Preview: All-New Turbocharged 2023 Acura Integra Breaks Cover

A classic nameplate returns as a more upscale five-door hatchback

2023 Acura Integra Photo: Acura

Acura has resurrected the Integra nameplate for its upcoming entry-level hatchback. The upscale brand from Honda unveiled a prototype of the production model online, ahead of the LA Auto Show, with scant details and a promise that more information will be shared next year. 

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The Acura Integra was positioned as the sportier alternative to the Honda Civic as it was produced across three generations from 1986 through 2001, with the subsequent RSX hatchback being counted as a fourth generation by the automaker. This fifth-generation car takes up the mantle for a new era, presumably with more premium features than its rather businesslike progenitors. 

The 2023 Integra will be the first in its lineage to be built in America, alongside the TLX sedan, and it will be the first to boast a turbocharged engine. 

Acura says it will be priced starting “around $30,000.” That is a step up from the $26,500 base price for the ILX that it will replace and about $7,500 less than the TLX, the next model up in the Acura line. 

Here is what we know so far.

What it competes with: Audi A3, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Honda Civic Si, Kia Stinger, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Arteon
What it looks like: A freshened Acura ILX
Powertrains: 210-hp (estimated), 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission; front-wheel drive
Price: $30,000-$37,000 (estimated)
On sale: Summer 2022 

1986 Acura Integra Coupe driving
1986 Acura Integra

Photo: Acura Photo: Acura

CR's Take

The original Acura Integra was a sporty cousin to the Honda Civic, launched in 1986. It had a bit more horsepower from a high-revving engine that gave the Integra hatchback and sedan a rather unique character at the time. Through the years, the Integra gained higher-performance versions, with the lively GS-R and later the track-inspired Type R. 

As the brand evolved, the Integra name faded away—like all true names at Acura—to be replaced initially by the RSX two-door hatchback. A generation later the ILX sedan became the entry-level Acura, casting aside the Integra’s spirited nature. The ILX was an even better-dressed Honda Civic—a move that made more sense on paper than from behind the wheel. 

The ILX could never escape from feeling like a costly Civic. It routinely disappointed CR members based on our annual owner satisfaction surveys. The current-generation ILX is based on a Honda Civic of two generations ago, whereas the upcoming Integra is based on the redesigned Civic that debuted this past summer. 

Still, we approach the Integra with caution. Hopefully, the name signals a new era, capturing a bit of 1980s and 1990s nostalgia, rather than just grabbing a respected nameplate to add luster to Acura’s latest entry-level model. 

2023 Acura Integra

Photo: Acura Photo: Acura

Outside

There has been a lot of buzz around this new model due to the name. But from a styling standpoint, it looks very much like an iterative progression from the current ILX and TLX, with perhaps a dash of Honda Civic thrown in. 

Even Acura, in trying to emphasize the Integra styling cues in its announcement, seemed to stretch: “ . . . the fifth-generation model displays trademark cues such as the embossed Integra name under the driver’s side headlight and passenger’s side taillight.” In other words, you would need a sharp eye, a long memory, and some imagination to connect it to the original Integra. It is no wonder that Acura put the name on the side in large letters. 

Although it appears to share no body panels with the new Civic Hatchback, the similar proportions and sloping roofline make it clear these two cars are related, particularly when looking at them from the side view.

If you study the photos, you will see that it has dual exhaust tips and Brembo brakes behind its 19-inch wheels, suggesting performance. Perhaps there will be a Type S, like other Acura models... 

The rear view is quite tasteful, even evoking more premium models. 

The color shown on this example is said by Acura to be a nod to the brighter Phoenix Yellow offered on the 2000-2001 Integra Type R, but this restrained hue looks more like mustard than the exciting 20th-century paint shade.

2023 Acura Integra

Photo: Acura Photo: Acura

Inside

Acura has not shared images or information about the interior, as is common when this automaker first reveals an upcoming model. Safe to assume the production Integra will have a cabin with seating for five. Based on other recent models, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are expected, as well as wireless charging, mobile hotspot, AcuraLink services (with a multi-function smartphone app), and an available, uplevel sound system. 

We just hope the cabin on automatic models avoids the push-button shifter controls and that Acura reconsiders the infotainment touchpad that has been so frustrating to use in other models.

What Drives It

The Integra launches with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, offering a choice of automatic or manual transmission. 

The high-end Honda Civic EX and Touring both pack a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder with 180 hp, but at this price, it is a safe bet that Integra will draw from the Civic Si parts bin, meaning 200-210 horsepower is more likely. 

Like the new Civic Si, a six-speed manual will be available. However, the type of automatic transmission that will be offered is still unknown. We would not describe the CVT in the new Civic as “sporty” and hope Acura has a plan to address this, such as with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic similar to that used in the current ILX.

Safety and Driver Assistance Systems

Acura has not even hinted at the safety equipment, but both the redesigned Honda Civic Si and the Acura TLX come with a full suite of active driver assist systems. It is safe to assume the Integra will as well, even with a manual transmission. (Some automakers omit automatic emergency braking when a model is equipped with a stick shift, because it will stall as a result of a sudden stop without the driver depressing the clutch.) 

As a guide, the Civic Si is equipped with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, and rear seat reminder. 

2001 Acura Integra Type R driving
2001 Acura Integra Type R

Photo: Acura Photo: Acura


Jeff S. Bartlett

A New England native, I have piloted a wide variety of vehicles, from a Segway to an aircraft carrier. All told, I have driven thousands of vehicles—many on race tracks across the globe. Today, that experience and passion are harnessed at the CR Auto Test Center to empower consumers. And if some tires must be sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSBartlett).