Pros: Civic Si performance with greater refinement; sweet manual transmission; thrifty fuel economy; versatile hatchback
Cons: Underwhelming base equipment; cramped rear headroom; some cheap interior bits in back; a CVT, really?
For those of a certain age and/or certain automotive fandom, the 2023 Acura Integra represents the return of an icon. Yes, the Integra is back, and as it was in the very beginning, it’s a four-door hatchback that can be both an enthusiasts’ darling or just a well-made, well-equipped compact car for those who want something a little more premium than a Honda Civic.
And that last comparison is key, because the Acura Integra is basically a Honda Civic that’s been thoroughly worked over with a totally different body, stiffer structure and different(ish) interior. Admittedly, the Civic is a great place to start, as it’s a terrific little sedan/hatchback that arguably outpaces its competition and does a pretty good job of being a well-made, well-equipped compact car itself. There really wasn’t that much for Acura to do to rework the cabin for luxury duty, though it’s certainly best realized with the optional Technology package and there are some areas (like the back seat) where the luxury touches could have been further applied.
From a mechanical perspective, the Integra specifically builds off the Civic Si. It has the same 200-horsepower turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive, but with a saucier exhaust and CVT as standard. A six-speed manual is available, but only on the range-topping A-Spec with Technology package. The A-Spec’s adaptive dampers also do a better job of both road-holding and ride comfort. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong at all with seeing the Integra as a more refined Civic Si.
As it was in the past, the new Integra is both a luxury-adjacent sedan and a sport compact car. That means it can be a ritzier alternative to the Civics of the world, a more budget-conscious alternative to the Audi A3s, or Acura/Honda’s answer to the Volkswagen GTI and GLI. No matter what you compare it to, though, we think the new Integra is a winner. Welcome back, old friend.
What’s new for 2023?
The Integra is an all-new model. It technically replaces the ILX, however, which was similarly a Civic-based compact Acura.
The best way to describe the Integra interior is Honda Plus. Almost everything you touch, from the buttons and knobs, to the squishy door tops and touchscreen interfaces, are plucked from the Honda parts bin. Specifically, they’re shared with the Civic. Now, that parts bin features a lot of nice bits and pieces, which we’ve routinely praised as being exceptional for the compact car segment. A luxury car is a different story, however, and the Integra interior looks and feels more competitive with a VW GTI than an Audi A3. This is most notable in the back seat, which lacks air vents, has hard plastic door trim and, in the A-Spec, leatherette upholstery instead of the micro-suede up front.
As previously mentioned, the infotainment system uses the same 7- or 9-inch touchscreens as the Civic, and therefore not Acura’s True Touchpad interface that has drawn few fans over the years. Well, besides our road test editor. Although it’s lame that the bigger screen isn’t standard on an Acura, both are generally easy to use, quick to react and have graphics that are easily read, if a tad plain. And if we are comparing the Integra more to a GTI than various luxury-branded models, Acura gets a big advantage here as VW’s latest tech interface is a mess.
Unlike past Integras, there is only one body style: four doors with a fastback hatchback trunk lid. Basically, just like the first-generation four-door model. It’s quite a bit larger than that, though, as the Integra functions similarly to a 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback, meaning it offers loads of adult-friendly legroom front and rear. The standard eight-way power driver seat also provides abundant adjustability, and you should even have sufficient room for a rear-facing child seat. Unfortunately, that racy roofline really chews into rear headroom, and even those of average height will find themselves grazing the roof.
On paper, the Integra trunk wows with 24.3 cubic feet, which would in theory be equivalent to a small SUV. It’s also a far better figure than the 14.8 cubic-feet of the Honda Civic Si and its conventional trunk. In practice, however, we found that the Civic sedan has more cargo-carrying capacity than the Integra — by a surprisingly large margin, too. It’s wider, longer and nearly as tall despite Integra benefitting from a hatchback. Basically, it’s definitely not SUV-like, but expect it to be superior to an Audi A3, Mercedes CLA or BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe trunk.
