Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,200 – $3,400*


1995 Honda Prelude SE


1992 Honda Prelude Si


1993 Honda Prelude VTEC


1994 Honda Prelude Si


1996 Honda Prelude VTEC

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes (except S)
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Instruments/controls
  • Passenger and cargo room

Expensive? Sure it is; but for buyers who value fine workmanship, refinement, and a solid, reassuring feel, Prelude deserves a trial.

Overview

Far different in appearance from its predecessors, Honda’s sporty front-drive coupe was three inches shorter and two inches wider than the 1988-91 design. Two models were available. Base engine was a 135-horsepower 2.2-liter four. The sporty Si carried a new 2.3-liter twin-cam four, rated at 160 horsepower. Either engine may drive a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. New all-electronic 4-wheel steering marked the Si 4WS model. With this setup, rear wheels turn slightly in the same direction as the fronts, to improve cornering and maneuverability. A driver-side airbag was standard on all Preludes, while the Si 4WS added a passenger-side airbag. Antilock braking was standard on the Si, but not available on the S edition.

Yearly Updates

1993 Prelude
A high-performance VTEC edition joined the lineup, with a 190-horsepower twin-cam version of the 2.2-liter base engine. VTEC Preludes rode larger wheels and tires. Both the VTEC and the Si 4WS had dual airbags.
1994 Prelude
All models got dual airbags, plus a modestly restyled nose and turn-signal lamps. Inside, new vacuum-fluorescent instruments sat behind a smoked dashboard lens.
1995 Prelude
Slow-selling four-wheel steering models were dropped. Otherwise, Preludes were unchanged, except that the base S model gained air conditioning.
1996 Prelude
For its final outing in this form, no change was evident on the Prelude.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Three engines powered 1992-96 Preludes. Base S models used a 135-horsepower, single-cam 2.2-liter 4-cylinder. A dual-overhead-cam 2.3-liter, rated 160 horsepower, went into the midlevel Si. High-performance VTEC Preludes, available from 1993 to ’96, benefited from a dual-cam 2.2-liter with variable-valve timing, developing 190 horsepower. Except for the VTEC, which came only with 5-speed manual shift, any Prelude might have either a manual or an automatic transmission.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/132
Engine HP 135
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 142
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
24/29
22/27
24.6
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/138
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 156
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/27
21/26
23.1

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/132
Engine HP 190
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 158
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

22/26

21.9

Road Test

Space up front is okay, but split-back rear seats really are tight–best left to toddlers–and the Prelude’s skimpy trunk is tinier than before. Controls are conveniently placed and typically Honda-friendly, but Prelude instruments are annoyingly odd. Warning lights stretch all across the dashboard top, sitting too far to the right for easy checking while underway. Vacuum-fluorescent fuel and temperature gauges are near the center, difficult to read.

On the plus side, expect strong performance and good fuel economy. All engines are turbine-smooth. While a base-model Prelude’s acceleration is only adequate, the Si feels snappy, and the VTEC is sports-car quick. The automatic transmission hurts performance only slightly, but it has poor shift quality and seems to wander haphazardly through the gears at highway speeds. Test stick-shift Si Preludes have yielded a reasonably frugal 23.1 mpg in daily driving.

Cornering is flat and grippy, handling poised and responsive. Stopping ability is commendable, but lack of antilock braking on the S model is unfortunate. We haven’t found that 4-wheel steering helps much, yielding only a small gain in maneuvering ease. Not many are around, anyway.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Honda Prelude Si 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 44

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
100.4 174.8 69.5 50.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
7.9 15.9 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.0 35.1 44.2 28.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 Prelude 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 156
Injury 118
Theft 318

Trouble Spots

Brakes
Description: The parking brake may not fully release because a rivet was installed too snugly. (1993-94)
Steering problems
Description: The car may drift to the right on flat roads due to a faulty spool valve in the power-steering system. (1992-93)
Transmission noise
Description: The transmission grinds when shifting into fifth gear due to mismanufactured shift fork. (1992-95)
Seatbelts/safety
Description: Seatbelts may not retract or may retract slowly. Also, the button that keeps the seatbelt tongue from sliding down breaks. The belts should be serviced under the Honda Lifetime Seat Belt Limited Warranty. (1992-96)

Recall History

1996
Description: Certain ball joints can wear out prematurely and, in worst case, would separate, causing front suspension to collapse.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.