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Acura MDX Type S
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

Acura MDX Type S: A performance crossover with plenty of plush and just enough bite

“Come on, kids. Time for school! Yes, I know you’re late, but that’s not my fault your brother wanted to sleep in like a deadbeat. Now come on! We can still make it on time since we got the 2024 Acura MDX Type S and all 355 of its shirt-tearing, rip-snorting horsepower! What’s that, son? Sport+ all the way to school? You bet,” said some parent somewhere, probably. Okay, probably not, but I would. Okay, maybe not, but you get what I’m trying to say.

It’s time for me to throw some sensibility in with my usual dose of sportiness, and the 2024 Acura MDX Type S can do just that. Or at least it should, being the hotted-up performance variant of the standard MDX three-row family SUV that Acura has been touting since the early 2000s, with this current iteration having started its generation for 2022. From a distance, you may not think much of it. You could mistake it for a mere A-Spec, with it being not all that aggressive as far as performance crossovers or other Type S Acuras go. But then you start to raise an eyebrow at the red-painted Brembos and quad-tip exhaust outlets and wonder what Acura was cooking when they plucked this fairly average family SUV off the line. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that the final dish is quite the morsel.

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Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Price and specs

At $75,295, the MDX Type S ain’t cheap unless your idea of a posh family SUV has Alpina or AMG in the name. What you do get for that pretty penny is a fairly loaded, well-optioned vehicle that has just a bit of everything for everybody, as we’ll soon discuss. The Type S treatment also swaps out the normie MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 for a 3.0-liter, twin-scroll, single-turbo mill belching out a healthy 65 horsepower and 87 pound-feet atop the standard engine’s output. Acura’s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is standard, as is the 10-speed auto.

Base price:$68,150
As-tested price:$75,295
Engine:3.0-liter twin-scroll single-turbo V6
Transmission:10-speed automatic 
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:355 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
Torque:354 pound-feet @ 1,400 rpm
Redline:6,200 rpm
Weight:4,741 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:5.4 seconds
ÂĽ-mile:14.0 seconds @ 101 mph
MPG:17 city, 21 highway, 19 combined
Observed MPG:18.3
Fuel Capacity:18.5 gallons

(Author’s Note: Performance numbers reflected in Car and Driver’s review from August 2022)

MDX Type S exterior design

“Mm, yes, this SUV is made of SUV. “

The MDX isn’t a particularly remarkable design, even with the mild dose of added aggression afforded by the Type S moniker. But I will say what’s remarkable is how unremarkable it is. It’s an appreciably tasteful and inoffensive design, devoid of the garish mugs that adorn other cars in its field, such as those from Lexus or BMW. But its creases and angles just keep it interesting enough to have it stand out from the overly-rounded blobs from Audi or Mercedes.

Frankly, I like it! But those seeking something more extroverted and shouty may wish for something with even more visual wow factor.

The decision years ago to ditch the Acura silver beak and adopt a traditional grille in the same shape has to be one of the strongest moves for the brand’s design language, and it gives the MDX a “just right” face that, while it may not attract the showy types, certainly won’t offend the more reserved buyers either. The quad-tip exhausts, red brake calipers, and machined wheels of the Type S are just sporty and modern enough, although the car could be more aggressive given its raucous-looking TLX and Integra stablemates. The lower-slung profile and somewhat elongated snout make the MDX slightly reminiscent of a bloated hatchback or a tubby station wagon, especially with the air suspension at its lowest height, and I mean that in the most respectful way possible.

What’s hot?– Buttery smooth powerhouse of an engine
– Drive modes for any occasion
– Admirable handling and steering
– Posh, airy interior earns its luxury car status
– Logical interior layout with physical switchgear
– Excellent second-row seating accommodations

MDX Type S pricing breakdown

The MDX Type S, even at its most affordable “base” trim, is no cheap bargain. At $68,150 before destination, you still get the adaptive air suspension (adaptive shocks plus air springs), LED headlights and taillights, auto rain-sensing wipers, Acura’s 12.3-inch display with the touchpad controller, and a glass panoramic roof. Step up to our tester’s $73,500 Advance trim, and Acura throws in quilted leather upholstery, a fancier set of machined 21-inch wheels, an upgraded 25-speaker ELS STUDIO 3D audio system, and 9-way massage seats for front occupants. Fancy! Acura’s suite of safety tech is standard across all models and includes traffic sign recognition, collision avoidance, lane keep assist, blind spot monitors, and adaptive cruise.

