When Acura first unveiled the reborn Integra, I was cautiously optimistic. As long as it didn’t cost too much more than a standard Civic, a Civic-based liftback with a manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential sounded quite nice. Now that Acura’s put out a press release detailing pricing, I don’t feel so optimistic. It’s really left me scratching my head. Let’s look at the Integra’s features, and walk through the vehicle’s model range.
The base-model Integra retails for $30,800 (excluding destination charge) and features a CVT automatic gearbox, a 10.2-inch all-digital gauge cluster, an eight-speaker stereo, smart key entry, a sunroof and leatherette upholstery. Moving up a notch, the A-Spec trim stickers for $32,800 and should make the Integra look like a $30,000 car. A-Spec models get 18-inch alloy wheels, blacked-out trim, a lip spoiler and red gauge needles.
But the Integra you really want is the $35,800 A-Spec with the Technology Package, which unlocks the no-charge option of a six-speed manual gearbox with limited-slip differential.
So what else does the most expensive Integra get you? While a 16-speaker ELS audio system will likely be lovely, adaptive dampers sound pretty sweet, a heads-up display seems nice, and synthetic suede inserts should class up the leatherette seats, the A-Spec with the Technology Package mostly includes a lot of stuff that should really be standard. Features like a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless CarPlay. I’m sorry Acura, a seven-inch screen in a $30,000 small car just isn’t enough in 2022. Locking telematics to the top-trim model also sounds weird, especially since a $19,995 Ford Maverick XL gets telematics as standard. Also locked to the top Integra model is a wireless charging pad, ambient interior lighting, memory settings for the driver’s seat and more than one USB port. Seriously, these are three fairly basic features that come on a $28,095 Volkswagen Jetta SEL. Granted, the Jetta SEL’s 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine doesn’t crank out 200 horsepower, but the Honda Civic Si’s four-banger does, as it’s the same motor that’s in the Integra. For context, a Civic Si retails for $27,300 before delivery and destination.
What level of hubris on this god-forsaken planet makes a manual Integra worth $8,500 more than a Civic Si? I know that $8,500 premium gets you leather and a liftback and adaptive dampers and a 16-speaker ELS audio system that’ll probably sound really, really nice, but holy crap. Do you know what you could do with $8,500? You could pay off a chunk of your student loans, pay for 4.857 months of rent in North Hollywood West, keep it in your savings account for a rainy day, buy an entire week’s worth of Shitbox Showdown winners — the possibilities are huge.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why Acura wants its new Integra in the $30,000 to $36,000 price bracket. It’s a sporty, well-equipped entry-level vehicle that could make a lot of money. And sporty, well-equipped entry-level vehicles are often marketed to college-educated young professionals who work behind keyboards all day. Kind of like me, come to think of it. However, I’m not a rich asshole who can afford to finance a flashy new five-door liftback for 84 months while renting alone in a major metropolitan area during a housing bubble, I’m just a regular asshole. $8,500 is more than my last three daily drivers were worth put together. Besides, if I did have nearly $36,000 to blow on a brand new car, I’d be absolutely spoiled for choice right now.
If I wanted to trade a little bit of class for a whole lot of speed, I could order a Hyundai Elantra N for $32,150. Sure I’d lose the liftback, the ELS audio system, and the respect of boring people who are too “mature” to find joy in a ‘roided-up compact car, but the Elantra N is actually properly quick. I drove an Elantra N at Sonoma Raceway last year and it was awesome — great on-track pace, great chassis and just enough comfort on the pockmarked roads of Napa Valley that I could totally live with it.
On the other hand, if I wanted something fully mature, I could pick up a Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus hatchback for $34,750. Sure, it may only have two pedals and the rear seats may be theoretical at best, but it’s all-wheel drive, looks like a million bucks, and genuinely feels like a luxury car. Hand on heart, a loaded Mazda 3 has one of the nicest interiors I’ve ever experienced in a car costing less than $50,000. In the performance department, the Mazda’s all-wheel-drive system is nice for winter traction, the turbo motor offers heaps of torque and it still sticks well enough in the bends to make passengers feel queasy during a moderate-speed plunge down an on-ramp. Job well done on a premium-feeling entry-level car.
Then there’s the safe, moderate choice of a slightly punchy Volkswagen. While the GTI is out completely due to its reasonably dreadful user interface, the Jetta GLI hasn’t yet come down with capacitive touch-itis. More importantly, the GLI retails for $31,295. That’s just $495 more than a base-model Integra for such added niceties as ventilated seats, real leather upholstery, adaptive dampers and a perfect amount of shove. Sure, the interior plastics can feel a bit Fisher Price and the gearstick feels like churning a bucket of gravel, but it really is the sensible, quick, well-equipped all-rounder in the moderately hot small car segment.
