1996 Honda StepWgn
Look around you on your daily highway commute and you'll see plenty of transit vans putting around and getting the job done. In 1996, Japan was far ahead of the curve, with passenger vehicles like this StepWgn offering exceptional interior space for family hauling, fantastic fuel economy, and staunch Honda reliability. Finished in Granada Black Pearl (NH-503P), the exterior on our example is one-of-a-kind, with a head-turning factory aero kit spanning the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle. Additional upgrades include OEM Rainguards, LED tail lights and a nifty OEM roof spoiler. Aside from some expected dings and paint fade throughout, the exterior isn't too worse for the wear. Rolling on a very fitting set of BAZO B52 19" alloys, this StepWgn is the embodiment of Japanese van culture, and with 162k verified/documented miles the trusty DOHC powerplant has plenty of life left. Stylish, quirky, and downright capable, the StepWgn is a lovable Japanese Classic sure to make a splash here stateside.
The interior is plenty spacious, as this StepWgn was designed to be one step up from Honda's genre defining Odyssey. Better yet, the middle row features a swiveling bench as well as an additional fold out seat for one extra copilot. The grey striped upholstery has certainly held up well over the years, resisting most major wear and tear outside of some expected age-related staining throughout. The low profile dash provides a clear view of the road ahead and fortunately is free of any serious wear and tear, including cracks, fading, or unwanted peeling. The center stack is intuitive in design, housing a fully functional climate control unit with Cold Dual-Zone A/C and hot heat on tap. Positioned above is a Panasonic audio upgrade, although the Japanese navigation feature is mostly for show. The driver benefits from a tilt adjustable steering column and the intrusive OEM steering wheel has been replaced with a woodgrain unit that feels much more appropriate in the palm. While the cockpit is relatively simple in design, a handful of power amenities are still on the ready to make daily driving a bit easier for all. Both front power windows are in good operation, the power mirrors adjust as expected and power locks are easily accessible as is the factory keyless entry system. For those looking to make the most of this interior's cargo space, the middle row folds fully flat and the third row folds up, allowing you to fit just about anything through the large trunk opening. Additional cargo nets are present on the 3rd row seat back to utilize every last inch of storage this StepWgn has to offer. Overall, the condition of this cabin should satisfy most drivers, and aside from some missing headrests in the rear, there's not much to really criticize.
For such an eccentric van, enthusiasts will be pleased to know the drivetrain shares most components with our RD1 Honda CR-V offered here stateside. This one is front-drive, so parts availability and servicing is a cinch! A bit of key maintenance was performed to make sure this one is ripe and ready for the road ahead, starting with a new 12v battery which was also installed to properly test the alternator. She starts up swiftly without issue and idling is butter smooth, as you'd expect out of Honda's formidable B20B powerplant. A fresh oil and filter service was performed to keep this one fully topped up on necessary lubricant, and we even installed a fresh oil pan gasket to prevent against any unwanted seeps. Rounding off the engine maintenance is a new fuel filter. Much like the CR-V, this van has no issues accelerating to and maintaining highway speeds, and acceleration is plenty sufficient. Shifts through the automatic transmission are smooth and direct, and we've shored up the drivetrain a bit with new front left inner and outer tie rods to prevent any unwanted handling surprises in the near future. The lowered suspension does surprisingly well over road imperfections, although you definitely feel more than your average utility van, and the ABS brakes bite confidently. We've even wrapped the alloys in fresh, low-profile rubber, delivering plenty of show and go for the road ahead!
*California Residents: In order to register a Grey Market vehicle in the state of California then it will have to be made CARB compliant first. CARB certifications will have to be performed within the state. Depending on the vehicle and any existing modifications will affect the pricing. Typically CARB compliance will range between 5-10K. Additional information can be found on the California Air Resources Board website.