Add $1,195 destination charges and our tester’s $600 Liquid Carbon paint, $459 illuminated door sills, and $188 Acura logo puddle lamps, and we’re sitting at a lofty $75,295, a big step above similar rivals from a continent over. However, unlike those rivals, the MDX Type S comes fairly well-specced out of the box, even in its most spartan form, while its peers are more likely to nickel and dime you for every little option and package. Still, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a value deal, but it’s certainly of its class.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

MDX Type S interior and tech

A luxury interior for those with Old World sentiments

Such opulence. Much wow. If this is the very best Honda can pull off, then I’d call it a resounding success. The MDX Type S is nice! I mean, it better be for the price. I expected it to be. But I’ve grown more smitten than I thought I would with the interior design and fit.

Everything just feels properly snapped together and screwed in without the slightest creak to be heard, even after the long life I’m sure this press car had. Interior panels were sturdy, what plastics existed throughout felt dense and robust, and the infotainment screen was appreciably complimented by a suite of hard buttons that all actuated with a premium, satisfying click. How simple. If hard buttons are the first to be dated and left behind, then I don’t want to get with the times. Hard buttons are cool, people! They’re cool, especially when they’re this tactile.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The leather seats were plush and supportive, although the second-row seats could be a tad bit softer. At least they’re adjustable and feature their own chargers, climate controls, and a fold-down center armrest and cupholders when the generous-ish center seat isn’t in use. Rear cargo space is expectedly meh with the surprisingly usable third-row seats up but more than accommodating with them folded down, giving plenty of room for week-long excursions, beach days, and maybe a couple of mountain bikes with the front wheels removed. Perhaps it’s just me, but it’s refreshing to see the cargo area as airy as the rest of the cabin, devoid of spare tire kits, tool sets, or ill-fitting folding seats that eat away at space.

Loads of tech, not all of it so cool

As previously mentioned, the MDX Type S comes standard with a whole starter pack of safety tech, all of which serve noble purposes to keep you from pancaking yourself against a wall or truck. As we’ll soon discuss in further detail, everything works decently well, from the adaptive cruise to the 360-degree parking cameras when in reverse. It’s great stuff, but nothing new under the sun.

What isn’t so great is the controversial touchpad, akin to what aroused ire in Lexus models before making their way to Acura’s side of the street. Similar to them, it’s a haptic-feedback method of navigating the infotainment screen via an auxiliary tracking pad to keep the glass free of your filthy, disgusting prints. Because “resale value,” I suppose. The fact is any infotainment system that needs a learning curve warrants a sigh and an eyebrow raise from me, but its ease of use soon made itself apparent over the course of my loan.

The MDX is a proper luxury crossover

A lavish chariot for a thousand-mile commute

As you’d expect, the Acura MDX Type S is an easy choice for a daily driver. Enthusiasts will appreciate its blend of sportiness and power in every commute, and the average suburbanite will love, well, pretty much almost everything, from its supple ride quality to the spacious cabin.

The glass roof earns chef’s kisses for shining much-appreciated light into the already-airy cabin, helping shine the sun on the red leather upholstery and open-pore black wood trim and reinforcing nightclub vibes when the sun goes down and the ambient lighting turns up! The abundance of glass greatly helps with visibility, bolstered by bind spot monitors that help make the MDX just as usable as a downtown LA runabout as it is rocketing down the 405. 

Just know that the unremarkable fuel economy off of the 405 will remind you of olden times just as much as the interior’s collection of hard buttons will. I saw about 18-ish combined in my mostly city driving, but at least I beat the EPA highway estimate, scoring between 23 and 25 mpg when traveling between 70 and 80 mph on most stretches of freeway.

The high-mounted screen, digital gauge cluster, and heads-up display keep all necessary information within a glance, if not in your peripheral. And the safety aids work wonders in nearly all driving scenarios. As discovered in the spunky little pocket rocket that is the Integra Type S, adaptive cruise with lane keep works fairly well at kinda-sorta-not-really self-driving. 

