I have been an automotive journalist receiving press vehicles every week for over 25 years. It takes a lot to surprise me but recently a 2017 Acura ILX with the Tech Plus & A-Spec packages did just that in a very positive way.

When I first got in the Acura I was greeting by the look, feel and smell of a Honda family product. But once I drove away I was impressed by two items right away for a front drive car this is very neutral good handling machine and wow this a true dual clutch transmission

The 2017 Acura ILX is a focused and comfortable compact sedan on the first rung of the Acura luxury ladder.

Last year, the Acura ILX received a slight refresh in front and back. Inside for 2017 you will find improved interior materials and some changes at the center of the dash, where connectivity features have been given an upgrade with the introduction of Acura’s dual-screen infotainment systems to the ILX. Also for 2017 gets the same 2.4-liter inline-4 and dual-clutch setup as Acura’s next-larger model the TLX. The power rating is 201 horsepower along with 180 pound-feet of torque (up 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter).

There’s solid-feeling construction throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura improved cabin refinement and quietness back in 2017 with thicker glass and noise-attenuating wheels; and that’s in addition to the smart active noise cancellation system Acura made standard for the lineup last year.

The 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox uses a torque converter for low-speed smoothness, yet its shifts are super-quick during high-performance driving, with rev-matched downshifts and good driver control through steering-wheel shift paddles. The dual-clutch transmission is superb and a near-perfect pairing of smoothness and responsiveness. Without question at this price point a true dual clutch unit is rare and it transform the way the drive performs when pushed hard, clicking off shifts at in a milli-second.

The 2017 ILX achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined with this powertrain. Again this dual-clutch automatic transmission is a gem. It automates the function of a manual transmission for quicker shifting and, while similar transmissions are available from several manufacturers, the Acura version has a twist: There’s also an old-school torque converter, providing a torque boost and smoother operation overall.

The suspension and steering are equally fun just cruising around town, or exploring your favorite mountain road. This one of the better handling front drive vehicles on the road. at any price.

The Acura ILX is much quieter since its 2016 upgrade, making it less stressful to drive, and sportier since you can now hear the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder’s satisfying note. Beyond that the interior uses good materials, with only a few hard plastic touches as reminders that you bought on a budget. The comfortable front seats are matched with comfortable rears, and the driver’s controls are mostly easy to use. My A-Spec test model seats had unique fabric and gray contrast stitching. along with 18 inch wheels and some suspension tweaks,

Acura calls its multi-lensed LED headlight treatment “Jewel Eye,” and it’s definitely distinctive.. The 2017 ILX adds a separate bar of LED running lights, and overall it looks nice. The grille treatment, taillights, front and rear bumpers, and the rest of the exterior design manage to look distinctly different from the Honda Civic upon which the ILX is based.

All 2017 Acura ILX models come standard with the 2.4-liter engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. They also come fairly well loaded with other features, including a rearview camera with multiple views, automatic headlights, dual-zone GPS-linked climate control, passive entry with push-button start, and an 8-way power driver’s seat. Even base models get heated front seats, and part of the ILX’s quiet is thanks to noise abating wheels and active noise cancellation.

A base 2017 Acura ILX will run you just under $29,000 when you include the $940 destination charge. Move up to the Premium Package and you’re looking at just under $31,000, and the Technology Plus model comes in at just under $34,000. The ILX costs thousands less than the base model Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz CLA250, especially when you start adding options to those other cars.

Overall the 2017 Acura ILX is full of pleasant surprises which makes it a great value in compact entry-level luxury sedan world.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD

Highlights

Dual Clutch Transmission

Performance

Handling

Lowlights

Some find the infotainment system confusing

No manual option for purists

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 7

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 8.5

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 9

Audio System 7

Performance 7

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 7

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