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Nissan is forever telling us that its big boy Maxima is a four-door sports car—just check the advertising. Simultaneously, Acura has reintroduced the Integra nameplate on a more mature version of Honda’s energetic Civic sedan. Given the broad and eclectic field of sports sedans, it’ll take a lot to stand out from the crowd. But does the 2023 Acura Integra or the 2023 Nissan Maxima deserve to be there among the competition?

Front-wheel drive is not the best start in creating a sports car, especially in five-seater sedans. Even though all-wheel drive is nearly ubiquitous today, it isn’t offered on either model. That’s a big setback for sedans looking to challenge anything made in Europe or Korea. But it’s not too limiting if it can be made up for in speed and power.

2023 Nissan Maxima performance specs

Nissan doesn’t mess around with small engines. The only powerplant put in the Maxima is a 3.5-liter V6 producing 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, which Nissan calls “intensely thrilling.” Waxing emotional aside, it propels the Maxima from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds via a smooth-shifting continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The 2023 Nissan Maxima handles well for its rather large size. Car and Driver says the suspension is nicely damped, seldom exhibiting body lean under hard cornering. But it’s “perhaps too stiff for the class,” they add. Nevertheless, the performance-inclined mid-range Maxima SR can easily outhandle its rivals.

2023 Acura Integra performance specs

Unfortunately, the inaugural fifth-generation Integra wades into battle with slightly damp powder. Its engine does feature forced induction, but it’s a full two liters smaller than the Maxima’s. From its 1.5-liter turbo-four, the 2023 Acura Integra only has 200 horsepower and 192 pounds-feet of torque on tap. While the Integra comes standard with a CVT, an engaging six-speed manual is available, but it will still take seven seconds to hit 60 mph.

Though less powerful, the Integra is noticeably lighter than the Maxima. The roughly 500-pound difference not only makes for better fuel economy—a combined 30 mpg to the Maxima’s 24 mpg—but also better handling. Adaptive dampers will allow drivers the stiff setup needed for backroad barnstorming but a comfy setup for in-town.  

Is the 2023 Nissan Maxima a real sports car?

2023 Nissan Maxima vs. 2023 Acura Integra
2023 Nissan Maxima | Nissan

In spite of its assertions, Nissan’s four-door Maxima isn’t really a sports car. It’s a solid all-around car and a slightly sporty, quick sedan, but it’s no sports car. Without all-wheel drive and a CVT setup more for comfortable shifting than adrenaline-fueled gear swapping at the redline, it’s not that exciting.

Is the 2023 Acura Integra a real sports car?

The 2023 Acura Integra vs. the 2023 Nissan Maxima
2023 Acura Integra | Acura

This one is a bit different. The 2023 Acura Integra, factoring in all the hype that preceded it, is a bit of a disappointment. Enthusiasts will say that although the previous Integra was simply inspired by the Honda Civic, the all-new model is more like its twin. But that’s sensational conjecture, and we’re talking about facts and figures here.

What sports cars are supposed to do is transform driving from a task to an enjoyment. Irrespective of make, model, engine, drive wheels, or the number of doors, that’s the objective. The Integra is the best of what the Civic has to offer, which is sports car fun without the regret of a four-figure monthly car note. Moreover, when it comes to overall engagement, the Integra’s six-speed is one of the last featured in a four-door car. Even though it may not be as quick as the Maxima, the Integra is undoubtedly more of a sports car


2024 Acura Integra Type S: Honda Provides a Mature Civic Type R