo space is merely average for the class, and rear legroom is tight. Acceleration and handling are fine, but the ILX’s performance is disappointing compared to other luxury small cars.

Why You Can Trust Us: 56 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 56 Acura ILX reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2021 ILX is the right new car for you.

This 2021 ILX review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2013.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Acura ILX?

The Acura ILX vastly undercuts all class rivals with its starting price, and you can add most available features while staying below $33,000. Still, your money is better spent on a fresher offering in the segment, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLA. Or stroll outside the luxury badge and check out the impressive Honda Civic.

Compare the ILX, CLA, and Civic »

2020 vs. 2021 Acura ILX: What's the Difference?

Acura made no major changes to the ILX for 2021, which means it’s nearly identical to a 2020 ILX.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 ILX »

Here are the key changes for the Acura ILX over the last few years:

  • 2017: no major changes
  • 2018: Special Edition trim became available
  • 2019: refreshed interior and exterior design; AcuraWatch driver assistance features became standard; added available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • 2020: no major changes
  • 2021: no major changes

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 ILX, 2019 ILX, and 2020 ILX reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Acura ILX Cost?

The 2021 Acura ILX is the least expensive luxury small car by a wide margin. It starts at $25,950, while no other class rival retails for less than $32,000. The ILX is available with a few optional packages that can raise the car's price to about $35,000.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

Acura ILX Versus the Competition

Acura ILX vs. Mercedes-Benz CLA

Mercedes fully redesigned the CLA for 2020. The CLA has a peppy base engine, and it's available with either of two 300-plus-horsepower AMG powertrains. Compared to the ILX, the CLA has sportier handling and optional all-wheel drive, along with a nicer interior quality and a more user-friendly infotainment system. The Acura has a much lower price range, but that isn't enough to recommend it over the Benz.

Compare the ILX and CLA »

Acura ILX vs. Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is one of the sportiest and highest-ranking compact cars. The Civic handles with enthusiasm, and while its base engine is only adequate, there's an optional midlineup turbocharged variant, with the high-performance Civic Type R topping the list. You'll get more cargo space in the Civic, especially in its available hatchback body style, and it even beats out the ILX for cabin quality and passenger comfort. There's little reason to spend several thousand dollars more for the Acura. Buy the Honda.

Compare the ILX and Civic »

Compare the ILX, CLA, and Civic »

ILX Interior: Less than Luxury

ILX Cargo Space

The Acura ILX's 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is about average for the luxury small car class. A folding rear seat is standard, giving you more utility to carry longer items. However, it goes down in one piece, in contrast to a split-folding rear seat that allows you to retain the use of one of the second-row seats while still gaining extra cargo space.

How Many People Does the ILX Seat?

The ILX sedan holds five people. The front of the cabin is spacious, with good accommodations for the driver and passenger. The seats are comfortable for longer drives and offer side bolstering for lots of support.

In back, taller riders should find adequate headroom, though it’s not great, and the ILX's 34 inches of rear legroom are poor for a sedan in this class.

ILX and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a dedicated tether anchor for the middle seat. The lower anchors are set deeply in the seats, but it's still easy to maneuver your hands around them and attach the car-seat straps with little effort.

ILX Interior Quality

This Acura's cabin features more hard plastic surfaces than you'll find in fancier rivals, and the overall design looks dated. There’s also a fair amount of road and wind noise, further detracting from its luxury ambition.

ILX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Compared to just about any new car on the market, the ILX is pretty short on standard technology. You only get a 5-inch infotainment display, and everything is controlled by using traditional buttons and knobs on the center stack.

The alternative is an optional dual-screen setup. The lower touch screen has an illogical menu structure for accessing settings or adjusting audio controls. There's a slightly larger display above that, which you control via a rotary knob in the middle of the dash. Navigation – and its outdated graphics – is displayed here, as are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Another source of frustration is having to run smartphone integration with the control knob instead of just touching the screen. It'll probably take some time to learn the ins and outs of this system.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 5-inch audio display, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, an 8-inch display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a seven- or 10-speaker premium stereo, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, and the AcuraLink telematics system (lets you connect to the ILX via your smartphone)
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, a moonroof, and ambient interior lighting
  • Other available features: an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a universal garage door opener

Read more about interior »

ILX Performance: Not So Sporty

ILX Engine

Acura outfits the ILX with a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. This a satisfactory offering, and unfortunately, there aren’t any more muscular options available. Acceleration from a stop is fine, and the car actually feels pretty peppy when you jam on the gas hard and get higher into the rev range. That's where most of the power kicks in.

The standard eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission provides slick and timely shifts.

ILX Gas Mileage

The 2021 ILX gets pretty good fuel economy for a luxury small car, coming in at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

ILX Ride and Handling

This sedan rides smoothly over rough pavement, and its brakes impress with strong stopping power. The ILX goes around corners with composure, but you'll probably notice a little body lean. Most test drivers noted that its steering isn’t as responsive as more agile rivals.

Read more about performance »

ILX Reliability

Is the Acura ILX Reliable?

The 2021 ILX has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Acura ILX Warranty

Acura covers the ILX with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

ILX Safety

ILX Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Acura ILX an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 ILX, but the organization gave the similar 2020 ILX the highest rating of Good in the five crash tests performed.

ILX Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Road departure mitigation
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Rear cross traffic alert

Read more about safety »

ILX Dimensions and Weight

The ILX is 15.2 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 3,095 to 3,148 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Acura ILX Built?

Acura builds the 2021 ILX in Ohio.

Which Acura ILX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Acura ILX only comes in one trim, but there are optional Premium, Technology, and A-Spec packages. It only comes with a four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The starting MSRP is $25,950, and standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, heated front sport seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5-inch audio display, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, proximity keyless entry, a moonroof, LED headlights, ambient interior lighting, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The ILX also comes standard with safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and a rearview camera. Rear parking sensors are optional for $552.

At a minimum, we recommend the ILX with the Premium package, which costs an additional $2,000 and adds genuine leather upholstery, driver's seat memory settings, a power-adjustable passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. The Premium package also upgrades the infotainment system, adding a 7-inch touch screen, an 8-inch display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a seven-speaker premium stereo, satellite radio, and HD Radio.

The A-Spec bundle requires the Premium package and tacks another $2,000 onto the car's price. This bundle includes sporty interior and exterior design elements, LED fog lights, a rear spoiler, stainless steel sport pedals, and combination leather and suede upholstery.

Lastly, if you get the A-Spec and Premium packages, you can spend an additional $1,900 for the Technology package. That gets you a 10-speaker premium stereo, navigation, and the AcuraLink telematics system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

See 2021 Acura ILX specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Acura ILX is positioned as a value pick in the crowded luxury small car segment. However, it fails to stand out in terms of performance and interior quality, where it’s outdone by even some nonluxury cars.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The ILX doesn't provide precision crafted performance, but it's a solid value." -- Car and Driver
  • "Acura has the right formula for the ILX, offering buyers all the performance and luxury of most competitors but at a drastically lower price. For those who favor a low cost of ownership and bulletproof reliability over performance and pedigree, the ILX may still have a garage to call home." -- Autotrader (2020)
  • "The ILX is a surprisingly good luxury vehicle, with a comfortable cabin, numerous luxury and safety features and responsive handling. Its 2.4-liter engine isn’t the most inspiring performer, but it does the job and returns acceptable fuel economy in the process." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
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