1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test

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1991 Acura NSX: No, It Doesn't Get Old

August 06, 2012

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Long before I set my butt into the seat of our NSX, I'd heard about how this was the "everyday exotic" thanks to its sensible ergonomics, docile-as-an-Accord drivability and expected Honda reliability.

Sure, getting in and out of the low-slung NSX is a bit of a hassle, but that's little price to pay for the grins this car brings forth whenever I drive it. Yeah, it's a blast to take through the canyons but even running up the on-ramp to the 10 on my way to work is a treat. I still get a kick out of the V6's urgent growl, love the meaty yet precise throws of the 5-speed's shifter and don't mind that the very communicative steering is non-assisted. Furthermore, the ride doesn't beat on my back, the A/C is freeze-your-nose-off cold and the cockpit's controls aren't quirky. I'm really going to hate to see this one go...

*Note: I pulled the car into this vacant parking lot just for the quick photo op, so please excuse the non-centered position.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 57,083 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Interior Dimensions

August 03, 2012

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Everybody here loves the interior of the Acura NSX.

It got great reviews when the car was new back in 1991, too. But it wasn’t for the way it looked, since it really is just a copy of the style seen in Italian supercars, which was already pretty familiar even then.

Instead it’s the functional aspects of the NSX’s interior that really get your attention, and in the execution you can see the thinking that Honda puts into its interiors even now.

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1991 Acura NSX: Seat Wear

June 26, 2012

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After almost 56,000 miles, the leather covering the driver's seat of our 1991 Acura NSX is starting to show significant wear on the bolster. It's far from wearing through and becoming a hole, but the material isn't exactly "just in need of a wipe with a good leather treatment" either.

This is one of those things any sports car will begin to suffer from. After so many years of drivers getting in and out and dragging their butts across the seat's aggressively shaped bolster it's almost unavoidable.

Aside from some normal and expected wear on the Acura's leather shift knob, the NSX's leather otherwise looks practically new.

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1991 Acura NSX: Stacked

April 30, 2012

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We've been annoyed by the lean-and-reach center stack and audio/climate controls in our long-term Toyotas. The Sienna comes to mind, and the Camry isn't much better. Most of us liked the Kia Optima's upright center stack that canted toward the driver. The Infiniti M56's bulging waterfall center was pretty classy, and the Volvo S60's brushed metallic suspended vee-stack is just painfully Scandinavian hip.

But the NSX's sloping center stack still wins after all these years. Easy reach, every thing at hand, and adds a subtle dynamic effect to the cabin.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: And Now, Deep Thoughts

April 27, 2012

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Our longterm 1991 Acura NSX's turn signal lever is so... dainty.

That is all.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Hard To Leave

March 29, 2012

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It's been said many times before but I, too, can attest to the awesomeness of our 1991 Acura NSX's driver seat. Every time you get behind the steering wheel, the seat swallows you up like a warm embrace, making it really difficult to leave. And I'm not just talking about exiting a low vehicle.

I'm really amazed by how comfortable the seat of this sporty car is. It's easy to transition from that urgent need to go fast to a calm, relaxed state of mind.

Also everything in the cabin fosters that state for the driver: The feel of the wheel and the shifter, having the controls on the centerstack within reach and, check it out, even the window controls on the door are canted toward the driver.

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1991 Acura NSX: Inside Line/NSX Love-Fest, Part 692

March 28, 2012

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There's something so very right about the NSX's seats. And it's a tribute to Honda/Acura's engineering that these seats are still so terrific 21 years later, both in the way they work and the way they've held up.

First, the seats are exceptionally comfortable, without being too cushy, and are very easy with which to find that just-right driving position. Course, it helps that the view out the front of the car is also near-perfect.

There's a goodly amount of lateral support to hold you snugly in place, especially the seatbacks. But not to the point of being uncomfortable or restrictive. In fact, about the only problem I see with these things is that the leather is a little bit slippery. Not sure if that's an age thing, or if this leather was always that way.

But overall, these are a couple of fantastic 21-year-old buckets.

