This page is about this vehicle's Japanese model. See Acura Legend for information on the North American model.
Sections of this article are translated from Japanese Wikipedia.
The Honda Legend is a Full-size luxury car made by the Japanese automaker Honda. It was originally developed as part of Project XX, a joint venture with the Austin Rover Group of Great Britain and was a twin of the Rover 800 series.
The Legend was initially a four-door sedan, with a two-door coupé added later. It was the model which launched Honda's upscale Acura brand in the United States. Honda was inspired by the word "legend" to create the first Honda vehicle with a V6.
The first and second-generation Honda Legend was known as the Acura Legend in North American markets from 1986-1995, and in 1996 the third-generation was renamed as the Acura RL, while the Legend name is still used in Japan and other markets.
Honda introduced the Legend as a flagship sedan to compete with the JDM Nissan Cedric and Nissan Gloria twins, the Toyota Crown, and later the Mazda Luce, and Mitsubishi Debonair. Unlike the Nissan twins and the Crown, the Legend is not used for taxi service. In the USA, the Legend competed with larger rear wheel drive V8 sedans Lexus LS and the Infiniti Q45, however, the Legend was marketed towards the slightly smaller Executive car vehicles that include the BMW 5 series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Jaguar S-type.
The Legend hardtop coupe was introduced to compete with the Nissan Leopard coupe, the Toyota Soarer, and Mazda Cosmo.
The Legend was based on the 1985 Honda Accord, but was the first Honda vehicle with a V6 engine. Honda wanted to appeal to wealthy middle-aged customers who were the traditional buyers of the Toyota Crown and Nissan Cedric & Gloria, as well as European mid-sized sedans. The major difference between the Legend and the Toyota and Nissan sedans was that the Legend was front wheel drive.
The Legend was never vigorously marketed in Europe, possibly due to perceived overlap in the market place with its Rover cousin. The first-generation Honda Legend was manufactured from 1985 until 1990.
This was the first Honda vehicle to offer a driver side airbag, anti-lock brakes. seat belt pre-tensioners, and Traction control, labeled as TCS by Honda. The Legend was also the first car to use traction control on a front wheel drive vehicle. The Legend also was introduced with a double wishbone suspension both front and rear. The V6 engine was only available with multi-port fuel injection that was computer controlled.
The trim level identified as "Exclusive" offered genuine wood trim on the dashboard and center console, and 100% wool moquette cloth upholstery, among other options such as power adjustable rear seats, rear passenger climate control, and chrome-plated power folding mirrors and door handles. The coupe was introduced February 6, 1987.
October 14, 1988 saw a minor restyle offered for the interior and dashboard, to provide a more luxurious appearance in comparison to the Nissan and Toyota uplevel sedans the Legend was competing with. The coupe offered double wishbone suspension both front and rear also at this time.
The sedan with trim level "Xi" was used as the pace car at the Suzuka Circuit.
The 5 speed manual transmission was only available on the 2.0 L and 2.5 L engines.
"Wing Turbo" version
In 1989, Honda made a version of the first-generation Legend that included a highly unique turbo charger called a "Wing Turbo". The turbo was unique due to its use of Variable Turbine Geometry, making it one of the few production cars to ever utilize this technology. This turbo was paired with the C20A engine to produce 142kW (193PS; 190bhp) net at 6000 rpm and a maximum torque of 24.6kg·m (241N·m; 178ft·lbf) at 3500 rpm. In Japan, this engine was offered in vehicles labeled as "2.0 Ti Exclusive" and "2.0 Ti".
This engine was not offered for sale in any USA-spec Honda vehicle.
The second generation model was introduced October 24 1990, and continued to offer both a sedan and coupé. The Rover 800 was not updated to the new platform, and instead continued with the old XX platform. In Japan, this Legend was also known as the "Super Legend" due to the much larger 3.2 C32A engine, which was now the only engine offered in the Legend. The Type I engine was rated at 215PS (158.1kW; 212.1bhp), and the Type II was rated at 235PS (172.8kW; 231.8bhp) and included with the touring system. This Legend benefited from much of the research and testing done for Honda's new mid-engined high performance sports car, the Honda NSX, and the Legend was used as a test platform for new NSX technologies and research. Honda introduced a passenger side airbag on this model, and used off-set collision testing to improve collision performance and safety. Trim level designations were changed to "Alpha" for the top level vehicle, and "Beta" for the lower grade. No other trim levels were offered. The "Alpha" was very well equipped, offering ABS, leather or 100% wool moquette upholstery, projector beam headlights, and dual-zone air conditioning.
