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2023 Acura Integra Review: Charm School Valedictorian

​​Design | Comfort | Tech | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQs

Let’s not mince words. I love the 2023 Acura Integra. With a trim and practical hatchback shape, a stylish interior, and responsive turbo power, the Integra never stops trying to win its driver over, and in my case, it succeeds entirely.

I’m clearly not the only one, as the Integra was a strong contender at our Motor1.com Star Awards, and it took top honors as the North American Car Of The Year. To be fair, the manual-transmission Integra is about $7,000 more expensive than the Honda Civic Si that gets the exact same power and running gear. There are cheaper trims, but they’re CVT-only – no biggie for most consumers but a bummer for enthusiasts. Still, with a long list of standard equipment, nice interior fittings, and a fun driving experience, the 2023 Acura Integra makes a compelling case as an entry-level luxury car.

​​A vehicle’s ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.

  • Exterior Color: Liquid Carbon Metallic
  • Interior Color: Red
  • Wheel Size: 18 Inches

I find Acura’s current design direction very attractive, with the Integra getting the same “diamond pentagon” grille design and beveled headlamps as its stablemates. The humpback roofline takes some getting used to, and the thick rear haunches draw some sarcastic comparisons to the old Honda Accord Crosstour. But the Integra still looks good driving down the road. Retro details hearken back to previous ‘Tegs, including a rear hatch release that’s hidden inside a semi-oval cutout and “INTEGRA” logos embossed into the front and rear bumpers.

Inside, there’s a strip of honeycomb mesh spanning the width of the center stack, and if the Integra had debuted before the Civic, we’d laud that stylish detail. So there’s really no reason to pout just because Honda did it first. And the Integra differentiates itself from its Si sibling with more soft materials on the dash and door panels, leather and microfiber suede upholstery on the seats, and added ambient lighting throughout the cabin. These alterations put the Integra at or above the level of the Audi A3.

  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
  • Cargo Capacity: 24.3 Cubic Feet

The Integra is a pretty comfortable daily driver, with a stiff chassis and well-tuned dampers that give it a smooth ride over even moderately broken pavement. Unfortunately, there’s a fair amount of road noise that makes its way into the cabin – possibly due to the big hatch opening. And even with the cargo area loaded down with duffel bags and backpacks, the tire roar makes long freeway slogs a bit tiresome.

The driver’s seat is supportive for even long journeys, but the front passenger’s perch isn’t height-adjustable, and I couldn’t really get comfy. However, the rear seat offers class-leading space and a comfortable seating position, and the 24.3 cubic feet of cargo volume is more than double its closest competitor.

  • Center Display: 9.0-Inch Touchscreen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: 10.2 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes

The Integra ditches Acura’s cumbersome True Touchpad Interface in favor of a 9.0-inch touchscreen located within an easy reach of the front passengers. Running parent company Honda’s latest infotainment software, the display responds quickly with simple graphics and animations that add visual appeal but not complexity. Overall, the system is easy to operate, and it has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The flagship Integra also comes with a brilliant ELS Studio 3D audio system that sounds amazing when playing lossless audio and streaming music alike. A 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster is crisp and clear, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of customization. The accent colors change with drive mode, but that’s it.

  • Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-Liter I4
  • Output: 200 Horsepower / 192 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Six-Speed Manual

Let’s get the worst of it out of the way. With 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet on offer from the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder under the hood, the Integra never feels blazingly fast. That’s less power and torque than the entry-level Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 – though more than the now-discontinued Mercedes A220. But the Integra weighs a svelte 3,073 pounds in manual-transmission form, over 400 less than the CLA and nearly 300 down on the A3. Combined with its nimble suspension tuning and limited-slip front differential, the welterweight Integra is great fun on a curvy road.

It’s also the only entrant in its class that offers a six-speed stick, and it’s possibly the best transmission available today thanks to short throws, closely spaced gates, and a pleasingly mechanical feel. The short gearing makes keeping the turbocharged engine boiled up a joy, in spite of some annoying rev hang between upshifts. Driven with some passion, the Integra is an endlessly enjoyable compact luxury car.

  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
  • IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick Plus

Every Integra gets AcuraWatch active safety, with adaptive cruise control, lane departure prevention, lane centering, and automatic emergency braking. Go for the standard CVT and you’ll also get traffic jam assistance. But considering most automakers refuse to bundle active safety with manual transmissions, the Acura’s list of kit is impressive.

Also commendable is how it operates. You can activate cruise control once you’ve pulled away from a stop, and the Integra will pause acceleration while you change gear, then resume once you’ve let out the clutch. And on the freeway, AcuraWatch does a good job of spacing the car away from surrounding traffic, easing fatigue on long trips.

  • City: 26
  • Highway: 36
  • Combined: 20
  • Base Price: $31,300 + $1,195 Destination
  • Trim Base Price: $37,495
  • As-Tested Price: $38,095

If you’re okay with the CVT, the base Integra costs $32,495 with the $1,195 destination charge, and it includes niceties like wireless smartphone integration, blind spot monitoring, and convincing faux leather. The A-Spec trim gets unique front and rear fascias and upsized 18-inch wheels, while the A-Spec/Technology trim boasts adaptive dampers and microsuede-upholstered seats, as well as an optional, no-cost manual transmission. My tester’s only add-on was a $600 coat of Liquid Graphite paint, and that’s the only way to make an Integra more expensive since Acura prices its compact by trim rather than individual options.

At $38,095 fully loaded, the Integra feels like a great deal. A similarly equipped A3 costs more than $42,000 and a CLA 250 is more than $45,000, while BMW’s humpbacked 228i Gran Coupe is at least 40 large. The Acura’s cabin is a bit noisier than its rivals, but a practical hatchback body helps make up for it. Add in a driving experience that feels enthusiastic, but never punishing, and the relentlessly charming Integra is sure to win you over.

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