Plus, they look cool.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 53,230 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: The Zen-Like Horn Button Experience

March 28, 2012

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I was rolling in our long-term 1991 Acura NSX a couple of weeks ago and got cut off by a Prius (naturally). I tried to warn him/express my displeasure my smacking the middle of the steering wheel -- and got nothing. That's because our 20 year old NSX has old-school horn buttons; the center of the wheel contains an airbag, but no horn.

The horn buttons are quite convenient to use and you can even ride them with your thumbs in traffic, just in case you are surrounded by Priuses. But it's more intuitive to hit the center of the wheel with the palm of your hand, and maybe a way to release some negative energy.

And like that old Seinfeld sketch where he said that hanging up a cordless phone doesn't have the same effect as slamming down a landline when you're upset, the same could be said for our NSX's horn buttons. So perhaps our NSX promotes a Zen-like experience?

Do you have horn buttons on your car and have your ever forgotten them and hit the center of the wheel instead?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 53,200 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: A Padded Helping Hand

March 20, 2012

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Getting out of a low-slung car like the Acura NSX can be difficult. Getting out of one when you're 6-foot-3 is double difficult. And I'd imagine you could make that triple difficult if you were also old and/or creaky in some way.

Thanks be to Acura then for providing this long piece of leather-covered padding on the NSX's door sill. It makes it easier for me to push myself up and out of the car with some degree of grace rather than pressing against a normal door sill that's hard and most likely dirty. Exiting the car in this way also limits the amount of rubbing against the already-worn seat bolsters (not to mention the chances of you pulling a core muscle).

I also use it when getting into the car. Rather than roughly plopping myself down and once again scarring those bolsters, I sit laterally in the seat and use the pad to swing myself in. Easy, graceful, comfortable.

It's a nice detail and I wish other carmakers would have copied it in the past 20 years. Though some provide a bid of padding, none go so far as the thoughtful NSX.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 52,834 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Baby Visor

March 15, 2012

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Last week, Josh went absolutely bananas over our long-term Camry's sun visors. OK, not really. But our long-term 1991 Acura NSX goes one step further than our Camry by furnishing a Baby Visor above the inner mirror instead of the Camry's slide out extenders.

I prefer the baby visor to the extenders, but honestly it's a rare condition when the sun peeks in between the two visors. However, when this does occur and the sun finds your eyes like a laser beam, it's really annoying and can cause driver distraction. So why not?

I'll bet Futurists in 1991 predicted that sun visors would be power-operated by 2012. I'll check our long-term Audi A8 for that the next time I'm in it. It seems everything else in it is power-operated.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 52,800 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Spacious But Cramped

February 28, 2012

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Remember when cars had low beltlines, slender pillars and lots of glass? Honda was particularly good at this in the late 80s and early 90s, and our 1991 Acura NSX leverages the concept to the extreme.

The cowl and dash are ultra-low, the A-pillars are skinny, the instrument panel is compact. And there's a ton of glass.

A tremendous sense of all-around visibility and space results from all this, which is good for driver confidence and control.

But for me, at least, this is somewhat spoiled by the lack of a telescopic steering wheel. I'm forced to slide the seat forward an inch or so more than I'd like and stand the seatback up a handful of degrees in order to reach the wheel with a decent bend in my arm. Side effects include: knees jammed up under the wheel; head and hair in close proximity to the headliner.

Telescopic wheels were far rarer in the early 90s than they are today. Heck, our 2012 Chevy Sonic has one.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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1991 Acura NSX: Cool Seats

February 27, 2012

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I really like the look of the black leather seats in our long-term 1991 Acura NSX. They look old-fashioned yet still cool, which I guess is the pop-culture definition of retro.

Even better, I like that they're still quite comfortable and capable of providing support (although I have yet to go on any serious roads in this car). The leather itself is in good shape, though it could use some conditioning. The only really serious wear is exactly where you'd expect it to be: at the "hinge" of the lateral bolstering on the seat-back cushion and the seat-bottom cushion -- where glutes/thighs tend to drag during the process of lowering yourself into and hoisting yourself out of the driver seat. There's another threadbare spot on the outer edge of the bottom cushion, but it's barely noticeable.

