Stick Shift: Honda Civic Touring vs Acura ILX A-Spec

I recently had the opportunity to experience lots of time with both the 2019 Honda Civic 1.5T Touring, and the Acura ILX A-Spec. Since all the ILX variants are based on the ninth generation Civic sedan, I wondered, is the extra money spent for essentially a more luxuriously appointed version of the Civic worth it? Read on for my answer to that and more. Let’s take things one category at a time.

Power:

The 2019 Honda Civic uses a 1.5L 4-cylinder turbo engine with direct injection. It makes 174hp. Power is measure out via a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Performance was engaging, with brisk acceleration and a fully-functioning power-band. This was thanks largely to the highly responsive turbo. Passing slower traffic and speeding out of tight bends was more enjoyable than you’d expect from a four-door Civic with no SI or Type R badging to be found.

The Acura ILX A-Spec comes with a much larger 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine. An aluminum block keeps weight down, while Honda’s brilliant Intelligent Variable Valve Timing with Lift Control system (i-VTEC) helps the engine deliver up 201 hp. An 8-speed dual-clutch transmission ensures snappy gear changes. In Sport mode, the paddle shifters helped serve up some serious driving excitement. With an engine that was eager to wind and never stopped sounding great, especially after the VTEC cross-over. Surprisingly, The Acura didn’t feel much faster than the Civic Sedan. Though the engine definitely demonstrated its extra level of refinement and displacement.

Photo via: Honda

Handling:

The Honda Civic Touring uses a MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link set-up in the rear. Front and rear stabilizer bars are present as well. Body roll was minimal and steering response felt crisp and clean. A stable frame and quick turn-in complimented the 4-cylinder turbo’s peppy attitude and strong four-wheel disc brakes. The payoff is a Civic that’s well-rounded in its flair for fun. Proof that Honda isn’t letting the Type R have all the fun.

The Acura ILX A-Spec has four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars and disc brakes at all four corners. Amplitude reactive dampers help smooth out the ride, resulting in a cruising experience that’s more soft and supple. That isn’t to say that the Acura ILX doesn’t maintain its composure around a tight bend or two. It stays incredible level and controlled when tossed around.

Exterior:  

On the outside, the Civic Touring comes well equipped. Its got nicely designed 18” alloy wheels. LED headlights and taillights. A rear deck spoiler, fog lights and a moonroof. It maintains the unmistakeable Civic aesthetic. Introducing a little extra edge with sharp lines and boldly shaped taillights. In general though, it’s clear that Honda has reserved its more aggressive style choices for the SI, and especially Type R model. As they should. 

The Acura ILX I drove was the A-Spec version. As such, it came loaded with extra cosmetic goodies. To start, the alloy wheels may be the same size at 18,” but have a much more attractive design. With a Shark Gray finish. They’re also made from extra light aluminum. In addition, the LED headlights have the Jewel Eye effect that couldn’t look more upscale. Fog lights, side sills that match the body color, a contrasting rear deck-lid spoiler and power moonroof. Visually as a whole, the Acura ILX has a much more intriguing design. Especially in A-Spec trim. It’s far from boring and much more fully realized and statement making than the Civic Touring. A well accomplished balance between elegance and performance.

Interior:

The 2019 Honda Civic Touring has leather trim around the seats, steering wheel and shift knob. Interior design is sharp and modern, with all the necessary Bluetooth, USB and smart phone integration necessary to help us stay connected in these modern times. Some materials border on the cheap plastic variety, but textures, dark colors and finishes help elevate these to create a polish beyond their base plastic composition.The Civic also offers a few extra inches of leg room in the back and headroom up top. Front seats in the Civic are a few inches wider as well compared to the more sporty bolstering of the Acura ILX. The Civic also delivers a couple extra cubic inches of cargo capacity and a total passenger capacity that’s nearly 10 cubic inches greater than the ILX. 

The Acura ILX comes with better materials on board for sure. In A-Spec trim, the sportier shaped seats get Lux suede inserts. Red leather adorns the cabin, offering that higher performance flair. The space is a little tighter as each inch missing over the Civic Sedan can be felt, but materials are of much better quality and the A-Spec package adds graphite and chrome dash trim, an ebony headliner and stainless steel sport pedals. Ambient cabin lighting is nicely integrated, and the multi-infotainment center is bright and easy to control. Active Sound Control also went a long way to keep the cabin as noise free as possible, while still allowing the deep engine tones access in. Both the Civic and ILX models come with generous driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane departure and forward collision warning and land keeping assist. 

Photo via: Acura

Conclusion: 

When comparing costs, the 2019 Civic 1.5T Touring comes in at $28,220.00. While the 2019 Acura ILX A-Spec is expectedly more. Though, not much more. At $32,545.00, it’s hard to miss the obvious value of the more polished, higher performing and smarter looking Acura ILX. It has a bigger, more powerful and much better sounding engine. A dual clutch 8-speed transmission that was happy to hold high rpm’s and play along with however hard or soft you wanted to push things. A sportier and only slightly tighter interior space, full of better and more visually compelling materials. Better assembly and that wonderful red option. Lastly, an exterior design that feels special and unique compared to the Civic design, which has reserved some of its best moves for higher trim models like the Type R. In conclusion, for a little over $4,000.00 more, the ILX offers more of everything, making it a hard upgrade to pass up over the Civic.

By: Brandon Randall

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