You may be wondering why I haven’t brought up actual premium cars from brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Genesis. Honestly, it’s because Acura seems to be living 25 years in the past. Back in 1997, the price gap between an Integra GS-R sedan and a BMW 318i was huge – a full $4,550 in 1997 dollars. However, the $21,400 Integra GS-R sat neatly halfway between the price of a Civic EX ($16,480) and the price of a 318i ($25,950) while providing a noticeably more premium experience than the Civic. The Integra’s dashboard wasn’t cubicle gray, its upholstery didn’t look like carefully-glued mouse fur, and it had such modern conveniences as a digital clock. Sure, you may laugh now, but there used to be a huge separation in materials, colors and features between regular compact cars and small premium cars, especially when few extra features were generally available. Even alloy wheels were an immense deal for such a long time, a cause for tribalistic brawling between Camry LE dads and Camry XLE dads at local minor hockey games.
Now though, there isn’t that much of a difference in luxury between premium small cars and regular small cars. Every compact car feels fairly well-built and you can get just about every toy a BMW 230i has to offer on a Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Needless to say, that’s shifted the boundaries of entry-level luxury immensely. Today’s entry-level luxury cars put emphasis on design, power, handling, a handful of truly futuristic technologies, and sheer badge status more than ever before. When your premium small car looks a lot like a Civic, has just as nice of an interior as a Civic, isn’t much quicker than a Civic, and doesn’t have much more brand cachet than a Civic, people will just buy a Civic.
I’d love to be wrong and watch people flock to the new Integra, but I’m getting a strong feeling that they won’t. Between the sheer vitriol at launch over the fact that the Integra wasn’t a wedgy two-door coupe to the NFT nonsense that came with the first few 500 pre-orders, Acura seems hellbent on crushing every ounce of goodwill the Integra name has. This rather optimistic pricing for what amounts to little more than a re-styled Civic with a liftback may just be the final nail in the Integra’s coffin.
Lead photo: Acura
Having owned a first-gen Integra LS four-door with an automatic, this seems…familiar. Sadly, not in the way that most of us here (or the car-buying public) would want.
Having had to work with Honda/Acura product planning people here in the States, however, this makes sense: They are *terrible*. Truly awful at their jobs and not particularly nice people either.
That said, Acuras tend to sell to people with Honda sensibility but a few extra bucks so it’ll sell reasonably well before they eventually kill it off for not selling like their crossovers.
Hey kids, let’s remember that bitching about and refusing to buy sports sedans because they don’t live up to our unrealistic automotive equivalents of fan fiction gets us one thing – more crossovers.
Well at least they have helped remove a contender from the selection for my next car…..
Perhaps this is just the launch strategy, though. Or, if we create enough uproar, they can pull a Toyota and add the manual (to every trim). I have a little bit of hope that the next model year will include manuals on every trim.
Or… they will use the lack of A-spec sales to discontinue the manual trans.
Looks like Acura learn a little from the sad sack ILX. Only a little by making the Integra actually more appealing than the related Civic. Unfortunately, they could have really made it something great, but decided to price the good trim beyond the value.
I feel like I’m the target audience for this market and yet I have ZERO interest in this vehicle. I’m 45, just got a better paying job (finally) and my kids are well out of car seats and getting into their own cars soon.
Do I want large car payments? Nope
Do I want loads of tech in my “Dad needs to vent steam while driving to pick up the takeout”? Nope
Do I want the desirable manual in the top trim level? Nope
My current shopping metrics: Manual, Fun to drive, cheap to own, not fussy to live with. Basically I’d take a 90’s Integra at 2000’s pricing. Everything euro is fussy or unreliable from what I’ve seen. Perhaps I should hunt down a spicy Swedish dish from before they were bought out.
Will hold judgement until I can sit in one and hopefully drive it, but the pricing really doesn’t seem all that bad. People mad at this are probably also mad at the new Civic Si’s lack of features compared to the previous generation. Hopefully, it is a quieter drive than the new Civic; that to me is worth the slight price increase alone.
I read the title and came in here looking for a fight… but yeah, I agree. Didn’t realize you needed to get the tech package to unlock the MT.
I leased a TLX A Spec a few months back and its a great car to drive. I just hope Acura did a better job on the infotainment system for the Integra because its garbage in this car. Makes me miss GM’s system and Chrysler UConnect.
I just don’t think this car captures the Integra spirit. I had a ’92 RS that I could barely afford but that 5-speed hatch was light and fast and a blast to drive. This just looks like a bloated Civic. I know the Integra always was Civic-based, but to me this new car is phoned in. I’m so much more interested in the new Nissan Z – I know it’s a slightly higher price point, but that car looks alive, and the base model looks nicely equipped for what I want.
$35K isn’t a lot for a new car anymore. It’s about average. Taking that into consideration, choosing a Jetta, or whatever, over the Integra really just comes down to something that goes beyond horsepower, price, or whatever numbers you can throw out in an armchair comparison.
i was never an Integra superfan of the original. In fact, I really didn’t like them at all, but I understood the marketing. They were aiming straight at my generation. At least those of my generation that actually graduated college and were starting off on a successful career of the dot-com era before the NASDAQ crash. Marketers were pulling straight out of the 80s with an eye on the new generation of yuppies with an “it doesn’t really matter anyway” attitude. The Integra ads, with their orange Hotwheel track ad, spoke directly too us.