By the way, I didn't get around to replacing the dead bulb that showed up in Friday's post. It's the parking light bulb, and thanks to very clear instructions in the owners manual, I'll be addressing that on my own tonight.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 52,103 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: This May Be A Tad Big

February 03, 2012

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That's what she said, I know.

Moving on, I don't think the NSX's sunvisor needs (needed) to be quite so large. Many other sports cars have a half-sized version that works better -- unless you're OK with driving using the Force.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 51,408 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Thin A-Pillars Make for Great Visibility

January 24, 2012

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One of the things that strikes me when I get behind the wheel of our NSX is how thin the A-pillars are compared to most modern cars. I'm not sure why this is the case, but I suspect it has something to do with airbags, roof crush standards and other such issues that weren't quite so prominent back in the late '80s.

Then again, maybe it's just a consequence of designers forgetting what makes an interior feel spacious. Or what improves visibility more than some fancy heads-up projector.

Either way, driving this NSX makes me realize how nice it is to see everything around you, even if it's the underside of most trucks and SUVs.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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1991 Acura NSX: The Way It Should Be

January 09, 2012

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Looky here at the roof of our longterm 1991 Acura NSX. You'll notice something's missing: a sunroof.

And that's The Way It Should Be.

Sunroofs are pointless contraptions in any car, and in sports cars they're flat-out wrong. They gobble up precious headroom, add some 40 or 50 pounds (!) at the absolute highest (aka worst) point of the car, degrade the chassis' stiffness (it's a giant hole, after all), and in time they're prone to leaks, sticking and generally sucking more than they already do.

So I'm endlessly pleased that our NSX does not have one. It speaks to the car's purity of purpose.

What it has in place of said evil device is well thought-out -- the square panel depressions in the headliner you see allow a bit more headroom, which is admittedly on the snug side in the first place. My 'do brushes the NSX's headliner as it is, so I can't imagine what it'd be like if some jackalope put a sunroof in it.

In 1995, though, all standard-issue US-market NSXs were equipped with an even more offensive Targa-style removable roof panel. This baffling decision signaled the tone-deafness of Honda's US product planning, a tradition that's continuing to this day.

Today, it's hard to find any sporting-type car that doesn't have a sunroof. For years you couldn't get, say, any 911 lesser than a GT3 RS without one. However, the tide might be changing - Porsche will offer the bog-standard 991 stateside without a roof-hole if the buyer so desires.

The NSX replacement (the concept of which was just unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show) will undoubtedly usher in heaps of heresy (AWD, hybrid, etc). But we will know that a glimmer of the sharp thinking that created the original NSX lives on if they simply offer the new car without a sunroof.

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Sacrifices...Not Really

December 30, 2011

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You put up with a lack of modern conveniences with older cars. If the car performs well enough, like the NSX does, then you don't mind at all.

For instance, these days we're pretty used to hopping into new cars and finding at least one cupholder along with a multitude of cubbies to stash stuff. Not so the NSX. It's nearly devoid of all forms of stash-ability.

But, there is this little bin here that perfectly holds an 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull. Well, it holds it as long as you don't move out of your driveway until you've finished drinking it.

Do I care? Nope. I'm driving an NSX. And I love it.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Get Ye To The Trunk!

December 29, 2011

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This floor mat is from a different time. A time when floor mats were not the vile creators of death and mayhem that modern society has made them out to be. This particular floor mat fits well (it looks like it's molded to fit the shape of the floor, perfectly) and is fairly plush. Also, it has no labels warning you of impending death should you 'install' the floor mat incorrectly. That's refreshing.

As nice as the floor mat is, I don't like driving a manual transmission-ed car if there is one, so before I set off in our NSX, I tossed the floor mat in the trunk. Come to think of it, that's where my own driver's side floor mat has been since the day I bought my car, almost 10 years ago.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 50,306 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Trippin' Trip Meter

December 29, 2011

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The NSX's trip meter has started acting up. It seems to reset fine, and starts counting up the miles okay. That is, until it gets to 10.9 miles, at which point it just stops.

