Interior view of the 2016 Acura ILX.

The 2016 Acura ILX is a smartly designed, feature-packed sedan and might be a very nice start for those looking for luxury’s “gateway” vehicle, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt. (#Siliconeer, @Siliconeer, #2016AcuraILX, #Lifestyle)

If your daily commute involves lots of freeway driving, or if you’re particularly concerned about safety features, you might want to check out the Acura 2016 ILX. It garners top awards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The ILX, considered by Acura to be its entry-luxury sedan, has for several model years been packed with all kinds of top-flight safety and technology features. For 2016, the model receives upgrades not only to those safety and technology features, but also to its styling, powertrain, technology and luxury qualities.

Exterior view of the 2016 Acura ILX.

Exterior view of the 2016 Acura ILX.

The ILX is available in three grades – the standard ILX, which by itself isn’t short on enhancements. Then there’s the ILX with Premium Package, and the top-of-the-line ILX Tech Plus Package, which was our test car for the month. This car was also equipped with the A-SPEC Package, which added a deck lid spoiler, side sill embellishment, front fog lights and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels for a performance-like look.

Changes to the 2106 models include a restyled front and rear fascia, front grille and LED combination lights in the rear.

The ILX model may be a smaller five-passenger sedan, but it is not short on the standard features and safety technology that you would expect to find in any Acura.

All ILX models are now powered by a 2.4-liter, 16-valve direct-injected DOHC engine that offers peak output of 201 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. It’s paired with an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

The base model offers such high-end standard features as Keyless Access with push button start, Pandora Internet radio interface, a power moon roof, aluminum wheels, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, and heated door mirrors.

Standard safety features start with Acura’s highly acclaimed Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, and add side-impact door beams; front, side and side curtain air bags; anti-lock brakes; Electronic Brake Force Distribution; Hill Start Assist; and Vehicle Stability Assist.

Exterior view of the 2016 Acura ILX.

Exterior view of the 2016 Acura ILX.

As our test car was the Premium model, it had all the extras you’d expect: leather seating, an 8-way power driver’s seat, multi-view rear view camera, keyless Smart Entry with Push Button start, six-speaker AM/FM/CD radio, dual-zone climate control, as well as several new premium upgrades, such as Blind Spot Information, Cross Traffic Monitor, HD Radio, a four-way power seat for front passenger, a larger display screen, and smartphone-linked navigation system. It’s a very nice collection of features on a car that has a base price of $34,890.

The 2016 Acura ILX is a sporty-looking sedan with sweeping lines. Behind the wheel, you’ll find supportive seats and a cleanly designed dashboard. Visibility is very good to the front, sides, and even to the rear. Out on the road, I immediately noticed its smooth ride, intuitive and responsive handling and almost total lack of road noise. Acura’s sound-dampening efforts were already extremely effective, but are even more so with this year’s addition of thicker front door glass and noise-reducing wheels. Having such a quiet ride means you can really hear your passengers, which is a bonus when you’re little ones are in the rear seat.

The rear seat is comfortable for passengers in the outboard positions. Even the rear middle seat is made just that much more comfortable, thanks to a flat floorboard.

The trunk is good sized and easily accessed through a lid that lifts up and away.

The 2016 Acura ILX is a smartly designed, feature-packed sedan and might be a very nice start for those looking for luxury’s “gateway” vehicle.