“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Building cars is hard, especially when it comes to enthusiast vehicles. Not only do automakers not make a ton of money from them typically, pleasing our admittedly fickle hooni-community makes the job even harder. The OG Integra debuted in Japan in February 1985 as the Honda Quint Integra, and after some teasers in 2021, it was reintroduced for its fifth generation for the 2023 model year. Acura dropped off a white 2023 Integra A-Spec with Technology for a week and I spent a lot of time with it. Being a fickle former Honda owner, I was just the skeptic that Honda/Acura needed to convince. Let’s see how it did.
2023 Integra Overview
Wait, wait, first some history. Like a lot of early Acura’s, the Integra was originally a Honda. Initially available here in the fall of 1985 only as a three door liftback, we got a five door liftback (like the 2023) added to the Acura lineup about a year later. By 1990 there was a new second generation (exposed headlight) version that only lasted until 1993. The third generation (1994-2001) remains, technically, the last Integra that we got here on our shores, until now. Acura in the U.S. called the next generation the “RSX”, an unfortunate alpha-numeric’ing of a storied name. The RSX made it from 2002-2006 and Acura hasn’t sold a nameplate, save for the also-rebooted NSX, that was built specifically targeting enthusiasts.
Starting at $30,800, the new Integra doesn’t have trim levels necessarily. Like other Acura models, you start with a drivetrain and pick the packages you are interested in. Choose carefully, because only the Integra with the CVT can be had with every package.
Our tester starts with the six-speed manual, which means you can only tick the box for the A-Spec with Technology package. Generally a smart move on Acura’s part, those six-speed lovers likely want the cooler looking A-Spec version. However, it would have been cool to be able to get a truly base 2023 Integra at $30,800 with the manual and then be able to add your own mods to it.
Sounds like the 1990s, thanks I love it.
The base Integra is also not available with the cool Apex Blue Pearl paint, just silver, grey, black, white, and red. All of which add $500 to the bottom line, save for silver which is the only free color. Apex Blue Pearl is reserved for the A-Spec and A-Spec w/Tech packages regardless of transmission, which is too bad since it’s a fantastic color. However, our Platinum White Pearl tester looked great and that represents the only item added to the window sticker. The interior was Red with Dark Metal trim, which is a no cost addition and adds some nice drama to the new Integra. For those looking for something more tame, there are also black and white interior colors, depending on which exterior color you go with. There are also some exterior and interior add-ons under the “Accessories” section including a $2,649 Carbon Fiber Styling Package.
All-in you’re looking at $37,395 out the door for one just like this. Let’s see how this stacks up to the Integra’s price, and the Integra’s heritage.
2023 Integra Inside & Out
Reception to the 2023 Integra was a mixed bag. Some, who clearly don’t have a sense of history, derided the fact that it was a four door and that it’s based on the Civic. I’m sure I posted that astronaut meme “Always Has Been” on my Twitter. Most of that controversy was about the exterior styling, and yes, there exist an angle or two where the design just doesn’t hit it for me. Though it’s mostly just from the side. However, personally I think the overall design is clean and attractive. If a little dull…more on that later.
Let’s move to the interior.
The new Integra starts in a really good place, the new Civic Si (which I drove recently) is fantastic. The Integra carries over the cool vent pattern, which is also present on the new Type R. One of the “AMA” questions I got on Twitter was whether the Integra has heated seats? I’m happy to say that yes, it does, and they are standard.
Just like in the Si, the ergonomics are great, and the seats are fantastic. They have plenty of bolster while not being too huggy. From a tech perspective, a decently sized nine-inch touchscreen controls everything. Acura has added some Integra-specific images and icons in there, so it doesn’t feel like it’s 100% lifted from the Civic. The user experience is similar, with wireless connectivity to your mobile device. The customizable 10.2-in driver’s side digital instrument cluster is great, it’s easy to configure and I like that you can see a lot of information in between of each of the dials.
Complaints were minimal. When I had my phone plugged in (which I had to do when wireless Apple CarPlay stopped connecting) I would occasionally grab the cord while shifting. Once, I accidentally turned on FM radio and couldn’t get out of it. Selecting Pandora within CarPlay wouldn’t restart the music for some reason. Also, the volume knob is up so high, I just keep wanting to grab the HVAC knob to turn up the volume. But hey, it has a volume knob so that’s a win! There is also a volume rocker switch on the wheel, but it’s mounted fairly shallow and was hard to hit without looking. Once you crank the volume, the ELS Studio 3D premium audio system is a treat, as always.
Around the rest of the interior, there are a few cubbies and storage areas, all similar to the Civic (natch).
The back seat is listed online as having 37.4 inches of leg room. I’m 6-foot even and typically have the seat fairly far back, and my nearly-as-tall daughter wasn’t a fan of rear seat legroom. Our pals at Edmunds list the Integra as having more rear seat legroom than the 2022 Acura TLX, so hey maybe I’m just wrong. In the end, it’s all relative to your needs.
What definitely has great interior volume is the hatch, with a generous 24.3 cu. ft. of space and 60/40-split rear seats that fold flat. The Integra would be a great long-weekend companion.
2023 Integra On the Road
Out on the road, the Integra is genuinely fun to drive. It’s even got good power in 6th gear and sounds especially good at around 4000 rpms. The overall experience is similar to the Civic Si, which makes sense considering both have 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 192 ft-lbs. of torque at 1,800 rpm. Like in the Civic Si, the shifter is excellent, though that metal gets a little hot at the very top during the summer. The brake hold feature is nice for hilly areas as well. It would be cool to see which gear you are in up on the dash, not a necessity just a nice to have.
I was a fan of the “Individual” setting as it allowed me to easily set specific settings for engine, suspension, steering, start/stop, and gauge display. It didn’t usually remember which driving setting it was in the last time I drove, but kept my settings saved during my week with it.
On the safety and driver aid side, the semi autonomous driving works well, better than some systems I’ve tried. It got a little confused by exit lanes, but kept me straight on highway stints. The lane departure assist is pretty annoying, instead of vibrating or steering back the right direction, it performs a very rapid steering wheel shake, which doesn’t feel very safe.
Aside from a couple of gawkers who recognized it, the Integra just blended into traffic during my time with it. That’s because it looks like a regular Acura sedan, just not as long. The photo above illustrates what the Integra looked like behind a regular TLX. The average buyer wouldn’t notice much of a difference. Those who may remember the name (and actually notice the name embossed on the 2023 version) might be attracted to it rather than another vehicle in the Integra lineup. Or not.
The biggest issue for the Integra is, once again, the Civic. Is the Integra luxurious enough, is it special enough, to justify the premium price ($3000 or more) compared to the mechanically identical Civic Si. The Integra is slightly heavier than the 2022 Si at 3,073 lbs. (vs. the 2,906 lb. Si) so those looking for pure performance on a budget will choose the Civic.
Personally though, for a daily driver, I’d choose the Integra. I like the slightly more grown-up, if a bit pedestrian, exterior and the extra luxury bits on the interior.
In the end, there is the weird dichotomy between what we remember and what was real. The Integra was only ever a slightly more upscale civic, so needing this new Integra to feel more special isn’t really accurate according to history. So, while I found myself wanting it to feel a little bit more interesting, a little bit more special the outside, I still think it’s a fantastic car. Perhaps the Type S will be just that additional bit of what I was looking for in a daily driver, especially if it’s mechanically identical to that cool new Type R!