When designing the Integra, Honda chose to base it on an entirely new platform, rather than incrementally re-engineering the previous Integra/Civic platform. This new chassis would also be shared with the 2001 Civic. This was a significant change from the previous 1998 revision of the Integra, which had only been a minor refresh. In addition, this platform was the first entirely new entry-level chassis Honda had debuted since 1994. Owing to its more capable and luxurious nature, the Acura division chose to market the vehicle as the Integra's replacement, and badged it as the RSX. Touting the vehicle's more upscale feature-set and more luxurious amenities, Acura hoped to use the RSX to help garner more brand recognition and respect from older, wealthier buyers who tended to see the company's offerings, especially the Integra, as sporty and reliable, but not as mature or luxurious. Outside of North America, where the Acura division did not exist at the time, Honda chose to continue selling the model as the Integra, and continued to aim the car at younger men who wanted something more upscale than a Civic Si without having to spend considerably more money.
The Integra suspension employs MacPherson struts in the front and double-wishbone suspension in the rear. This engineering decision disappointed some Honda enthusiasts who had come to appreciate Honda's philosophy of employing double-wishbones for both front and rear suspensions. However, the K-series engine proved to have significant potential for tuning, a trait shared with the B-series engines previously employed in Integra and certain performance-oriented Civic models. The K-series engine features intelligent VTEC or (i-VTEC), which electronically adjusts valve lift, valve duration and valve timing, giving the 2.0L engine a flatter torque curve relative to previous VTEC implementations which only adjusted valve lift and valve duration.
The base Integra has the K20A3 motor with an output of 160hp (119kW) and is offered with either an automatic or a five-speed manual transmission; the Type-S has a 200hp (2002-2004) K20A2 or 210hp (157kW) in 2005 K20Z1 motor and a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission. For the 2006 model year vehicles Honda switched to the Rev 8/04 SAE standards for measuringhp. The base RSX for 2006 was rated at 155hp (116kW) and the Type-S was rated at 201hp (150kW). In 2005 the RSX Type-S received camshafts, b-pipe and muffler, 4.77 final drive ratio, crankshaft pulley and the intake snorkel duct from the Japanese model Honda Integra Type-R. The rev-limit was also increased from 8100 rpm to 8300 rpm. Another major change made to the inline VTEC-i engine was the use of a timing chain rather than a timing belt, which reduced maintenance needs.