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Click above for high-res gallery of the 2008 Honda Accord Coupe

Honda's Accord has grown at every redo since the model's inception, and this latest version is no different. We've already tried out the sedan, so we borrowed the two-door version to sample the Coupé lifestyle, wherein you actually pronounce those acute accents. Our first impression is that the Accord Coupe is the best Monte Carlo never made, while retaining a fundamental core of Hondaness. Accords have always been half cool, half dorky, with the scale tipping one way or another depending on the generation. This latest one continues that trend, and we wanted to find out if the 2008 Accord Coupe is crushingly cool or heavily noisome.

All photos © 2008 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc.

click any image to enlarge

The last time the Accord Coupe looked lithe was two generations ago, and the new one is much, much larger than the tiny thing it started out as so many years ago. Even though the coupe is down a couple inches in both wheelbase and overall length on the sedan, size is on par with the BMW 6-Series! It's not just the overall footprint that takes its inspiration from BMW, there are also Roundel styling touches. The roofline is classic two-door, with a chrome accent and a euro-chic kick at the base of the C-Pillar. The nose treatment's inherent aggression works well on the Coupe, with its raked back windscreen and fast roofline. Honda's design idiom has traded frippery for lines that are classically attractive; this big two-door will look just as sharp in ten years.

Your angle of attack is important when coming up on the Accord Coupe, else the car looks awkward instead of bold. From the rear, there are fat haunches and chamfered corners with large taillights that lead the eye directly to a deep character line gesturing down the bodysides and imparting a lunging stance. Twin chromed tailpipes add symmetry, and a subtle lip spoiler squares off the slightly bulbous trunklid. The rear cargo hold is quite accommodating, and the shape of the opening allows surprisingly large and bulky items to fit. Up front is where most of the ungainliness occurs. Angry eye headlamps and an underbiting airdam can dwarf the wheels and make the stance seem narrow - no mean feat when you're rolling 18-inch rims.

Being a coupe, space in the interior suffers, but the Accoupe forces as little compromise as possible. It's easier to climb into the backseat from the passenger side due to the lack of a power seat for whoever rides shotgun. A flick of the wrist folds and slides the front passenger seat out of the way, offering entry to the grown-up sized back seat; there's just plenty of room in the Accord Coupe. Climbing over the sill and into the back will never be graceful, but Honda's done about all it could to facilitate ingress and egress. If a coupe is on your wishlist, you're likely already aware of the limitations of the layout.

We peeked inside and found Honda has designed a thoughtful, if slightly flawed, driver's environment. It's virtually identical to the Accord sedan, though the roofline is lower. Materials are high quality and the design is largely restrained and clean. Bolstering hugs your torso snugly in the comfy seats, and the leather in our test car was soft and fragrant. It's not all sweetness and light, however. The spumy layout of the radio, HVAC and navigation system controls is frustrating to learn and difficult to use. An up/down toggle for temperature? Fail. Rockers for radio tuning and cabin fan, neither within easy reach? Fail. iDrive-like control knob? Half-Fail.

Positioned up high in the center of the dash under a hood is a large LCD screen for the navigation and ancillary menus. Honda included a button on the dashboard to toggle between day/night/off, handy for night driving where the ability to douse the screen without digging through seven submenus is a plus. During the week we spent with the Accord, we never got comfortable using its joystick/knob and slightly labyrinthine menus, but given a modicum of effort and a little more time, we think it would become second nature eventually. The rest of the controls and instruments are easily understood and in the right places. Nothing at all feels cheap inside the Accord.

Honda's 3.5-liter V6 was under the hood of our test car and its 268 horsepower is largely unconcerned with the nearly 3,600 pounds of car with which it's taxed. Balancing the serious brawn is a cylinder deactivation system, Variable Cylinder Management, that enthusiastically turns the six into a three as early and often as possible. The switchover is largely undetectable, and it's surprising how long you can keep the green "Eco" indicator on the dashboard lit. In a mix of city and highway driving, we saw 23.5 mpg, besting the EPA combined rating of 22. The big six even achieves a PZEV/ULEV-2 rating, even if it's not quite as frugal as we'd like.

