Mix tighter personal budgets with a desire for better fuel economy, and the result is the Acura ILX and Buick Verano. These new compact sedans let you enjoy an upscale interior and premium features without the typically high luxury-car sticker price and fuel demands.
Both have humble roots. The ILX is based on the Honda Civic, the Verano on the Chevrolet Cruze. But even with the addition of leather, sound deadening, and extra features, their sticker prices of $30,095 and $27,750, respectively, seem too high for what you get, especially for the Acura.
With better gas mileage and a more spacious interior, the ILX edged out the Verano in our tests. Its 150-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine returns a good 28 mpg overall, but on premium fuel. The Verano’s 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission give it a slight performance advantage over the ILX, but a so-so 24 mpg overall. It does take regular gas, though.
The cars deliver responsive handling, but neither is sporty to drive. And ride quality doesn’t stand out in either. The Verano’s almost library-quiet cabin is easily the car’s high point; the ILX suffers from notable noise.
Don’t let the high-end badges sway you. For about the same money, you could buy a loaded four-cylinder family sedan, such as a Hyundai Sonata or a Toyota Camry, with more room and similar or better fuel economy. Or you could buy the higher-rated Acura TSX.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Acura ILX vs. Buick Verano."