1997 Honda Prelude Base 2.2 litre from North America


Wouldn't buy it again, but it was fun!


The Sportshift transmission failed at 124000 km, cost was CDN$ 3200.00 to repair. Honda Canada would not do anything, even though I had reported slushy shifting on the 1-2 shift, while still under warranty. I have had two rear wheel bearing failures (covered under warranty). The CD player failed at 120000 miles and heater cable seized (replaced under warranty).

General Comments:

The car handles great, looks and sounds great (above 5000 RPM) and is reasonably quick. I have had a tough time finding good tires (Pirelli, Bridgestone and Continental) for this car: they were either really noisy or uneven wear (even with alignment) and puncture prone. Next spring will see new Michelins on this car.

It is actually not a bad winter drive, with 195/60-15 Blizzaks on steel wheels, but is very scary in the snow with the summer "all season" tires.

This is one of the easiest handling, predictable cars to drive hard through the corners; it never comes up with any nasty surprises!

I had a 1991 Mazda MX6 Turbo 4 that would likely outrun the Prelude to about 140 KPH. It was more comfortable seating, but the Prelude really out-handles the Mazda.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 5th January, 2003

1997 Honda Prelude 2.2L from North America


A strong performer


Recalled faulty ignition switch, dealer covered.

Replaced clutch master cylinder and clutch slave cylinder at 110,000 km - of course, right after the extended warranty ran out. No help from the dealer here. Estimated cost thru dealer was approx. $350CND for parts and with labour, could have ran up to $1,250CND. Thank goodness my dad is a mechanic!!!

Slight rust developing on the fringe of the sunroof (interior side). Rubber moulding still good.. probably had some seepage because I have a plastic cover on the sunroof and it collectied there. This car was winter driven.

Temperature control (the slider) seized due to a rusted over cable at 75,000km. No help from dealer as warranty did not cover. Parts was about $100! Labour done by friend who worked for Honda!

General Comments:

This car is great. Great looks stock, and good quality. Handling is fine, but you need to drop it, add some torsion bars and wheee!!! Replace the rubbers with Yokos and it delights!

Power supply is ample, VTEC will kick in at 5000 RPMs. But, it's a heavy car and sometimes feels sluggish on take off. Smooth gear shifter, but I think I'll still put on a short throw kit to make it feel right.

Interior finish is smooth and classic. But it feels a bit small and tight inside. Grab a large coffee and it'll get in the way of the stick shift for sure.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd September, 2002

1997 Honda Prelude Base 2.3L H22a VTEC from North America


I would buy another one if I could, and they will they last..


The master and slave cylinders for the clutch hydraulics had leaks, replaced them for $300, parts and labor included.

Handle brake light will turn on randomly.

Turn signals will sometimes not disengage after a turn.

General Comments:

The car has an excellent amount of horsepower at 200hp, for a 4 cylinder engine that's real efficient and great on gas mileage.

It's very sporty and there are a good amount of aftermarket parts to choose from.

On the heavy side for a sports car, but just enough room to effectively use the back seats and trunk space.

Standard features include all power, sunroof, cruise, CD, alloy wheels, and passenger/driver airbags.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th September, 2001

1997 Honda Prelude 2.3i from UK and Ireland


Easy to live with FWD faux sports coupe


Nothing - just other people who keep crashing into it, wasting my no claims bonus!

General Comments:

Engine is pretty fine, does make a great noise when revved hard, although I am told it's nothing compared to the 2.2 VTEC! Plenty of power, but the auto transmission saps this down so it gives not too much more than the average two-litre manual. Still beats these though...

Gearbox is okay, fairly sporty for an auto, sports mode letting you hold each gear higher (and burn more fuel!).

Handling is pretty awesome thanks to the electro-hydraulic 4 wheel steering system - first time hitting a roundabout hard, you get the feeling that you've just lost the back end, but then the rear wheels steer the opposite way, and to use the cliche, it goes round like it's on rails. That said, if you provoke it hard, it'll understeer, but thanks to that intelligent 4WS, it will never, EVER oversteer!

Interior is okay, nice blue lit up dash (which you either will or won't like...), comfy sports seats, and FAR less interior space than a car of this size has any right to offer. With the front seats in a comfy position for the average sized driver and passenger, they are touching the cloth-lined bench of a back seat, so don't even think about rear passengers for any long journey. However, this means that boot space is good for this type of car, which is one advantage.

For a FWD coupe, this does pretty much all you could want it to - has all the looks, but is (relatively) insurable too, and has a reasonable turn of speed and inspirational handling to boot, as well as the now legendary Honda reliability.

However, as a sports car, it's upsetting that some well conceived family hatchbacks (Golf GTi 2.0, Peugeot 306 XSi, Seat Leon 20V, even the Zetec engined Ford Focus) can out-do it in terms of speed AND handling through most everyday driving situations.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th June, 2001

1st Jul 2003, 22:25

The 97 Prelude US version does not have four wheel steering. It has automatic torque transfer system.

The instruments on the 97 and later Preludes are conventional needle gages with backlighting.

Generally, the comments indicate he refers to the previous generation Prelude.

After the faint praise.

He also states:

"However, as a sports car, it's upsetting that some well conceived family hatchbacks (Golf GTi 2.0, Peugeot 306 XSi, Seat Leon 20V, even the Zetec engined Ford Focus) can out-do it in terms of speed AND handling through most everyday driving situations".

Car and Driver mag tested every sports car under $30K in handling, and found the Prelude #1. The comments relative to obscure Eurocancars outrunning AND outhandling can't be refuted easily, but I doubt the contention, and if there is a Peugeot faster and better handling than the Prelude, my entire knowledge base will need to adjust.

3rd Jul 2003, 00:40

I think you have the 4th generation Prelude... do you have a traingular shaped rear lamps.

18th Nov 2005, 02:37

Listen buddy, I am in the UK, I used to have a 205 1.9GTI pug. Sure, they handle like go-karts, but they are no way as quick as a 2.2vtec prelude, not a chance.

23rd Nov 2005, 05:50

Read the review before you start passing comment - it's about a 2.3 'Lude, not a 2.2. I refuse to get into a slanging match, but the Prelude is NOT a sports car, regardless of engine, much as people love to think it is. Honda have one seriously sporty line away from the S2000 or NSX, and that is the Type R brand, and they've even managed to devalue that with the so-so Civic.

2nd Jan 2008, 08:43

To the original author? From what you've stated in the original review it sounds as if you have the 4th gen prelude (triangular rear lights) and yes they did come with 4ws and a 2.3 engine. This model is quite underpowered, and yes it probably isn't a real 'sportscar'

If you wanted a prelude with a more sporty feel you should try the 2.2 VTEC. Its in an entirely different league.

4th Apr 2013, 06:45

He is talking about the UK version!

Some versions of the 5th Generation Prelude did have four wheel steering, but they were not offered in the US.