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Posted at 03:03 PM ET, 04/30/2012

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


(Cars.com)

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.


(Cars.com)

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

By Cars.com  |  03:03 PM ET, 04/30/2012

 
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