How all that tech works on the road

However, unlike the Integra, which tracked commendably straight and centered in its lane, the MDX would occasionally ping-pong between lanes. At the very least, it’d track straight but heavily favor one side of the lane or the other. It didn’t do this all the time, but it did so more than enough during my six-day stint, and I’m sure Acura can easily iron it out with some minor software updates.

The touchpad turned out to be fairly simple to get the hang of within a day or so, but there are some functions you may wish to use, such as adjusting screen settings or the massage seats, that may require more than a quick peek for you to get right. Again, it wasn’t a big pain, and it wound up being more functional than any similar system I had used before, but the fact there’s a learning curve in the first place still incited annoyance, especially when the Civic-based Integra gets to keep its touchscreen. There’s the easy fix! Just move the screen closer by a couple inches and make it touchscreen! Bam.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Now it’s time to top off this compliment sandwich because there’s one bit of tech in the MDX I find quite infallible: that adaptive air suspension is God’s gift to the world. It can be sporty and firm when needed and perfectly supple otherwise. But even in Sport+, the ride is still compliant enough to take potholes and expansion joints with little fuss. It’s height adjustable, too, with up to 50 millimeters of lift available up to 37 mph for thick snow or water crossing. Clever! Every luxury crossover, no matter the brand, should dabble in air suspension at this price point, and the fact we can have it on what’s technically a Honda product is nothing short of spectacular. Speedbumps and road debris, be damned.

The Type S badge carries weight but could be better

Just sporty enough

The MDX Type S has some real pep in its step with the dance moves to match, more than I thought it would, and enough to put weight on that Type S badge. This soccer practice shuttle should have no problem catapulting the kids from the living room to the local game in no time at all.

The aforementioned 3.0-liter V6 is a soldier and a sweetheart in one, belching out just enough power to shove you back in your seat without inducing unwanted browning of the trousers. Plucked from the TLX Type S, it sports a reinforced block, squared bore and stroke, and forged internals to create the perfect tuner-ready canvas. Not that it’s lacking in grunt or anything. Of course, the stock 355 horsepower pushing a 4,700-pound SUV doesn’t sound like much in today’s world, but it’s more than enough, partly thanks to the snappiness of the heavily-revised 10-speed auto.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Four-piston, 14.3-inch front Brembos be brembing (new verb for the dictionary, someone get on that), doing a great job of reigning the MDX down from the lofty speeds it’s capable of without overheating, at least at canyon pace. In Sport and Sport+, the air springs sag 15 millimeters while the adaptive dampers stiffen slightly. Bunched with double-wishbone front suspension and Acura’s acclaimed Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, the result is an eager, nimble, and competent canyon toy for when the kids’ soccer match is atop Angeles Crest.

The SH-AWD system can send 70% of its power to the rear wheels and 100% of that power allotment to either the left or right wheel, which did wonders to quell understeer and help rotate around hairpins. In other words, this thing handles! Even the steering is precise and has an impressive degree of communication, going so far as to lighten up when the front wheels unload to inform you of road surface changes or a loss in front traction. The only real limiting factor was the Continental performance all-seasons, which let out faint howls in some of Angeles Crest’s tighter bends, but that’s nothing Michelin Pilot Sport SUVs can’t fix.

The MDX rips! It tears! Dare I say it even shreds? This three-row, seven-seater luxury crossover is genuinely fun. Ah, life is good. But it could be better.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Needs more bite to match its bark!

Yes, the MDX Type S is appreciably quick and plenty sharp. But it could be quicker. It could be sharper. It could turn in with even more ferocity and have the thrust needed to topple Civic Type Rs and Hyundai Elantra Ns. It could have a 10-speed that’s fully manual when hopping on the paddles and doesn’t auto-upshift at redline. But it doesn’t.

I’m unsure if that’s simply what the Type S badge means and if the ankle-biting Integra is the outlier, or if the Integra set the new benchmark and all other Type S Acuras should follow. But the MDX Type S is just a smidge too gentle for the message it wants to convey. It seems to occupy the same realm as the BMW X3 M40i and Audi SQ5, which are admittedly smaller but ring in at a lower base price and are much quicker. I’d liken it more to other big three-rows like the Audi SQ7 or BMW X5 M50i, but those monsters sticker for tens of thousands of dollars more and rock twin-turbo V8s pushing way more oomph.

Maybe it is I who fails to fully grasp the true identity of the Type S brand, having only experienced the Integra before this. Or perhaps I’m right. Maybe the Type S cars are just a quick ECU tune and a set of sticker summer rubber away from absolute perfection. 

