Acura treated the world to a surprise — and much-needed — refresh for the 2019 ILX this week. While it hasn’t abandoned the brand’s signature visuals, it finally made the model interesting enough to warrant a closer examination. Previous incarnations of the ILX — including the post-2016 facelift — have proven excruciatingly dull, resulting in the quick onset of a cripplingly severe mental malaise.
Based on the ninth-generation Honda Civic, all one could really say about the 2018 ILX was that it was a competent vehicle and perfect for someone seeking luxury on a budget. Then came the brow furrowing, a long sigh, and an extended speech about the superiority of Acura’s TSX.
Normal people also appear to have noticed something was missing, as ILX sales have followed a downward trajectory since 2015. However, Acura’s new styling attempts to remedy that by injecting the sedan with some personality.
It hasn’t yielded the Farrah Fawcett of cars (or whoever is professionally attractive in 2018) but the changes are transformative. Acura says the ILX is new “from the A-pillars forward,” borrowing aspects of its Precision Concept. That has resulted in the removal of the brand’s iconic metal beak and the installation of a new diamond pentagon grille — which is the single biggest improvement to the car’s exterior.
Other big changes include upsized center badging, a revised front fascia, updated headlamps, and new taillights. There’s also a simulated rear diffuser, helping the back end of the vehicle match the front’s new sporting looks. If you want more of that, you can wrangle yourself the ILX A-Spec and net a set of 18-inch alloys, some darker trim pieces, and LED fog lamps. There’s A-Spec badging, as well, but we’re not sure why you’d want to advertise this — the option doesn’t influence the powertrain one iota.
You’ll still have a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both of these are holdovers from the previous model year. But it’s still a peppier package than the base engine in the current Honda Civic and its ubiquitous CVT. Acura ILX buyers get a standard suite of active and passive safety systems, too — including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist.
The 2019 model also brings new seats with added support controls, fancier interior trim bits, and a two-screen infotainment system. Acura redesigned the layout to appear more modern, while new software is said to shorten the old digital response time by about 30 percent while making it easier to use. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard now.
While we would have liked to see the A-Spec offering more than a unique color scheme and some visual baubles, the sedan seems to be steering itself in the right direction. Pricing hasn’t been announced. But all variants of the 2019 Acura ILX are expected to arrive on dealer lots in October, so we don’t anticipate a long wait.