The newly refreshed 2021 Honda Legend has just been unveiled in Japan, and while the Legend has already been refreshed a couple of years ago, the major highlight of Honda’s flagship sedan is its Level 3 self-driving capability called Honda Sensing Elite.
While a number of automakers have already manufactured cars with the necessary hardware to reach Level 3 autonomy, many countries around the world have regulations in place whether this degree of autonomy is allowed on their roads. With the release of Honda Sensing Elite in Japan, Honda is essentially the first automaker in the world to be able to release a Level 3 autonomous vehicle.
Honda Sensing Elite is also able to sense its location thanks to 3D high-definition maps embedded into the system that’s also connected to the global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Honda Sensing Elite is also able to be constantly aware of its surroundings thanks to numerous sensors neatly tucked away into the car’s body panels.
Thanks to these systems, this new Legend is capable of driving on highways as well as execute lane changes and overtakes. Honda Sensing Elite can perform these when the driver responds to a prompt on the screen or even completely autonomously depending on the circumstances. Under certain conditions, the system can also allow completely hands-free driving in traffic jams and highways.
Honda says that the system was tested on highways covering a total distance of 1.3 million kilometers along with simulations of approximately 10 million patterns of possible real-world scenarios.
One of those scenarios that Honda Sensing Elite is capable of performing is if the driver suddenly becomes unresponsive. If the system does not receive any feedback from the driver during handovers, it can safely bring the vehicle to a stop while alerting other drivers through the use of the car’s hazard lights and the horn. Once the system is able to detect the presence of a shoulder lane, the vehicle will automatically perform the lane change and come to a complete stop.
The 2021 Honda Legend Hybrid EX that uses this new system is powered by a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 that’s mated to electric motors at the front and rear axles. The Legend has a total system output of 377 hp and 462 Nm, with power being sent to all four wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The new Honda Legend is now available in limited numbers for leasing in Japan. The limited rollout serves as a gauge if there will be sufficient demand for highly autonomous cars in Japan, especially as the population ages and the need for safer mobility becomes even more important.