Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown, where our intrusive cheap car thoughts are documented for future scientists to study one day. Today we’re looking at two extremely sensible and nicely depreciated Japanese luxury sedans. However, before we get into that, let’s check on how yesterday’s beater battle went.
Despite costing more than three times what the C1500 listed for, the Grand Marquis takes it. Hey, it’s hard to beat a full-frame boat of a sedan for comfort and durability.
Anyway, let’s jump into today’s battle. Before the Japanese bubble economy burst, three Japanese automakers signaled some serious intent by launching luxury brands. The premise is great – luxury cars that work like Camrys and Accords. But are these posh depreciated sedans still desirable today?
Engine/Drivetrain: 3.2-liter V6, four-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel-drive.
Location: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Odometer Reading: 226,969 miles
Oh hell yeah, it’s Acura Legend time. Not only does this neat sedan wear the Ludacris seal of approval, but it was also Acura’s flagship sedan of the early ‘90s. This means it gets all manner of toys while still featuring typical Honda reliability—a big plus for anyone more interested in driving their luxury sedan than they are fixing it.
Under the hood sits a 3.2-liter C32 V6 making an even 200 horsepower. While the four-speed automatic gearbox isn’t the most fun way of putting power to the ground, it should absolutely get the job done. One weird quirk of the Legend is that it uses a longitudinal engine layout despite being front-wheel-drive. Not the most space-efficient move in the world, but it should be beneficial to servicing.
The body of this Legend looks to be in decent shape given its age, although the seller does note that there’s rust behind the wheel wells. Still, the bumpers and body sides look straight, plus the headlights still look fairly crisp. This is one handsome sedan we’re looking at.
Unfortunately, things get a bit worse on the inside, where the leather is really showing the effects of nearly 30 years of use. Not only is the driver’s seat upholstery torn, the front passenger seat also features a tear. Mind you, the steering wheel doesn’t look hideously worn, and the Legend-embroidered carpet floor mats are still present after all these years.
Engine/Drivetrain: Three-liter V6, four-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel-drive.
Location: Brookline, Massachusetts
Odometer Reading: 193,141 miles
Runs/Drives? You bet.
If we’re talking reliability yardsticks with fancy twists, we have to talk about the Lexus ES. Based on humble and popular front-wheel-drive Toyota mechanicals, this series of sedans promises luxury car comfort without the luxury car bills. After all, a zooted-up Camry gives you all the benefits of a Camry with all the benefits of, erm, zoot.
Under the hood of this ES300 sits Toyota’s 1MZ-FE three-liter V6 engine pumping out a stout 210 horsepower. Mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox, this smooth V6 effortlessly makes mile markers fade in the rearview mirror. Sure, these engines are known for the occasional sludge issue, but frequent oil changes should keep it in the clear.
On the outside, this ES300 looks alright. Sure, the front bumper has a crack and the headlights are faded, but that seems very fair for a 20-year-old car. It’s the same deal with the scratches, just signs of normal use. I’ve always thought that the frameless windows on this generation of ES were quite neat, and the slim B-pillars ensure fantastic shoulder-check visibility.
However, the real crown jewel of this ES300 is the interior. The leather is in phenomenal shape, with perfectly intact driver’s outer bolsters, a lovely wood steering wheel, and all the luxury gubbins you could realistically want for around two grand.
So there we are, choosing between two genuinely sensible luxury sedans—emphasis on the luxury. Neither of these things will go toe-to-toe with a BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G35 on a backroad, but they’ll waft you around in quiet comfort. As ever, choose wisely.
(Photo credits: Craigslist sellers)
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