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Could be faster
– Could be sharper
– Trackpad is a learning curve
– Unremarkable fuel economy
– Reserved styling may not be sporty enough
– Steep price tag encroaches on fierce rivals

An admirable product with plenty of posh and a splash of sizzle

The Acura MDX Type S has proven to be quite the underrated gem that I wish more people spoke about. But I get that its performance and price put it in an awkward position.

It seemingly has many direct rivals and none at all, leaving the Type S to be a purchase choice solely on you. Is it faster or slower than the next car? Is it bigger or roomier than the next car? If you’re really looking at the Type S above all trim levels, then who cares? This is a car you buy because it’s different, not necessarily a standout. And that’s to be taken in the most respectful way possible. It’s the ability to feel so distinct that makes it an all-star in its own right.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

If you want it, then clearly, you want it. Clearly, you’re keen on snagging a vehicle that seeks to make a statement against its peers while also living in its own little world of luxury and athleticism, free of the stigma of most German contenders and the gaudy mug of other Japanese options. If that’s your vibe, status without the stigma, then the Acura MDX is an easy go-to, granted you can get along with the touchpad controller. And if inoffensive high performance is a big plus for you, then the MDX Type S might just seal the deal.

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Integra Type S
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

2024 Acura Integra Type S review: the surprise knockout

The hype. The banter. Everything you’ve heard about this car, no matter how exaggerated or convoluted. Is it true? It must be. From the first couple miles of taking delivery for my most recent press stint, I knew the 2024 Acura Integra Type S was a knockout winner. I just didn’t anticipate it to be this good. And while it’s far from perfect – no car is perfect, not even close – the Type S is as close as most cars in this price bracket ever hope to be.

But! We spout this same nonsense repeatedly with every new sports compact to come out like each one is the Messiah of motoring. Purity this, engagement that. Yeah. A Toyota GR86 also does that for thousands less than anything in this segment of steroidal family haulers. But what’s it like to live with one? Is it worth the price premium over its peers, and does the facade of a tuxedoed-up Honda Civic Type R fade away like every other honeymoon phase?

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Integra Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Price and specs

Well, well, well. The gussied-up Civic is priced and performs like a gussied-up Civic. Nothing too surprising here, although some slight tinkering yields a five-horsepower bump. Queue the Donut Media “MORE POWAH, BABY” sound bite. Given its badge prestige over Honda and the added luxuries that come with it, the Integra is expectedly pricier, stickering at $6,000 over the equivalent Civic Type R and $5,000 more than a base Volkswagen Golf R.

Base price:$50,800
As-tested price:$53,785
Engine:2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission:6-speed manual
Drivetrain:front-wheel drive
Power:320 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
Torque:310 pound-feet @ 2,600 to 4,000 rpm
Redline:7,000 rpm
Weight:3,219 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:5.1 seconds
ÂĽ-mile:13.7 seconds @ 105 mph
MPG:21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined
Observed MPG:26.4
Fuel Capacity:12.4 gallons

(Author’s Note: Performance numbers reflected in Car and Driver’s review from July 2023)

Integra Type S exterior design

Dressed as sharp as it drives

The face is an angular, chiseled exaggeration of the standard car, giving it a sort of “jawline” that even the Integra A-Spec and Civic Type R lack. The design language carries over to the rear bumper, with its not-egregiously in-your-face diffuser and the large, tri-tip active exhaust.

And the cherry on top, those hypnotizing, drool-worthy fender flares. No need to turn to TOM’S or StreetHunter Designs. Acura already did it for you. They match the body perfectly in a way we wish came on other Honda products. But keeping it a Type S exclusive just makes it feel all the more special. Every arch, vent, and body line meld into a “Goldilocks” design language that’s more aggressive than relatively tame German rivals but less gaudy and wannabe touring car than some Asian competitors. 

Integra Type S
Image: Jeric Jaleco

More than just a pretty face

We must also note that all that fancy-schmancy aero that the Type R and other sports compacts pride themselves on is still present in some form. It’s just sneakier about it. Because exposed wings and canards are for overgrown children and Porsche GT cars.

A wing? Bah! You have to be adulting at the in-laws’ house in an hour, and you can’t be caught driving something with a goofy wing.

