The first and second-generation Honda Legend was known as the Acura Legend in North American markets from 1986-1995, and in 1996 the third-generation was renamed as the Acura RL, while the Legend name is still used in Japan and other markets.
Honda introduced the Legend as a flagship sedan to compete with the JDM Nissan Cedric and Nissan Gloria twins, the Toyota Crown, and later the Mazda Luce, and Mitsubishi Debonair. Unlike the Nissan twins and the Crown, the Legend is not used for taxi service. In the USA, the Legend competed with larger rear wheel drive V8 sedans Lexus LS and the Infiniti Q45, however, the Legend was marketed towards the slightly smaller Executive car vehicles that include the BMW 5 series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Jaguar S-type.
The Legend hardtop coupe was introduced to compete with the Nissan Leopard coupe, the Toyota Soarer, and Mazda Cosmo.
The Legend was based on the 1985 Honda Accord, but was the first Honda vehicle with a V6 engine. Honda wanted to appeal to wealthy middle-aged customers who were the traditional buyers of the Toyota Crown and Nissan Cedric & Gloria, as well as European mid-sized sedans. The major difference between the Legend and the Toyota and Nissan sedans was that the Legend was front wheel drive.
The Legend was never vigorously marketed in Europe, possibly due to perceived overlap in the market place with its Rover cousin. The first-generation Honda Legend was manufactured from 1985 until 1990.
This was the first Honda vehicle to offer a driver side airbag, anti-lock brakes. seat belt pre-tensioners, and Traction control, labeled as TCS by Honda. The Legend was also the first car to use traction control on a front wheel drive vehicle. The Legend also was introduced with a double wishbone suspension both front and rear. The V6 engine was only available with multi-port fuel injection that was computer controlled.
The trim level identified as "Exclusive" offered genuine wood trim on the dashboard and center console, and 100% wool moquette cloth upholstery, among other options such as power adjustable rear seats, rear passenger climate control, and chrome-plated power folding mirrors and door handles. The coupe was introduced February 6, 1987.