2023 Acura Integra, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2023 Acura Integra First Drive: Unexpectedly Like the Original Sport Compact
The new Integra isn’t overtly nostalgic, but its values haven’t changed since ’86.
Say you’re looking for a right-size new car that’s not boring, with four doors for everyday practicality, and make it premium because, hey, you deserve it. With the average price of a new vehicle having recently risen to nearly 50 grand, something around the pre-supply-chain-crunch average price tag of about $35,000 would be aces. Provided you haven’t already locked on a fully loaded mainstream family sedan or an SUV, the 2023 Acura Integra is definitely worth a look.
This Acura resurrects an iconic name to compete in an entry-luxury segment defined by tiny, luxury-badged offerings such as the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes A-Class, and Audi A3. Mostly, those are cynical plays for prestige chasers, merely decent cars that don’t offer their brands’ best. The Integra may seem just as craven—it’s based on the Honda Civic—yet it has real cachet, with “Integra” having lived rent-free in enthusiasts’ brains since 1986, when it helped launch the Acura brand alongside the Legend. The (also-Civic-based) original succeeded wildly at winning the same type of young, silver-spooned buyers Acura wants today.
Separating The Honda From The Acura
Normally, mechanical associations with “lesser” cars aren’t this successful. And Acura isn’t hiding that the Integra is, from the strut towers down, essentially a Civic, mostly because the Honda is so excellent. Acura’s designers and engineers, however, changed enough to produce unique, edgy styling draped on completely new sheetmetal. They even tooled up a new body-in-white for the Civic platform that’s slightly stiffer (2 to 5 percent) than the already rigid Honda. Both cars share a 107.7-inch wheelbase, meaning the Integra is not a super-small car, and its tapered body is 1.8 inches longer and 1.1 inches wider than the Civic’s and similarly larger than the BMW 2 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Beneath its Acura clothing, the front-wheel-drive Integra combines various Honda components in ways you can’t replicate on any Civic. The 200-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4 engine, manual transmission, and larger brakes are donated by the Civic Si sedan, which isn’t available with a hatchback.
Nor does the Si offer an automatic transmission, though one is available on lower-output versions of this engine on other Civics. (That continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT, is standard on the Integra and Integra A-Spec, and it’s a no-cost option on the A-Spec with the Tech package.) No Civic offers the Integra’s amplitude-reactive dampers, whose valving produces different responses to quicker or slower suspension movements, nor can you get the Integra’s optional electronically adaptive dampers on the Si.
How Does It Drive?
If you guessed the answer to the above question is “like a Civic,” here’s a cookie. Specifically, the Integra drives like the delightful Civic Si with a more compliant ride and the wick turned down on its artificially augmented engine sound. With less fake noise coming through the audio system, the engine sounds better and more natural than it does in the Honda. The exhaust is routed similarly in both cars, right down to the odd looped piping under the rear bumper, meaning you can almost always hear the engine thrumming away, though it never drones.
Remarkably, given the Acura’s extra content, nicer cabin materials, and hatch, it weighs only 120 or so pounds more than a Civic Si or hatchback, making it impressively light for its size, at between 3,000 and 3,100 pounds. We’d stomach some extra mass for sound attenuation. Like the Hondas, the Integra is loud, especially on grooved concrete or the aggregate-style asphalt used in Texas, where we drove the car. Luckily, Tech package models include an incredible 16-speaker ELS audio system that can not only drown out the road noise but possibly also the very thoughts in your head.
Beyond their hum, the tires squeal in protest from almost the moment you start pushing the car, and every Integra gets these all-season tires. The Civic Si’s optional summer tires would be great here, mostly because that model proves this chassis can handle way more rubber. Despite its dulled grip, the Acura accelerates, steers, and brakes just like the Civic Si, one of the best-handling front-drive cars you can buy today.
We noticed only minor ride differences between the Comfort, Normal, and Sport drive modes that alter the top trim level’s adaptive dampers, though every setting is more comfortable than the Si’s firm, fixed setup. The engine’s responses see more pronounced changes, quickening in Sport and blunting in Comfort; Normal is just right. The steering is accurate and more feelsome than average and, in A-Spec models, enjoys a slightly quicker ratio than in the Civic Si and regular Integras.
And then there is that six-speed manual transmission. It is the only way to get the Si’s limited-slip differential in the Acura, and the shifter is a joy to use, with short throws and a precise, positive feel. Honda’s driver-selectable rev-matching feature that eliminates the need to heel-and-toe shift is included. Want to shut it off? As in the Civic Si, that requires an annoyingly deep dive into the central touchscreen, and only when the vehicle is in park. Ditto if you want to customize Individual drive mode’s steering, suspension, and powertrain settings.
