A lot of folks may forget that Honda was the first of the Japanese makes to create a luxury division, like Cadillac or Lincoln.
And like the two domestics, they took their bread and butter sedans, fitted them for a tux, jacked up the price and voila! You have instant luxury.
That’s pretty much the story with the new ILX, which is a Honda civic in a dinner jacket. That’s not entirely a bad thing when the guts of this little ego-mobile are as good as the Civic’s. But, it probably would have helped Acura to hide those guts with a little more sound deadening as the ILX gets a little buzzy at highway speeds.
I drove the newest, smallest Acura to San Antonio for the Texas Auto Writers Truck Rodeo event and so spent a lot of highway time in the little four-door.
The 2.0-liter, twin-cam four cylinder cranks out a modest 150-horsepower, and it felt it. The 5-speed automatic gearbox is one shift shy of the latest 6-speeds out there, and that in turn would help the acceleration.
On the plus side, the designers did a good job of hiding the Civic’s short nose in the Acura, and gave it a much more pleasant and upscale look. Inside, typical Honda workmanship and comfort in the leather-lined cabin make it a nice place to do business on a long trip.
And at just over $32,000, it’s a reasonable value in the entry level luxury class.
I’m not frankly sure I get cars like this. It’s like the Cadillac Escalade. A dressed up Tahoe gives you everything the Caddy does for a lot less money.
The misbegotten Cadillac Cimarron, which was a Chevy Cavalier with gold badges, is a good example of how to do this badly. You can polish a cowpie all you won’t, it will never shine.
But there’s a reason for my confusion, as my wife will tell you. I’m a cheapskate.
So, I’d just get a Civic Si with Leather and a 6-speed manual, and laugh all the way to the bank.