As a brand of its own, Acura belongs to the parent company, Honda Motors Company, Ltd. It was officially launched into the North American market as of March 27, 1986, as a luxury lineup of automobiles that were also designed for superior performance. After the introduction to the American market, Acura later became accessible to other nations over the years. Despite Honda’s origins coming from Japan, the Acura lineup did not officially get introduced to that nation until the conclusion of the Japanese financial crisis of 2008. Within the Japanese market, Honda’s Acura was the first luxury brand of automobiles, which inspired Nissan to launch Infiniti as their version of luxury vehicles and Toyota to launch its Lexus lineup. Not long after Acura got into the business of luxury automobile production, they began to outsell well-established brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Introducing Acura Integra
During the 1990s, Acura experienced a slow down in sales as other luxury brands, including what came from Nissan’s Infiniti and Toyota’s Lexus. This sparked the company to go back to the drawing board and come forth with a new generation of luxury automobiles so they could get back into the race as a top-selling producer of higher-quality vehicles. The first of the Acura brands that would experience the redesign and upgrades was the Integra series. Integra was the first luxury performance vehicle Honda produced, which was debuted in February 1985 in Japan as the Honda Quint Integra. At the time, it was only available in Japan, through their personal dealership sales channel, Honda Verno. Later, the Acura Integra was introduced to the North American market, first as a three-door liftback, then followed with a five-door model as of October 1985. At the time, these liftback Acura Integras featured a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine. Integra’s engine design was the most popular feature as the DOHC multi-valve engines were not common among entry-level model vehicles at the time.
From 1985 until 1989, the first generation of the Acura Integra series was designed as a successor to the Honda Quint series. The Acura Integra served as a luxury version of the Honda Civic, which came with two different engines, both complying with all the government regulations that were in place at the time. While the engine code characteristics were the same, the brown-topped valve covers of the 1986 and 1987 Integra models were replaced in 1988 with a now black-topped engine design that saw lighter rods, domed pistons for improved compression, and an electric advance distributor. This replaced the brown top’s vacuum advance distributor that was used beforehand. This resulted in improved performance specs of the Integra series. The first generation of the Acura Integra lineup was the only one that offered the option between a 3-door liftback, 4-door liftback, and 5-door liftback. As of 1988, the 5-door models were discontinued.
The second generation of Acura Integra models began in 1989 with a number of changes, which started to have the series come in the form of sedans. After 1993, the third generation came forth with the options for drivers to either go with liftback models or sedans. It was also during this time the appeal of Acura’s lineup of luxury automobiles began to wane, which also affected the Integra series. This resulted in Honda having to invest more heavily into redesigning its Acura brand in order to win back the consumer market. At the time, coupe models were being favored over sedans, so Acura adapted to keep up with the times. Starting in 1998, the Acura Integra series began to focus on two-door coupes as they stepped away from the sedan models. When the fourth generation of the series began in 2001, there was an entirely new engine design, called the K-Series, that saw a significant performance upgrade for the Acura Integra series. However, in 2006, Honda announced they would be pulling the Acura Integra series out of the North American market as the popularity of coupe vehicles was giving way to the rising interest in sport utility vehicles (SUV).
Despite the hiatus from the North American market, the Acura Integra continued to grace the roadways and racetracks of a market that never lost interest in this particular brand of vehicle. Now with the North American market once again favoring smaller vehicles, the Integra lineup will be making a return, which is scheduled for 2022. With the anticipated comeback, the question comes up which among the Acura Integra models have proven to be the best of all time.
10. 2000 Integra Type-R
For a brief period, Acura discontinued the Type-R models of the Integra series but returned them for the 2000 lineup. This time, the four-speed transmission saw enhancements that improved upon its shifting performance. With a near five-star rating by reviewers on Edmunds, previous and current owners of the 2000 Integra models, regardless if it’s the Type-R or other variants, all share the same positive feedback.
