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2020 Acura ILX vs. 2020 Audi A3: Which Is Better?

Two of the more approachable subcompact luxury sedans on the market today are the 2020 Audi A3 and 2020 Acura ILX.  Here we’ll see how the two compare to help you decide which may be better for you.

Quick Facts

  • The ILX shares its underpinnings with the Honda Civic; the A3 is built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf.
  • The A3 is available with all-wheel drive; the ILX is front-wheel drive only.

2020 Acura ILX

2020 Acura ILX

2020 Acura ILX Starting Price: $26,995

What We Like: Good value, nimble handling, best entry-level luxury car in KBB’s 5-year Cost-to-Own awards.

What We Would Change: No all-wheel drive. No manual transmission.

Overview: The ILX is Acura’s entry-level vehicle.  It went on sale for the 2013 model year and has since had two facelifts; one for 2016, and one for 2019.  While it’s built on the Civic platform, it’s worth noting that this is the ninth-generation Civic we’re talking about, which was sold from 2012 through 2015; not the same Civic you’ll find for sale at the Honda dealer today.  Under the hood is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque.  Since 2016, that’s been sent to the wheels via an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

What’s new for 2020: The ILX carries over unchanged for 2020

Features and technology: We like the ILX the most in its Premium trim, where it comes with leather seating, a two-screen infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, memory seats, and more.  Opting for the technology packages gets you a navigation system, and ELS premium audio, while the A-Spec package comes with 18-in wheels, sport seats with suede inserts, a black headliner, fog lights, a spoiler, and aluminum pedals.  A litany of active safety features comes standard; worth noting, as the Audi requires you to spend more to get these features. Altogether, the 2020 Acura ILX may not carry the prestige associated with European luxury cars, but it’s an efficient compact premium sedan offering Acura luxury at a reasonable price.

What does the future hold: The ILX is based on the Honda Civic, which is set to be redesigned for the 2022 model year.  Expect a new compact sedan from Acura to debut around that time as well, which according to leaks, may or may not bear the ILX name. See the 2020 Acura ILX models for sale near you

2020 Audi A3

2020 Audi A3

2020 Audi A3 Starting Price: $33,300

What We Like: Tailored, upscale design. Fun to drive. Turbocharged engine. Available AWD.

What We Would Change: Cramped back seat. Small trunk. It’s classified by the EPA as a subcompact.

Overview: The A3 is a premium European luxury sedan.  A subcompact, it’s on the small size, and like the 2020 Acura ILX, the A3’s back seat is only appropriate for adults.  The driving experience is enjoyable though, thanks to good chassis engineering and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.  The only transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.  Front-wheel drive models make 184 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque, while all-wheel drive-equipped A3s make 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft.

What’s new for 2020: Not a lot changes with the A3 for 2020.  The convertible model has been discontinued, while the sedan gets some packaging changes and a new Quantum Gray exterior color.

Features and technology: Acura’s design language is sharp, modern, and minimalist.  Leather seating, an 8-way power driver’s seat, 18-in wheels, LED lighting, parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and more come standard.  Premium Plus models add blind spot monitoring and a Bang & Olufsen audio system, while lane-keep assist, radar cruise control, and a 12.3-in digital gauge cluster become optional.

FWD models boast 12.3 cu ft of cargo space, while AWD models have just 10 cu ft due to additional AWD hardwear.  Like Acura, Audi offers a 4-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What does the future hold: Audi debuted an all-new A3 for the European market that will go on sale for the 2021 model year; expect it to arrive in the US for 2022. See the 2020 Audi A3 models for sale near you

ILX vs. A3: Strengths Comparison

Both the 2020 Acura ILX and Audi A3 show that luxury automakers are capable of applying their mid- and full-size car formulas to a smaller scale vehicle.

Acura ILX Benefits: The ILX is significantly less expensive than the A3.  It’s also roomier; with over 100 cubic feet of combined passenger and cargo room, the EPA classifies the ILX as a compact car.  Additionally, while both vehicles offer the same warranty coverage, Acura and parent company Honda have a better reputation for reliability than Acura.

Audi A3 Benefits: The A3 wears sharper styling than the ILX inside and out, and it’s offered with all-wheel drive; a requirement for many buyers in cold climates.

ILX vs. A3: Which is Better?

There’s really not a cut and dry winner here.  The Audi A3 has more of a presence, offers available all-wheel traction, and is a more rewarding vehicle to drive than the Acura ILX.  But it’s also more expensive and a little less spacious.  The Acura is the more value-laden option, and you can rest assured knowing it comes backed by Honda’s reputation for sensible design and good reliability.  Find an Acura ILX for sale or Find an Audi A3 for sale

2020 Acura ILX 2020 Audi A3
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.4-liter I4 2.0-liter turbo I4
Horsepower 201 hp @ 6,800 rpm 184 hp @ 4,300 rpm
Torque 180 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm 222 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission Automatic, 8-spd Automatic, 7-spd
Fuel Economy 28 mpg (24 city/34 hwy) 29 mpg (27 city/36 hwy)
Also Available n/a 2.0-liter turbo I4; AWD
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.1 inches 103.8 inches
Overall Length 182.2 inches 175.5 inches
Width 70.6 inches 70.7 inches
Height 55.6 inches 55.7 inches
Turning Diameter 36.8 feet 36.1 feet
Headroom, Front 38.0 inches 36.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 35.9 inches 36.1 inches
Legroom, Front 42.3 inches 41.2 inches
Legroom, Rear 34.0 inches 35.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.6 inches 54.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.6 inches 53.0 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 89.3 cu. ft. 86.9 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 12.4 cu. ft. 12.3 cu. ft.


Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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