Though the current Honda Accord was introduced in 2003, and there haven't been many changes since then, the model is aging gracefully. One version in particular: the Accord EX coupe, which was, at its introduction, one of my favorite cars.
And, after a test of a 2007 model, it still is. The test car was a top-of-the-line model with a 3.0-liter, 244-horsepower V-6, up four horses since we last visited. Honda's six-speed manual transmission is one of the best in any front-wheel-drive car; the combination of engine and transmission is powerful, quiet and sophisticated, and still gets acceptable mileage given the level of performance -- 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.
The V-6 Accord EX coupe gets leather upholstery standard, and the only option is a navigation system, which the test car had. Though Honda doesn't list it as an option, they sell the cars with the nav system and without. The price of the test car was $30,095. If you can live with a cloth interior and a spunky 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, a base EX coupe costs just over $23,000 with shipping. I like the extra power and the extra transmission gear in the test car -- and I really like the leather and the nav system -- but do I like them $7,000 more? It would be a tough decision.
The rear seat of the coupe is usable, but kids fit best. Front-seat room is fine, and the bucket seats are excellent. Instruments and controls are well-placed, but I still haven't warmed up to Honda's audio controls. Honda's navigation system, always among the best, just gets better.
On the road, the coupe's big 17-inch tires and wheels help the handling, and the ride is better than you'd expect. The Accord EX coupe loves winding back roads, but it's fine on the interstate, too.
Since this coupe was introduced, it has been joined by a few very worthy competitors, including the Ford Mustang -- you can get a well-equipped, V-8-powered GT for the price of this Honda -- and I've been impressed by the new Mitsubishi Eclipse, too.
But there's something so familiar and friendly about the Accord EX coupe that keeps it at the top of my list. Fun, fast, dependable, comfortable, pretty -- I couldn't ask for much more.
Base price: $22,650.
Price as tested: $30,095.
EPA-rated fuel mileage: 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.
Details: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive coupe with a 3.0-liter, 244-horsepower V-6 engine and a six-speed manual transmission.