The Japan Domestic Market version of the 1990 Legend (2nd generation) was the first vehicle offered with a navigation system called the Electro Gyrocator, although it was not satellite-based and instead relied on accelerometers.
September 29,1992 saw an upgrade to the "Alpha" trim level, called the Touring Series, which added the Honda Progressive Damper suspension system, and included upgraded calipers for the front and rear disc brakes, and increased the wheel size to 16 inches. A Luxman premium sound system was added to the options list.
The transmission selections were reduced to a 4 speed automatic transmission only for Japan, and a 5 speed manual transmission was offered for vehicles exported, with a 6 speed manual transmission later offered as well.
American actor Harrison Ford did commercials in Japan for the Legend.
The prefectural police department of Aomori used "Beta" sedans with the Type II engine for traffic monitoring.
The second-generation Legend was also manufactured by Daewoo in South Korea from 1993 to 2000 under the name of Daewoo Arcadia, for the southeast Asian market.
The third generation Legend appeared February 14, 1996, continuing the Honda tradition of front wheel drive, and increasing the engine displacement to 3.5 L with the horsepower remaining at 215PS (158.1kW; 212.1bhp). The actual Honda internal platform code for this vehicle is E-KA9.
The trim level "Exclusive" returned as the upper level car, with the standard grade vehicle known as "Euro", with the more performance tuned suspension.The wood trim used was more upscale for the "Exclusive" vehicle with a lower grade wood used on the "Euro". Both vehicles were very well equipped. The instruments used were simplified from previous versions, but 100% wool moquette upholstery was still offered, along with optional leather. The Luxman premium sound system was still available. The styling was said to more closely resemble Mercedes-Benz and a transponder key security system was offered.
September 21, 1998 saw a minor styling change, with the front grille cutting into the front bumper, providing a more prominent front grille. Emphasis was increased on providing a luxurious sense of style, both inside and out. Side impact airbags now complemented the dual front airbags as standard equipment.
September 24, 1999 saw the engine meet emissions regulations to comply with California LEV requirements.
June 19, 2003 saw the interior updated, and maple wood was offered for interior decoration. Electro-luminescent instruments were offered, as well as a higher grade of leather interior.
The third-generation Legend was released in 1996, and the third-generation model was offered as a sedan only. A mid-term facelift came in 1999. The Legend went on sale in Australia starting with the 2007 model year, based on the third-generation RL.
In the USA market, when the Legend coupe was discontinued, they were offered the Acura CL 2 door coupe that was based on the American market Honda Accord coupe so as to continue offering a top level 2 door vehicle.
The swoopier fourth-generation Honda Legend was launched on October 7, 2004 and became Japan's Car of the Year for 2004–5, marking the fourth time in five years that Honda has taken the award. The new car has a 300PS (296hp/221kW) engine and available in the Japanese market Honda Legend an intelligent night-vision system with automatic pedestrians detection in or approaching the vehicle's path. The newly designed J35A 3.5 L V6 was changed from a 90 degree "v" to a 60 degree, and added VTEC to improve efficiency. The horsepower no longer complied with Japanese auto industry self imposed horsepower restrictions, and the engine was capable of 300PS (220.6kW; 295.9bhp). Honda began to expand the Acura division into Mexico, Hong Kong, and China.
Honda introduced four wheel drive technology on the Legend, called "SH-AWD", which earned Honda the Japan Car of the Year, and Mosuto 2005 Annual RJC technology of the Year award. Select-Shift was introduced on the 5 speed automatic transmission.
VTEC technology was introduced on this vehicle for the first time. M-TEC was added by the MUGEN division, called the M1 package.
September 15, 2005 saw a mild body restyle, which included a rear backup camera.
The Akita and Kumamoto Prefectures adoped this Legend as the official car for local senior government officials.
The Legend received a Mid-Model Change (MMC) for the 2009 model year.
The Honda Legend offered some additional optional safety features, including Lane Keeping Assistance System (LKAS), Intelligent Night Vision, and a standard pop-up hood for pedestrian safety. The LKAS could actually make small steering adjustments to keep a car in lane so long as the radius of the turn was more than 220 meters, which was the legal minimum in Japan. The LKAS would relinquish control at the slightest steering input so the driver had control at all times. The night vision system uses a separate heads up type display on the center of the windshield. Far infrared cameras do not require a light source, and the software is able to detect human like figures, surround the image with a red box and give audible caution tones. The pop-up hood uses a series of sensors that can detect a pedestrian-like object being thrown onto the hood. An actuator will pop the hood up at the rear, close to the base of the windshield, 10 cm (4 inches) to help minimize pedestrian injuries, especially head trauma. All markets feature energy absorbing hood and fender supports and deformable windshield wiper pivots to minimize pedestrian injury.