Acura mostly limited our drive time around Austin, Texas, to the fully loaded, stick-shift Integra A-Spec with the Technology package. Normally we’d eye such an enthusiast-pleasing move with suspicion—”sure, give us the fun-to-drive Integra to play up nostalgia for the old one”—except a shocking 65 percent of pre-launch reservations are for the manual transmission.
We briefly experienced the Integra with the CVT, and as in the Civic, this transmission is a smooth and willing partner to the turbo engine, if a little boring. At least it doesn’t produce any laggy sensations like in many transmissions of this type, and it offers seven driver-selectable ratios accessed via paddle shifters, plus an “S” setting that holds those ratios longer for a peppier feel.
A Sporty Everyday Machine
With only 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, plus slightly more mass to contend with than the Civic Si, the identically geared Integra is likely a hair slower to 60 mph than the Si’s 7.1 seconds. It also might not prove as quick as some of its more powerful competitors; the 2 Series gets 228 hp, while the A3 has 201, both from larger 2.0-liter engines.
In the real world, though, the Acura scampers eagerly when the accelerator is pressed, just like in an Si. It is likewise extremely satisfying to just drive around, engaging in ways none of its direct (or indirect) competitors is. The chassis is neutral, and you can tighten your line in the middle of a corner with a dab of brakes or a lift of the throttle before rolling into the gas and feeling the limited-slip yank the Integra the rest of the way through.
You’re rewarded throughout with good feedback and the sensation that you could wring everything from the Acura without getting arrested. It’s easy work, too, thanks to the thin roof pillars and low beltline opening up clear sightlines ahead and to the sides, though the flatter hatchback glass pinches the rear view.
Acura has outfitted the cabin with finer materials that mostly distract from the various pieces and displays borrowed from the Civic, though the dashboard and on-screen fonts are different. The 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster is easily controlled via a pair of scroll wheels on the steering wheel spokes, and the available 9.0-inch touchscreen responds quickly to inputs and presents a clear menu structure and large on-screen buttons. The Civic’s climate controls appear here, too, but they’re the same luxurious-feeling knurled knobs that precisely click-click-click like they’re from a more expensive car.
Don’t put too much stock in the Integra having a hatch—this is no actual hatchback in the traditional sense of the body style. There is more cargo room than you’d get with a trunk (a generous 24.3 cubic feet before you fold the rear seats flat), but look at the roofline: It nearly matches that of the Civic sedan. The rear glass is so sloped, Acura doesn’t even install a rear wiper. The look matches the original five-door Integra’s similar fastback-with-a-notch shape, and it also leaves rear headroom feeling like the only tight interior dimension; a 5-foot-10 rider’s head will just graze the ceiling back there. Leg and shoulder room in the back are good.
What Cost, Integra-Ty?
At $36,895 fully loaded, the Integra costs Honda Accord money while offering a sportier, more practical, better-equipped alternative to automotive handbags like the A-Class and 2 Series. The $33,895 A-Spec package is a solid choice for anyone who doesn’t want the manual, as it unlocks all six of the Integra’s paint colors, as well as more visually arresting 18-inch wheels and interior colorways, including a nifty brick-red option and a white choice in addition to all-black. Even the lowliest Integra is worth a look, offering most of the same stuff as a loaded Civic hatchback for just $750 more.
And now to the elephants in the room: that the Integra lacks pop-up headlights or a coupe option or an 8,000-rpm redline, as die-hard Integra enthusiasts no doubt believe it needs. For a beloved car that was shelved in 2001 and went on to cult status, you’d expect some of those items to come off the shelf alongside the name, too.
There is a little nostalgia baked in, namely the ’90s-throwback INTEGRA lettering molded into the bumpers and that manual transmission, but that may not be enough for longtime Integra followers. But it’ll be perfect for their kids, who, like their parents back when the original Top Gun movie was in theaters, are entering the car market and looking for a well-balanced, premium-feeling, attainable new car. In that way, the Integra has retained exactly what it needed to from the original.
Looks good! More details?
|2023 Acura Integra Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||1.5L/200-hp /192-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSIONS||6-speed manual, CVT|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,000-3,100 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||185.8 x 72.0 x 55.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.2-8.0 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||26-30/36-37/30-33 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||372-409 miles|
- HIGHSEager handling, available six-speed stick, attractive design inside and out.
- LOWSNoisy on the road, rear seat lacks creature comforts, the Civic Si offers similar driving fun for less money.
- VERDICTThe revived Integra is a fun-to-drive small car with a premium look and feel, but it falls short of expectations set by its rivals.
