2023 Acura Integra: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Integra Returns
In 1986 Honda introduced a brand-new premium performance brand called Acura. To launch this new nameplate, the company created an upscale, sporty hatchback named Integra. With a high-revving engine and spirited driving characteristics, the Integra sold in America until 2001. Now more than 20 years later, the name returns on a new car with many of the same qualities that popularized the original model, and enthusiasts will rejoice that Honda offers the 2023 Acura Integra with a proper 6-speed manual gearbox.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Where It Started
When Honda launched the Integra, the 1986 press kit described it as a “sophisticated sports sedans designed for spirited driving. They’re sporty as well as practical with their long wheelbase and wide track, they offer outstanding stability, comfort and interior space.” This fitting description easily applies to the original car as well as the all-new 2023 Acura Integra.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Like the Original
“The 2023 Acura Integra is serving the same role in the lineup as the original model that helped launch the brand three decades ago by bringing in the next generation of driving enthusiast,” said Assistant Vice President of Acura National Sales Emile Korkor. “With its engaging driving character, flexible five-door liftback body style and advanced technology and features, the Integra will welcome a host of new buyers to the Acura brand,” noted Korkor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Sporty Styling
The new Integra has a liftback body style with a coupelike profile, both inspired by the original 5-door Integra from 1986. But this new model is fully modern with a design language first seen on the 2019 Acura RDX. The new sport compact has a front fascia featuring the first use of a frameless Acura Diamond Pentagon grille flanked by the brand’s signature Jewel Eye LED headlights, Chicane LED daytime running lights and available LED fog lights integrated into the lower front fascia. The design also includes thin A-pillars and a low cowl to create an open greenhouse for optimal outward visibility.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Sleek Shape
Available only as a four-door liftback, the new Integra features a long hood with a raked windshield that flows smoothly into the roofline and all the way down to the rear spoiler. This gives the car a sporty stance while still allowing for significant interior space. The 18-inch wheels on the A-Spec (seen here) complete the look.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Rear View
At the rear, the new Integra features an integrated spoiler, wide single-piece LED taillights similar to previous-generation Integras, and dual exhaust outlets.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Embossed Name
Early Integras had the name embossed in the bumper. In a nod to those original models, this new Integra has the same design element up front and in back.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Model Lineup
Like other Acura models, the Integra is available in a single trim level with the option of adding an A-Spec Package and a Technology Package.

© American Honda Motors

2023 Acura Integra
The new Acura Integra has a base MSRP of $30,800 and it comes with a long list of standard equipment. Features include leatherette-trimmed heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen display, premium audio with eight speakers, one USB port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless start, a 10.2-inch driver display, a power moonroof and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Integra A-Spec
The A-Spec package can be added to the 2023 Acura Integra for $2,000 more. The A-Spec upgrades the standard model with an A-Spec sport appearance package inside and out, a larger rear stabilizer bar, a quicker steering ratio and 18-inch alloy wheels. Matte black windows surrounds, a gloss black rear spoiler, a gloss black lower grille, and fog lights help differentiate the A-Spec from the standard Integra.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Integra A-Spec with Technology Package
Upgrading to the Technology Package also requires the A-Spec Package and brings the total price of the vehicle to $35,800. This top-level package includes microsuede-trimmed front seats, a 12-way power driver’s seat, a 4-way power passenger’s seat, a 9-inch touchscreen display, a 5.3-inch head up display, four USB ports (two in front, two in back), wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an adaptive damper system, active sound control and the ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio system with 16 speakers. The Integra is also equipped with a limited-slip differential on vehicles with the manual gearbox.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Safety
All 2023 Integras come with AcuraWatch, the brand’s suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies. These include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, a blind-spot information system and rear cross-traffic alert.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Inner Space
The 2023 Acura Integra has a clean-looking design since most of the controls are accessed through the center display screen. Overall the space has a premium feeling with stylish vents and climate controls that have a machined-look and a satisfying click-click-click as they’re turned. The car has decent storage space in the center console as well as available wireless charging in a cubby ahead of the gearshift.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Intuitive Design
Acura design has moved to a less-than-intuitive touchpad in other models. We must admit that we’re pleased this “upgrade” did not make it to the Integra. The touchscreen display features static home and back buttons as well as shortcuts at the bottom of the screen for quick and easy navigation. Climate controls are kept separate and are therefore straightforward. The car has minimal steering wheel buttons to keep things simple with less distraction.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Sport Seats
Acura designed the front seats of the Integra to provide support during enthusiastic driving while remaining comfortable for long trips. The seats use multiple internal structures for improved support across the entire body. During our drive the seats performed as intended, even after spending several hours behind the wheel. The upgraded seats with microsuede inserts in Red / Ebony are especially attractive.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Rear Seat
Although it possesses coupelike styling, the new Integra is a proper four door with a decent-size rear seat. Two adults will be comfortable with adequate legroom and headroom. As is typical for a vehicle this size, the middle seat can be used in a pinch although it’s best for small children. The higher-level trims have two USB ports so rear-seat passengers can keep devices charged.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Versatile Liftback
With SUVs dominating the U.S. automotive landscape, the Integra is a bit of an anomaly — but that doesn’t mean it’s without utility. The liftback design provides a rather spacious, deep cargo area that holds a few pieces of luggage or plenty of grocery bags. The rear seats easily fold flat to create an extended loading area for large items.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Under the Hood
Powering the 2023 Acura Integra is a 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC 4-cylinder engine producing 200 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. Power gets directed to the front wheels via a standard continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters and a step-shift program that does a good job of simulating gear changes.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Manual Gearbox
For drivers who want more control than a CVT with paddle shifters, Acura offers the new Integra with a short-throw 6-speed manual gearbox — a rarity in this vehicle segment. The manual also features rev matching that blips the throttle for precise downshifts every time. Although there is no additional charge for the 6-speed manual, Acura does require customers to purchase the top-level A-Spec with the Technology Package to get this feature. Apparently the first buyers of the new Integra are fine with this — more than 60 percent of early reservations were for Integras with the manual transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Fuel Efficient
With its small yet powerful turbocharged engine, the Integra achieves impressive fuel efficiency. According to the U.S. EPA, the 2023 Acura Integra fuel-economy ratings are 30 mpg city / 37 mpg hwy / 33 mpg combined. Fuel economy drops slightly (1 mpg) when the car is equipped with the A-Spec and Technology package. The manual transmission may be more fun to drive, although it delivers a slight hit to efficiency with figures coming in at 26 mpg city / 36 mpg hwy / 30 mpg combined. During our drive with the manual gearbox, the Integra registered more than 31 mpg despite some rather enthusiastic driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

