In 1994, just over 1 million Acuras were sold, with the Acura Legend representing the majority.
Acura was the first of the spinoff luxury brands from a Japanese automaker. Honda, which spun it off, did everything just right: Franchise laws prevented the opening of new Honda dealerships too close to existing ones. By creating a new nameplate (Acura) it was able to open more dealerships in the profitable urban areas, where Honda already had considerable strength, and to ignore the areas less likely to buy imports. The upscale positioning of Acura was good for Honda's entire image.
The Integra was based on the Honda Civic platform, and Civic owners may have recognized some familiar knobs, switches and other hardware. However, styling and drivetrains differed significantly from the Civic.
Originally, the Integra consisted of a 2-door hatchback and a 4-door sedan, as GS (Grand Sport), LS (Luxury Sport) and RS (Regular Sport) models.
In 1992, a new GS-R (Grand Sport Racing) model for the 2-door hatchback was added to the lineup, with no further changes for 1993.
Redesigned for the Integra's third generation in 1994, the GS was discontinued, leaving behind the GS-R, LS and RS, all of which were available as either a coupe or sedan.
The Integra line was only lightly revised for 1995. A new Special Edition (SE) was slotted between the base LS and high-performance GS-R models. It concentrated more on affordable luxury than high performance, and used the same front sway bar as the GS-R, 5-spoke 15-in. alloy wheels, body-color side molding, a woodlike treatment on the console of the sedan and a rear spoiler with integral brake light on the coupe, with the SE badging on both.
The high-performance GS-R now included leather as an option, while the base LS had a power moonroof as standard. The standard-engined LS and SE models competed with the Infiniti G20 and Honda's own Honda Accord|Accord. The GS-R with the 170-hp VTEC engine was in a class by itself.
The RS sedan and the SE were discontinued in 1996.
The GS (Grand Sport) returned to the lineup as a coupe or a sedan, and a new CD player replaced the cassette player for the RS 2-door coupe.
The RS coupe was discontinued in 1998.
During the second-generation Acura Legend's first three years, it was available as a 2-door coupe (L and LS) or a 4-door sedan (base, L and LS).
In 1994, the base sedan was replaced by a new GS sedan. This model, with its 3.2-liter 230-hp Type II V6, was one of the most powerful front-drive imports sold in America. Understeer was a problem with high horsepower and front drive, so Acura has made traction control part of the package along with sport suspension, dual-piston front brake calipers and VR-rated tires. It was the only sedan offered in the United States with a standard 6-speed manual transmission (the optional 4-speed automatic was more often ordered). The other trim/driveline levels made do with a standard 200-hp Type I V6. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on the L, with the automatic optional. The automatic was standard on the LS. The Type II engine received its power advantage from more aggressive valve timing and a different version of the 3-stage tuned intake system.
The Legends (except the L sedan) had leather upholstery, an electric tilt/telescope steering wheel with memory that works in conjunction with the 8-way power seat, a 4-way power passenger seat, air conditioning and Bose stereo equipment. The L sedan had cloth upholstery standard, leather optional.
Unlike other manufacturers, Honda/Acura had developed its own ABS system. The traction-control system on the GS used the same wheel speed sensors as the ABS, combined with steering input and yaw angle to limit throttle and maintain traction.
For the Acura Legend's last year, a limited-time-only Special Edition (SE) sedan was added to the Legend's lineup.
The NSX was designed to give Honda/Acura a technology and image leader. It featured a very advanced, mid-mounted 270-hp VTEC dohc V6. Other high-tech buzzwords included ABS, traction control, and aluminum chassis, body and suspension. The original idea was to provide Ferrari-like performance at Porsche prices. Its main competitors were the Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 and (on price, but not performance) the Mercedes-Benz SL320 convertible.
Over the years of its production, the only major changes have been price (up), color (more), the wheel/tire package (larger, lower profile), and the addition of an automatic transmission. By 1994, about 5000 have been sold. However, it was clear from news stories about angry NSX owners, complaining that the very high-performance tires wear out too quickly, that many buyers were unclear about the strengths and weaknesses of ultra-exotic sports cars. Those buyers would probably have been happier with more luxury and less temperament.
In early 1995, the only NSX sold in the United States was an all-new NSX-T. Acura has declined to offer any official description, but "new technology" was promised along with "two variations." An open-roof NSX was assumed for the first time, along with more displacement to increase torque, and a fashionable 6-speed transaxle.
No one has ever offered a Formula One race car-style semi-automatic transmission, adaptive (not active) suspension, carbon fiber or other advanced composites in a genuine production car, all of which were other possibilities for the 1995 model year.
The hardtop NSX returned in 1996.
Although no new models were made for the rest of the '90s, the NSX was upgraded to now contain 290 horsepower.
For three years, the Acura Vigor was sold as a mid-size 4-door sedan (in GS and LS models). Due to poor sales, the Vigor was dropped in Spring 1994, and as a result, no new replacements for the Vigor were sold for the 1995 model year.
In 1995, Acura underwent some changes. The new 1996 TL was one of them. This car was an upgraded, expanded version of the Vigor.
Inhabiting the near-luxury segment, the TL found formidable competition with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Lexus ES 300, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Saab 900 and Saab 9000|9000 and the Volvo 850 and Volvo 960|960. To prepare for such diversity, the new front-wheel-drive Acura was available in a sporty version pulled by a 2.5-liter 20-valve 5-cylinder called the 2.5TL. In more luxurious 3.2TL trappings with a 3.2-liter 24-valve sohc V6 under the hood, Acura hoped the TL will rise to the heights of the old Legend.
Both Acuras were equipped with wishbone suspension, coil springs and stabilizer bars. They had 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS and speed-sensitive, rotary-valve rack-and-pinion steering. Though the suspension systems were very similar, the one in the 2.5 was tuned for a firm, aggressive ride while that of the 3.2 was biased toward ride comfort rather than raucous behavior.
Like the Vigor’s, the 2.5TL’s powertrain was situated longitudinally, allowing for softer engine mounts and decreased vibration. In fact, the dual-stage-induction 5-cylinder came from the Vigor. The variable-induction V6 in the 3.2TL (also mounted front to back) was already proven in the Legend sedan and coupe. Both engines retained their original output and directed it through a 4-speed automatic transmission that was endowed with grade logic, which minimized gear hunting and enhances downhill braking and uphill acceleration. Optional traction control used the same wheel-speed sensors as the antilock brake system combined with steering input to control the throttle.
As applied to the 3.2TL, the $2550 Premium Package included traction control, a 4-way power passenger seat, sunroof and heated side mirrors. The 2.5TL gained leather-trimmed seats and a power sunroof with its Premium upgrade.
A standard power moonroof was added to all TLs in 1997.
This was the last year in which the 2.5TL was available in the lineup.
The Acura TL's second generation, which only consisted of the 3.2TL, was redesigned to also include 225 horsepower.
The 4-door sedan version of the Acura Legend was replaced by a new Acura RL. The car was sold as a 3.5RL model.
In 1996, the Legend coupe was replaced by the Acura CL. Like the TL, it also had an alphanumerical designation.