Proffit at the Wheel: 2023 Acura Integra Review

Before the start of the 2023 sales season, Acura put a coffin lid on its aging ILX sedan and replaced it with a new model named Integra. Bringing back nomenclature that once belonged to a beloved coupe and sedan that left the marketplace after 2006, Honda’s premium division relied on buyers who recall the Integra model as a sporting machine built for those either young or young at heart.

This writer had a 1994 Acura Integra three-door coupe, purchased the same day OJ Simpson led a slow-speed chase through Los Angeles as he was trying to evade police following the murder of his wife and one of her good friends. The purchase took forever to complete, because everyone was way more interested in what was happening outside the dealership. Suffice to say the Integra survived its rough baptism and went on to live a speedy, happy life.

The 2023 Acura Integra hearkens to its predecessor with its sporting nature, despite being offered strictly as a compact four-door, front-wheel-drive sedan. The new Integra is a hatchback, rather than notchback sedan that shares its donor chassis with the latest Honda Civic Si but is far more refined than that machine.

A voyage to Denver for the final NHRA race on 65-year-old Bandimere Speedway’s drag strip at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains – and adjacent to Red Rocks – allowed us the opportunity to sample this latest Acura entry-luxury compact sedan. Dressed in Liquid Carbon metallic gray paint with a vibrant red interior, the 2023 Acura Integra A-Spec with Technology sedan was a delight from pushbutton start to pushbutton stop.

Much of its joy lies under the hood, where it shares a 1.5-liter inline, directly-injected four-cylinder engine with the Civic. The intercooled turbocharged engine sends 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm to the front wheels, together with 192 ft-lbs of torque at 1,800 rpm. Redline is 6,500. This particular machine is outfitted with a slick, rev-matching six-speed manual transmission, rather than the usual CVT with overdrive many buyers will choose.

Acura uses strut and multilink suspensions with stabilizer bars at both ends of the chassis to keep it firmly planted, uses rack-and-pinion variable ratio electric power-assisted steering to allow crisp, direct handling and places Brembo calipers on ventilated front- and solid-rear disc brakes. All-season 235/40R 18-inch rubber mounted on black twinned five-spoke alloy wheels complete a mechanical package that begs to be exercised hard.

This new Acura has aggressiveness as its physical calling card, with lattice-work black grille and slinky LED eyes. There are prominent hood creases that carry through to the rear where a small winglet holds the entire package to stability. Together with Acura’s signature “A” front and rear, all nomenclature for the Integra is inlaid, making it somewhat of a stealth creature if the viewer is unfamiliar with the car. There are lovely welcome lights on the sills that add to the luxuriating feel of this sedan.

Offering comfort, luxury and sportiness isn’t easy, but Acura makes it look that way with the new Integra. From the moment the suitcase and backpack were plopped under the 24.3-cubic-foot hatch opening, one that is easy to reach when opened fully, living with this car felt like coming home. All controls are easy to find and suitably placed, with the large gauge cluster taking precedence over the similarly large nine-inch navigation screen. Acura’s A-Spec Technology group gives the driver and passengers everything necessary without having to add options.

At a list price of $37,395 including freight, the 2023 Acura Integra A-Spec Technology is loaded with exterior and interior features from stem to stern. The sole option is an upcharge of $500 for the paint color. The driver has a 12-way power heated seat that includes lumbar support and offers dual memories, while the front-seat passenger has four-way heated power. The lattice-work look of the grille continues in the cabin with all-black vents having that type of opening, Climate controls are simple to understand and easy to adjust and, at the central stack base there are USB, USB-C and 12-volt couplings, together with wireless charging. The phone stays put in this sedan and that’s not always the case. The sunroof is easy to use with a single touch opening and has a tilt feature as well.

Acura’s A-Spec package for the 2023 Integra includes exclusive styling and the wheel-tire package, LED fog lights, the rear deckled spoiler and sport pedals that are great for heel-and-toe activities. The Tech package features Acura’s ELS Studio premium audio system with 16 speakers, sport seats with microsuede inserts, an AcuraLink communication system, the head-up display with speed limit, actual speed and compass, the wonderful wireless phone charger, front and rear parking sensors, low-speed brake control and rain sensing wipers (unused this trip, for a change – it usually rains in Denver at some point).

We used Apple CarPlay throughout our trip for music and to get us to and from our lodging, which was about 20 minutes from the race track. Over the four days that we drove this Acura Integra, we put on a wee bit more than 250 miles and still had about half a tank remaining in the 12.4-gallon capless fuel tank. Mileage is rated at 26/36/30mpg and Acura does prefer the driver use premium fuel for this 3,073-pound sedan.

We prefer to drive a manual transmission car because it requires attention. It doesn’t drive without personal attention to the well-spaced gears and allows the operator to be more connected to what the Integra is doing and why. While it might seem strange to have a luxurious sedan with a manual transmission, the total experience is extremely rewarding

There were high expectations when Acura re-introduced its Integra model. After all, this was one lightweight sporting coupe or sedan that appealed to tuners and those that live to update their daily drivers. Will a new Acura Integra model succeed in today’s marketplace with its lively attitude, luxurious demeanor and sporting attributes? We certainly hope so.

words and photos by Anne Proffit

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