An all-new version of Hondas top-selling model is scheduled to debut for 2003. Following a freshening last year, the midsize front-drive coupe and sedan are essentially standing pat for 2002.
A new SE edition is expected to account for about 25 percent of sales. Priced near the LX model, the SE includes 15-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, wood interior trim and a cassette/CD stereo system. A new Value Package has been introduced, based on the low-priced DX sedan with an automatic transmission. The Accord comes with either a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.0-liter V-6.
If the Accord seems to be everywhere, its because Honda sold more than 404,000 of them in the United States during 2000. Taken together, the two-door coupe and four-door sedan are perennial contenders for the title of best-selling passenger car in this country. The Accords top rivals, the Ford Taurus and Toyota Camry, come only with four doors.
The Accord coupe and sedan share major styling themes, but they differ in many areas. The coupe, for instance, is shorter and flaunts less exterior ornamentation. The coupe rides a 105.1-inch wheelbase and measures 186.8 inches long overall, while the sedan has a 106.9-inch wheelbase and stretches to 189.4 inches long. Both body styles are 70.3 inches wide.
Seating five people, the Accord has spacious front buckets. Trying to fit three adults in the backseat results in a tight fit, but thats true of most midsize models on the market. A folding rear seatback supplements trunk space, which is 14.1 cubic feet in the sedan but half a cubic foot smaller in the coupe. The seatback can be locked to prevent access to the trunk from the interior.
The dashboard has a simple, functional design that is convenient and attractive. The EX model has a standard cassette player and an in-dash CD player, and the new SE edition includes keyless entry and a security system.
Under the Hood
Two basic engines are available, with three power ratings. The DX sedan comes with a 135-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, and the same engine in the LX and EX models has variable valve technology, which boosts output to 150 hp. A 200-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 is also available for LX and EX models.
The four-cylinder Accord can have either a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission, but the V-6 comes only with an automatic gearbox. Accords sold in California meet that states Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standards, which are the strictest in the world.
Dual-stage front airbags deploy at one of two levels, depending on crash severity and whether the seat belts are buckled. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard on V-6 models and on the four-cylinder EX and are optional on the DX and LX. The side airbag next to the front passenger seat will not deploy if sensors detect that a child or small adult is leaning into the deployment path. Traction control is standard on V-6 models. In addition, antilock brakes are standard on EX models and an option on the LX.
Trying to pick the winner between the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry is like insisting that your citys baseball team is the best. Both are outstanding automobiles that set the standard in the midsize league. Several competitors approach the Accord and Camry in specific attributes, but Honda and Toyota are consistently at the top of the game. Either one makes an excellent choice.
Equipped with ample safety features, the Accord promises well-known reliability and durability in a coupe or sedan thats easy and enjoyable to drive. Prices might seem steep at first blush, but they arent bad when you consider the high resale value these vehicles enjoy later on.
As is usually the case, the V-6 models are the most refined and best equipped. But even Hondas four-cylinder engine promises brisk acceleration and capable handling talents.