1994 Acura Vigor

By November 10, 1999
1994 Acura Vigor

Japanese import vehicles have been called many things over the years-high-quality, well-engineered, fuel-efficient. One adjective that hasn’t been used very often, though, is luxurious.

The Acura Vigor is certainly a vehicle striven to change that perception, combining many of the best elements of a sports coupe and a touring sedan.

In our test vehicle, a 1994 Acura Vigor GS four-door sedan, we found an ambitious and innovative attempt to improve the import sedan in terms of ride, elegance and Performance. For an MSRP of $28,827, our Vigor GS delivered all the power assists, conveniences and safety measures we’ve come to expect in a luxury midsize sedan, including an AM/FM stereo with cassette and CD players, air conditioning, a lush leather interior and dual air bags-all standard.

It also boasted a number of technical marvels, most notably a five-cylinder, 2.5-liter, 20-valve power plant delivering a level of performance that competing four-cylinder import sedans would be hard-pressed to match.

Unfortunately, the Vigor GS doesn’t reach the upper echelon of luxury sedans because its interior is too small, inches short of what its prime competitors are offering


Our exterior tour of the Vigor GS met our expectations for a flawless fit-and-finish, in legendary Japanese tradition. However, we found little in its styling to suggest a kinship to earlier, smaller Japanese imports.

Finished in a deep Sherwood Green Pearl with a nicely contrasting tan interior, our test vehicle was devoid of any inconsistencies in paint quality or deviations in seam width or color match between the metal and vinyl components. Dramatically flared front and rear fenders, a slinky aerodynamic profile and slightly upswept rear fenders put the Vigor GS at the head of the class in the sports sedan school of styling.

In front, a rather diminutive black grille showcased the Acura logo and was framed by a thin ribbon of chrome. Broad, four-section headlight assemblies covered in clear, impact resistant plastic occupied more than 60 percent of the front end. Above, there was a sloping, sculpted hood that, taken together with the grille shape, reminded us of a Mercedes-Benz treatment.

In profile, a black vinyl splash guard/rocker panel molding added to this vehicle’s sport sedan image. All these styling touches set the Vigor GS apart from its competitors, such as the slab-sided European offerings and the rounded, cookie-cutter domestic sedans.

A wide, protective side molding traveled from the front fender well to the rear well and matched the car’s body color perfectly. Oversized side-view mirrors and recessed door handles also matched the body color.

The rear fenders and upswept trunk lid highlighted the rear styling treatment. Oversized red and white tail-lamp assemblies wrapped around the rear fenders. Molding identical to that on the side of the car protected the body-colored vinyl bumper; this molding encased the bumper and extended to the back of the rear wheel wells, giving the trim a uniform look.

Acura seems to be proud of its identity-as well as the Vigor nameplate-and hopes its owners will share that pride. A large Acura “A” appears on the middle of the trunk lid with the corporate name to the left and “Vigor” spelled out in prominent chrome below that. Even the distinctively spoked alloy wheels bear the Acura logo. Viewed from any angle, there’s no mistaking who makes this seda.

Interior Features

Well-organized and elegant are terms that come to mind when describing the interior of this fully equipped sedan. Visible through the thickly padded steering wheel was a nicely arranged instrument panel containing the speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges-all with white needles and graphics against a black back round for maximum legibility. These readouts were accompanied by a host of warning lights.

The positioning of other controls and features revealed Acura’s quest for easy access and superb ornization. Large power window and door lock buttons were situated on a near vertical portion of the driver’s armrest. The center panel housing the eight-speaker stereo system and the air-conditioning controls was slightly angled away from the driver for better legibility and easier access.

We were pleased to discover a thick rubber seal between our car’s roof and its doors-just one of the many painstaking measures Acura stylists have taken with the Vigor GS to isolate its occupants from outside elements and road noise.

Elegant and comfortable but far too snug was our overall impression of the interior scheme. Wood grain accents and luxurious leather seats made this an eye-pleasing car. The four-way power driver’s bucket seat featured adjustable lumbar support for maximum comfort.p> Our big complaint was that all these creature comforts were crowded into an interior that lacked a few inches here and there. This was particularly true for rear seat passengers, whose legroom was definitely restricted by the front seatbacks. We think the reason for the cramped interior lies in the positioning of the Vigor GS’s rear wheels. Unlike Chrysler’s LH sedans, the GS’s wheels are positioned well forward; although this gives the car an unusually large trunk, it noticeably reduces interior space.

Driving Impressions

Particularly when compared with earlier, smaller, Japanese imports, the Vigor GS would fulfill any buyer’s wish list in terms of ride, handling, sound isolation and performance. None of those old four-cylinder jobs would be able to match the response we unleashed from the Vigor GS’s five-cylinder, 20-valve, 176-hp engine. Our test vehicle ripped from 0 to 60 mph just as a true sports sedan should. When it accelerated from 60 to 90 mph in fifth gear, the Vigor GS eclipsed our highway passing requirements by a comfortable margin.

Shifting was smooth and effortless with the five-speed manual transmission. Even cruising at low speeds through a parking lot was fun thanks to the inclusion of a wide-range second gear. Cornering and maneuvering were quick and stable with the Vigor GS’s sophisticated, double-wishbone, four-wheel independent suspension smoothing things out.

Wind, engine and road noise didn’t penetrate the interior of our test vehicle at any speed. And bumps, jolts and road shock were all but nonexistent during our two days of testing—and we traveled on some rough, broken-down city streets and hilly freeways.


Team Acura accomplished one important part of their mission with the Vigor GS sedan: They’ve given owners of older, smaller imports a responsive, elegant and comfortable step up to a midsize sedan.

Acura also created a marvel of technical sophistication with the Vigor GS and filled it with thoughtful extra touches, such as a tiny visor over the rearview mirror to reduce headlight glare. However, this car fell inches short of becoming one of our favorite midsize sedans because of its elegant but way-too-snug interior.

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