APRIL 2013
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Motoring

ALL-NEW ILX IS WELCOME TO THE ACURA LINEUP

Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE, motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Some may ask: Why the steel unit-body ILX? Why not? Slotting under the Acura TSX, this entry-level sedan is perfectly equipped and base-priced just right at $25,900. Its target? The young professionals who are looking for a good-looking, agile, practical and enjoyable sedan offering oodles of luxury. And these potential buyers want their ‘dream’ ride to be under $30K.

Powertrain choices in the all-new ride are a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine developing 150 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 140 pounds-feet of torque @ 4300 rpm. Or our test drive, which was the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, putting out a respectable 201 hp @ 7000 rpm and 170 pounds-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. The former is mated to a 5-speed auto and the latter, (which shares its engine with the Civic Si and the TSX), to a superb-shifting 6-speed manual. The car also gets Acura’s first hybrid system.

But we can assure you the 4-cylinder-offering-only ILX is no Civic. Look wise, it’s a stunner with a low stance, short tail and a long hood that meets up with the massive but familiar Acura grille, flanked by xenon headlights. The driver-oriented cabin is tailored and classy with such standard amenities as dual-zone auto climate control, power moon roof, supple leather seats and steering wheel, tilt/telescopic steering column, Bluetooth hands-free system, heated front seats, rearview camera and the Acura premium sound system with seven speakers. Sandwiched between the round speedometer and tachometer is the appropriately-placed but clear and legible Multi-Information Display, showing outside temp and fuel mileage figures.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, vehicle stability control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, hill start assist, three-point seat belts, side-impact door beams, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

Boasting a stylish appearance, spirited performance and abundant creature comforts, the ILX is a fitting addition to the Acura lineup. This beauty is a winner for Honda’s luxury division.

ACURA ILX (2.4)

Tires: P215/45 R17 all season

Wheelbase: 105.1 inches

Length: 179.1 inches

Suspension: MacPherson strut front; multilink rear

Steering: electric

Weight: 2,978 pounds

Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons

City: 22 mpg

Highway: 31 mpg

Base price: $29,200

Web site: www.acura.com


SUBCOMPACT KIA RIO IS INCREDIBLY INEXPENSIVE!

This one grows on you. Agreed, it’s a subcompact with tight rear-seat space but otherwise it’s packed with amenities you rarely come across in an $18,000 ride. And a fun front-wheel-drive car to pitch through corners.

Revised inside out just last year, the 2013 Kia Rio SX is equipped with a sole 1.6-liter inline-4 cylinder engine delivering 138 horsepower @ 6300 rpm and 123 pounds-feet of torque @ 4850 rpm. OK, it’s not a speed demon but just right for taking on peak-hour traffic or tackling those sharp turns on narrow roads.

Our hatchback SX was mated to a 6-speed manual gear box, which was effortless to shift. A MacPherson-type front and torsion beam axle rear suspension works well to soak unpleasant obstacles with little sacrifice to the back side. Handling and steering feel, communicated via an electric rack-and-pinion system, is commendable.

The Rio is bold in appearance with massive projector headlights that surround a chrome-slathered black-mesh radiator grille. Best of all are standard interior amenities such as a navigation system, rearview camera, 60/40 rear seat, leather steering wheel and shifter knob, tilt and telescopic steering column, six-way driver’s adjustable seat, trip computer, metal-finish trim and pedals, and air-conditioning. An under-floor cargo tray and open bin under the dashboard take away any worries of storing possessions.

That safety is vital for Kia is apparent from the standard dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, electronic stability and traction control systems, antilock four-wheel brakes, hill assist control, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, side impact door beams and front/rear crumple zones.

We averaged around 32 in city and 36 on highway and 34 in mixed driving (EPA estimates are 29/37 and 32). With gasoline prices still hovering around $3.50 a gallon, this entry-level car can save you loads of the green stuff over the long run.

If you are looking for an enjoyable ride with a lively attitude, the Rio delivers the goods. And for a steal of a deal.

RIO SX

Tires: 205/45R17

Wheelbase: 101.2 inches

Length: 159.3 inches

Weight: 2,483 pounds

Web site: www.kia.com


BASE OUTLANDER ES EKES ACCEPTABLE PERFORMANCE

Infiniti M We wrote about the high-end 2013 Outlander GT-AWC (3.0-liter V-6 engine, 230 horsepower) just a few months back. Recently, Mitsubishi sent over the base front-wheel-drive ES for a test drive. We weren’t surprised. After all, the more quickly the carmaker sells the 2013 compact SUV, the earlier it can ship out next year’s totally-redesigned Outlander.

The Outlander Sport ES is equipped with a 2.4-liter, inline-4 cylinder engine developing 168 hp @ 6000 rpm and 167 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. It’s mated to a standard 5-speed manual, which is sprightly to drive. A MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension delivers a comfy well-damped ride.

Air-conditioning, tilt leather steering column, power windows and door locks, cloth upholstery, trip computer, fold-down tailgate, 60/40 rear seat, leather shifter and steering wheel and height-adjustable driver’s seat are standard.

Safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, stability and traction control, hill start assist, four-wheel antilock brakes, front seat active-head restraints and tire pressure monitoring system.

No doubt, the four-cylinder Outlander is lacking in power and, as a result, manages just an adequate performance. However, it makes up for the deficiency with generous passenger and cargo space, good fuel mileage (our mixed driving average was 28) and a price that’s quite competitive in the compact SUV market.

OUTLANDER ES

Wheelbase: 105.1 inches

Length: 183.7 inches

Steering: assisted electric power

Weight: 3,384 pounds

Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons

City: 24 mpg

Highway: 30 mpg

Base price: $19,170

Web site: www.mitsubishicars.com

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