2023 Acura Integra: Will It Dog?

The Acura Integra is great to drive, but if your life involves hauling big dogs around, the rear hatch isn’t as helpful as it would seem.

byAndrew P. Collins| UPDATED Jan 20, 2023 12:02 PM
2023 Acura Integra: Will It Dog?
Andrew P. Collins
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The new 2023 Acura Integra has already proven itself to be a downright delightful sport luxury car, especially with its optional six-speed manual transmission. Its hatchback shape makes it reasonably practical, too. But today we’re going to find out how good it is for dogs as well as the humans who have to drive them around.

Welcome to Will It Dog, The Drive's review series where we evaluate cars based on their dog-friendliness. We've devised a series of tests that we think will give dog owners the best insight into whether a car is practical enough for them and their four-legged partners. Don't own a dog? Stay for the cute pictures!

Meet the Test Dogs

Meet the fluffy family that will help us dog-test cars. Andrew P. Collins

My dog Bramble is half Australian Shepard (mom Koda), and half Golden Retriever (dad Cal). As a result, she’s basically an extra-large Aussie at about 45 pounds. Her brothers are considerably bigger. We employ as many of them as we can to help you get a sense of what different-sized animals look like in the car while we find out how well the vehicle can comfortably carry a pack.

2023 Acura Integra Review Specs for Dog Owners

  • Base price (A-Spec Tech 6MT as tested): $31,895 ($37,395)
  • Powertrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC inline-four | 6-speed manual or CVT | front-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 200 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 192 lb-ft @ 1,800 to 5,000 rpm
  • Curb weight:
    • Manual A-Spec with Technology Package: 3,073 pounds
    • CVT A-Spec: 3,150 pounds
  • Seating capacity: 5 humans
  • EPA fuel economy:
    • Manual: 26 mpg city | 36 highway | 30 combined 
    • CVT: 30 mpg city | 37 highway | 33 combined
  • Cargo volume: 24.3 cubic feet
  • Quick take: Small-medium-sized dogs can fit just fine, but this car is definitely not optimal for anything bigger than an Australian Shepard. Our XL Aussies were not fans.
  • Will It Dog Score: 5/10
Andrew P. Collins

If you read my standard Integra review, you already know that I loved driving it and think pretty highly of the car in general. I also want to inject some context of my dog transportation habits: Of the handful of cars I own, Bramble rides in my wife’s two-door BMW the most. That is to say, you don’t necessarily need a dog-optimized car just because you have a dog.

With that out of the way, despite having four doors and a fairly generous cargo hatch, the 2023 Integra is not a particularly good dog car.

Climbing In and Out

Andrew P. Collins

Small dogs will have the best time with an Integra. The rear footwell is low enough for a little breed to hop up in, and something like a Pomeranian or Chihuahua could curl up easily without even climbing up onto the rear seat. Medium to large-medium dogs like Golden Retrievers can hop straight onto the back seat with ease, though larger breeds like big labs and smaller Bernese mountain dogs would have a lot of trouble with the low roof line.

The really large breeds like Newfoundlands, male Bernese, Akitas, and Malamutes would struggle to fit all their floof through an Integra’s rear door. And monster-sized pups (Great Pyrenees, Great Danes, and similar) would have to be loaded very carefully with the rear seat folded down and their bodies spread between the rear passenger area and cargo bay. 

The bottom of the rear hatch is quite high off the ground, and even an agility-trained Aussie would not be able to hop in comfortably. The rear cargo area isn’t suited for dog transport anyway.

Driving With the Dog

Andrew P. Collins

The Integra shares a cabin shape with the Civic, which shares a platform with the HR-V, which Bramble seemed to love riding in. But in spite of that, she simply would not settle in this car the way she did in that subcompact SUV. It’s tough to understand exactly why she didn’t seem to care for this car’s interior as much since, you know, she’s a dog. But I’ve known her long enough to tell when she’s comfortable, and in the back of the Integra, she was not.