I reset it a couple of times and it kept getting hung up at 10.9. I tried resetting it by pushing it once, twice, resetting it while sitting still and resetting it while moving.

Then this morning it got hung up at 2.9. So apparently it's a bit random where it gets hung up. I reset it again and now it appears to be working fine, as it went right past 2.9 and 10.9.

Part of the fun of owning a 20-year-old car.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 50,209 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: Red Alert

December 05, 2011

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At night, the gauges in our NSX are as easy to read as any car today. And that's impressive, since the gauges are not back-lit.

Nope, the NSX gauges are lit from the front and above. During the day, the gauges have white markings. At night the red lighting is soothing to the eye. I've always been a proponent of red interior night lighting, especially on long road trips. To me, it just reduces a little bit of fatigue and eye strain.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Devil In the Details

November 29, 2011

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There aren't a lot of things I'd want to bring back from 1991. Certainly not the awful mullet I rocked for most of senior year. But this one detail on the NSX is something I'd want to bring back.

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Ladies' Guide to Exiting the 1991 Acura NSX

November 22, 2011

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With a low-seated car like our 1991 Acura NSX, exiting the vehicle with your grace intact can be a tricky proposition when you're wearing a dress. You don't want a knickers-baring Paris Hilton-esque scandal. So here are some tips I picked up over the weekend since I had to dress up for a wedding and the NSX was my ride.

By the way, what's great about the current forced chivalry of our Acura is that it means someone has to open the door for you and then will be there to assist you out of the vehicle. Which makes it much easier and if worse comes to worse they can block you from paparazzi.

1) Before the door opens, make sure to pull your dress down as far as it will go, especially important if you're wearing a mini skirt. Dresses do tend to ride up during a trip.

2) Once the door is open, with knees together and legs stretched out, swing them out and over the door jamb. Or you can also, with knees together, bring one leg out and quickly follow it with the other one.

3) With both feet placed firmly on the ground, steady one hand on the seat (don't grab the roof or the side of the car) and grab hold of your gentleman's hand.

4) Dip your head down before exiting the car so you don't hit it on the way out.

Now, getting into the NSX is another matter, but I suggest enlisting the help of your gentleman again to help ease you into the seat.

On a side note, as a sporty conveyance the Acura NSX was the best of both worlds of comfort and fun. The ride was comfortable and smooth, seat was cozy and the cabin was surprisingly quiet. I likes it.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Yes, Please

November 21, 2011

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Man, the driving position in our longterm 1991 Acura NSX is just spot on, for a number of reasons.

Its seats are terrific. With adjustments only for reach and rake and modest bolsters, they somehow manage to be comfortable and still offer great lateral support.

And that super low cowl, well, you simply can't achieve that in a front-engined car. Its slender A-pillars probably wouldn't have a hope of meeting modern side-impact and rollover standards, but the panoramic outward view they help provide is so refreshing.

The NSX's cabin feels spacious and breezy. It's an impression that's aided by the dash and center stack controls which are set far forward. Funny, you feel like you have a commanding view of the road yet you actually sit quite low in this car. And I mean low. Getting in or out isn't the most graceful event you've seen. Though an Elise is clumsier in this regard.

Also, I was wrong about the clutch. It's fine. It just engages high. I've been told this is a common characteristic among NSXs.

Do like. Very much. The unassisted, unfiltered steering, the intake note that puts every other V6 to shame, its light and mechanical gearchange... I'm a fan. Unlike Riswick, I was neutral towards the NSX back when they were new. Driving this car now, I can see what all the fuss was about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some 8000-rpm shifts to rip off.

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: The Vegas Road Trip, Part II

October 19, 2011

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Our trip to the Indy Car race in Las Vegas was eventful, to say the least. But our long-term NSX was a champ through it all. James gave his recap of the trip yesterday, so now it's my turn to weigh in. The NSX was pretty limiting in terms of cargo, so we both packed light. My camera bag was really the biggest bag in the boot. Everything fit perfecty (James must've been pretty good at Tetris as a kid), and we hit the road. Step one: fueling up (above).

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