Here’s Why the 2023 Acura Integra Has a CVT as Standard

You can get a six-speed manual if you want, but the CVT is standard.

byMar 10, 2022 1:06 PM
Here’s Why the 2023 Acura Integra Has a CVT as Standard
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The production-spec 2023 Acura Integra has finally arrived after months of hype, teasers, and pre-production prototypes. While it's been known since before the initial reveal that Acura's newest sporty compact would offer a six-speed manual transmission, what was surprising to some was that the standard base transmission is a CVT, which is usually perceived as the polar opposite of "sporty."

The confirmation of the Integra's CVT was more surprising than most new details about the car, as there were no direct hints that could be extrapolated from the new Honda Civic Si, which is built with the same engine and platform. Honda's version, for what it's worth, only offers a six-speed manual—there's no automatic option. The previous entry-level Acura ILX that the new Integra replaces, meanwhile, was strictly offered with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. 

That said, the newest non-Si model Civics get a standard CVT, so it's not completely unprecedented. It was just unclear if that CVT—which is only tasked with a maximum of 180 hp in the Civic EX and Touring editions—would be able to handle a more intensely tuned motor in the Integra, which puts out 200 hp. As Acura told The Drive on Thursday, it apparently can.

"It was ultimately determined that the CVT would meet the various development targets for the Integra," a spokesperson explained. "Honda’s CVT transmission pairs exceptionally well with the 1.5-liter engine, with 'Step Shifts' to create a natural acceleration feel while maintaining peak boost pressure for the turbo." 

It's likely this CVT has been tuned to feel as much like a traditional automatic transmission as possible, and interior photos of the automatic transmission equipped car reveal paddle shifters, which Acura says are standard "for added driver control."

Acura

With the already-existing and proven Civic CVT able to handle the power, putting it into the newest Integra makes sense from a business standpoint, even if it disappoints a few enthusiasts. 

Acura went on to state, "For the majority of customers, the 1.5T + CVT will provide an excellent driving experience. For those that are looking for more engagement behind the wheel, the 6MT is for them." 

While putting a CVT in a modern sport compact car is not an unprecedented move by any means, I also find it a bit disappointing that one of the few things the previous, admittedly outdated ILX had going for it—an actual dual-clutch transmission—is now eliminated by its successor, which ostensibly should have a much more enthusiast-oriented pedigree. Still, there's always the six-speed for folks like me, and if you want your own Integra—CVT or manual—reservations open today at 1 p.m. ET. 

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