acura integra 2023 red


The Honda Civic Si is great to drive. But amenities and comfort come on the spartan side. The all-new 2023 Acura Integra, a Civic Si with that little bit more luxury, sounds like the perfect formula — one that’s a bit sexier as an entry point for the brand than the outgoing ILX sedan. And the Integra is much more affordable than Acura’s previous sporty benchmark, the $170,000 NSX.

However, paper perception does not always equal reality. There are places where Acura didn’t go far enough with the Integra, which makes it difficult to offer a full recommendation. Still, while our reviewers usually tend to be more or less in line with most vehicles, the 2023 Integra proved divisive enough to spark debate—which we’re bringing to you.

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Point: The Acura Integra is expensive

Sure, the Integra starts at around $31,000. But if you want the manual transmission—why anyone would buy this car with a CVT is unclear—you do must buy the top-level A-Spec with Technology package, which starts at $35,800 — $8,200 more than a Civic Si. Step that up to $36,800 if you want floor mats and a paint color other than lunar silver metallic. That, of course, doesn’t include the $1,095 destination charge.

At that price, there are much sportier options. We’re getting close to the point where you can buy a Volkswagen Golf R or – we suspect – a new Honda Civic Type R. Both of these cars have – we suspect – 100bhp more and in the Golf R’s case, AWD. The Nissan Z has no previous branding. But it starts no higher at $39,990 and makes 400 more horsepower with a 3.0-liter V6. That’s twice the power. – Tyler Duffy

Counterpoint: Not that expensive in context

Cars like the Integra aren’t just for your money. In fact, Integra has nothing to do with this. It’s about delivering hits in the real world, the way it feels sobbing through the crisp-shifting gearbox to the way it puts power down well when revving thanks to its limited-slip differential. Besides, how many people are actually comparing two-door sports cars to sedans? The only thing a Nissan Z and an Integra have in common is an available six-speed manual and Japanese parent companies.

And in today’s car market, $37,895 doesn’t go as far as you might think. It’s not the Golf R that comes closest to the Integra in terms of price; it’s the GTI’s top trim level, the Autobahn version, which starts at $39,820. And the only sedan you can buy from Detroit for the price of the manual Integra is a four-cylinder Chevy Malibu or an old Stellantis product with an even older V6.

Walk into a Mercedes-Benz dealership and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an A-Class for less than the price of the Integra stick; head to Lexus and the only model available for less is the entry-level front-wheel-drive version of the underpowered UX 250h hybrid crossover. Neither boasts the same feature set as the loaded Integra; nor will it offer as much usable space; and it won’t be as much fun to drive either. – Will Sabel Courtney

Point: The Integra doesn’t offer enough Acura for its price

The Integra and Civic Si are not identical. They have different front and back fascias. They do not share body panels. And if you can spot the subtle difference, the Civic Si is a sedan while the Integra has a hatchback body style. But under the skin, the cars are very similar. The crucial differences are the things Honda left in (or removed like adaptive dampers) to create differentiation.

The Integra does not offer any Acura-specific tuning. It puts out the same 200bhp as the Civic Si instead of being slightly sportier. It doesn’t add Acura’s best feature, the super-user-friendly all-wheel-drive system known, aptly, as SH-AWD. Adaptive dampers removed from the Civic Si help with ride quality. But they bring it from quite bumpy to tolerable, not luxurious. The Integra is still about as loud as the Civic Si, and the interior doesn’t look like a huge upgrade.

About the only real Acura luxury change-maker on the equipment front is the Integra’s 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D sound system. How valuable this feature is in a noisy, light driver’s car is open to debate. – Tyler Duffy

Counterpoint: The Integra brings style, and that’s what people will notice

The differentiation (or lack thereof) between the Civic Si and the Integra — especially inside — is certainly one of Acura’s biggest weaknesses. The infotainment system that looks more than appropriate in a Honda feels great in that car’s gorgeous cousin, and while the suede seat trim isn’t bad, leather would be nice considering this is a car luxurious.

Outside, however, it’s a different story. The Integra’s trump card is its exterior design. It’s a sharp-edged, aggressive thing, this fast sedan—the kind of car that looks like it’s doing 90 when it’s standing. It’s arguably the best interpretation of Acura’s current design language, and to my eyes, the best-looking car in the company’s lineup today. (The NSX might have taken that trophy before, until Acura did.)

And as much as we enthusiasts love to wax nostalgic about the sweet Integras of yesteryear, like the Type S and Type R performance models, most Integras of the past were just weird Civics like this one. Attractive design, abundant technology and a premium badge are what the entry-level luxury car game is all about at the end of the day, and the 2023 Integra hits both those marks. – Will Sabel Courtney

Verdict: Integra isn’t for some, so see if it’s right for you

No car is right for everyone, of course, but as you can see, that’s even more true in the case of the Integra. Some will see it as heresy, others a sellout, others a treat, and others just a good way to get to work every day.

However, one thing is indisputable: it’s still a new sedan with a six-speed manual gearbox. In 2022, that alone makes it worth noting.

Base price: $31,895

Power system: 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four; six-speed manual or CVT automatic; with front wheels

Horse power: 200

Torque: 192 lb-ft

EPA Fuel Economy: 26–30 mpg city, 36–37 mpg highway

Countries: five


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