The sleek Prelude coupe was derived from Honda's Accord sedan. The Prelude was in a tough market, competing against the Ford Probe, Mazda MX-6, Nissan 240SX, Toyota Celica and, at a comparable price, the larger, faster Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. The Prelude succeeded by a combination of beautiful styling, exquisite road manners, good power, a comfortable cockpit and Honda's famous quality. In addition, the Prelude offered options, like the electronically controlled rear-wheel steering on the 4WS, which weren't available on other cars of this type.
Before the 1990s, the Honda Prelude was still in its third generation, and up to the 1991 model year, it had three trims: Si, Si 2.0 and Si 4WS.
Six inches were chopped out of the Accord's wheelbase, but its racing style upper and lower A-arm suspension, front-wheel-drive transaxle and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine remained. The base engine was the same sohc powerplant used in the Accord, slightly upgraded to 135 hp. The sportier Si and unusual 4-wheel-steer 4WS were fitted with a 160-hp 2.3-liter version with a dohc cylinder head. The top-line VTEC added Honda's patented variable valve-timing and lift electronic control to extract 190 hp from a 2.2-liter dohc engine.
Like all Hondas, the Prelude was fitted with a wide range of features as standard equipment. The midlevel Si had the power windows, cruise control and adjustable steering column of the base S model, but added a/c, power locks, a fancy sound system, alloy wheels, a front airdam and ABS brakes. The only significant option was a 4-speed automatic to replace the standard 5-speed manual. The top-line VTEC not only had great performance, but leather-trimmed upholstery and a map light for the passenger/navigator.
The 4WS was discontinued in early 1995, and on sale since then for a limited time was the SE.
Totally unchanged for 1996, Honda's sleek Prelude continued as one of the most desirable sporty coupes on the market. It now came in three models: base S, midlevel Si and top-of-the-line VTEC.
Prelude shares chassis components with Honda's Accord Sedan. Honda engineers cut 6 1/2 in. from the Accord wheelbase to make the Prelude, but otherwise it's mechanically identical. The sportier Prelude Si is fitted with a 160-hp version of the base 2.2-liter 4-cylinder that's been upgraded with a double-overhead-camshaft cylinder head, so the engine can make more power at higher rpm. The top-of-the-line Prelude uses Honda's patented variable valve timing and lift electronic control—VTEC—to produce 190 horsepower, which it uses effectively.
Statistics show that the Prelude retains 78% of its value after four years.
The Honda Prelude was upgraded to 200 horsepower for this model year. The car remained unchanged through the third quarter of 2000.
- $18,450 (1994 Honda Prelude S)
- $21,850 (1994 Honda Prelude Si)
- $24,650 (1994 Honda Prelude 4WS)
- $25,000 (1994 Honda Prelude VTEC)
As of April 17, 1995:
- $19,760 (1995 Honda Prelude S)
- $22,430 (1995 Honda Prelude Si)
- $23,650 (1995 Honda Prelude SE)
- $25,620 (1995 Honda Prelude VTEC)
As of October 16, 1995:
- $19,960 (1996 Honda Prelude S)
- $22,655 (1996 Honda Prelude Si)
- $25,880 (1996 Honda Prelude VTEC)