Every Integra is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. They’re also all front-wheel-drive. A continuously variable transmission is standard, which is a bit of sad trombone for a performance-oriented car, but at least it simulates gear changes, and even provides paddle shifters to initiate them if you so choose. A six-speed manual transmission is only available as an option on the range-topping A-Spec trim level when equipped with the Technology package. It includes an automatic rev-matching downshift function and a limited-slip differential.
Fuel economy is estimated to be an exceptional 30 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined with the CVT. The Technology package lowers those figures slightly to 29/36/32 mpg, while the manual lowers them further to a still-thrifty 26/36/30.
If you’ve driven a Civic Si, then you have a pretty good idea for how the Integra drives in its top-rung A-Spec form, which is the only version we’ve driven so far. The VTEC scream of yesteryear is long gone, replaced by this turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but Acura is still using VTEC for the exhaust valves. Unlike many small displacement turbo engines, this one sprints through the final 1,000 rpm with addicting eagerness. It’s quiet, but what little noise is present is quite good.
The best part about driving the Integra is shifting through its magnificent six-speed manual transmission. In typical Honda fashion, there is simply no better manual transmission to shift at its price point. Acura gave it a rev-matching function that works well, but you can turn it off if you so please. As for the CVT, at least it’s one of the better CVTs on the market. Acura programmed “steps” to mimic shifting through seven gears, and you’re able to “manually” select those steps via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Initial starts with the CVT are a little sluggish, but once up to speed, it responds quickly to throttle applications and paddle pulls. And remember, the Civic Si is not available with an automatic at all.
Turn in from the Integra’s variable-ratio electric steering rack is quick (if slightly slower in the base car), and the long hatchback feels light on its feet. Even selecting the stiffest “Sport” setting leaves you with a pleasantly compliant ride. There’s greater composure and a little less body lean in Sport, but its rigidity won’t unsettle the car over dicey bits of pavement. The Integra, even in its spiciest form, is no track car out of the box. Instead, it’s set up to excel at spirited backroad carving while still providing a comfortable ride for daily driving duties.
What other Acura Integra reviews can I read?
Take a deeper dive into the Integra’s design and engineering, plus get a more comprehensive review of what it’s like to drive (especially with the CVT).
Take a very deep dive into the Integra interior, and specifically the A-Spec with Technology Package. We take a close look at what it shares with the Civic and how it’s different.
Pricing for the 2023 Integra starts at $31,895, including the $1,095 destination charge. Key standard features include 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, a sunroof, proximity entry and push-button start, leatherette upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-speaker sound system, one USB port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the various driver assist systems described below. Frankly, this is more akin to a well-equipped compact car from a non-luxury brand.
The A-Spec costs $33,895. It adds 18-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, a thicker rear stabilizer bar, a quicker steering ratio, active sound control, LED fog lights, and special styling elements inside and out. The “Red” and “Orchid” interior colors are exclusive to the A-Spec.
You can also add the Technology package to the A-Spec, bringing the price to $36,895. The six-speed manual can effectively be added with it as a no-cost option. Although this package is called “Technology,” it could more accurately be described as “luxury,” as it adds most of the key items expected of a car wearing a luxury badge. These extras include parking sensors, automatic wipers, a customizable Individual driving mode, microsuede front seat upholstery (the rear seat oddly remains leatherette), driver memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, the 9-inch touchscreen, 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D sound system, satellite and HD radios, three USB-C ports, wireless charging and Apple/Android connectivity, Alexa Built-In and in-car WiFi.
Every Integra comes standard with forward collision warning (includes pedestrian detection), automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, and a well-executed adaptive cruise control system with lane-centering steering assist. CVT-equipped cars also include a low-speed follow capability for stop-and-go traffic. Understandably, that won’t work with a clutch pedal.
The Integra has not been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.