Versus the competiton:
Could anything be more normal than a Honda Accord?
It’s among America’s favorite cars, selling in greater numbers than almost any other car. Middle America has embraced the Accord, like mom, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
With the seventh generation car, Honda is gunning for 400,000 sales.
So Honda styled two dramatically different, yet enticing, models that have a decidedly Germanic look. Both the two-door coupe and the four-door sedan feature a front end that resembles the Honda S2000.
The two-door has a sexy, sleek, curved roof line, and a back end that hints of Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The four-door has a more massive, chunky look, especially from the side. The heavy rear styling matches the heft of the rest of the car. While the coupe looks lithe, the sedan looks purposeful.
The coupe is available in LX and upscale EX trim levels. The sedan is available in base DX, mid-level LX and top-grade EX.
Suitably, there are similarities and differences in powertrains as well.
The sedan or coupe can be had with a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a new 3-liter V-6 engine. The four is good for 160 horsepower, a 10 horsepower boost over the previous model. The six boasts 240 horsepower, good for an additional 40 horsepower. On the coupe, a five-speed manual is available on four-cylinder models, with a six-speed available only in the EX V-6. An all-new five-speed automatic transmission is available on all models. On the sedan, a five-speed manual is available only in four-cylinder models. The V-6 sedans come only with a five-speed automatic.
After spending a few weeks with both cars, quite a few things become apparent.
First, few people make as good a motor as Honda. These puppies love to rev and put out boatloads of power while being very fuel efficient.
The four cylinder has a large powerplant, with power almost as good as some domestic V-6s, while delivering 27 mpg in mixed driving.
Although you’ll never feel your car is going to win any stoplight Grand Prix, the power available is more than sufficient for most drivers.
On the other hand, the V-6 models are very fast, and still manage to deliver 21 mpg in mixed driving. Power delivery is smooth and willing, and the new five-speed automatic has a gracefulness previously unknown for a Honda automatic.
Handling takes a cue from the Volkswagen Passat, a vehicle Honda used as a target while designing the new Accord. This translates into an Accord that approaches the Passat and other premium European sedans, but never quite matches them. Ride is firm, and cornering limits are quite high. Yet the ride seems to suffer in terms of resilience, lacking the suppleness that its European competition offers.
That’s not to say the new Accord is a shabby handler. Actually, it’s a big improvement over the rubbery feel in the previous Accord. The four-cylinder model feels lighter on its feet than the six. But the six has enough torque to spin the tires.
Anti-lock brakes are standard this year on all Accords, with four-wheel disc brakes standard on all EX and V-6 models. Electronic Brakeforce Distribution is also standard on EX and V-6 models. EBD estimates the proper braking force and ensures that it happens. In addition, traction control is standard on all V-6 models. Front airbags are standard on all models with front side air-bags standard on EX and V-6 Accords, optional on others. Side curtain airbags are available on EX V-6 Accords.
Inside, the dash is similar in both models. Its sweeping, modern design is easy to use with one exception, the three knobs in the center of the dash. The middle knob controls the audio system, while the two on either side of it control the climate. It’s easy to confuse them in a hurry.
Interior build quality is excellent, with carefully assembled materials t have a high-quality feel.
The steering wheel tilts and telescopes to help ensure a good driving position. Seats are firm and comfy. Rear seats even get headrests. The center console has the usual complement of nooks, allowing for cell phone storage and other niceties like a lined coin tray.
Instrumentation is typical – fuel, coolant, tachometer and speedometer. There isn’t a readout for outside temperature, nor any readouts for voltage or oil pressure.
Trunk space is average at 14 cubic feet in the sedan, 12.8 in the coupe. But the space seems larger than its rating.
Road noise is minimal, although it still is noisier than a Toyota Camry, but the Honda motor makes nice noises, so you’ll want to hear it anyway.
Price continues to be a Honda strong point, as the stylish four-cylinder Accord EX Coupe came in at just over $22,000. A V-6 sedan with leather interior was $3,000 more. That’s a strong value in today’s market given the excellent build quality and refined road manners.
HONDA ACCORD COUPE
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 5- or 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Length: 187.6 inches
Width: 71.5 inches (sedan)
Weight: 3,294 pounds
Cargo volume: 12.8 cubic ft.
Base price: $22,500
As tested: $22,960
EPA rating: 24 city, 33 highway
Test mileage: 27 mpg
Fuel type: Premium
Built in: Marysville, Ohio