Sometimes you just can't transcend humble origins. Trying to make a premium model out of the previous generation Honda Civic is a fool's errand, as proven by the Acura ILX. Adding projector headlights and slapping the Acura badge on the car shouldn't deceive anyone. There is nothing wrong with the concept of providing an upscale experience in a small package, but the ILX's hard ride and loud cabin undermine the intended upscale experience. Charging a premium for the ILX amounts to some chutzpah on Honda's part.
The 2016 freshening included a new engine and transmission that made the ILX quicker without hurting fuel economy. It also brought styling cues and interior features to make it appear more congruent with the rest of the Acura line. However, Acura failed to rectify the biggest shortcomings: the stiff, jumpy ride. Despite further efforts to quiet the cabin, it still suffers from so much road noise that a long ride becomes a fatiguing affair. The car's low-slung stance results in difficult cabin access that makes you feel as if you fell into it. Hoisting one's self out is straining, as well.
If you thought that sacrificing some luxury might instead reward you through a sporty driving experience, you're in for a disappointment. When it comes to handling, the ILX feels as mundane as they come; there are mass-market family sedans like the Ford Fusion and Mazda 6 that are vastly more engaging to drive. While the eight-speed automatic slurs gears in a quick, direct manner when flogging the car, everyday driving -- especially in urban environments -- comes with too many clunks, hiccups, and hesitations.