The Honda Accord LXi prompts the question, why are people buying theAcura Legend or Integra for $5,000 to $10,000 more?

Some will argue that the best thing that ever happened to the LXi was the Acura because many consumers will test drive the pricey Legend or Integra and then move down to the Accord.

Now we don`t number ourselves among Honda loyalists--the argument beingthat the Japanese automaker came up with a great car in 1975 and then restedon its laurels as Toyota and Nissan caught up with it.

And when Japanese cars were hard to come by under quotas, Honda dealersoften led the fraternity in selling, but usually over sticker price.

In fairness to the car, the Accord is pretty good, perhaps only a coupleof notches below the Pontiac Grand Am.

Accord comes up short in the styling department, carrying the ``we makeit simple`` tag a bit too far with a really lackluster looking machine thatblends into the crowd. Pop-up concealed headlamps help, but some eye grabbing exterior paint finishes would help more.

The Accord is offered in three versions, but the LXi is the choice forits fuel-injected, 2-liter, 12-valve engine. The car we tested was equippedwith the standard and very smooth five-speed manual. Automatic is optional.

The LXi is light and limber. The double wishbone front and rearindependent suspension contributes, as does the fingertip-light powersteering.

Some may argue that the Accord is a bit too limber, the steering a bittoo light. A Grand Am is nimble, too, but you have the feeling of a few morepounds at your control in the Grand Am than you do in the Accord.

The Accord`s steering and suspension help make up for the fact thatmultivalve doesn`t mean dynamo. The engine has pep--but stops short ofquickness.

The rear seat provides good room for two adults, although it comes up abit short on letting you stretch your legs. The trunk is spacious and if youneed more cargo carrying capacity the rear seat back folds down to add stillmore carrying capacity to the sedan.

The one problem we had with the car was that the left outside rear-viewmirror simply popped out of place on its own.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power brakes/windows/doorlocks/mirrors/moonroof, AM/FM stereo with power antenna and cassette, customalloy wheels with Michelin steel-belted radials, cruise control and quartzdigital clock.

The LXi with manual starts at $14,680, with automatic $15,225.