Most would not mistake an economy car for a luxury car, but they might be mistaken if they see you driving the 2018 Acura ILX sporty compact premium sedan. This luxury car is a great way to get into something comfortable, quiet, powerful, and agile without spending more money on larger premium sedans in the segment. It’s exactly the reason luxury automakers keep making their vehicles smaller, and you’ll put this vehicle against the likes of the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Mini Clubman, and Lexus IS. That being said, the 2018 Acura ILX delivers admirably in the ways that we tend to classify the segment: performance, quietness, and comfort.

After a 2016-model-year refresh, the 2018 Acura ILX’s new front and rear bumpers and high-tech “Jewel Eye” headlights make for an excellent upgrade. The interior has been revised, as well, adopting the two-screen multi-information displays and touchscreen setup as many other Honda / Acura models this year. Under the hood lives a single engine-transmission combination, a punchy 2.4-liter direct fuel injection four-cylinder engine mated to the same eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as the larger – read: heavier, thirstier, more expensive – Acura TLX. The engine is rated at 201 horsepower and 180 lb•ft of torque, a good match for the car’s small size and weight, both interesting to drive and light at the fuel pump, ranging 25 to 35 mpg.

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Drivers note 2018 Acura ILX seats are comfortable and supportive, though taller rear passengers might find headroom and legroom to be lacking. “Fun” aside, creature comforts and a robust technology packages makes short and long rides and spirited or humdrum commutes more interesting, comfortable, and safe. Naysayers will compare the ILX to the Civic, on which it is based – the Civic isn’t even close to one of the quietest cars on the road – but the application of sound-deadening materials and strategically-located insulation significantly reduces noise levels. Normal conversations are possible at highway cruising speeds, but whispered secrets might be lost in the road and wind noise that does make it through.

The 2018 Acura ILX isn’t the fastest car on the road, but it is definitely fun to drive. Those who trashed the first-generation ILX, for its underwhelming performance and “dead” electronic power steering, ought to take another look at the refreshed model. With some tinkering and torque improvements, as well as dropping the hybrid powertrain, 2.0-liter engine, and five-speed automatic transmission, the new ILX finally performs as its looks would seem to indicate. The eight-speed transmission shifts quickly through the gears and always seems to be in the right gear for a quick burst of acceleration. The steering is more responsive, too, making curvy mountain roads a less-intimidating encounter.

Many convenience, entertainment, and safety technology features are included in the standard 2018 Acura ILX package, and the upgrades are truly enjoyable. The standard ILX comes complete with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. Options include 18-inch alloy wheels, larger 8-inch display with navigation, leather upholstery, fog lights, and premium audio. The A-Spec and Special Edition packages add even more personality, such as special wheels, ground effects and spoiler, and premium interior. To top it all off, the ILX has a five-star safety rating.

For a car that tops out at $35,100 MSRP, the top-of-the-line 2018 Acura ILX comes in at a price point that undercuts some of the competition’s base-model entry-level luxury cars, which makes it a compelling and economical choice for someone looking for more comfort and performance.

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