Head to Head: 2023 Acura Integra Elite A-Spec MT vs. 2022 Subaru WRX Sport-tech

Battle Nostalgia.

By Kunal Dsouza Wheels.ca

Oct 7, 2022 9 min. read

Article was updated 8 months ago

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At first glance, these two Japanese sport sedans might seem a bit of a mismatch. The Acura Integra is a front-wheel drive liftback and the Subaru WRX is a traditional three-box sedan with all-wheel drive. One has luxury intent; the other is the epitome of purposeful ruggedness.

But look a little closer at these two and you’ll find much more in common. They are priced similarly, they’re about the same size, and have about the same amount of space inside for up to 5 passengers. But more importantly both carry very much appeal for the 90s-00s tuner crowd that grew up with them. I wanted an Integra and knew at least 10 people in high school who had one, and at least a couple with Imprezas.

The two cars gathered here for this comparison are completely new. Acura revived the Integra nameplate for the 2023 model year, and Subaru has finally given us a redesigned WRX. Both were subject to a trailer load of negative press upon release. “That’s no Integra, what is Honda thinking?” screamed the Internet collectively. The WRX got it even worse. “Imagine paying your hard-earned money for the biggest eye sore in 2022,” yelled an angry keyboard ninja.

There’s always going to be those guys. Some are just owners of the previous version, who think that there’s no way the new one is better than what they drive. Some just hate any sort of change or any advancement whatsoever.

If you want to spend around $40,000 on a new sedan steeped in nostalgia and available with manual transmissions, these two are a great way to go about it. But with two different approaches, which one is more deserving of your hard-earned cash?


Subaru says that the plastic wheel arch cladding (the source of much complaining) is functional helping smooth airflow along the side of the car. But the WRX, really the entire Subaru lineup, has always been weird looking. I doubt anyone has ever bought a Subaru based on styling and this new WRX fits the brand’s design ethos to a tee. When I see it, I think of nothing else but Subaru. A lot of the trash talk feels misplaced.

2022 Subaru WRX Sport tech MT

2023 Acura Integra elite a spec mt

It’s the same thing with the Integra. It has always been based on the Civic and used Civic drivetrains, just with its own bodywork, and an upscale interior. And the first generation was revealed as a 3-and 5-door lift back, just like this new one. In fact, this is closer to the original 5-door Integra than the Integra coupes you’d rather remember. Considering what the current Civic hatchback looks like and the fact there’s no longer a Civic coupe, I’m not sure what people actually wanted Acura to build.

Both aren’t great looking, let's be honest here. The Civic hatchback (which is the basis for the Integra) looks better to me but I did like the all-black paint with black badging on the Integra Elite A-spec you see here. The Integra now looks exactly like everything else in the Acura lineup, a good or bad thing depending on whom you talk to. Personally, I think it has more presence than the Civic, so on that front, mission accomplished.

2022 Subaru WRX Sport tech MT

2023 Acura Integra elite a spec mt

The Rex might not be as nice to look at, but it isn’t trying to impress anyone. The tiny headlights are awkward and the cladding, functional or not, is pure 2000s Pontiac. Overall, though, this is textbook WRX. They’ve improved it inside, with a large touchscreen, better quality plastics and great seats but it’s still rough around the edges with that distinct econobox smell.

There’s no such smell in the Acura, which is a nice upgrade over the Civic interior and a massive upgrade over what you get in the WRX. It feels more expensive in every way, the seats are more comfortable, visibility is about as good as it gets and the ELS sound system is easily the best you’ll find at this price point. Exterior styling is a toss-up but inside it’s a clear win for Acura. Go ahead, get the WRX dirty, and don’t worry about those mud-caked Blundstones but make sure you dust off your Gucci loafers before getting into the Integra.

Driving experience

This is why you’ve chosen one of these cars rather than some boring crossover. If you’re a driving enthusiast, both of them come with manual transmissions to help you get the most out of their turbo motors. For those that would rather not shift you can also get them with automatics—a CVT in both cases. Both the cars I drove for this comparison were manual.

Both cars also get turbocharged 4-cylinders under the hood. The one in the Acura is a 2-litre and makes 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque which gets sent to the front wheels. Manual cars get a helical limited-sip differential. CVT-equipped cars do not.

The WRX has a 2.4-L boxer that makes 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That’s significantly more. And it feels like it from the driver’s seat. The WRX also has four-wheel traction, which means it’s in a completely different league than the Integra in terms of acceleration. In testing Car and Driver clocked the WRX running from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds. The best the Integra could muster was 7.0, a massive difference and not much quicker than it was 25 years ago.

2022 Subaru WRX Sport tech MT

2023 Acura Integra elite a spec mt

Luckily for the Integra, its lack of forward momentum doesn’t mean that it’s not fun. It is. Each and every one of those 200 horses is felt and put to good use. There’s virtually no torque steer, and it revs quickly and cleanly with a combination of virtual and real exhaust sound that brings back memories of Hondas past. They were slow then, and slow now, but never failed to bring a smile to your face.

Where the Acura shines is the way it handles a back road. It has great steering that weights up nicely at speed and it has good brakes and really good chassis tuning. Thanks to the limited slip you can squirt out of corners using every available bit of power and drive the bejesus out of it. Even better, this front driver doesn’t feel like it wants to understeer out of every corner.

