~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer
The Integra from Acura, the luxury marque of Japan’s Honda, returns for sport-oriented enthusiasts as a 2023 model after a spotty history that started in 1985. It had gone through four generations, including a name change to RSX before it was dropped 17 years ago.
Now it’s back as a feisty hatchback four-door, replacing the modest ILX as the opening bet in the Acura lineup. Early in its lifetime, it was marketed in some places as the Honda Integra, which is appropriate now because the 2023 model is based on the performance-oriented Honda Civic Si, including the 200-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine that delivers 192 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force. Independent tests have rated the zero to 60 miles an hour acceleration in the seven second range. Top speed is 135 mph.
As an Acura, the Integra of course is decked out with additional luxury appointments. On the tested A-Spec Tech version, for example, it sported cushy micro-fiber suede seat coverings that delivered long-distance comfort as well as enough purchase, or friction, to grasp driver and passengers in their seats during aggressive driving.
With the A-Spec and Tech packages, the tested Integra was equipped for the involvement bonus of a six-speed manual gearbox. Other versions, called trim levels in the industry, come standard with CVTs, an abbreviation for continuously variable automatic transmissions that use a system of belts and pulleys to seamlessly multiply engine power without shift hiccups.
A Honda hallmark has been its ability to design stick shifters that work capably with front-wheel drive, as on the Integra. The tester’s six-speed, though new and a bit stiff in operation, delivered driver’s choice with accurate short throws between gears and resilient clutch action. Want to punch the throttle through third gear on the ramp and jump to sixth gear on the freeway? No problem. Or downshift to slow down without using the brakes? Easy.
The entertainment is enhanced by tactile steering, an active suspension system and well-matched tires that deliver excellent straight-line tracking and responsive handling on curving roads. With its emphasis on handling, the Integra also delivers a relatively comfortable ride, though it can get unsettled on the many choppy roads that infest the republic.
There is one prominent downside: Interior sounds that can nearly drown out loud audio programs. On almost all surfaces that are not newly paved smooth asphalt, road and engine noise combine to deliver a din throughout the Integra’s cabin. It’s understandable that the engineers wanted to keep weight to a minimum to enhance performance. But the Integra could use an infusion of insulation and other sound-deadening measures for the rest of us, especially long-distance travelers.
Though most people would look at the Integra as a compact or maybe a midsize car, it has a total of 120 cubic feet of interior space, divided into 96 cubic feet for passengers and 24 cubic feet for cargo. By the lights of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with overseeing fuel economy and establishing size categories, that anoints the Integra as large, which is any car with 120 cubic feet or more.
Though the Integra would not be viewed as an economy car, the EPA rates its city/highway/combined fuel economy at 26/36/30 miles to the gallon. That’s on premium fuel.
The tested Integra came with a base price of $36,895, including the destination charge, and a bottom-line sticker of $37,395. That’s at a time when the average price of a new car in the United States is approaching $50,000.
Both the A-Spec and Tech trims were part of the package. A-Spec included styling touches, 18-inch alloy wheels, performance all-season tires, sport pedals, rear deck lid spoiler and LED fog lights.
The Tech end of the spectrum brought an ELS premium audio system with 16 speakers, the aforementioned sport seats with suede inserts, a head-up display, Acura Link communication system, wireless smart phone charger, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensing windshield wipers and low-speed braking control.
Part of the standard equipment was Acura Watch, which included adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and road departure mitigation.
The Integra was among 28 vehicles to earn a 2023 Top Safety Pick Plus award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which annually ranks cars with top scores in crash tests and other safety evaluations. With tougher tests, the IIHS said ranked cars are safer than ever.
- Model: 2023 Acura Integra A-Spec Tech four-door hatchback sedan.
- Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 200 hp, 192 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Six-speed manual with front-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 15 feet 6 inches.
- Height: 4 feet 8 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 96/24 cubic feet.
- Weight: 3,062 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 26/36/30 mpg. Premium gasoline.
- Base price, including destination charge: $36,895.
- Price as tested: $37,395.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos © Acura
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