On the Road
Acura invited us to Austin, Texas, to be among the first to experience the 2023 Integra in person. We spent most of our time in the top-level Integra A-Spec with the Technology Package, equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox. Right from the start we loved the manual gearbox. The clutch is light with predictable engagement, and the short-throw shifter is satisfying when rowing through gears. As we worked our way out of town, the Integra easily maneuvered through traffic with quick shifts up or down, providing power whenever needed with an engaging accompanying exhaust soundtrack.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Fun-to-Drive
The 2023 Acura Integra makes a great everyday vehicle, quietly and comfortably cruising on freeways while delivering rather impressive fuel economy. At the same time it offers great fun when the road gets twisty. With its sport-tuned suspension and rigid subframe, the Integra performs well. And although it is fun, this new model isn’t a sports car — nor is it meant to be. With 200 horsepower on tap acceleration is good — especially with the manual transmission — although most of the car’s weight is up front, so if drivers enter corners a little too quick the car will understeer but then snap back in line when the stability control makes a correction.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Electric Power Steering
The 2023 Acura Integra offers decent handling, although we are not fans of the car’s steering feedback. The electric power steering system provides assistance based on sensors that measure driver steering effort; it features a variable gear ratio that gives quicker response with increased steering angle. Unfortunately this softens the response from center and makes the steering feedback somewhat unpredictable with a vague feeling while tackling high-speed, sweeping turns. This trait is less noticeable on winding back roads where more steering input brings quicker response.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

CVT
Using a continuously variable transmission in a sporty car never seems like a good idea, although we were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the CVT in the new Integra. Acura programmed the CVT with shift points that mimic an 8-speed automatic, and the power delivery is so good we likely would not have guessed it was a CVT if we had not known beforehand. Launching from a stop brings distinct gear shifts, and acceleration at speed brings the expected downshift for more power. The paddle shifters have a reasonable response rate and can add another level of engagement; however, given the choice we still prefer the 6-speed manual.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Right for You?
The original Integra has a very loyal fanbase, so it can be tricky to bring back such an iconic name on a modern car — although Acura seems to have pulled it off. With styling influenced by the original model but with a thoroughly modern flair, the new Integra has a sporty look that will stand out from other Acuras. With the latest tech and a comfortable, spacious interior — as well as a strong, efficient powertrain — the Integra will work for those who remember the original — and those who don’t. The original was also not a sports car yet it provided a spirited experience, and in this way the new model is a proper successor and deserves to wear the Integra name.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Rating: 8.5
Pros: Two good transmission choices; a comfortable interior; sporty performance.
Cons: Vague steering feedback at times; manual available on top trim only; no audio tuning knob.
Bottom Line: Acura stays true to the Integra name with this modern-day, fun-to-drive hatchback.

 

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