2013 Acura ILX vs. 2012 Honda Civic: Which Would You Buy?

2013 Acura ILX

The Acura ILX is in a unique position in the marketplace. With a starting price of around $25,000, the premium compact sedan competes with a small set of vehicles that includes the Buick Verano and Volvo C30. These types of vehicles are a growing niche in the market, but is there a big enough difference in sophistication and luxury to choose a premium-brand model over the mainstream car on which it's based?

The 2013 Acura ILX is based off a heavily modified Honda Civic. It features different shock absorbers, a faster steering ratio, a larger-diameter steering shaft, thicker windows and more insulation. Of course, the exterior and interior are completely unique to the Acura.

As for marketing, Honda did a judicious job of making sure the ILX and Civic don't compete on price. A top-of-the-line 2012 Civic EX-L sedan with navigation costs $23,605 and doesn't come with features like automatic climate control or push-button start. These features are included on the $25,900 ILX.

2012 Honda Civic

So if you're not attached to leather upholstery or Honda's not-so-helpful navigation system (both come on the Civic EX-L), should you spend the extra $2,295 to trade up to a base ILX?

I've driven an ILX 2.0 automatic and the 2012 Civic, and I can tell you there's a legitimate, tangible reason for the price increase of the ILX over the Civic, other than upgrading to Acura's more exclusive marque.

Whereas the Civic felt coarse, loud and unrefined, the ILX had a sophisticated-sounding engine note, an overall quieter ride and a more refined suspension. The ILX feels more powerful at launch, exterior wind noise was more subdued, and the steering was indeed snappier than the Civic's. Still, some of the Civic's flaws carry over to the ILX, including pronounced tire noise, which is a deal breaker during my commute. The standard power moonroof also encroached on headroom — my head often touched the ceiling from my desired seating position.

Despite those flaws, the more refined-feeling cabin — still replete with hard-to-the-touch materials, though — and the better driving experience are worth the extra $2,295 to me, especially if you're considering one of these two as your daily driver. Which sedan would you rather buy?

Read Joe Wiesenfelder's First Drive for more driving details.


2013 Acura ILX 2012 Honda Civic sedan
Base price: $25,900 $15,955
Fully loaded price: $34,400 $26,900
(Hybrid with Technology Package) (Hybrid with leather and navigation)

Exclusive, standard, ILX features, over Civic:

Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights 
Speed-sensing windshield wipers 
Pandora internet radio interface 
SMS text messaging feature 
Rear view camera 
Push-button start 
Passive keyless entry system

Comments 

George

How about none, at least for the time being?
The Civic is underpowered and lacks balance shafts. The longer stroke version of the R-series engine has competitive power and has balance shafts-but that is the base engine of the ILX.
Acura's new ILX should have a 2.4 liter engine standard, but would suffer a mileage hit, so when direct injection and the CVT transmission is ready, that will be the standard engine.

Jason

I'll need to find out about the 2013 Civic first. It's rumored to get a refresh after it's disappointing 2012 debut.

Skankzilla

I'll take a loaded Mazda3.

Dylan

I've been strongly considering the Verano, but two things have been keeping me away - fuel economy and reliability. The Cruze has not done particularly well in the realiability department. The ILX is now at the top of my list. Does the active noise control seem to make a difference? Guess you'd have to pull a fuse to check since it's otherwise always on. The choice of tires makes a big difference to road noise. Put Michelin Primacy on my 2006 Civic and its made a world of difference.

Six

I'd rather a new Mazda3, or a used BMW 3 series.

pat

mazda 2.5s

Dale Miller

It has a real Dashboard! That's worth the extra money going away! The true spiritual successor to the legendary Integra has returned to deliver us from the blah cars that everyone built when the SUV was king! WOO HOO!

Jon

if I had to choose between the two of them? the ILX.

I would predict that would be a low point in my life though...if I was seriously considering the ILX, I might also be considering the Verano and 200, which kind of scares me just thinking about it.

A Chrysler 200 might be a better option. It's bigger than either the Civic or ths Acura, nicer than the Honda and a whole lot less money than the ILX. My daughter has one and it hss been a very pleasant surprise.

Jay

Neither...Get the TSX with the 4 banger for extra 40-50 bucks a month.

Six

Eww Chrysler 200

Gary

Bummer we can't get ILX without a sunroof (I'd rather have more headroom than sunroof). Be nice to have Manual transmission option for the 2.0 liter as well.

M

Really? a 200? You get what you pay for...just saying.
I missed the Integra 4dr and I think this is a great car that fills that spot. this is something that's still classy but not over the top. I will take one blacked out!

fc

I rather get the ILX because i like the styling over the boring civic.

Mal

Road noise - HATE it! But does the active noise control in the ILX really work? I'm sure looking forward to checking it out.Otherwise it seems to be much more fun to drive compared to the Civic.

Hoss

Bottom line: It's still a Honda Civic underneath. Very little you can't add in the aftermarket to improve the Civic - Chip-up the engine, better shocks, roll bar, wheel/tire upgrade and a better audio system. And still keep a few thousand in your pocket.

Do better, Acura.

Honda4Life

This car is not a Civic, nor any more then an RDX is a CRV. The 2.0 155hp is a ton better then the standard 1.8L 140hp. The 2L is a power house with a ton of years behind it. The newer 2.4 200hp+ is an upgrade you can get to replace the smaller one for the ILX....it's gonna be nice. The only thing similar with the Civic is the body style, however grill, bumpers and side mirrors are much more tastey pn the ILX..GZ Acura!

Sdarryl

Author's big oversight: u cannot compare a ex-l civic with navi @$23,605 to an entry level ILX @ $25,900 because the stripped ILX does not offer navi at that price point. You would have to acquire the upscale technology pkg on the ILX at $31,400 to begin the now truthful and accurate comparison. You're killing me Mr. Author.

Scott

I love my ILX. I live in a big city and it's a pleasure to drive. It's very easy to park with the rear camera, the audio system is superb when stuck in traffic, the mirrors swing both ways so they don't snap off when the inevitable idiot gets too close to you while parked, and the voice system actually understands what you're saying rather so that it's useful rather than a toy (though there's a LOT of commands and it takes awhile to master).

A tiny bit more headroom would have been nice, but it's good for what it is. The poster is right about $31K being the actual price. You wouldn't want this car without the tech package.

Scott

P.S. this is also the first GPS system I've used that chooses sensible routes. I had a Garmin in my old car and it would always pick the oddest way to get somewhere, trying to have me cross busy roads with no traffic lights. The ILX seems to pick major arterials instead of side streets.

I like ILX even if its costlier than the Civic because i like its outlook as well as its loaded features.

scott

I think when Honda came up with their new dashboard...(yes the one you can not see over) They lost many followers. Not to mention the cars looks plain silly. The ILS is a 4 cyc and 2.4 lt...but if they could just bump up the MPG a bit. Maybe create a cars similar to the very popular Integra. Acura really made some nice stuff until they went big, heavy, 6 cycl gas pigs with automatic xmissions. Basically grandma cars. Nice to see there trying to get it together again

dan

Hi
I traded a loaded Mazda 3 for an ILX. the ILX is head and shoulders above the mazda, and I am not saying the mazda is bad. if they would just figure out how to stop the rust problem with the Mazda 3.
the 3 does not have near to options of the ILX

Joe

Just realized, if you want to really get an Accura owner mad, with a straight face call it a Honda ILX.

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