1997 Honda StepWgn
Japan is a small and densely populated island, with a diverse climate that often includes snow. Parking is at a premium so it would behoove any decent car company to design a 4WD hauler with small exterior dimensions and some smart interior packaging. The StepWgn is just such a vehicle, and this recently serviced 1997 is offered with a mere 54k verified and documented miles. Finished in a subtle Granada Black Pearl and Pewter Gray two-tone (NH-503PY), this spacious and safe Honda is set off by a set of lightweight Kizer alloys, OEM rainguards, and a simple set of amber Raybrig foglamps. Aside from some light dings, chips, and scuffs, this sharply styled seven-seater is in fine nick overall, and gets more looks than vehicles three times its price tag! Powered by Honda's tried and true B20B, finding maintenance and repair parts is easy as this model shares a platform with the Civic and CR-V. Frugal, trusty, practical, and affordable this late 90's Japanese Classic would make for a wonderful daily driver, special family hauler, or a distinctive company car for those who march to the beat of their own drum.
For increased safety for those within the comfy cabin, Honda chose to use a more conventional body design as opposed to a cabover layout. The added structure up front and the new for '97 dual front SRS airbags will surely add some peace of mind when you're being flanked on the interstate by a Tahoe and F-150. The view of the road ahead is clear and commanding and the dash has held up well, aside from some small screw marks from an old nav mount. The center stack includes a set of cupholders, an OEM audio unit, and automatic climate control. The audio, A/C, and heat all work as advertised and make daily use more enjoyable. The same can be said for the power front windows, electric locks, and power mirrors. Aside from the power folding side mirror function, these all work like a charm. The seats are comfortable, soft and lack any major rips stains, or tears. The middle row can be swiveled 180 degrees and can fold flat to create a bed with the rear bench. A jump seat can be assembled in a second for the middle row if you have a full load of passengers. Sure there is some light staining on the headliner and carpets, but the door cards look good for this van's age and the OEM carpet mats are on hand to protect against future spills and stains. We did want to note some delamination on some of the interior panels and a few plastic scuffs in the cargo area. Even the factory owners' manuals are still sitting in the glovebox for the next owner to enjoy. Overall, we feel this StepWgn was cared for in a prior life in Japan.
Under the bonnet rests the legendary B20B four-banger. The 2.0L is fresh off an oil and filter service and whirrs to life care of a new 12v battery that was installed in our shop. It idles with confidence and benefits from a new oil pan gasket, which is a common leak on Hondas of this vintage. She's right as rain now, and the punchy engine is linked to a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox. It gets up to highway merging speeds with confidence and scoots about the city, unlike smaller displacement JDM vans. The long wheelbase delivers a premium ride and the suspension is predictable and provides loads of ground clearance. The power steering is light, yet on point and one of our trained techs has refreshed the ABS brakes with a set of rear pads. The 15"s are shod with nearly new rubber. Knee deep in tread the all seasons will last for tens of thousands of miles to come and are quiet over the tarmac. Civil, room, and more refined than your run-of-the-mill Civic, what's not to like?
*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.