By on December 20, 2011


It came at the prime of Honda’s dominance. The Accord was the best -selling car in America. The Prelude, Civic and Integra? All market leaders par excellence. Del Sol’s and Vigors? Well, nothing’s quite perfect in the eyes of the marketplace. But the last of the Legends was pretty close for that time.

You wanted a highway cruiser? It competed with the best of Detroit’s V8’s and offered better fuel economy as well. Comfort? Nice thick leather seats that were built to satisfy posteriors aplenty. To be frank I’m trying to figure out if there was anything bad about this vehicle circa 1994.

If I remember correctly the Legends were quite pricey. It was about $55,000 in today’s dollars new. About the same as an E-Class in this day and age. But a used one with 169,000 miles as of yesterday afternoon at a Carmax sale? It was only $1515 ($1400 plus $115 auction fee).

Best deal I had in a while. Should I….


There are certain tendencies in the rental car business. Rear wheel drive cars ‘tend’ to take abuse better than front wheel drive cars. ‘Toyonda’ cars tend to hold up exceptionally well; but have higher parts and maintenance costs. One other thing. Nobody except Jack Baruth wants to rent a large sedan these days.

I would expect the Legend to get some action during the winter time. But once gas prices start hovering around the $4 a gallon level, the Legend will be sitting. Small cars command the attention once gas prices climb. I think the Acura insignia will help this car out a bit. In the end though,  the small cars will be chosen first.

At $175 per week the Legend would indeed be a good fit… that would sometimes sit.


$500 down and $50 a week would make this Legend move out of the lot for good. Older cars tend to attract older customers, and I like attracting a more mature demographic. Older folks ‘tend’ to keep their jobs longer than the under 30 crowd. They don’t rev and abuse their cars as much… and they’re usually far better at spotting small issues before they become big ones.

Also there’ s the appreciation factor. A lot of folks couldn’t afford something as pricey as the Legend back in the day. Given the Legend’s cachet, and the fact that everything Honda and Toyota is sought after in the used car market (regardless of what the prior owner did to the vehicle),  I wouldn’t lose much sleep over financing this car.


$2995. A well kept Japanese luxury car with leather and all parts in good working order will usually command that price. The only thing working against this car is the color. This is a brown car. Not a bronze car… or a pewter car… but brown. I remember a lot of Mercedes W126’s were brown in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It matched the malaise of the time.

Since then brown cars have struggled to find mainstream acceptance. Then again yesterday’s brown may indeed be today’s pewter, bronze or dark tan. I’m sure there’s a way to work around that angle. Hmmmm… How about calling it autumn mist?


17 city and 24 highway? A minivan can do better than that. I don’t need a minivan. But I also don’t need a 17 year old car. I already drive a 2001 Honda Insight that fits my everyday needs. The Legend may be nice to take out for nostalgia’s sake.  So maybe I’ll drive it around a couple of times and then toss someone else the keys.

I already know my answer. What’s yours?

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35 Comments on “Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 1994 Acura Legend L...”

  • avatar

    The ’94 Legend coupe was IMHO the best looking mainstream car for sale at that time. The current title is held (again IMHO) by the Audi A5.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Sell the car. By today’s standards, it’s not very fast; and, in stark contrast to today’s Acura’s, it’s not “look at me!” flashy. The perfect car for the older buyer, who doesn’t intend to put 10,000 miles/year on it and for whom the difference between 24 and 27 mpg highway is trivial. It’s conservative; its comfortable and it’s luxurious in an understated way.

    You may wait to find the right buyer, but he/she is out there, I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar

      What is “not very fast”? How do you determine this? I don’t seem to hold anyone up on the on-ramp or at an intersection with my Legend “Lite”. Does 80mph quite smoothly too.

      Otherwise you’re correct, it’s a preferred car for use under 10k miles/year. I only put about 8k on mine per year, mainly because it’s our second car.

  • avatar

    Call the color “Dark Chocolate” and sell it for $4K.

  • avatar

    I agree these look awesome for a 4-door sedan when it was launched. Handsome and elegant yet sporty. Though I test drove one and remember the auto transmission seem to shift very firmly, almost harshly. This is a new car at the dealership!

    • 0 avatar

      The used one I drove at a dealership a few years ago while looking for a winter beater didn’t shift at all, half of the time. I get the impression this is one of several common problems with them. It sounds like they are great cars to drive and good looking, but are some of the least reliable cars Honda has ever built.

      • 0 avatar

        That sounds like more of an issue with the prior ownership than the design.