But Acura has you and your judgemental family members covered. The underbelly is flat for improved airflow, while that diffuser actually works to cleanly evacuate the air. Within the enlarged jawlines of the Type-S’ mug are concealed canards that perform as they normally would in producing front downforce, except Acura keeps hidden from the prying eyes of tuner hype beasts. It’s undisclosed how much downforce, if any, is produced, but Acura does emphasize that lift is reduced dramatically, resulting in a significantly more stable ride at high speed.

What’s hot?– Tenacious handling and composure
– Actual steering feedback
– Hardly a sacrifice on the commute
– Shockingly spacious interior
– Upholds its mature luxury car identity
– Drop-dead gorgeous styling

Integra Type S pricing breakdown

Similar to the Civic Type R, not much goes into inflating the Integra Type S’ admittedly lofty price tag. It’s a $50,000 car. And after options, it’s, uh, yep. Still roughly a $50,000 car. 

Pricing starts at $50,800 before destination charges, with the only real options being $600 in fancy metallic paint, a $950 carbon fiber mini-duckbill spoiler, a $204 full-metal shift knob, and your choice of a $475 heated steering wheel or a $408 alcantara steering wheel. And of course, there’s your typical array of dealer-installed accessories, including floor mat packages, wheel locks, and different-colored badging. For a hair under $2,200, you can score, drum roll, the exact same style of wheels that are already on the car to begin with. Well, except, they’re bronze. So, if you have a blue car, you can build the world’s nicest Not-A-Subaru-WRX.

Platinum White paint, the carbon spoiler, a floor mat kit, and a $1,195 destination charge brought our tester to $53,785. For reference, that’s quite a jump from the Golf R and Type R and a significant leap from the GR Corolla and Elantra N. But stack it against peers from bonafide luxury marques, and the Type-S stands strong. Its base price slots slightly above lukewarm sports compacts like the BMW M235i Gran Coupe and Audi S3, on par with the CLA35 AMG, and well beneath firebreathers like the CLA45 AMG and Audi RS3.

But unlike all of those cars, the Teggy gets a six-speed stick as the one and only transmission. Winner: Acura.

Integra Type S interior and tech

Earning its luxury car status

Swallow any badge snobbery because Acura has been on a hot streak of well-designed products, and the little Integra is entry-level luxury done right. The interior is unmistakably an Integra, aside from the suede center inserts, which are a godsend in that they never get too hot or cold. The suede accents are always black, but you can choose red, black, or cream leather, depending on the exterior paint. Yes, Acura will bar you from making tasteless color combo choices.

Plenty of soft-touch materials are throughout, and the occasional pockets of hard plastic feel sturdy and tightly-snapped together. The interior brightwork does wonders to contrast with the red leather interior of our tester, and bits of red stitching in places like the shifter boot remind you that you’re driving something more than entry-level. And little nods to this car’s intentions are welcome, given you don’t get the full-metal knob as standard or the Civic’s supercar-worthy bucket seats. But given this car’s place in the Honda-Acura pantheon, the standard heated seats, which are still plenty supportive if a tad firm, are just fine. 

Integra Type S
Image: Jeric Jaleco

All the tech in the world except for one

Being a luxury item in today’s market means it comes standard with an arsenal of comfort goodies to make that 9-to-5 a little less painful. And when I say standard, I mean not a single option box is necessary to bask yourself in adaptive cruise control with lane following, collision detection, and blind spot monitoring. There’s even a heads-up display for speed and phone-integrated nav directions, which the Civic Type R does not offer. How generous of Acura.

The Integra also receives wireless CarPlay and Android Auto with wireless charging, which is great given that Acura and Honda decided not to include built-in nav in their otherwise simple and quick-responding 10.2” touchscreen. Weird. It’s a $50,000 car to start, and you’re pretty S.O.L. if you need a pointer in a place without cell service. During my mostly urban expedition, CarPlay was faultless, but damned are any drivers who’d need to punch in directions in the middle of the desert or high in the mountains. So, have that address loaded on Maps before you venture too far. Fail. 

But it’s okay. You can drown out the intrusive thoughts of why you’re only given a built-in compass with that banger of a 16-speaker ELS audio system, also a Type S exclusive. It helps you forget the bargain-bin decision to forgo any built-in nav and appreciate the rest of the mature and fairly opulent cabin, a beacon of Acura’s maturity. 

