Acura ILX

Owner drive: 2017 Acura ILX in Canada – We try Honda’s forbidden fruit

Long-time readers would have noticed that I spend my days in Canada now. As I was settling in with my family, we didn’t want to spend too much right off the bat on a car. After swapping through a variety of rentals, we got our local licences and set about buying something that wasn’t too old and wouldn’t be a reliability headache.

It also became clear that power would be an important factor on Canada’s radar-free highways, yet a smaller size would be preferable as the missus was going to share the car as a new driver, too. When you limit yourself to small, affordable and reliable performance cars in Canada, the choices become rather limited, and it became clear why the Acura ILX was popular in this corner of the world.

Keen car guys in the Middle East would know that Honda’s premium Acura offerings are only sold in Kuwait, and the UAE launch was aborted years ago for unknown reasons. Having never driven an Acura before, I was actually keen on giving the ILX a go, especially as a certified pre-owned 2017 model popped up within our budget at a dealership. We were wary of using other random used car dealerships in Canada, and this being snow country, you never know what rustbucket you’ll get from private sellers.

Acura ILX

Another reason for picking Acura was that the automatic ILX has a lower resale value than a manual-only Honda Civic Si (and hence cheaper to buy used), despite being very similar under the skin, and arguably better equipped. The ILX is the only way to pair the Civic Si’s 2.4-litre motor with the Acura-exclusive 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that isn’t available on any Honda.

The ILX is a handsome car, but it was never destined to turn any heads. Unique features include Acura’s unique “Jewel Eye” LED headlights, and not much else to elevate the styling. The standard wheels on our car are 17-inch, while 18-inchers were optional. The bronze wheels you see in some photos are our aftermarket bronze wheels shod with winter tyres.

Acura ILX

Inside, there is a very Honda Accord vibe, not that it’s a bad thing. The materials are top notch, with a mix of soft touch surfaces and hard textured plastic.

The beige leather seats are stylishly bolstered up front, while the rear features average legroom, just like the 2012-2015 Civic that the chassis is shared with. Boot space is as decent as can be in a compact sedan, with a one-piece folding seatback.

Acura ILX

The cabin features traditional gauges with info display, an intuitive dual screen setup with the bottom one touch-controlled, and physical buttons for important tasks such as the climate-control a/c. Amenities are ample, such as power-memory front seats, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, sunroof, remote smart key, adaptive cruise control, a rocking sound system, full set of airbags etc.

As mentioned before, it comes with the Civic Si’s high-revving 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, making 201 hp at 6800 rpm and 231 Nm of torque at 3600 rpm, more than adequate for a bit of fun in the city and some peace of mind on the highway. Being a performance engine though, it likes to drink premium fuel, with as-tested fuel economy at 10 litres/100 km (10 km/litre).

Acura ILX

With the Acura-exclusive 8-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT) gearbox, the ILX can hammer out a 0-100 kph time of 7 seconds. But this isn’t your average VW-esque DSG. All other dual-clutch autos are jerky or slow to respond on the initial throttle tip-in from a dead stop. The ILX is unusual in that it has a torque converter, giving it traditional automatic smoothness off the line while retaining the quick, crisp upshifts of a dual-clutch setup.

Acura’s DCT was an excellent solution, but it does suffer from the occasional severe stutter when rolling to a stop and then getting on throttle again. It rarely happens, but it led to a lot of complaints, and the overall complicated nature of the gearbox probably led Acura to discontinue it in favour of the dreaded CVT in the ILX’s successor, the much-hyped Integra.

Acura ILX

The ILX handles as well as any Honda small car, with great body control and limited floatiness. Tuned to be slightly softer than the harder-riding Civic Si, the ILX’s ride is a god-send on Canada’s potholed roads. Yet it can still turn in like a hot hatch, and offers decent feedback as well as linear responses from the steering and brake pedal, both nicely-weighted yet slightly on the lighter side for daily driving comfort. Road and wind noise is noticeable at speed, but clearly less than the equivalent Civic as well.

We really like the ILX. Trashed by some critics simply for being “less” than smaller German rivals, what the ILX offers is an elevated Honda driving experience, with reliability and value-for-money to boot. Canadian dealer services aren’t expensive either, with an annual minor service costing less than you’d pay for a Civic in Dubai, and that includes a free Uber to your location, which was a revelation. We’re fans of Acuras now.

Keep track of Acura prices and specs in the buyer guide.

Photos by Mashfique H. Chowdhury

What do you think?



  1. I love the Honda ILX! It’s Japanese all the way..I worked as a VQ specialist on these in 2017 when they were being re-vamped. The Sirius XM antenna is a wide-range receiver for SPORTS XM and it even has a satellite head for the internet [Noone messes with Argentina]. The ILX is curvy, delightful, and a breeze with its smooth-revving Honda 2.0 liter turbo. I wouldn’t go as far as to call them Civic Si’s which are literally, dollhouse editions of smart Honda City’s.

    The ILX gets fewer gasoline miles on foggy city traffic and needs more pit stops. Like ’em to Tahoe’s or Beetles in maintenance and pit stops. frequent gas clutter and first-hand owners do not like selling them to Asian moms. 🙂

    Thumbs up Khaled, for intervention. I liked the review very much!

  2. Very impressive power-to-displacement ratio. I’d love to know the size of the tank and how much it sets you back to top-up. Also, how’s the fuel quality there?

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