Versus the competiton:
Baby boomers are getting older. That means the number of older people willbe expanding, along with their waistlines.
For this class of youthful wannabes, Honda, along with other manufacturers,has introduced coupes that are bigger than a traditional sports coupe, but notso big as a Monte Carlo or Thunderbird.
Enough room to haul friends and enough power to haul . . . well, you know.
The previous version of the Accord coupe was little more than a sedan withtwo doors missing. This time, Honda gives the coupe version a more distinctidentity, with unique styling and sportier handling but little sacrifice inthe room department.
The styling of the coupe gives it a large look, although the mostdistinctive part of the car is its rear, triangular tail lamps nestled in aflat panel. The rest of the car is standard-issue Honda styling.
Being a coupe means it does give up a little space to the sedan. The sedanrides a 106.9-inch wheelbase, while the coupe makes do with 105.1 inches.Overall length is 2 inches shorter than the sedan’s 188.8-inch measurement.But that’s plenty of space for a coupe.
Front-seat space is excellent, with lots of seat travel and Honda’s typicalseating position. The bucket seats are firm and comfortable. Leather trim isavailable.
Just like the Accord, the coupe is available in two flavors, mild (a singleoverhead-cam, 16-valve 150 horsepower four-cylinder) and wild (a singleoverhead-cam, 24-valve 200-horsepower V6). Honda’s double-wishbone suspensionand disc brakes reside at all four corners. This means that high-speed thrillsare on tap, making this a fast, fun Accord. The speed-sensitive steering isjust right, quick and direct. Handling is firmer and more sporting than sedanmodels, escaping the softer, isolated feel of the sedans. It rides the linebetween Accord sedan soft and Prelude sporty. Part of the credit should go thetires, P205/60R16’s. These V-rated tires are a bit more aggressive than thesedan’s.
Given the sporty nature of the car, it’s no surprise that there’s morenoise present than in the sedan. While the engine’s growl is welcome, road andtire noise gets tiresome over long distances.
As for safety, the Accord has dual front air bags and anti-lock brakes.Anti-lock is standard on six-cylinder models and the four-cylinder EX,optional on other models. Traction control and side air bags are not offered.
The test vehicle, a top of the line coupe, was equipped nicely with littleluxuries like leather trim, steering-wheel-mounted radio controls, automaticclimate control, and built-in garage door opener. The fake wood trim is awful,but at least there’s not a lot of it.
No matter which trim level you choose, LX or EX, a theft deterrent system,dual air bags, effort-sensitive power steering, cruise control, tilt wheel,power windows, locks and mirrors, air conditioning and an AM/FM cassettestereo are standard.
As is Honda custom, there’s plenty of stor age, with a large covered centerconsole that has two separate compartments, and a large open bin just belowthe climate controls. The 14-cubic-foot trunk is shaped usefully and includesa cargo net.
The test vehicle had no ashtray. The cigarette lighter was replaced by apower point.
For a coupe and its attitude, this is a little too politically correct. Butmost boomers are too, so that’s right with its intended audience.
The fit and finish of the vehicle was excellent, but this perception wasundermined by a cheap, tinny, clanging sound that echoed whenever the door wasshut. The console cover never clicked shut. Add, in a rattling sunroof thatthankfully didn’t leak, you come away wondering how much money was cut fromthe development budget of the car.
Despite the gremlins, this car fills a niche that’s growing and obviouslyfills a need. This coupe, along with its competitors, the Chrysler Sebring andforthcoming Toyota Solara, give swift, stylish, ro omy transport that providesthe pleasure of a sports coupe and the room of a sedan. It’s practical and funenough to consider if one finds a Celica or Prelude too confining.
It’s also more youthful than its sedate sedan counterpart. And, as anybodycan tell you, you’re only as old as what you drive.
1998 Honda Accord Coupe EX Standard: 3.0-liter double overhead-cam V6, four-speed automatictransmission, front and rear stabilizer bars, variable assist power steering,four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, dual front air bags, keyless entry,theft deterrent system, remote trunk and fuel releases, AM/FM/CD eight-speakerstereo with anti-theft feature, automatic air conditioning, leather-trimmedinterior, garage door opener, cruise control, power door locks, power windows,eight-way adjustable drivers seat with lumbar support, split folding rearseat, front and rear cup holders, simulated wood trim, power point, maplights, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, automatic on-off headlamps, P205/60R15 tires with alloy wheels, power moon roof. Options: Floor mats, cargo net. Base price: $24,150 As tested: $24,663 EPA rating: 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway