The Integra has a history for inexpensive thrills that dates back to the mid-1980s. It peaked with the 1992 GS-R model, which made the cut for our 100 Cars That Matter series. But Acura ditched the name when it moved to the RSX , and left a big chunk of its history behind.
With the new Integra, Acura has axed the tired ILX from its lineup though it’s retained the entry-level formula of improving upon the bones of the Honda Civic.
The Integra starts with a solid platform based on the 2022 Honda Civic Si, and fixes most of our gripes with the Honda in the upgrade process. The package adds up to an Integra that recaptures the glory of days past, according to Senior Editor Kirk Bell.
Every Integra is powered by a 1.5-liter turbo-4 rated at 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. While base and A-Spec models send power to the front wheels via a CVT with seven simulated gear ratios, enthusiasts will want the top A-Spec with Technology Package model for $36,895 because it unlocks the 6-speed manual transmission option. That manual is a winner, with short, clean, precise throws and solid engagement. Bell called the transmission “far too fun” to pass up.
Small enhancements to the Integra over its Honda sibling add up to make a big difference: the Integra’s chassis is 5% stiffer, and it has larger 27-mm hollow front and 17.5-mm solid rear stabilizer bars (18 mm on the A-Spec model).
The single largest upgrade over the Civic Si, and the one that cures the sporty Civic’s biggest flaw, is the set of adaptive dampers Acura installs with the Technology Package. They settle the suspension on the highway. While the ride is still soft, body motions are controlled.
With an ultra-quick 11.52:1 ratio (base models are even quicker at 11.33:1), the Integra’s steering delivers deft responses. It doesn’t feel too quick and the Integra is never darty on the freeway.
Inside, there’s seating for five, but really only four will fit comfortably. The sport front bucket seats are well-bolstered and supportive, but the rear seat bottom is low and the fast roofline cuts into rear headroom. The standard 7.0-inch touchscreen feels a bit small, but the A-Spec with Technology Package model gains a 9.0-inch touchscreen that features the Civic’s easy-to-use tile-based interface and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The hatchback body style provides 24.3 cubic feet of space, and the rear seats fold nearly flat to expand the cargo area.
The Acura Integra isn’t perfect. The manual transmission should be an option across the board. At 200 hp, it also wants for power on backroads. Another 50 to 75 hp would do the trick. It’s also about as powerful as the RSX Type S from 21 years ago, which says something about a lack of progress. A forthcoming 2024 Integra Type S should address that neatly.
Will the Integra’s charming manual transmission, well-sorted suspension, and quick steering be enough for it to win over two hot hatches, an outrageous SUV, a luxury EV, and a sport sedan? Check back on Jan. 4 when we reveal the winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.
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