When we think of Acura as an automaker, we typically think of cars like the Integra, the TLX, and of course, the NSX. But those who are not aware of the brand’s history may be surprised to learn that none of those cars put the automaker on the map. In fact, it was the Acura Legend that made the biggest splash in the luxury car pond and not only did it make the brand well-known during the time that it was in production, but it was also the genesis of it. Here is why the Acura Legend was so legendary.
The Acura Legend ushered in a new era
By now, just about everyone is aware of the major Japanese luxury automakers: Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti, however, some may not be aware that Acura was the first to market. Honda introduced its luxury brand in 1986, mainly due to a tariff imposed on importing Japanese vehicles into the U.S. In order to circumvent the tariff, Honda decided to start the Acura brand to not only build cars on U.S. soil but to also compete with German rivals like BMW. The genesis of the new brand ushered in a new era for premium Japanese automobiles and the Legend was born.
The Legend was bigger, wider, and more powerful
When the Acura Legend debuted, it made waves in the new car market as it was bigger and wider than the Honda cars that consumers had already grown accustomed to for years and it was also more powerful. The Legend was an inch-and-a-half wider than the Honda Accord at the time but it was also about a foot longer. It was also powered by a much bigger 2.5-liter V6 engine – a first for Honda – that produced 151 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque and utilized multi-port fuel injection and a single-overhead-cam on each cylinder head at a time when most cars were still carbureted.
Another breakthrough in the Legend’s design came via Honda’s use of Formula 1 technology in the form of the double-wishbone front suspension, which provided more agile handling characteristics and better ride quality. And lastly, the Legend was also available with either an automatic or manual transmission, which appealed to the masses, and it even had a driver’s side airbag.
The Legend continued through the years
Needless to say, the Acura Legend was a big success at the time. The brand ended up selling about 55,000 units within the first two years of production and decided to expand the nameplate even more. In 1987, Acura debuted the Legend Coupe, which had a larger 2.7-liter V6 engine that put out 10 more horsepower and had a double-wishbone rear suspension. It was such a big hit that Motortrend named it the “Import Car of the Year” for 1987.
As the years progressed, so did the Legend, as 1991 marked the second generation of the car and complete redesign. Acura made the car much longer, wider, and sleeker than its predecessor and even gave it a bigger 3.2-liter V6 that produced 200 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. In addition to luxurious amenities like a power sunroof, leather, steering wheel audio controls, a premium sound system, and soft-close doors, the new iteration of the Legend was also available with a six-speed manual transmission.
The Acura Legend became a legend
With a series of industry “firsts” not only in the car’s construction and engineering but also in its very birth, the Acura Legend is cemented in automotive history as being a legend. Unfortunately, it was eventually discontinued in 1995 due to slower sales and later replaced by the Acura RL. However, the Honda and Acura models produced since then, and even up to today, have a lot to be thankful for as the Legend paved the way to success for all of them.