1996 Honda Prelude

  • 1996 Honda Prelude S Coupe

    S Coupe

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.2L I4
    • MSRP
  • 1996 Honda Prelude SI Coupe

    SI Coupe

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.3L I4
    • MSRP
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  • Review

1996 Honda Prelude Review

A custom tuner’s dream car.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1996 Honda Prelude is a sports coupe, and its history can be traced back to 1978, when the first generation was introduced. The name ?Prelude? refers to the fact that the coupe was Honda’s first sports car developed from the extremely popular Accent platform.

The 1996 Honda Prelude belongs to the fourth generation, which began in 1991 when it was released in Japan. It was introduced in the U.S. market during the next year. This particular generation became famous at its launch for marking the end of pop-up headlights.

The Range

Body Styles: coupe
Engines: 2.2-liter I-4, 2.3-liter I-4
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Honda Prelude S, Honda Prelude Si, Honda Prelude VTEC

What's New

The 1996 Honda Prelude receives no significant changes, but this marks the last year for the fourth generation. A redesigned version will be introduced the following year to mark the beginning of a new generation.


The 1996 Honda Prelude is significantly different from that of the previous generations. Pop-lights have been replaced by a more stylish, slanted, and aggressive set of headlights. The rear end is also more rounded and higher than the previous generation. The front end is also significantly wider than before.


The 1996 Honda Prelude is not one of its strong suits. Space is adequate for the front seats with a decent amount of legroom and headroom for the average adult. However, the split-back rear seats are very cramped, so much so that it's only suitable for toddlers. On a positive note, the controls up front are placed in a convenient and easy way, just like any other Honda. However, the overall arrangement of the controls is very odd and illogical. For example, the warning lights stretch across the whole length of the dashboard top, but it's too far away from the driver’s viewpoint for easy checking while driving. Another problem is that its fuel and temperature gauges are vacuum-fluorescent and placed at the center, making them a little difficult for the driver to read.

Performance & Handling

The 1996 Honda Prelude S uses a single-cam 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 135 horsepower. The mid-level Si gets a dual-overhead-cam 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 150 horsepower. The high-end VTEC has a dual-cam 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing delivering 190 horsepower. This particular engine only comes with a manual gearbox, while the other two are available with either manual or automatic transmission. It offers good, solid performance, as well as a high fuel economy. All three engines are smooth and quiet, with the main variations being in its performance. The base engine offers strictly adequate performance, the Si offers a lively performance, and the VTEC is as quick as some sports cars.


The 1996 Honda Prelude received four out of five stars for driver safety and a five-star rating for passenger safety during frontal impact tests.

EPA Fuel Economy

Honda Prelude: 19/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Good performance
  • Proficient steering/handling
  • Aggressive and stylish appearance

You Won't Like

  • Lack of interior room
  • Confusing controls

Sum Up

A custom tuner’s dream car.

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