The Integra is a more civil Civic

It’s true! And don’t take that as insulting. The Integra is, as it always was, a slightly sportier, slightly nicer variant of the Honda Civic upon which it’s based. And the new Integra, Type S or not, wholeheartedly embraces that mantra and executes its mission gracefully. 

A commuter for cool dads

The adaptive suspension is tuned slightly softer than the Civic Type R, and while I can’t speak on the Type R’s ride quality without driving one, I can say the Type S is a friendly monster. Even on horrendous freeway expansion joints and tattered side streets, the Type S rides as cozily as possible, at least on its 19-inch wheels and thin sidewalls. The default drive mode, Sport, isn’t what I’d call harsh, but Comfort is almost indistinguishable from a regular Civic. Shut your brain off and forget the sportier exhaust and occasional hard impacts, and you’d be hard-pressed to believe this is anything more than a normal car, with a numbed throttle and steering light enough for one-finger parking lot maneuvers.

However, the significantly wider front track over a normie Teggy does result in a so-so turning circle. But thankfully, despite the widened track and muscular fenders, it’s still the perfect size for traversing the concrete jungle and fitting in most parking spaces. Even in the tightest, most crowded lots, there was no anxiety when dodging traffic, which deserves some praise given the cavernous inside.

Integra Type S
Image: Jeric Jaleco

With the sloping roofline, the rear seats may have questionable headroom, but legroom is as plentiful there as it is out front. There’s no center armrest, but the center seat has integrated cupholders as a half-baked apology. But it’s whatever when the rear seats can fold flat, expanding the already generous hatch space and turning the Type S into the world’s most awkwardly shaped cargo van. 

My only complaint is the meh fuel economy for a four-cylinder, even given its performance intent. Sure, it can get 28 mpg on the highway and probably well over 30 in the real world, and I managed a healthy 26 in mixed driving. But city mileage is a less-than-stellar 21 mpg, which will likely be less in reality without a light foot. At least the small tank means fill-ups are cheap, but they’ll also be frequent. 

Integra Type S
Image: Jeric Jaleco

A helpful hand and a watchful eye

And those safety tech goodies? Nearly flawless. Nearly. Adaptive cruise works like a charm and allows you to shift between fifth and sixth gear without deactivating. The self-steering for lane-following never ping-pongs and does a decent job at centering itself, but it sometimes likes to favor one side of the lane or another and hold itself there. Steering inputs are smooth and natural, and the car will flash a message on the dash, encouraging you to stay vigilant. Collision warning and blind spot monitoring are passive but grab your attention with an inoffensive tone when you’re too close to the car in front or signaling into somebody. 

Not bad when the performance model can nearly impersonate its doner car. Many sports compacts don’t know when to relent when it’s time to shut up and act normal, but the Integra impresses with its impossibly broad spread of talents. After half a day around in Comfort, you almost forget this car is every bit the canyon-carving giant killer of a track weapon its sibling is.

Type S must stand for “Super-radtacular-to-drive”

What did you expect? For the softened suspension to dull the Type S’ reflexes, or for the lack of wing to hamper its high-speed stability?

Nope. Nothing but good times and unrelenting handling chops. Over the mountains and through The Crest to driving nirvana we go. A few turns of the wheel at speed, and you see why the Honda-Acura twins have been nothing short of perennial favorites that know nothing beyond the pedestal they stand on, and their engine is part of that claim to fame. 

Integra Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Engine by the gods

The two-liter turbocharged K20C8 four-cylinder is how all turbo four-bangers should be. Sort of. It builds power all over the rev range, having enough torque to chug along at low revs in traffic yet not getting short-winded past its peak like many other engines like it. It’s effortless to wring out and slam right into that 7,000-rpm redline. It just pulls and pulls and pulls some more! Buttery smooth until you reach that upper echelon, and then the K20C8 buzzes just a tad to emphasize there’s something alive under the hood without being intrusive.

Gearing is snappy, making every bit of that 320 horsepower and 310 pound-feet feel like this K-Series is punching above its weight. It’s fast fast. “Push you into your seat” fast. And made all the more delightful by that typical Honda trademark manual shifter. Short throws with crisp engagement make for something you want to shift mindlessly in traffic, even when you don’t need to. Disappointingly, the clutch is feather-light for commuting, but its engagement progression is perfectly linear, meaning you have to be a total dunce not to drive this smoothly.

