First introduced in 2012, the Acura ILX is framed as the premium brand’s replacement for the Acura TSX, and continues the tradition as a premium compact sedan offered at a relatively affordable price. At the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show,

Acura ushered in a refresh for the 2016 model year, bringing an updated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed transmission, and new LED headlights. Now, there’s a special edition model on the table, and it gets sportier exterior styling plus new premium goodies in the cabin.

The new special edition is in dealers now, and it gets styling components pulled from the sporty-looking A-Spec package, plus premium touches in the cabin that help to justify the model’s luxurious aspirations. However, in terms of actual performance, the ILX Special Edition is essentially unchanged. Making the go is a standard-spec 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, with direct fuel injection, dual overhead cams, and the i-VTEC variable valve timing system.

Acura ILX

Sending the power to the front axle is an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which can be controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters if desired. Peak output is rated at 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, while fuel mileage is rated at 25 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined. Pricing for the Special Edition model is set at $28,900, which is an $800 premium over the standard model.

What makes the Acura ILX Special Edition, special

For starters, the Acura ILX was already a rather sharp-looking piece of design, even in its standard specification. While no one is gonna confuse it for a high-end German luxury sedan, the ILX is still a cut above the more mundane commuters that reside just below its entry-level price.

The point is this – it’s a pretty solid starting point for this Special Edition. Luckily, Acura built on this (as opposed to diminished it) when going about upgrading the exterior. Upgrades include new aero components plucked from the popular A-Spec package, including a new rear spoiler and side skirts, plus 18-inch wheels in the corners and the requisite special edition badges scattered here and there. In the front fascia you’ll find Acura’s JewelEye headlights, complete with LEDs and an automatic on/off feature.

Read the Full Review.

Like the exterior, we find the ILX Special Edition equipped with exactly the sort of stuff you want inside. There’s an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a multi-view rear-facing camera, a one-touch power moonroof, a Bluetooth hands-free feature, a 5.0-inch display, keyless smart entry, a push-button starter, a security system, and leather for the steering wheel and shift knob. Acura is also offering its AcuraWatch safety systems and driver assists as an available option.

Normally, we aren’t the biggest fans of these sorts of special editions. We usually find them overpriced and promising far more than they can deliver.

This time around, we were pleasantly surprised. Given the ILX seeks a mix of performance and luxury amenities, we like the slightly sportier attitude and extra stuff in the cabin. True, there are more aggressive options out there, and there are more luxurious options out there as well, but this special edition finds a nice balance all the same. There aren’t too many gimmicks (no blacked-out trim, thank goodness), and rather, you get all the sort of stuff you actually want. Sure, we’d love more performance, but we’ll let it slide this time around.

Read the Full Review.

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