        At 138k, mine shifts crisply and has never had a hint of slippage. Of course it has been properly maintained by myself and the previous (original) owner.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’d keep it but I have a soft spot for large sedans.

    I know you’ll likley finance it to an older individual.

  • avatar

    Sell it. It may be an Acura but it’s an old one and sooner or later she’ll need some work. I’m sure there are posers out there looking for an old Legend to bling up.

  • avatar

    Looks to be in very good shape for what essentially is a rebadged Accord with nicer seats. Get some duble-dubs, sparkle out the paint, and sell it for the price of the wheels plus labor.

    • 0 avatar

      what essentially is a rebadged Accord with nicer seats

      You’re thinking of the Vigor – I believe the Legend was built of its own platform.

    • 0 avatar

      Not at all related to the Accord, unlike the later TL and RL.

      This, the Vigor and first generation TL share the same platform, however, the Vigor/TL are shortened. They both have longitudinal mounted engines (I5 in Vigor and 2.5TL, 3.2l V6 in Legend/3.2TL). It’s a very well engineered car, but it is heavy and thirsty. The V6 was a 90 degree, SOHC with 4-valves per cylinder and for the time, a rather high compression ratio. It’s got a nice flat torque curve, only at 210-220 lb-ft (depending on engine tune).

      My 98 3.2TL is 4 years younger and at 138k miles, it does drink premium like a modern SUV. But new tires and shocks give it a nice ride around town and on the interstate. The car has very good balance compared to other FWD luxury cars, thanks to the transmission being behind the engine. But it’ll push hard, it’s meant for cruising. My exterior and interior look very new, no cracking leather, inoperational controls, flaking clearcoat or major dents.

      It’s better built than the 2002 E430 4matic my folks had, which developed tons of rattles and electrical issues around 90k miles. That car was definitely better engineered but not better built.

      These Acuras do hold up very well, except for one major issue: head gaskets. It’s as likely to happen on the early C32B as it is on a EJ25 Subaru.

      I’d clean it up nicely, and put it on EBay. There still seems to be a market on there. You’ll find a buyer in California before you find one in Georgia.

  • avatar

    I once met a dealer who insisted on calling all his brown cars coffee. Even when I called him on it in a friendly way he stuck to his guns like any grizzled vet of a car salesman would.

  • avatar

    The current RL (Honda still calls it the Honda Legend elsewhere) does indeed go for $50-55k, inflation adjusted almost identical to this Legend, yet now with much more content.

    I’ve seen these come through my employer’s shop with upwards of 300k miles, usually with only a couple minor oil leaks; or perhaps the usual ‘Honda rust’ on the quarter panels (at least up here in the Rust Belt). Have yet to see many this generation not run and drive, and WELL at that.

    KEEP IT.

    • 0 avatar

      True, a few oil leaks aren’t anything to worry about at 2-300k miles. Just as long as it doesn’t need a window regulator.

      or that insanely expensive wooden dash veneer replaced.

  • avatar

    sell, anything this old is just asking for high maintenance, like you already printed.

  • avatar

    Sell it, as I stated above.

    The color is Rosewood Brown.

  • avatar

    Maybe in another gen cars will look like that again.

  • avatar

    I sold my ’94 Legend L sedan (white over tan) with 164K miles on it years ago, and it drove as well as it did when I bought it 120K miles earlier. It had developed the quarter panel rust spots, and the repairs to those were going to have to be be re-repaired, so I sold it.

    Mechanically, the best car I’ve ever owned. Bullet-proof, and likely to remain so for just about ever.

    Engine noise was a bother on the highway (yes, really), and the trans did shift firmly, but it was still a great car.

    I’d rent it or sell it – you should be able to easily double your money.

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    Wasn’t Murilee looking for something like this?

  • avatar
    George B

    Sell it. The Legend seems to be popular with people who customize older Honda/Acura cars. Bet you’ll make a good profit.

  • avatar

    Still one of the best Acuras ever made. The interior wasn’t that impressive, but it handled surprisingly well for a big FWD car. Body control was decent, and the steering was nicely weighted with more feedback than you’d expect. Really a fun car to drive.

    The RL that followed in ’96 was an utter disaster. Styling? Gone. Steering weight/feel? Gone. Fun? Gone. Sales? Yep, gone.

    Amazingly, the RL remains the sales disaster it’s always been to this day. Honda DOES NOT LEARN.

  • avatar

    My neighbor across the cul-de-sac has one that he’s had probably since it was new. He’s had other cars come and go but the Acura stays.

  • avatar

    Sell. Given the rep these cars have, you should be able to find a good buyer.

