Why Did Acura Choose to Use a CVT in the 2023 Integra?

Reservations for the 2023 Acura Integra started back in March and they were reportedly skewed toward one transmission: the six-speed manual. According to Acura officials, around 70% of those reservations were from prospective buyers that would rather shift the gears themselves for the best experience. As for the other 30%, they’ll be experiencing the new Integra via a CVT.

That begs the question: Why did Acura decide to go with a CVT for the Integra instead of a dual-clutch transmission (DCT)? Let’s take a closer look

Acura used a DCT on the ILX, but it won’t offer it on the 2023 Integra

2021 Acura ILX A-Spec in white
2021 Acura ILX A-Spec | Acura

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Up until this year, the Acura ILX has been the brand’s gateway into its lineup of luxury sedans for the past decade. However, the Integra is set to replace it and give buyers an entry-level way into the Acura brand. One interesting fact about the ILX is that Acura equipped it with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission starting in the 2016 model year.

That transmission was unique in that it not only provided quick shifts between all eight gears but also utilized a torque converter much like normal automatic transmissions do. According to Acura, the torque converter allowed for “smooth, low-speed operation.” All in all, this type of transmission sounds like it would work well with the all-new Integra and its 200-hp turbocharged engine. So why didn’t the Japanese automaker include it?

The Acura Integra uses a CVT for fuel economy over performance

2023 Acura Integra A-Spec red exterior
2023 Acura Integra A-Spec | Acura

To cut to the chase, the 2023 Acura Integra is fitted with a CVT for fuel efficiency purposes. When asked why Acura forwent the DCT in favor of a CVT, Jonathon Rivers, the lead product planner for the Acura Integra told Road and Track, “When they [Acura] did the first refresh of ILX, they, unfortunately, got rid of the manual transmission and to keep the sportiness, they put the DCT out there.”

And although the DCT was meant to keep two-pedal enthusiasts happy, it didn’t quite win everyone over and it didn’t last. “In our case, that particular transmission in our lineup actually went out of production. So there’s that side of the story,” Rivers continued.

“But the reality is, we looked at the customer, we knew that fuel economy was going to be a top priority. We know that with the transmission tuning that we could do we could still get it to be sporty and compliant. And, having the six-speed manual as the true enthusiast option, we knew we were covering both bases.”

Is the CVT in the 2023 Integra any good?

2023 Acura Integra A-Spec six-speed manual transmission
2023 Acura Integra A-Spec six-speed manual transmission | Acura

Apparently, it is. Instead of having the droning sound at higher RPM and wide-open throttle that many CVTs traditionally have, the Integra’s CVT “shifts” at redline to mimic a normal automatic transmission.

As far as it being fun to drive,  J.D. Power reported that the CVT-equipped Integra was “nearly as fun as the manual one” and that the CVT offered “crisp response and a step-like feel at wider throttle openings,” thanks to its short final drive ratio.  

That’s a relief, considering CVTs are usually known for taking the fun out of any car. In that case, it looks like the other 30% of Integra reservations will have their fun with the car as well, it will just be with two pedals instead of three.

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