Monday, December 31, 2012

Acura ILX

In the auto industry, change is the only constant. For evidence, see the barrage of new products for 2013 -- more than seventy new offerings, which we've gathered here. Rather than simply reporting on the facts and specs, we attempt to give these new cars a bit of context. It's a dynamic, fast-moving industry, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Acura ILX
Ever since the demise of the RSX, nee Integra, Acura has been without a true entry-level model. (The TSX has become too close to the TL in size, design, and price to perform that function.) Enter the smaller, cheaper ILX. Is it the second coming of the Integra, the frisky subcompact that once attracted young people to the brand? Not really. The ILX has a bit of an identity crisis, as it comes in three distinct iterations. The car is based on the Honda Civic sedan, and although Acura designers did a good job of disguising that fact, we wouldn't exactly call it handsome. The interior, at least, is a wholesale improvement over the Civic's more downmarket cabin. The chassis also has been comprehensively upgraded, with more sophisticated dampers for better ride quality and retuned, quicker steering that's more lively and precise. There's also additional sound deadening and NVH control. The volume-model ILX has a 150-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (up from 1.8 liters and 140 hp in the Civic) that is hitched to an automatic transmission with only five speeds. Acura reaches out to greenies with a hybrid ILX, which lifts the Civic Hybrid's powertrain intact for a 39/38 mpg EPA city/highway rating. The most interesting ILX variant uses the Civic Si as its starting point. Priced at $30,095, it features the Si's 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed manual. One problem for the ILX may be that it's not that much cheaper than a TSX: when adjusted for the TSX's extra equipment, the difference is less than $1000. That factor may hinder this outreach effort.
On sale Now
Price $26,795-$35,295
Engines 2.0L I-4, 150 hp, 140 lb-ft; 2.4L I-4, 201 hp, 170 lb-ft; 1.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 111 hp, 127 lb-ft
Smaller than...a TSX, by 6.5 inches in length, 1.8 inches in width, and 1.1 inches in height.
Acura RDX
Acura targeted aggressive-driving single males with its last RDX, but the new version takes a much different tack as it tries to win the affections of couples and small families. Gone is the high-strung turbocharged four-cylinder engine -- instead, we find a 3.5-liter V-6 that calmly spins out 273 hp (33 hp more than before) and 251 lb-ft of torque; it's mated to a six-speed automatic and actually gets better mileage than the old four. The optional all-wheel-drive system is no longer Acura's SH-AWD (which uses torque vectoring to help carve corners), but it's lighter and more efficient. The old car's punishing ride quality is much better. The suspension tuning has mellowed considerably, which together with the more refined powertrain and the addition of active noise cancellation make for a more relaxed driving experience. Finally, a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase helped Acura engineers create a roomier interior despite exterior dimensions that remain compact.
On sale Now
Price $35,215-$40,315
Engine 3.5L V-6, 273 hp, 251 lb-ft
Room for Family of five.