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2001 Honda Prelude Coupe

2dr Cpe Auto

Starting at | Starting at 21 MPG City - 26 MPG Highway

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  • $24,600 original MSRP
Printable Version

2001 Honda Prelude Coupe

Printable Version

2001 Honda Prelude Coupe


2001 Honda Prelude

Source: New Car Test Drive

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

by Mitch McCullough

Base Price (MSRP) $23,600
As Tested (MSRP) $26,540

The Honda Prelude gives the enthusiast driver some sweet toys. Its twin-cam VTEC engine sounds great and builds revs with abandon more suited to a motorcycle than a car, while world-class handling rewards spirited driving down a twisty road.

But the Prelude last saw a redesign in 1997, and its age shows. Interior and exterior styling may seem bland in a trendy, fashion-conscious segment that now includes the aggressive-looking Toyota Celica.

Still, the Prelude remains a top contender among hot sport coupes. It is roomy, powerful, and technically sophisticated. It's the best Prelude Honda has ever built.

Model Lineup

The two primary decisions you need to make when choosing a Prelude are: whether you want the automatic, and whether you want the SH model's high-tech handling setup. Fortunately, you can't make a mistake here because all three are brilliant cars - for different reasons. All three come with the 200-horsepower VTEC engine. They share one level of interior trim, so there are no base or upscale models and there are no options.

Equipped with the 5-speed manual, the Prelude retails for $23,600. With the 4-speed Sequential Sportshift automatic, it retails for $24,600. The Type SH, which comes with Honda's Active Torque Transfer System, goes for $26,100 and is only available with the manual gearbox.


Honda's stylists seem to have looked to the third-generation Prelude for inspiration in designing this fifth-generation model. The roofline is more formal and the overall appearance more conservative compared to the swoopy lines of generation four. The most distinctive element is a pair of vertical rectangular headlamps, reminiscent of the Mercedes SLK roadster. The Prelude's quirky styling has not improved with age. The SH comes with a rear spoiler that is available as an accessory for the other Preludes.

Fortunately, beneath the skin you'll find some fine engineering: Honda's high-revving 2.2-liter twin-cam 16-valve VTEC aluminum four-cylinder engine delivers 200 horsepower. A four-wheel double-wishbone suspension, powerful four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and 16-inch alloy wheels are all standard.

Interior Features

Like the exterior, the interior is beginning to look a little dated. Anyone familiar with previous Preludes will feel right at home in this one. The cockpit provides sports car intimacy, supportive sport bucket seats, high-quality materials, and plenty of comfort and convenience goodies. The Prelude provides surprisingly good long-haul comfort: We drove a Prelude SH more than 6000 miles in just seven days during Car and Driver's One Lap of America marathon.

This fifth-generation Prelude is longer than previous-generation models and Honda has put most of the increased length to work in the rear seat area, making it a viable place to move people. The Prelude offers decent trunk space and the rear seatbacks fold forward to expand cargo volume.

The dashboard and instrument panel features a classic Honda analog gauge package, rather than the peculiar displays stretched across the dashboard of the previous generation. The slightly taller roofline affords more glass area, which improves driver sightlines in the rear quarters, and there are several bins and pockets for stowing small stuff, a familiar Honda touch.

Standard equipment for the basic Prelude includes air conditioning, power moonroof, cruise control, driver's seat height adjustment, tilt steering with a leather-wrapped wheel, map lights, ignition switch light, and power windows, mirrors and locks. The 120-watt, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo features an Acoustic Feedback System that uses tiny microphones to measure ambient cabin sound, and then adjusts the volume to compensate. Type SH adds a leather shift knob. Leather seating is not an option, an effort by Honda to keep prices down.

Safety features - ABS, dual airbags, side-impact protection - are current, but not extraordinary. New for 2001 are child safety seat anchors for the rear seats. Honda has adopted a new Key Code security system, similar to the PASS-Key system developed by General Motors.

