EXPERT REVIEW

Orlando Sentinel's view


Hard to imagine, but Honda has been building Accords in Ohio since 1982. After more than 25 years, the Accord is pretty much a naturalized citizen, and for almost that long the Accord has been the most-copied mainstream sedan in the industry. That suggests just how well Honda understands its market.

With the all-new 2008 Accord, that point is driven home with a sledgehammer. At less than $31,000, the loaded, top-of-the-line test Accord EX-L made me wonder why anyone would feel inclined to spend more for luxury, room, power and dependability. And the fact that you can get a well-equipped, air-conditioned Accord for just over $20,000 proves how well they have this market covered. Honda has raised the bar.

The 2008 Accord V-6 sedan, at 194.3 inches, is about three inches longer than the 2007 model. It’s about an inch wider, less than an inch taller. Inside, it’s roomy enough to now be rated by the government as a “large” car, rather than a mid-size. (Oddly, though, the addition of a sunroof takes just enough space to drop the Accord sedan back to “mid-size,” but you’ll never know the difference.)

This is the difference I noticed: I’m 6 feet tall. I set the driver’s seat to where I was comfortable, and climbed into the back seat. My knees were two inches away from touching the front seat. That’s roomy.

Just as impressive is that the 2008 Accord doesn’t feel big. Handling is tight and precise, but the ride is luxury-like. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine pumps out 268 horsepower, 24 more than last year. Mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, there’s plenty of power. The engine has Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system, meaning it runs on all six cylinders when the power is needed, then drops to four or three cylinders when it isn’t. EPA-rated fuel mileage is 19 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway, on regular gas. Honda also offers a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, one version with 177 horsepower, one with 190.

Inside, the EX-L V-6 comes loaded at one price — $30,260, or $30,895 with shipping. That includes leather upholstery, a navigation system, a sunroof, Bluetooth, voice-recognition, heated power front seats and a 270-watt, seven-speaker premium sound system with a six-disc CD player.

It’s telling that even the $20,360 LX model gets all safety equipment standard, including stability control, side and side-curtain air bags, active head restraints, traction control and brake assist with anti-lock.

Honda has upped the ante — again — with the 2008 Accord. Nicely done. Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smithcan be reached at scsmith@orlandosentinel.com.

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