Acura Integra was never dead; it just took its nameplate back.
If you are in your 30s or older, the Integra nameplate would sound familiar, as it was one of the most successful Acura models back in the 1990s. There was a reason why it was very popular. It stood out from the competition with its sporty characteristics and unique design.
Acura relaunched the Integra model name to recapture its market share like in the 1990s. As an entry-level luxury compact vehicle, it’s not easy to stand out against the Honda Civic, which has come a long way with the 11th gen in terms of driving refinement.
The all-new Integra replaces the aging Acura ILX, which kind of failed to make a difference as a luxury entry. It is important to remember the fact that Integra always used the same platform as Civic, so it’s not a new platform from the ground up.
The more important question is: How does the new Integra differentiate itself from the Civic? The most significant change is the exterior design. It does not share any exterior body panel with the current gen Honda Civic. It’s not only using different parts, but Integra is a liftback, whereas Civic is available as a sedan and hatchback.
Unlike the new Civic, the new Integra comes with less boxy design language. It definitely looks more elegant and sportier from the front end. It also carries traditional Acura design elements, a big grille in the front, and a lot of sharp lines going through the hood.
The side profile looks similar to the Civic, especially the front end, but it differentiates itself when you go to the rear. The roofline has a much more pronounced slope which gives the Integra a more coupe-like design.
The rear end is where the all-new Integra is unique, as we don’t have many entry-level luxury compact cars with a liftback. I personally think the taillights look much more elegant and proportionally better than Civic. Dual exhaust tips are 100% real, but the tips look a little bit small.
It’s not just the design features, but having a liftback also gives you an advantage if you carry big items. The overall cargo space isn’t that much, but it has a much bigger cargo opening compared to a sedan. You basically get hatchback practicality with sedan-like looks, so it’s the best of both worlds.
It’s not just the trunk opening, but overall cargo space (618 L) is much more than the Civic Sedan (419 L). However, if your aim is to carry tall adults in the back, Integra’s roofline may be a problem for rear-seat passengers. It has less rear-seat headroom and if you are taller than 5’8”, there is a chance your head may touch the headliner.
For the front seat passenger, and obviously, the driver has no issues when it comes to overall legroom and headroom space. The seats feel very comfortable for most body types, it has the right amount of bolstering without being uncomfortable, even if you are a large adult.
The dashboard and center stack look very similar to the current generation Honda Civic, and that’s where I was expecting it to be more different. It feels high quality, but the latest gen Civic has come a long way in that it already feels quite upscale by compact segment standards.
When you get into the details, you feel that it’s using a lot of parts that are also used in a Civic. The steering wheel, physical buttons, infotainment screen, and digital dashboard are some of them, and those are quite important parts of the driving experience that you see and use every day. Also, the center stack is completely covered with glossy black plastic trims where you touch the most, it would look good only when it’s in a showroom.
Speaking of a screen and dashboard, all Integras come with a 10.2 digital instrument cluster that you can customize, and only the top trim comes with the bigger 9-inch touchscreen display and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The infotainment system is the latest Honda/Acura version that is very easy to get used to, there is no input lag. The rear-view camera resolution is average, but overall, it’s a pretty user-friendly system and it’s placed up high in the dashboard, so you don’t have to move your eyes too much to see what you are looking for.
Despite its flaws, the interior is a quite nice place to spend time, and you only start to nitpick as it’s a premium product, unlike the Civic. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, and Acura did the right thing by keeping the cost relatively low by using a very similar interior design. It’s just that there should be more attention to detail as it is meant to be a premium entry.
The most significant change is the seats. We already mentioned how comfortable they feel, but they also feel much premium, especially the stitching and small details are where you feel this is a premium entry. Our tester was the Elite A-Spec trim, which comes with microsuede in the middle, and leather bolstering. It only comes with a heated seat option for both front and rear seats.
So, let’s talk about the engine, as it’s what makes the original Integra special. The new Integra comes with one engine option. It’s a 1.5-liter turbocharged direct injection engine that pumps out 200 horsepower and 192 lb.-ft torque. The engine offers a flat torque curve, as it has the same torque figure from 1800 rpm all the way up to 5000 rpm.
There is no more 2.4 liter naturally aspirated K-Series engine that Honda and Acura used for several decades with minor upgrades, so the new Integra joined the downsizing club with the new 1.5-liter engine, which has been on the market for several years at this point.
Like many other Honda and Acura entries with this particular engine, it comes with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which offers quite good fuel economy. Also having a flat torque curve along with a CVT offers a very smooth driving experience, it accelerates pretty quickly with the half-throttle application at low RPM.
Behind the steering wheel feels just like driving the new Civic, and there is nothing wrong with it. Our tester comes with an electronic suspension which you can adjust it based on road conditions. I found that even in the firmest setting, it is still quite livable and not as firm as the Civic SI.
I like the 18” wheel design, but you don’t get a lot of grip with the all-season tires that come with the new Integra, but if you want the most amount of grip, the manual transmission option gives you a limited-slip differential, which is a must for any performance-oriented front-wheel-drive vehicle.
At the end of the day, 2023 Acura Integra does what it has done the best historically. It’s a Honda Civic in a tuxedo, as it’s always been with the previous generation Integra, CSX, and ILX. However, this time with the new Integra, Acura is going back to its roots in a positive way with the new nameplate.
The big question is – is it worth spending few thousand dollars more when we already have the new Honda Civic? It’s the question that you need to answer. You should not expect a completely different driving experience compared to the Civic. It’s the small details that make the Integra different.
For me, it’s the liftback body style, as well as a much better audio system, electronic suspension, and better looks that are the main reasons I’d consider the new Integra. It is more practical and offers more cargo space than the Civic. It feels slightly more refined and has slightly less noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) in the interior.
2023 Acura Integra starts at $34,350. All trims come with a CVT standard, and I think it’s the right move for more price-sensitive mainstream buyers. Enthusiasts usually don’t mind paying the premium for a manual transmission and limited-slip differential, which is only available with the top Elite A-SPEC trim. Regardless of your choice, the top trim is priced at $42,550.
For more details – please visit www.acura.ca