Used 1996 Honda Prelude VTEC

1996 Honda Prelude
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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Usually, when a carmaker introduces a model with unusual styling, we assume that the styling will grow on us, becoming attractive as the rest of the carmakers introduce models with similar styling themes. Since we first laid eyes on the Prelude in the fall of 1991, only two cars have dared tread where Honda designers did when creating the current-generation Prelude. The new Supra's roofline and greenhouse share the Prelude's proportions, and the Lincoln Mark VIII sports an interior as radical as that found in the Prelude. Needless to say, we still haven't grown accustomed to, or very fond of, this Honda's looks, inside or out.

Underneath the questionably attractive sheetmetal is where the Prelude shines, at least in Si and Si VTEC form. The Si gets a 160-horsepower 2.3-liter twin-cam engine; the Si VTEC a 2.2-liter twin-cammer good for 190-horsepower. The VTEC motor is sweet, with a high redline and rev-me-red personality, but it costs an extra $3,000 and reduces the Prelude's acceleration times by a scant half a second over the Si. We don't think it's worth it.

A deeply slotted dashboard greets the front passengers, running the length of the cowl and housing a combination of digital and analog gauges. At either end is a speaker housing and chintzy-looking speaker grille. The design provides an ample amount of interior room for the front passengers, but compared to Honda's previously-brilliant interior layouts, this one is cheesy and ineffective.

The frontal styling is downright ugly, and the alloy wheels look as though they were heisted from a Saturn SL2. The Prelude is a fun car, with reliability that is nearly matchless. However, we think Honda blew it with this version. The 1988-1991 Prelude was nicer to look at, more user-friendly, and less expensive. No wonder they hold their value so well.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Honda Prelude.

What a ride!
house_muzak, 5/15/2002
The fourth generation Prelude V-tec is a beautiful and unique car inside and out. It's styling is timeless and seductive. The interior is like no other car on the road and is really very refreshing. The V-tec engine is ultra-reliable and a blast to drive. It handles superbly for a front wheel drive car and has great brakes, too. Buy this car, if you can actually find one!
First Car, and Never Regretted It
NewPreludeOwner, 2/13/2010
Bought this car in July of '09 from a fellow service member. Never regretted it. Fun as hell to drive, extremely reliable, and I bought it with over 129k miles on it! It seems I had the extreme luck to purchase the VTEC, and it was well worth the $3500 I paid for it! No engine problems, only had to fix the brakes because of a broken after-market caliper and change out two gaskets on the exhaust system from aftermarket headers. No problems with the original vehicle! A great car to those who are looking for one, and I plan on keeping this thing for years! Smooth 5-Speed, responsive engine, and with some aftermarket upgrades, 29 average MGP! Keep in mind I drive 60 miles to and from college.
Perfect Car for me
dezern, 7/10/2012
When I was younger my friends all wanted a prelude, but i was too young to car except in video games, but when I got my Prelude I fell in love with it. Reliable, beautiful styling and scary fast after a little bit of work. I would reccomend this car to anyone who asked. She's a beautiful car, inside and out
Fun to Drive for short time
Club VTEC, 8/19/2002
I personally love Prelude 92-96 Model. It is really fun to drive but not for long drive. The seat is not comfortable. This is a great car to have. Don't miss it
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Features & Specs

19 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
190 hp @ 6800 rpm
See all Used 1996 Honda Prelude VTEC features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Honda Prelude
Used 1996 Honda Prelude VTEC Overview

The Used 1996 Honda Prelude VTEC is offered in the following styles: , and VTEC 2dr Coupe.

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