Bringing back the Integra, regardless of what you think it is, is a really just a great marketing move on Honda’s part. It reaches out to the lost X generation that is finally starting to come into some kid of money in their 40s and 50, while riding the wave of the Integra legend among the millenial generation that couldn’t wait to grow up and buy one.
Acura was not only a move to grab some of that boomer money from the Benz and Bimmer buyers, but the Integra was a different kind of approach that worked. A FWD approach to the BMW 3-series, which is also a much different car now than it was back then.
I had two Integras in my teens and early 20’s (Gen 2, Gen 3) and I loved them. I couldn’t agree more on your assessment of timing. I still hate the trend of locking the MT behind a tech package paywall.
Why do manufacturers insist on loading cars with every electronic gizmo known to man? They may appeal to millennials, but they don’t want to drive. And can’t afford a new car either. Offer a more basic version for people that want to DRIVE: ie the experience that involves active driver participation. My old 2007 Si was about perfect.
The first Millennials are turning 40 this year, get some new stereotypes please.
Do the base 200hp thing at 30k for boring folks that want a pseudo lux badge, but make that 36k 6spd car a bit more spicy. Punch its output to something halfway between the base and a full Civic Type R. If done right, they could put some decent options packages in there and get 40k or more with minimal grumbling.
And it probably wouldn’t cost much to get a few extra HP out of that 1.5T. Hondata can really get those numbers up for just a few hundred bucks.
Or detune the Type R motor like Subaru did for a while with the Legacy vs Sti.
The 2.0T that goes into the higher spec Accord slots in between the base Integra and Type R almost perfectly. Honda has the solution in their back pocket.
Agree with Thomas’s take – in the 90s the premium over the Civic got you better product worth the the extra $$. And the GS-R was offering something that wasn’t available in the market from anywhere else – a ripping 8k redline.
The biggest sin is restricting the base- and mid-level trims to CVT only. Who the fuck wants that? They’re going to miss out on customers for whom the CVT-equipped Integra may as well not exist, but who can’t or won’t pay $36k for a Civic Si with a hatch and a slightly nicer interior. Honda really ought to bring the MT down to the other trims, and make the LSD an option while they’re at it.
But then they wouldn’t be able to say that no one buys the manual and kill it in two years.
The CVT kept me from considering any Honda with the 1.5T motor.
Counterpoint: the $21,400 listed for a 97 GSR equals to $38,600 today. A better comparison would be to the last year GS sedan, since that was a fully loaded, small motor Integra the last time you could buy such a thing. It was $21,600 in 2001. That equals $35,300 today.
I absolutely think that all models of Integra should have 6MT, but so far it appears to be priced pretty much exactly like it’s predecessor with inflation accounted for
It’s like they’ve forgotten we are currently in a period of high inflation.
Not only that, a base 2-Series Gran Coupe (a car that has all the features and interior ambiance of a stripped 318i with none of the driving verve) starts at $36k, so a loaded Integra (which I’d fully bet on driving better) sounds like a bit of a better deal. For that matter, a loaded Civic hatch is about $30k, so it’s a small bump to get what I imagine is a marginally nicer car.
I’m not surprised by the overall pricing, but restricting the lower trims to CVT-only really limits their attractiveness with exactly the kind of buyers who the Integra is supposedly targeting. Not even a conventional automatic (let alone a DCT) but a CVT. Who wants that? The prices are fine, it’s just that if you’re not shopping for a top-end model you are kind of out of luck.
The best part is that they didn’t make a Civic Si hatch specifically to protect the Integra, and now the base Integra is auto-only.
The Civic Sport Touring hatch is only available in boring “colors” in the US, though more are available in Canada, including purple
The non-Touring Sport hatch has a sunroof in Canada but not the US
My choice would be a Corolla hatchback 6-speed and hope I can get an aftermarket sunroof installed somewhere
Back in the day, the Civic SI was called the Civic SI-R in Canada. Much more professional sounding.
I chuckled at your boring colors comment – my last two Honda purchases have been for a car in the color I disliked the least.
I honestly loved the base model 22 Civic I test drove and considered buying earlier this year. The roughly $5k in market adjustment made me balk (MSRP inflated plus a $3500 supply tax). The base Civic honestly comes with a lot of great features. Compared to my 2009 Mazda 3 it actually felt like a luxury car. I can only imagine what the $35k Integra would be like compared to that base Civic. But the idea that anybody is getting that top trim MT Integra at the quoted prices is silly. Those things will sell for $40k plus easily.
Yeah that’s not an integra, that’s a fat piece of shit with an integra badge slapped on it to get sales. I’m not buying it figuratively or literally. Owned so many 80s 90s hondas it’s just pathetic that they can even consider calling this an Integra.
Or you can just wait for the ’23 CTR. But that’s me.
But would they save some features on that car for a even better ITR though, like how they handled the Civic Si?