2023 Acura Integra Aims to Win Over Doubters

2023 Acura Integra Aims to Win Over Doubters
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  • the integra is returning to the acura lineup for the first time since 2001.
  • upper trim levels offer a six-speed manual transmission, head-up display, and wireless charging.
  • chassis and drivetrain are shared with the honda civic si but with acura-specific suspension tuning.

    there’s always a risk to bringing back a popular nameplate. nostalgia imbues the previous models with super powers, and modern versions can pale in comparison. we’ll (mostly) leave the arguments about integras of the past to those of you in the comments, and focus instead on how the 2023 acura integra holds up against the 2022 ilx—which it replaces as acura’s small-car offering—and against the honda civic, with which it shares its engine and underpinnings.

    acura’s been doing a slow roll on the unveil of the integra, first showing the exterior in prototype form in a flashy indy yellow pearl paint with silly graphics and then unintentionally allowing a sneak peek at the interior at the 24 hours of daytona. now we finally got the chance to see several production models up close. while it might not meet the rose-colored reminisces of the hard-core fans, it’s a clear step up from the ilx—which we felt was lacking in options and amenities—and an interesting alternative to the civic si. our display models were all top trim, the a-spec model with technology package, currently the highest offering on the integra. representatives would neither confirm nor deny the possibility of an integra type r or type s in the future.

    all integras come with the same turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four from the civic si. acura didn't make any changes to this powertrain other than an acura badge on the breather cover. the engine makes the same 200 horsepower and 192 pound-ft of torque as it does in the si, but it sounds different thanks to an exhaust setup that adds a cinnamon-roll swirl of piping right before the exhaust tips. this effectively lengthens the tubes and results in a deeper exhaust note: not quite bassoon, let’s say english horn rather than the reedy oboe of most four-cylinders.

    backing the engine is a standard cvt automatic with programmed “shifts” and steering wheel paddles so you can pretend you have control over something. if you want to shift for real, step up to the a-spec and choose the 6-speed manual transmission, which also comes with a limited-slip differential. the manual is not available in the base trim level, as acura believes enthusiasts who want to row gears will also want features including a heads-up display and wireless smart phone integration, only available with the technology package. all trim levels get three driving modes, but the tech package adds in an individual mode which allows for some customization of steering feel and throttle response, plus adaptive dampers that aren't available on the civic si.

    design-wise the integra is more dramatic than either the civic or the outgoing ilx, with a sharp mohawk of a hood line and a narrow row of led headlights accented by a slash of running lights acura calls “the chicane.” the sharp kink of the lights is a repeated element down the side of the car, where body lines run at an angle before kicking up into the rear wheel well and quarter window, giving the integra a raked look. the front end features an embossed integra logo beneath the headlights as a nod to the popular third-gen models, and one might make the argument that the multi-bulb lights themselves harken back to the four-headlight “spider-eyes” of 1994’s redesign. but the rear angle is probably the closest to a historical feature, with a long rear window and a decklid that ducks down between the taillights.

    even so, if you’re looking for a throwback, you won’t find it in the 2023 model. “we didn’t want to make a retro car,” says acura senior product planner jonathon rivers. “we wanted to imagine the integra had never left the lineup. where would it be as a modern version?” rivers says that he sees integra not as a competitor to civic, but as the next step up in features and technology from the civic si. “there isn’t a single panel of sheet metal shared between civic and integra, and there are options available on integra that you can’t even get on civic si,” he says, pointing to the 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster inside, the heated seats with memory function, and the els 12-speaker audio system.

    inside, the integra is spacious and pleasant to touch. the layout is similar to the civic's, with a wide console housing the shifter and storage leading up to a dash-mounted touchscreen. but the dash in the integra is terraced for more visual interest, and the mesh trim inserts are a diamond pattern rather than the honeycomb found in the honda. while the a-spec package primarily includes exterior changes such as gloss-black window trim and 18-inch alloy wheels, the technology package adds in a wireless charge pad, ambient lighting, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen to replace the base 7.0-inch screen.

    acura’s doing nice things with interior materials, and the synthetic leather with microsuede inserts—another technology package upgrade—is so soft you’ll want to keep petting it. we wouldn’t recommend that in the white orchid interior. in fact, we wouldn’t recommend a white microsuede interior at all, but if you go with either the black or red color options your grubby hand marks won't show up so quickly.

    the seats are comfortably bolstered, with plenty of legroom front and rear. tall drivers might resent the speakers mounted at noggin height above the door opening and the slight loss of room for the standard sunroof, but the rest of us can just bop to our jams and enjoy the well-lit interior. the rear seats are appealing too and they fold flat in a 60/40 split. the hatchback design and generous cargo area provide plenty of room for luggage or even large and unwieldy items like a stroller.

    acura hasn’t released fuel economy numbers, and although the engine and transmission are the same as the civic's, the integra's weight and changes in transmission tune will likely result in a different level of thirst. still, it’s safe to assume something in the range of the civic si’s epa-estimated 31 mpg combined.

    we do know pricing starts at around $30,000, and a fully loaded example with a-spec and tech package should end up in the mid-$30,000 range. integra reservations are open now and cars should be in dealers by late spring.

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