Honda’s Acura luxury division has relaunched the iconic Integra nameplate in hopes of finding success in the entry-luxury compact segment. The all-new Integra replaces the aging ILX sedan, an entry-luxury compact that failed to make much of a mark on the segment. Some may wonder why a luxury automaker would choose to launch a sporty four-door sedan in the Age of the SUV, but we’d be quick to remind them that the Integra is a big part of what made the Acura brand.
The new car shares its underpinnings with the all-new Honda Civic. It comes with the same turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s in the Civic Si and is offered with a six-speed manual (an automatic is standard). The Integra is fun to drive and offers a slightly more upscale presence than the Civic, but it lacks the luxury elements found on rivals such as the Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-class.
What’s New for 2023?
Acura’s revived Integra is an all new model for 2023 and is expected to go on sale in June 2022.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Until we’re sure that there’s a high-performance Type S in the works the A-Spec model is the one to buy as it adds sportier bodywork, 18-inch wheels, and unlocks the availability of the six-speed manual transmission—which is not available on the base model.
To get the manual, you need to also add the Technology package, which easily justifies its $3000 price increase with features such as an adaptive suspension system, a 10.2-inch digital gauge display, a 16-speaker ELS stereo system, and wireless smartphone charging, among other items. If a racy Type S model is in fact in the cards, we expect it to cost significantly more than a standard Integra, but Acura has kept mum on that model so far.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The new Integra is powered by a 200-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from the Honda Civic Si. All models are front-wheel drive and come standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A-Spec models can be had with an optional six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. An adaptive suspension system is available as well, and the A-Spec model adds an Individual drive mode to the Integra’s drive-mode selector switch which allows drivers to save a customized setting. During our initial test drive, we found the Integra to be lively and spry.
The steering is heavy-weighted but satisfyingly direct and the adaptive dampers allow the driver to choose between a comfortable cruising ride or a stiffer performance-oriented setup for better cornering fun. Road noise is too evident, however, and we wish Acura had integrated more sound-deadening materials throughout the car’s design. When we get a chance to put the Integra through its paces at our test track, we’ll update this story with test results.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
According to the EPA, the most efficient Integra model is the base car with the CVT which is rated for 30 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. Such ratings will allow the Integra to go up against its key rival, the Audi A3, which is rated for 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. Step up to the A-Spec trim with the manual transmission and fuel economy estimates fall to 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. For more information about the Integra’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Although there’s plenty of parts sharing with the Honda Civic, Acura has done a decent job of making the cabin look right at home in the brand’s lineup, pulling styling from the TLX sedan and RDX SUV. Heated sport seats wrapped in faux-leather upholstery are standard and feature eight-way power adjustments for the driver; A-Spec models with the optional Technology package add faux-suede inserts to the seats as well as 12-way power adjustments for the driver and four-way power adjustments for the front passenger.
The rear seat is spacious enough to comfortably fit two adults, but we noticed a lack of creature comforts there that may turn off premium buyers.
Infotainment and Connectivity
A 10.2-inch digital gauge display is standard across the Integra lineup and provides reconfigurable information for the driver. The Integra comes with a 7.0-inch infotainment display as standard with a larger 9.0-inch unit available as an option; both forgo the frustrating touchpad controller that’s found in other Acura products.
The larger touchscreen is part of the Technology package on A-Spec models which also includes a wireless smartphone charging pad, a 5.3-inch head-up display, and three USB-C charging ports dotting the cabin. All models feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but only cars with the Technology package offer wireless connectivity for those features. An eight-speaker stereo is standard but an ELS Studio 3D premium stereo system is available and includes a whopping 16 speakers.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
A host of driver-assistance features are included as standard in the Integra, including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. A-Spec models with the optional Technology package come with front and rear parking sensors. For more information about the Integra’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Acura offers a longer powertrain warranty than most of its competitors with coverage stretching up to six years or 70,000 miles, but buyers of the BMW 2-series Gran Coupe will enjoy an extra year of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers six years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for two years or 24,000 miles.
2023 Acura Integra
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
Base: $31,895; A-Spec, $33,895; manual, $36,895
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 in3, 1498 cm3
Power: 200 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 192 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
6-speed manual, continuously variable automatic
Wheelbase: 107.7 in
Length: 185.8 in
Width: 72.0 in
Height: 55.5 in
Passenger Volume: 96 ft3
Cargo Volume: 24 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 3100–3200 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 7.1–7.4 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.4–15.7 sec
100 mph: 17.2–17.5 sec
Top Speed: 130–135 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 30–33/26–30/36–37 mpg
BY DREW DORIAN
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