I’d love to have an original, low mile 90's Honda or Acura about any day of the week. According to majority opinion, the 1990's was peak Honda. We had the fantastic NSX, upscale Preludes, manually-equipped Accords and Legend Coupes, Civic Si’s, Integras and Integra Type Rs, and let’s even throw the cute Del Sol in there. Styling was excellent, handling sublime, and build quality impressive. I joined the classic Honda movement when I picked up a 1998 Honda Prelude SH in 2014....and then stupidly sold it on BAT in 2017 (yes, that was my former car featured in this Jalopnik article: Here’s What A Prime Honda Prelude Is Worth Today). I have always regretted letting it go, and even looked to reclaim it back, but that’s a story for another day...
First, I must convince you to look one degree smaller of model scale for what you’re attempting to replicate. Cars have gotten bigger over time, and therefore, what is remembered from twenty-plus years ago was a full class size below current standards. Think of it like a rental car special in reverse: “Sir, you qualify for our Hertz one class downgrade.”
My first example up for judgment is the Honda Fit.
It typifies cheap and reliable transportation. Today’s Honda Fit is the Civic of the 1990's: It starts. It goes. It won’t bleed your wallet dry. You can do a lot of basic work on it yourself and parts are cheap. It’s supremely practical and huge on the inside. Comes with a manual option and is even somewhat toss-able around corners to increase the fun factor. It has impressive fuel economy.
FWD gives decent most-weather traction. This is a car for the masses and it should sell like a 1990's Civic. It doesn’t because we live in the Crossover Age (thankfully mixed in with the Second Great Horsepower Race Age). Driving Fits among Trucks and SUVs can feel a bit vulnerable (kind of like a juicy bug about to get stepped on), though I will argue it’s actually a bigger car when placed side by side next to our Golf GTI and MINI Cooper. It’s a shame, though because a Fit is enough appliance car sprinkled with a dash of fun for nearly all of us.
Next, I call out the 10th generation Civic Si.
Today’s Civic Si is, if you’ll allow me, yesteryear’s Honda Prelude.
They’re comparable in power and handling (though the Si has better torque and skidpad numbers than the Prelude). The CIvic Si is the closest car I’ve found that mimics the last generation Prelude I owned (and did I mention stupidly sold? Story for another day). Both handle better than a FWD car has a right to. A lot of chassis engineering hours went into both and the drivers are the lucky beneficiaries. If anything, in both cars, the chassis are so competent, the driver is left wanting more power. I’ve often said the above Prelude with about 100 more horsepower would be (to me) the most perfect driver’s car on the planet. I need a little more seat time in the Si to see if I could say the same for it, but so far it looks promising. The Si of today’s generation will be forever lost in the shadow of its Type R flashier sibling, but it makes a nice secret for those in the know.
Speaking of the Type R....
Well, the logical place to slot this in a 90's comparison has to be the Integra Type R. I’ve not been able to drive either of these in the flesh, but both remain the only cars I’ve ever heard referred to as the “Best front wheel drive cars ever.” I’ve never heard a single complaint about the driving experience in a Type R, if only the same could be said about the contemporary’s styling. (I’d also add I wish today’s Type R came in coupe form).
Are you still with me or is the tide turning against?
My next comparo is today’s Civic Sport
against the Accord Coupe.
Again, we see comparable power, availability of a manual, seating and cargo volumes. Both are practical with some sporting pretensions in a, “I’m not giving up on fun just to have a reliable car.” Today’s Civic is yesterday’s Accord (and probably better).
Moving on to today’s Accord....
I think it slots well up against the 1990's Acura Legend.
Here you get performance plus a dash of elegance. Front wheel drive again and the option of a manual. Both cars well praised in their day for handling, comfort, and style.
Finally, what compares to the groundbreaking NSX of the 1990's?
Ok, my argument is starting to get a little flimsy, like balancing a mug on a moist paper towel. But, I can only offer up...today’s NSX.
Similarities? Both offered exclusivity, supercar exotica with reliability, and limited production numbers. I’m in the camp that believes the NSX is a current flop but a future star. Again, I’ve not had the grace to butt evaluate either, but the new NSX is a performance hero and a true head turner. I saw one on an Acura lot in the past year and was surprised at its presence. It’s a large and imposing vehicle, just what you want when you place your order at Supercars-R-Us. Most of us would gaze longingly if one were to pass us by on the street (of which I have actually never seen one in the wild).
So that’s my case on pitting today’s Honda against the hallowed 1990's. What do you think? Are you ready to start mashing the keyboard and call for my asylum commitment? Or, as Kramer once said, “Am I so sane that you just blew your mind?!” Can we enthusiasts shop today’s Honda and not have to pay nostalgia prices?