Driving Impressions

The Honda Prelude offers an excellent driving experience. The VTEC engine sounds great in the upper rev ranges, growling with gusto and revving freely past the 7,000-rpm redline. This car loves to be revved and will put a smile on any enthusiast's face. Stand on it and the power comes on with a dramatic rush reminiscent of some turbocharged cars, particularly in the lower gears. At maximum thrust, the little 2.2-liter engine propels the Prelude from 0 to 60 mph in about 7 seconds.

Honda has developed many applications for its clever VTEC (Variable valve Timing and lift Electronic Control) system, but the configuration employed in the Prelude is the most stimulating. Using two sets of cam lobes per shaft - one set placid, the second aggressive - the hydromechanically activated system engages the second set of lobs at about 5200 rpm.

The 5-speed gearbox is precise, although the gear ratios aren't quite as close as they were in the previous VTEC-powered Preludes. Compared with some of the newest sport coupes, the shifter feels a little long.

The optional automatic transmission is a four-speed Sequential SportShift. It allows the driver to shift manually as well as operate in full automatic mode. Similar in concept to the Chrysler AutoStick and Porsche Tiptronic, it adds more driving fun to automatic editions, but also adds weight and cost and subtracts from the all-around performance. While 5-speed Preludes rev to an exhilarating 7000 rpm, AutoStick models rev to an almost as exhilarating 6600-rpm redline; as a result, AutoStick comes with 195 horsepower and the same amount of torque. (AutoStick is not available with the Active Torque Transfer System.)

Honda significantly increased the rigidity of the Prelude when it was redesigned in 1997. This improvement is all the more remarkable given the previous body shell was already one of the best in its class in terms of stiffness; chassis rigidity is a key element to greatness in ride and handling. Honda's painstaking work with the chassis is immediately apparent in hard cornering. Transitions are crisp, steering responses scalpel-sharp.

The biggest decision when buying a Prelude is whether to shell out the extra $2,500 for the Type SH, which comes with Honda's Active Torque Transfer System. You have to drive the car quite briskly to experience the benefits of the system, which is transparent during normal driving conditions. On the one hand, this system can best be justified by an enthusiast who loves winding roads. On the other hand, it benefits drivers with average skills more than those with the skills of a Juan Montoya. Turn the steering wheel and the car will go where it's pointed.

The Prelude has always served as Honda's technological showcase and this is most obvious in ATTS, as it's called. This system moves front-drive performance cars another step closer to parity with their rear-drive competitors in terms of absolute handling. Here's how it works: When a front-drive car hustles around a corner, its front tires have to transfer power to the ground as well as steer the car. That - plus the pronounced forward weight bias that goes with having all the powertrain stuff up front - is why front-wheel-drive cars such as the Prelude are more prone to understeer than rear-drive cars. Automatic Torque Transfer makes the car easier to drive quickly and helps reduce understeer. (Understeer describes a car's resistance to turn-in. The faster the entry speed to a given corner, the more the car wants to go straight ahead.) ATTS addresses this trait through a clever set of mechanical functions that automatically transfers engine torque to the outside front wheel, while increasing its rotational speed. Transferring as much as 80 percent of the power into the outside front wheel, which typically bears the heaviest load in hard cornering, compensates for the extra load and restores balance. The effect is sometimes compared to that of a bulldozer, which can turn the right tracks faster than the left tracks when it turns left. It's a clever Honda solution to a problem no one else has really managed to solve - and it works.

Final Word

For the accomplished driver who appreciates refined, technically advanced sporting machinery with few compromises, the Prelude stands near the head of its class.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2001 Honda Prelude Coupe

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std


Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2001 Honda Prelude Coupe

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Honda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Honda Certified Used Car Limited Warranty extends the non-powertrain coverage by 1 year/12,000 miles from the date of purchase or expiration of new car warranty date. In addition, Honda Certified Used Car Limited Warranty extends the powertrain coverage to 7 years/100,000 miles.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 year or 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance No
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2001 Honda Prelude Coupe

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