Acura’s entry level ILX going up against BMW’s 328i? Is this a valid comparison considering that the 328i costs $10,000 more than the ILX?
Actually, it is. Acura released the 2013 ILX model after realizing that this generation’s young adults (Gen Y) don’t have as much spare income as the previous generations. Money for these younger working adults is going straight to repaying student loans or gobbling the latest tech gadgets. For these recent college grads who are starting their careers and are deciding whether driving a BMW is worth the extra dough over the cheaper but still luxurious Acura, the choice can be tough.
When it comes to status symbol, the BMW will trump almost every non-supercar. Everything about the brand oozes with sex appeal and class. For a young adult, driving a BMW shows that he or she has made it and the future is bright and only going to get better.
Other the other hand, Acura is working hard trying to shed its image as just a better Honda. In 2006, it axed the Acura RSX – a car that appealed to the high school kids – not a good car to have in your lineup if you want to take market share away from Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes. Since the RSX, Acura has reinvented its image with bigger, more luxurious cars as direct competitors to BMW’s lineup.
But which car will get you more looks and more girls? The BMW 328i is the clear winner here. Despite Acura’s revised market audience, its image still has a long way to go.
The 2013 ILX base model comes equipped with a 150 horsepower engine producing 140-lbs of torque. The general consensus is that the ILX will get you where you need to go but don’t expect many thrills. One can expect a smooth ride with easy handling but nothing that will get your friends on the edge of their seats. In fact, the entry level ILX has similar performance to a Civic LX. For $4,000 more, you can get the premium package which will come with a 201-HP engine.
The entry level BMW 328i comes equipped with a 4-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine producing 240 HP and 260-lb of torque. With 90 more horsepower, the BMW 328i runs past the ILX – going as fast as 5.9 seconds from 0-60.
We think the BMW 328i wins handily here but is it $10,000 better in performance? It’s close. At $35,000, there are better performing cars than the BMW but none have the combination of luxury and speed. If you don’t care about how fast you can drive off the line, then the ILX is a better choice.
The 2013 BMW 328i has MPG ratings of 23/33 compared to only 18/28 for the previous generation of 328i. This improvement is especially impressive when we factor in the overall increase in horsepower and torque. The 2013 BMW 328i has 12 more horses, and 56 more pounds of torque compared to the 2011 version. BMW has done a marvelous job of balancing between power and fuel efficiency in the new 328i.
The standard 2.0L ILX has MPG ratings of 24/35 while the 2.4L comes with 22/31. The less powerful engine beats the BMW slightly by only a combined 3 MPG. However, Acura also produces a hybrid version with 39/38 MPG though it costs $3,000 more. One quick note, the 2.0L engine will do fine using cheap gas.
BMW’s fuel economy is impressive in its latest model but the winner still goes to the ILX. The ILX has better gas mileage overall and for 3 grand more, you can get a car that rivals most compact cars in gas savings.
Luxury and Standard Features
Acura has developed one of the best dash systems in the auto industry. Most of what you need to do are mounted on the steering wheel itself. The button lay-out is easy for the driver and if you like having a lot of switches in a car, you’ll love the Acura.
Standard features include:
- Push button start
- Pandora internet radio
- Hands free text messaging
- Stainless steel petals
To get leather seats, you’ll have to upgrade to the Premium Package which will cost you an extra $4,000 and a GPS system with upgrading speakers? Add another $2,000. We do like that it comes with a rear-view camera system but again, you’ll need to fork over more money for that.
Standard features for both the ILX and 328i are similar. However, BMW gives you more choices in selecting exactly what you want. Adding the technology package which includes a navigation system, smartphone integration will cost you $3,100. You have a choice of adding sportier features by paying $3,850 for the M Sport Line.
Overall, to get a 328i decently equipped, the cost can run up to $45,000 easily while the ILX tops out at about $29,000.
We like both cars and we think both cars are great buys. For those that have a tighter budget, the 2013 ILX should be the clear winner. It has great standard features, a smooth ride, and the Acura badge. Reliability should not be a concern as Acura is known for building some of the most reliable cars around. Maintenance such as tires and oil changes also cost less for the ILX.
For those who are a little more daring in life, go with the BMW 328i. It will catch more eyes with its elegant look and supreme performance. We like the fuel economy and the interior design but the expensive add-ons and overall pricing might be out of reach for the generation Y.