PERRYVILLE, Ark. -- For this goose-bumpy romp we snag a 2016 ILX compact 4-door luxury sedan by Acura, the line of performance and luxury vehicles derived from Honda of Japan, and send it over state route 60, a corkscrew stretch of asphalt coursing over rumpled furrows of the Ouachita Mountains in western Arkansas.
It's the ideal venue to show off the taut suspension tuning and sporty handling characteristics of the refreshed, refitted and reworked compact-class sedan for Acura. The 2016 editions of ILX score a welcomed injection of pedal power from a new high-performance engine, then receive a suspension re-tune to boost handling, plus fancy fittings for the luxe passenger compartment.
Cast on a rigid chassis with a 4-cylinder engine directing all torque to the two front wheels which also steer, ILX stocks all of the hardware components to make a responsive sports sedan.
Apply a tape measure to the ILX and the numbers reveal a package size fitting in the compact class with a wheelbase of 105.1 inches and wheel track width of 59.4 inches front and 60.2 inches rear, the car body stretching to 181.9 inches long, a body width of 70.6 inches and the roofline rising to 55.6 inches.
Acura offers a single style for ILX but creates packages of equipment to upgrade the price-leading base model. The trim list runs like this: ILX, ILX Premium, ILX AcuraWatch Plus, ILX Premium & A-Spec, ILX Technology Plus, ILX Technology Plus & A-Spec.
All versions tote a gasoline-powered 4-cylinder aluminum engine which displaces 2.4 liters and carries dual overhead cams, direct injection, drive-by-wire throttle and Honda's i-VTEC (variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion to maximize horsepower. The new ILX engine produces 201 hp at 6800 rpm plus 180 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm and links to a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (8DCT) with torque converter.
Federal EPA fuel consumption numbers for this ILX powertrain tally to 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
Sharp exterior lines mark the 2016 editions of ILX. Note the ultra-fast windshield rake, curt overhangs front and rear, and minimal gaps between tires and fenders. Wheels are positioned near corners of a rectangular body for a sporty posture, and there's a low hood line to enhance forward visibility for the driver, a front fascia with integrated foglamps and squinty jewel-like squared LED lamps on front corners of a pointed prow crowned by Acura's pentagonal grille in silver paint.
Shapely flanks break for round wheelwells as side doors blend into the panels due to black roof pillars which disguise the 4-door format and make it look like a coupe.
All trim versions get an independent suspension system consisting of front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link.
A big disc brake applies at every wheel, with ABS (anti-lock brake system) plus EBD (electronic brake distribution) and BA (brake assist) units, a TCS (traction control system) and VSA (vehicle stability assist) mechanism to correct lateral car skidding.
The ILX passenger compartment contains two broad bucket seats in front of a rear bench with center armrest and 60/40 split fold-down seatback plus trunk pass-through portal.
Standard equipment includes LED headlights and LED taillights, heated side mirrors, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Acura's Keyless Access System with smart entry and pushbutton start, a 2-zone automatic climate system, power door locks and windows, cruise control, leather-bound steering wheel, leatherette upholstery with heated front seats and 8-way power for the driver's seat, a back-up camera with rearview display, Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming audio plus a 6-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/RDS/USB/Pandora.
The Premium package installs leather seat upholstery, a second center display with touchscreen, 7-speaker premium audio system, AcuraLink navigation capability, auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic detection. The Acura Watch Plus package brings a color display for the instrument cluster plus electronic safety devices like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation.
Prices for Acura's 2016 ILX models begin at $27,900.