    Brown -> Light Earth

  • avatar

    I’ve got a 94′ with 120k now, had it for about 20k and have done all the maintenance to keep it another 100k.

    Timing belt/water pump, Full brake job with new calipers, Trans flush and filter and exhaust.

    Still have less than 5k total invested for a very clean white garaged car. Gets right at 24hwy and 19city for me.

    I love the way it looks, kind of like a japanese jaguar of that era. It drives pretty well but I wouldn’t call it agile.

    It is the perfect car to take a on trip or to drive late at night or during the rain. That is essentially the only time I drive it too, which makes it a tough thing to replace and a tough thing to keep.

    Couple things that bug me, the seats don’t fold and the entry hole is small for loading. The MPG’s bug me and the tranny does has a hard 1-2 shift which is very common.

    On the plus side the back seat is extremely comfortable and the car looks like a much more expensive car than it is, which is great for business. You will be hard pressed to find a car of this quality with such low running cost for the money.

    Eventually I will sell it and only lose 1500 on it for driving it 5 years…

  • avatar

    Let’s see, what was bad about these cars. Well, for your inflation adjusted $55K you got a car that looked like a stretched Accord, and drove like a stretched Accord, even though technically it is not a stretched Accord. Oh, and here in the Northeast you got a car that RUSTED like an Accord, i.e. rapidly and badly.

    You NEVER see these cars up here anymore, they have all rotted away. Even 10 years ago Honda still had crappy rust-proofing, my buddy with the ’02 Accord of many transmissions (V6 automatic) is going to have to either junk it or get some welding done for the next inspection. By contrast my 235K also always in Northern New England Volvo 965 has no rust at all.

    Or for your $55K you could get a car that looked and drove like a Mercedes, or a car that looked and drove like a BMW. Or for less a Volvo or a Saab. And did not rust out in 10 years, even if the maintenance and repairs cost more. Which given the number of good indie European car mechanics in New England vs. the number of Acura $tealerships was NOT a forgone conclusion.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    Dump it before it munches a head gasket. Everything else from the auto trans to the electronics usually hold up well in these.

    On second thought, sell it to me. These cars are what got me into cars in the first place, and it I could find a nice one up my way I’d put aside all hopes of a Crown Vic or putting a 360 in my Dakota. When it develops a set of BHG’s a 3.5 from an RL with all the goodies from the Legend 3.2 Type II will go in its place.

  • avatar

    Still have my ’95 L 156,767 miles. No problems whatsoever. Drove it home 75 miles after hitting a deer, replacing coolant every 10 miles or so; front end repairs and a new radiator later she drives me to work everyday. Great car.

    • 0 avatar

      Seconded. Had a ’92 L Coupe that I drove all over the place for a decade. That car was rock solid and more than kept up with traffic. Never had a major mechanical problem either. Loved the vacuum-operated doors. Still miss that car.

  • avatar

    Echo the head gasket concern. From what I’ve read it seems to be a EGR-to-lower intake plenum blockage from built up oil/gunk residue collecting and building up against a baffle in the plenum that’s very close to the EGR’s outlet into the plenum. There is no baffle on the later 3.5s (C35 engine). Simple cleaning of the EGR will not suffice (clean the whole EGR system/plenum every 60k). Other than that these cars are bulletproof. Hard shifting autos are an old Honda auto trait. The manuals are rare birds, as are cloth seat and no-sunroof equipped cars, but I like those, too.

    I’ve wanted these 2nd generation Legends ever since I could drive (11 years ago). They are beautiful and timeless in design, and feel solid. Very tight turning radius (like the later RLs up until 2004), agile/maneuverable while at the same time you knew you are driving a 3500 lb car. I ended up working as a lot attendant at an Acura dealership while in college so I got to drive every Acura made. Drove a coupe one time with 345,000 and it still pulled strongly. If I could find a sedan (I’m too tall for a coupe) with a manual in good condition with the power tilt/telescope wheel (’93-95) I’d buy it in a heart beat.

  • avatar

    I lucked out and picked up a 92 Legend with 50k miles from my geriatric boss to use as my winter car. Only $3k and it had never seen a winter (I’m in MN- he is a snowbird so he only drove it when he was here in the summer) I love that car. Low slung, no obnoxious swoopy lines, headlights don’t go 1/2 way up to the hood, big & bright canopy, and reliability from when Honda was at its peak. The thing is 20 years old and I wouldn’t trade it for 95% of the late model crap on the roads. I actually wonder if cars have really improved from this model other than the newer safety features. Keep it if you have any need for extra wheels.

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