Coupes are typically low-volume cars that create a halo for the brand, and Honda's Accord coupe is an example. It is a performance-oriented derivation of the sedan, and it's aimed at younger buyers who are willing to exchange the practicality of four doors and functional back seat for style and sportiness.
Like the sedan, the coupe comes in a wide variety of trim levels. The base model is an LX-S with a 190-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and it is priced at $22,405. The top model is the EX-L with a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, and it is priced at $31,155. The test car, from Honda's press fleet, was an EX-L with the V-6.
The four-cylinder coupe is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. The V-6 with an automatic is rated at 19 city and 28 highway, while the V-6 with the six-speed manual is 17 city and 25 highway. Honda did away with the V-6's ability to shut down two or three cylinders while cruising when it is mated to the six-speed manual.
The coupe's strong point is its styling. The rakish roofline is nicely proportioned, and the truncated rear deck looks good. The front end is less attractive.
The EX-L has leather seats, a voice-activated navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, a power sunroof, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning and an AM/FM/CD audio system. It feels like an entry-level Acura. (Acura is owned by Honda.) The front seats are nicely contoured and extremely comfortable. It would be nice if the navigation system included a backup camera.
The coupe's wheelbase is 2.3 inches shorter than the sedan's, while overall length is nearly 4 inches shorter. The coupe is also nearly 2 inches lower. Consequently, the interior, especially the back seat, is not nearly as large or as useful as that of the sedan, but that's no surprise to coupe buyers. The trunk is big, but the rear-seat pass-through is fairly narrow. The rear seat can be folded by using release levers in the trunk.
For those who want maximum performance, the 268-horsepower V-6 with the six-speed manual is the most athletic combination. Eighteen-inch wheels with larger tires are standard on cars with the manual transmission. While this Accord is happy being driven slowly, it has long legs when called upon and it cruises the highway like a grand touring coupe instead of a frenetic boy-racer.
The steering is direct and nicely weighted. Steering-wheel controls for audio and cruise are standard on all models.
Safety items include dual-stage front airbags, side airbags in front and side-curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, vehicle stability control and traction control are also standard.
The base price of the test car was $31,155. Destination charges brought the sticker price to $31,825.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2009 Honda Accord EX-L coupe
Engine: 3.5-liter, 268-hp V-6
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Wheelbase: 107.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,585 lbs.
Base price: $31,155
As driven: $31,825
MPG rating: 17 city, 25 hwy.
Tom Strongman's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.