9. 1990 (all Integra models)
In 1990, the Acura Integra lineup saw both a cosmetic facelift and a number of mechanical upgrades. This was also the year where the five-door hatchback models were discontinued as the two-door hatchback continued on. The upgrades the 1990 models saw included increased horsepower, torque, and better handling. Even to this day, consumers who’ve either had this model once upon a time or still own it, consider the 1990 Acura Integra one of the most reliable vehicles ever driven.
8. 1989 (all Integra models)
The first of the second generation of Acura Integra models saw a series of upgrades that officially paved the way for the entire Integra series from that point forward as one of the favorite luxury automobiles on the market at that time. The first generation had 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter engines displacement during its production run, which saw this improved with 1989’s 1.8-liter improvement. This sparked the interest of consumers who favored luxury automobile brands, which saw them begin to drift away from the established brand of BMW and Mercedes-Benz and toward the Acura Integra models. It was the success of the 1989 lineup that catapulted the entire Integra lineup to become as successful as it has been.
7. 1992 Integra Hatchback
According to the reviews given by owners of the 1992 Acura Integra series on the Kelley Blue Book website, this lineup has proven to be one of the best Acura Integra models the brand ever produced. The vast majority of the 168 reviews have been very positive where ninety percent of them have given this model at least four stars, as well as sharing personal experiences they’ve had while owning one.
6. 1994 Integra GS-R
In 1994, the Acura Integra models began to feature a four-headlight front end. Each model also received four-wheel disc brakes. The GS-R lineups featured antilock brakes, as well as improved engine performance that made it sportier and easier to handle for motorists who already became big fans of the Acura Integra series when it first came to the North American market.
5. 1995 Integra Special Edition
All the 1995 Acura Integra models were impressive, but the special edition stands out the most as these models came out with a leather interior, larger tires, and an impressive spoiler. These models also sported a sunroof. Many who first bought the 1995 Acura Integra, whether as a special edition or any of the other variants that came out at that time, have not let go of what remains as their favorite vehicle. This even includes owners who’ve since purchased newer vehicles and have passed down the 1995 Integras to their children as their first vehicles. On the Every Auto website, the 1995 Acura Integra received the most amount of reviews, all of them favorable.
4. 1998 Integra GS-R
The LS, GS, and GS-R models of the 1998 Acura Integra series all received improved aerodynamic design and performance, thanks to the revised front engine. The interior of these Acura Integras also became more comfortable as there was now a tilt and height-adjustable driver’s seat. At the time, this was considered a luxury. The LS and GS-R models also received new alloy wheels. However, what made the GS-R model stand out is the sportier performance it has been trademarked for.
3. 2001 Integra Hatchback/Sedan
The near-perfect score of ninety-eight percent of reviewers giving the 2001 lineup of Acura Integra models at least a four-star rating and up by the 538 reviewers on the Kelley Blue Book website will argue this model is the best of the best of Acura’s most beloved brand of automobiles. Whether it’s the hatchback model or sedan, both of these 2001 Integras have received one rave review after another by the critics that matter most, the consumers who drive them.
2. 2021 Integra TLX Type S
Thirteen years after disappearing from the North American market, Acura Integra makes a comeback with its 2021 Integra TLX Type S model. Already, it’s been turning heads and winning critical acclaim for its sporty design and handling. It has been named by MotorWeek as Driver’s Choice and is also recognized as one of the best new cars according to AutoTrader. It has also been awarded as Best of What’s New by Popular Science and received a top safety pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is the highest possible safety rating a vehicle can get.
1. 1997 Integra Type-R
When Acura went back to the drawing board to redesign their brand of luxury automobiles, the Integra series was no exception. According to Hot Cars, the 1997 models hit the road, the Acura Integra Type-R stole the show with its sporty looks that featured the giant wing in the rear. The front-drive chassis handling was the winning feature that made this model recognized as the best car many times over among motor vehicle critics and testers. The Integra Type-R was designed to be a performance-oriented vehicle as it featured 195 horsepower, which was most impressive at the time. Only three hundred of these models were produced for the year, which is a key reason why the price tag for it has never come down over the years.