I LOVED THE thrummm of it, the way the engine felt, regardless of speed or gear. Just a thrummm, a pleasant vibration — thrummm, all the way from Northern Virginia down I-81 South into the soul of the Shenandoah Valley.
There is a sweet spot in driving when it’s clear that everything’s all right. You can feel the harmony — your body in concert with the car in concert with the road. It’s hard to dislike a car that offers such a feeling, even a car that tempts your bigotry, like the tested 1995 Honda Accord.
Honda, Honda, I’ve never been fonda Honda. I always had discord with the Accord. It’s a cultural thing. I have a passion for funk, and t’ain’t nothin’ funky ’bout the Accord. It’s a white picket fence car; a Stepford Wife, Stepford Husband car. It’s a suburban high school graduation with a band that can’t play, but gets applause anyway. In short, the Accord is damned boring, or so I thought.
It happened that the test car was no ordinary Accord. It was a V-6 model. Even its grille — an enormously ugly frontage on other Accords — was different. This Accord V-6’s grille had a chrome perimeter, bright work that worked like lipstick, defining the mouth and making it sexy.
And that V-6! If spouses and lovers could maintain such rhythm — thrummm, thrummm, thrummm — there’d be no need for divorce, no need for unhappy separations.
Background: Auto lovers for years had begged Honda to put a V-6 into its Accord, and Honda for years had refused. The company’s boring, four-cylinder, mid-size cars were selling quite well, Honda told the V-6 petitioners. No need to change what was working.
That seemed reasonable. The four-cylinder Accords were, after all, more than adequate for daily commutes and other routine runs.
But Honda got its Accord tail whipped three years in a row by Ford’s V-6 Taurus cars, and Honda changed its mind. Thus, we have the Accord V-6, equipped with an engine derived from Honda’s AcuraLegend luxury cars.
The new Accord engine is a 2.7-liter, 24-valve, single-overhead cam job rated 170 horsepower at 5,600 rpm. Maximum torque is 165 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm. To put the larger engine into the Accord, Honda lengthened the car’s front end — a three-inch stretch that actually improved the Accord’s once stubby appearance. (Trunk space is 13 cubic feet, good enough, I found, for three duffel bags.)
Honda also gave its Accord V-6 sedan an improved suspension system, standard four-wheel-disc brakes with anti-lock backup, and a standard four-speed automatic transmission. Like all Honda cars, the Accord V-6 comes with dual-front air bags and side-impact barrier protection that meets 1997 federal standards.
The Accord V-6 is available in the tested LX package (cloth seats) and EX trim (leather seats and a few other spiffs).
Complaints: Despite suspension improvements, the Accord V-6’s front end feels a tad heavy, which is disconcerting until yo u get used to it. Also, the styling still underwhelms me.
Praise: Superior highway performance; excellent overall craftsmanship. Truly a joy to drive.
Head-turning quotient: A passionate yawn.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Very smooth ride. Excellent acceleration. Brilliant handling on twisty mountain roads — thanks to a four-wheel, double-wishbone suspension system and 15-inch Michelin tires that helped offset handling demerits caused by front-end heaviness. Excellent braking. Simply impressive road performance.
Mileage: About 23 to the gallon (17-gallon tank, estimated 379-mile range on usable volume of recommended regular unleaded gasoline), running with one to four occupants and light cargo.
Sound system: Optional six-speaker, 20-watt, AM/FM stereo radio and cassette with anti-theft device. Installed by Honda. Excellent.
Price: Base price on the tested Accord V-6 LX is $22,300. Dealer’s invoice on base model is $19,705. Price as tes ed is $22,680, including a $380 destination charge.
Purse-strings note: Compare with Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Chevrolet Lumina, Toyota Camry, Mazda 626, Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen Passat VR-6, Audi A-6 sedan, Chrysler Concorde/Dodge Intrepid/Eagle Vision, Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique, Chrysler Cirrus, Dodge Stratus, Mitsubishi Galant.