With a hat trick of new cars at this year's Detroit auto show--including the hybrid NSX concept--the Acura brand is taking fresh aim at luxury-car buyers that have moved onward and upward to other brands.

With the ILX concept, Acura's looking for fresh talent. The new four-door makes it clear that Honda's idea of luxury car buyers now includes those folks who want smaller, greener cars.

Acura says the ILX concept is the precursor to a new vehicle it will put on sale early next year. Like most recent Honda and Acura concept cars, this one looks about 90 percent production-ready, though that's not yet confirmed by the company. It's pointed right at first-time luxury-car buyers who can't quite swing into the usual 3-Series--or, Acura hopes, a TL or TSX.

It's a handsome new vehicle, and the ILX shares its basics with the latest Honda Civic. That car hasn't been well-reviewed by the automotive press; our sister site, The Car Connection, gave the 2012 Honda Civic an overall rating of 6.6 out of 10. Still, Honda's already committed to making fixes on engine noise, interior surfaces and other issues on the Civic itself, and the transformation into an Acura could take those upgrades even further.

Three engines will be available with the ILX, and the lineup is similar to the drivetrains found in the Civic. The base engine's a 2.0-liter four; the Si equivalent sports a 2.4-liter four. Finally, a hybrid edition--Acura's first gas-electric car--gets the latest 1.5-liter four teamed with batteries and electric motors. No power outputs or gas-mileage ratings have been announced, but they're likely to be in line with those of the Civic.

To distinguish it from the Civic, the ILX gets a more upscale interior. Acura's also promising keyless entry and pushbutton start, and an audio system with Pandora streaming capability and voice-to-text (or possibly text-to-voice) translation.

Unlike other Acura-brand vehicles with an "X" in the name, the ILX will not offer all-wheel drive.

The ILX goes into production this year at Honda's Civic plant in Greensburg, Indiana.

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