While in a special edition mindset, another one arrived to test, the Honda Accord SE sedan, a new for 2000 Special Edition Accord.

Though this one has nothing to do with the new century, it begged for a comparison with the Buick Century, and finished in second place when it came to stylish sheet metal.

Park an Accord next to a Camry and unless you can decipher logos on the hood, you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart.

But, as Honda folks have often told us, people who buy Accords or even Brand X Camrys don't have styling at the top of their list; they have the good old-fashioned desire to get from point A to point B reliably and dependably in a vehicle that might not win any fashion awards, but at least won't go out of style before the 36 monthly payments are concluded.

Honda also finishes second in cabin room, thanks in part to a 4-inch shorter wheelbase and about 8-inch shorter overall length. The Japanese also seem hell bent on keeping its vehicles narrow. But Accord is leaps ahead of Century in seating comfort thanks to padded chairs designed for the long haul without irritating the occupants with what seems like granite stuffing.

When it comes to performance, the 2.3-liter, 150-h.p. 16-valve 4-cylinder was a decent rival to the Buick V-6. Century is a little quicker at takeoff from the stoplight, and Century is a lot quieter when you kick the pedal to merge into traffic as you'd expect when comparing a 4 to a 6. But the Honda 4-cylinder will hold its own with most traffic on the road.

At 23 m.p.g., Accord's fuel-economy rating topped that of the Century by 3 m.p.g. in city driving, while the highway rating was dead even at 30 m.p.g.

It's one of those is the glass half full or half empty comparisons, because while the Accord delivers 3 m.p.g. better mileage in the city, the Century delivers smoother, quieter operation in moving from the light in the city.

Accord features a double wishbone suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars and seems to sit much lower to the ground than the Century does for what should be better overall stability.

Yet while Accord proved to cushion up and down movement more than the Century, Century kept body lean and sway in corners and turns more under control than the Accord.

Accord and Century offer dual front air bags, but Accord has a dual-stage-inflator bag for the front seat passenger (but not driver), which means the deployment speed of the bag is based on the severity of the crash and whether the occupant is belted or not. Also, on the passenger side, seven sensors monitor occupant size and position to prevent the bag from activating if the passenger is too small or out of position.

The Accord SE sedan starts at $20,490, or about $800 more than the Century. Accord and Century are loaded with standard equipment that makes checking off a long list of optional accessories unnecessary. However, while Accord and Century came with ABS as standard, Accord came minus traction control--even as an option--and still cost $800 more in initial price.

But Century requires a $275 investment for a split fold down rear seat; Accord offers a single piece fold down rear seat as standard. Century comes with a cargo net in the trunk to contain packages and catch your fingers, gloves and/or butto ns, w hile Accord had no such net. Advantage Accord.

And while you get carpet savers as one feature in the $1,810 option package with the Century, you get floor mats as standard in the Accord SE.