For one thing, the Integra’s taut leather seemed a bit more slippery than the HR-V’s. For another, the Integra’s roof line is not just lower, it’s very low. I’m 6 feet tall and had zero surplus headroom sitting in the back. Sitting down, my dog is actually pretty tall, too—not tall enough to make contact with the headliner, but close enough to it for flying fur to get stuck up there.

Indi and Silas took turns sticking their heads out the window in a vain attempt to escape the stench of each others' farts. Andrew P. Collins

Finally—and, frankly, this is probably the most critical factor—it’s impossible to drive an Integra with the torpor that the HR-V inspires. I never drive hard with a canine passenger, not since I made Bramble barf all over her seat cover in wifey’s Bimmer that one time (oops), but the Integra’s inherent liveliness makes it a little tougher for a pooch to pass out in. The similarly sized HR-V isn’t bad to drive, in fact I rather liked rolling around in it. But it’s so soft and sedate that it just felt more natural being driven like a limousine. Hence, princess puppy here had an easier time sleeping in the passenger seats of the HR-V while even casual cornering in the Integra had her scrambling back and forth over slick leather.

She didn’t really attempt to climb into the front of the Integra, though. The gap between the seats is a little too tight for animal ingress.

Driving in General

This is how I felt driving the car ... and how the dogs felt when they were allowed to get out. Andrew P. Collins

Since we’ve already published a whole Integra driving review, I’ll stick to the short story here: The six-speed 2023 Integra A-Spec is lovely to drive in general. Adept handling, smooth and decisive action in the clutch and shifter, and ample power for playing around on back roads. The car’s three drive modes provide three distinctly different personalities (comfort, sport, and a mix in normal mode).

Fitting Kennels

We test every car with the same two kennels—one hard crate (large enough for a grown female Golden Retriever), and one collapsed folding kennel (which folds out to about the same size). It’s also worth mentioning that many hard kennels, including the one pictured, can be unscrewed and effectively split in half for transportation.

The tent kennel pops up to be about the same size as the hard one, but of course, it provides a much weaker barrier. You'll need to crate-train your dog before counting on them to stay put in one of those. Andrew P. Collins

Here are their dimensions:

  • Hard kennel (1) length, (2) width, (3) height: 36 inches, 24 inches, 26 inches
  • Collapsed tent kennel (4) length, (5) width, (6) height: 36 inches, 25 inches, 5 inches

The soft kennel slid into the back seat easily enough, but there was no easy way to make the hard kennel work while it was still assembled. Upon closer inspection, I think it might be possible to squeeze it in through the rear doors, but I was convinced I was going to mar the interior by doing that so I held off.

It’s not necessarily critical that you keep a dog in a crate when you drive, I never do, but if that’s something you want to do this is not your car.

Pack Hauling

Andrew P. Collins

We were able to physically fit three 40- to 50-pound dogs in the back seat, but they simply refused to settle down the way they did in the HR-V. If you want an Integra and you have a dog, you can make things work. If you have multiple dogs, I would really recommend looking elsewhere unless your four-legged family members are all in the sub-30-pound segment.

The low roofline that was mildly annoying to me and Bramble was too much for her big brothers Indi and Silas. They kept climbing on top of each other to get comfortable and just ended up creating a tornado of chaos inside the car’s cockpit.

2023 Acura Integra Dog-Friendliness Verdict

Andrew P. Collins

The new Integra is a great car, but it’s not great for dogs. As I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t mean owning a dog and an Integra is necessarily a non-starter—there are plenty of breeds that could fit viably in the back seat. And a simple seat cover is a perfectly fine solution to keeping paws off of slippery leather. But the layout, materials, and ergonomics of this thing are simply not exceptionally dog-friendly and our XL Australian Shepards were not stoked about riding in it.

We’ll be looking to dog-test some more sporty vehicles later this year to further explore the hypothesis of cars you can have fun driving while keeping your pets comfy—check back for more Will It Dog reviews, once every month!

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