The only real letdown is the exhaust, which, although it’s a bit louder than the Civic’s and belches out more subtle pops on full-throttle lifts, is still too quiet for how raucous the engine is. This is perhaps the only segment where the Hyundai N division takes an easy victory. But that’s okay. It’s an Asian sports compact. You won’t be short on aftermarket exhausts or any other go-fast add-ons.

Chassis by the Titans

In the mountains soaring high above LA and Malibu, the adaptive suspension remains supple, even in Sport+, with the steering gaining a decent amount of weight that’s appropriate for steady inputs without being artificially stiff. And best of all, there’s feedback.

What a novel concept! Steering feel! In a new car sold for 2024! Who would have thought steering that wriggles and kicks with road imperfections and lightens or stiffens per grip level would be a great idea? Not BMW, apparently. Ford used to. Kind of Hyundai. But Acura and Honda understood the assignment, for sure. There’s no better steering this side of a Cayman to command the motions of the well-sorted chassis.

Integra Type S
Image: Jeric Jaleco

The softened suspension remains adaptive and adjustable, except all modes are compliant and seldom upset by road imperfections. Sport+ can be a little harsh here and there, but the default Sport has proven to be the perfect middle ground anyway. Body motions are kept well in check with no severe crashes nor wallowing, and the not-so-racey seats of the Integra still do a decent job at holding you in place despite their unassuming appearance. Still, leather-wrapped versions of the Type R leather-wrapped buckets would’ve been a nice option. But most impressive has to be the way this car reacts to adjustments. 

This thing hooks. And its ability to resist torque steer while on throttle, tuck deeper into a corner, and even get some tail wags at the hint of lift or trailbraking is intoxicating. Kudos to the dual-axis front suspension design and the hyper-aggressive front limited-slip diff. The Elantra N exhibited a similar degree of neutrality, but the Integra Type-S does it better with notably more outright grip, enabling it keep pace with a colleague in an Audi S3 loaner and its DCT and all-wheel drive buffs. 

Kudos once more to the 265-wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. For reference, that’s ten millimeters wider than the front tires of a non-Handing Package Mustang Dark Horse, which makes 180 more horsepower and tips in over 700 pounds more than the Teggy’s svelte 3,219 pounds. Acura loves to tout how it’s only marginally heavier than the Type R despite the added tech, but it’s also hundreds of pounds lighter than its German counterparts.

Brakes? No complaints. Four-piston Brembos biting down on 13.8-inch rotors work exactly as advertised. However, the pedal is somewhat soft in the first inch of travel, but that makes it easy to modulate, and the performance was purely confidence-inspiring and fade-free, even in some of Malibu’s tightest downhill passes. The two-piece rotors certainly look premium and likely contribute to weight savings and improved heat dissipation.

Integra Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Okay-ish fuel economy and small tank make for frequent fuel stops
– No built-in nav for trekking far away roads
– No option for a more aggressive bucket seat
– Even this louder exhaust is still too quiet
– Numb, overly-light clutch pedal
– The Civic Type R exists

The greatest driver’s car I hope no one forgets

By now, you’ve surely noticed my nagging comparisons to the Type R. But that’s because the Teggy, as unfortunate as it’ll be, will always be forced to justify itself and its price tag when standing in the shadow of the Nürburgring front-wheel-drive record holder. How its bulging arches and understated demeanor will court fans is yet to be seen, but they must not let it fade into obscurity like so many other drivers cars in history.

Integra Type S
Image: Jeric Jaleco

I’m rarely left so hot and bothered by a car, but the Acura Integra Type S just beckons for another summer fling. Apparently, it does it for many people, just as its Honda counterpart has done for years. But if you stripped away the Acura’s rowdier twin and left this to stand alone as the flagship performance car for the street and the track, could it? Oh, I think it can. Easily. It rides nice, goes like hell, and turns, brakes, and feels like a real sports car should, all wrapped up in show-stopping sheet metal.

I wouldn’t say it’s outright better than a Type R. It’s just different, taking what that car does best and twisting it to better suit an identity befitting of Acura. And if mature performance with a splash of giddiness is your jam, then have at it. What more could you want?

A wing? Ugh. Okay. That’s fair.

Integra Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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