Well, I think it is time to provide a detailed review on one of my dream cars, a second generation Acura Legend coupe with a manual transmission. I had been looking for one for a while, and was pleasantly surprised when a pristine, single owner example practically fell into my lap.
The Legend coupe is classy and edgy at the same time. While not exactly a sports car or a pure luxury cruiser, it is an adequate blend of the two encased in a pleasing sculpture of sheet metal and glass. My car is an L model; the 'base' model for the coupes, and its specific configuration (white with black cloth interior, gold emblem package and dealer option chrome-plated wheels) is fairly rare. I am going to be making many comparisons to the earlier (1986-1990) model Legend, as that was the vehicle I was using previously.
The interior is pretty nice, although follows the more spartan configuration for Honda cars of the day, form following behind function and ergonomics. This is not to say the interior is bland by any means, but don't expect the little computerized bells and whistles you would find in a more modern car. Gauges are large and easy to read, and the controls are well thought out and placed. The steering wheel has controls for both the cruise control and audio, allowing you to mess with the radio a bit with little fuss. Placement of the head unit is in my opinion much better than the earlier cars; you can easily reach the controls without having to alter your driving position much. This would prove handy for adding a newer touchscreen-based head unit. Climate controls sit above the stereo; the L models feature manual climate control, LS models offer auto. As elsewhere on this car, the controls are simple, easy to read, and easy to reach. At might, the gauges are illuminated in a yellow-white color which is also fairly easy on the eyes. The dimming controls offer a wide range of adjustment which is nice for varying light conditions on the road and to reduce glare from the gauges.
The main advantage of the earlier Legends to the later ones is storage space.. the newer Legends just do not have all the nifty compartments and good, deep center console that the older cars do. Cupholders are absent on manual models entirely, but pulling off the center console cover on an auto will net you a cupholder, as well as a few Legend-specific cupholders being advertised on Ebay. You do have decent map pockets in the door panels, but surprisingly map pockets on the back of the front seats are absent; a glaring omission in my book.
Front seats are pretty comfortable; the cloth is of very high quality and very soft to the touch, and is one of the best velor interiors I have ever seen. Leather is standard in the LS model and most L coupes were equipped with it, but Honda leather of this vintage was not very high quality and will eventually fail unless impeccably taken care of. The seats in the coupe are a little more aggressively bolstered than the sedan, belying its sporty nature. Support is great, with eight way power adjustments, two memory positions and manual lumbar support.
Performance is better than one would expect, with one period publication testing the manual Legend with a 6.9 second 0-60. I can't guarantee the veracity of those numbers, but the car is quick enough. This is the first car I have owned that will give you a bit of a push into the seat on hard acceleration, which even my old Celica GT-Four never quite managed. You can get up to speed with authority in this car, as well as hold said speed; cruising stints at 80mph or above find the car feeling as if it were made to go all day at that rate. The manual is obviously a little quicker than the automatic and I find it much more fun to drive, at any rate. The 3.2-liter V6 has plenty of torque, especially for a Honda powerplant. Passing power on the highway is excellent; even at high altitudes (10,000ft or above) the Legend was capable of passing slower traffic with a downshift and not too much effort. The cruise control comes in handy for keeping to a set speed; the car naturally tends to make highway speeds seem sedate. Handing is crisp and responsive, but not indicative of a sports car; I would say the coupes may have a little more sporty ride quality than the sedans, but both are still very comfortable vehicles. Due to a longitudinally-mounted engine (rather than the more common transverse mounting location on FWD cars) the weight balance is a decent 60/40 split, giving the Legend better balance than most of its FWD brethren.
Economy is decent for a larger six-cylinder luxury car; I will typically get 19-21mpg in the city, and 23-24mpg highway. I did once manage 27mpg on a longer highway trip, but I would say that sort of mileage is rare to attain on these vehicles.
Reliability seems to be top-notch, although admittedly my car is an immaculately kept, dealer maintained, single owner car with low mileage for the year. I have not had any major problems with it nor do I expect to have any major problems as long as the car is maintained correctly. Poorly maintained cars (especially with neglect to the cooling system) will have issues with blown head gaskets; a rather expensive and complex repair for most. Other common failures are vehicle speed sensors and occasional problems with automatic transmissions.
Overall, I love my Legend, and plan to drive it until the wheels fall off. These truly are solid cars if you make the effort to maintain them correctly. Don't sell yourself short and buy someone else's abused Legend, however... take the extra time and money and get one in excellent shape. If you don't let it down, it won't let you down.