2022 Subaru WRX Sport tech MT

2023 Acura Integra elite a spec mt

When it comes to the shift linkage, Hondas boast some of the best ones, and the 6-speed in the Integra is another shining example. It’s precise and snicks through each gate with a healthy, yet delicate shove. You’ll never want to stop shifting gears in this car. Better yet, the ride is always smooth and composed no matter what drive mode you’re in. This is a softer, slightly less sharp Civic Si that went to etiquette school and has a thumping stereo to boot.

Things are harsher in the WRX but it falls short of uncomfortable. The seats are good but not as good as in the Integra, and the dampers feel about 100 per cent stiffer. But it still has good suspension travel and the sure-footedness and traction of a Nubian ibex. Subaru’s famous symmetrical AWD system means you can play in any weather. And manual transmission cars get a viscous coupling centre limited-slip differential. What does all that mean? You can drive hard in the snow, in the rain, on bumpy surfaces, gravel, anything really. If you have enough ground clearance you can roll over it with ease. It’s the kind of confidence you get with off-roaders, except in a sedan. I’ve never felt more at ease with a sporty car on downtown Toronto’s bumpy potholed streets, and that alone is worth the Subaru’s price of admission.


This is an easy win for Acura. Its small modestly powerful motor might not provide the greatest acceleration but it is remarkably efficient. Highway mileage was consistently in the low 6L/100 km range and about 8 in the city. After a week, my combined average sat at 7.2L/100 km making it one of the most efficient gas cars I’ve tested in a while.

2022 Subaru WRX Sport tech MT

2023 Acura Integra elite a spec mt

It was the opposite in the Subie. Blame the larger engine and the all-wheel drive system. Both make for a heavier and thirstier car. The best combined rating I got with the WRX was 10.4L/100 km.

The Acura is also roomier with more rear leg room, and has an enormous space under the hatch that will swallow golf clubs, baby strollers, and groceries at the same time. The Subaru is still plenty roomy even for taller rear passengers and it has a generous trunk but it’s hard to compete with a hatchback for pure utility (PLEASE bring the WRX wagon back, Subaru.).


The Subaru WRX is at another disadvantage here but that’s only because we’re testing the manual transmission car. When it’s equipped with this gearbox you do not get Subaru’s Eyesight tech, which includes things like adaptive cruise control, lane centering assist, reverse automatic braking, emergency assist steering, and forward collision warning and mitigation.

Pretty much all of that is standard on the Integra Elite A-Spec, and you don’t have to pick the automatic to get it.

2022 Subaru WRX Sport tech MT

2023 Acura Integra elite a spec mt

It’s fairly even with the infotainment systems, which is to say neither is the greatest but the Subaru takes another hit because it still doesn’t support wireless Carplay or Android Auto. The Integra does. The 11.6-inch portrait-oriented screen, on the other hand, looks nicer and has better visuals than the Integra’s 9-inch screen but neither comes close to the standard set by brands like Hyundai and Kia.

Both cars appeal to the millennial demographic so both get the sound systems right. The 11-speaker Harman Kardon in the WRX sounds really good with crisp highs and deep bass but is outperformed by the excellent ELS system in the Integra.


Both offer a lot of car for the money and both can basically do it all. They’re sports cars, family cars, and grocery-getters all in one.

The base WRX is priced lower at $30,995 versus the base Integra at $34,350 but you can get a manual even on the lowest trim with the WRX. To row your own gears in the Integra you have to spring for the top trim which at $42,550 is still significantly more than the Sport-tech WRX I tested that carries an MSRP of $39,295.

Factor in that the Subaru has a lot more power and all-wheel drive and it’s easily the better value here.

Still, if the Acura’s junior-luxury cabin is what you’re into, the price makes more sense. We still wish Acura would unlock the option of the manual on all trims and maybe they will one day, but for now, you have to pay to play.


I’m thrilled that we can still go to a showroom today and buy these brand-new (relatively) affordable cars with a manual transmission. The Acura has a really great interior, lots of cargo space, and is still a lot of fun to drive despite needing about 50 more horsepower. The Subaru is even more fun to drive, but the gearbox isn’t as good, and it’s nowhere near as efficient as the Integra. It’s a really difficult decision but the Acura is my pick this time. I think.

The vehicles were provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.

2023 Acura Integra Elite A-spec MT

BODY STYLE: 5 door, 5-passenger compact sedan (liftback).

CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

ENGINES: 2.0-L turbocharge inline 4-cylinder; Power: 200 hp @ 6000 rpm; Torque: 192 lb-ft @ 1800-5000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

CARGO CAPACITY: 688 litres

FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular Gasoline in L/100 km)  7.9 city; 6.3 highway; 7.2 combined

PRICE: $42,550 + freight, taxes, and fees.

WEBSITE: Acura Canada

2022 Subaru WRX Sport-tech

BODY STYLE: 4 door, 5-passenger compact sedan

CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

ENGINES: 2.4-L turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder; Power: 271 hp @ 5600 rpm; Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2000-5200 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

CARGO CAPACITY: 354 litres

FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular Gasoline in L/100 km)  12.3 city; 9.0 highway; 10.8 combined

PRICE: $39,295 + freight, taxes, and fees.

WEBSITE: Subaru Canada





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