Underway, the Honda DNA is evident. Ride motions are well controlled and wallowing is not allowed. When the road goes curvy, the Accord Coupe can make use of those 235/45/18 Michelins without scraping its chrome door handles off the pavement. Even with a V6 capable of delivering a hard shove into the seat, we didn't find torque steer to even be on this car's radar. With its relatively sharp handling, the Accord Coupe reminds us of Preludes gone by, but this car has, you know, balls. The downside to the large and relatively low profile tires is that the ride can be choppy, and there's a fair bit of roar in the cabin when cruising the highway. Besides the noise, we also had difficulty finding a satisfyingly comfortable driving position. There are armrests on both the door and in between the front seats, but we found them positioned too low on which to rest our elbows. That sounds like a minor quibble, but it's fatiguing to put in significant miles when you're only able to prop your arm on the top of the door panel.

There are several alternatives to the Accord Coupe - Toyota's Solara and Nissan's Altima Coupe are its most direct two-door, front-wheel-drive competitors. The Accord is a winning combination of size, speed, and luxury, though. Optioning up the Accord Coupe can push it past $30,000, however, which might be offensive to some buyers. But Honda's reputation precedes this car, and you can rest fairly assured that it will eclipse the proscribed 100,000-plus mile tuneup interval, with passengers who have wriggled in and out of the back seat offering the only whimpers. As an everyday conveyance, the Accord Coupe extracts virtually no penalty while offering performance when you ask, and definitely weighing in on the cool side of the scale.

All photos ©2008 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is the first time I've ever really been interested in a Honda. The Accord coupe actually looks better than the 6-series, and won't be in the shop half its life. I like this a lot.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The new Accord Coupe is beautiful, but the ugly grille is a real shame. Ditching the offensive (and unnecessary) chrome surround would probably fix that problem.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Its funny, but it seems like Honda took the criticism of the last generation's (non-existent) grille and went the other way completely. I'd have been happy with something in-between.

        Instead, we get the Ridgeline Sedan.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Putting aside the funky grille, this is probably the best design Honda has come up w/ in a while (most Honda designs have been a bit "off").

      Nothing earth-shattering or innovative here design-wise, but aside from the grille, it has some pretty decent lines and is by far the best Accord coupe design.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's between this and the Altima for the wife (her choice). The Altima has much better interior feel, better nav and audio plus XM Nav traffic. Not to mention Nissan dealers will actually deal on the Alt. coupe, not try to pack $3500 "additional dealer markup" on it.

      I think we are going to vote Altima 4cyl with Tech and leather....and I own an Acura...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes I can and have fond several tech/premium coupes w/ 4cyls, and actually it's like $29K .... but since Nissan actually deals on their vehicles, it's a lot closer to $26k - Plus - the 4cyl takes regular fuel instead of premium. I'd rather have a loaded 4 cyl for Mrs. Rizzo than a low content 3.5 V6.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't think that u'll be able to find the 4 cyl with tech package and leather, if you do the price would be around 28K for which you can get a Altima 3.5 SE with a lot of bells and whistles, u cant get a 3.5 SL for around 2.5 K more.
      • 7 Years Ago
      if i were looking at a coupe i'd get a mustang GT the new accord is a boat! i test drove a 6sp nav v6 and it didnt impressed me at all. it felt big and heavy.

      an accord heavier than a mustang? wow times have changed!

      it seems that every new model (exept for the fit) coming out of honda is crap. they are just becoming like toyota producing cars that are bland and boring. if the accord keeps growing like these it could as well become the new crown victoria! haha

        • 7 Years Ago
        To hell with the retro old school looking new mustang. I will go for the soon to be released Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
        • 7 Years Ago
        An Accord heavier than a Mustang? Accord V6 coupe EX-L is 37 pounds less than a Mustang GT deluxe. Although, a lighter car can often feel heavier - typically due to unsprung weight. As for Accord speed, Car&Driver tested it and found 0-60 in 5.6. (http://goodcarbadcar.blogspot.com/2008/03/0-60-in-motortrend-april.html) MotorTrend had it at 5.7 with the Altima one tenth behind.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Fit is bland and boring.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow, the first Honda I would even consider buying. It looks a lot like a Volvo - but sexier and smarter. Yummy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I played with my friend's 4 banger coupe, nicely styled compared to the old one, though I'd be hard pressed to spend $30,000 on it. And the controls are quite poorly designed, as mentioned, and the nav makes the VW unit seem 10 years newer then it is (the previous gold stander in woefully inadequate/obtuse design). In 190hp, 30mpg guide, though, it's a nice honda.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've driven both.

      The Accord is just a better drive than Nissan's attempt with the Altima. Drive them both and you'll know what I am talking about.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Two things I disagree with the review: 1. The car looks best from 3/4 angle from the front but this is subjective. On the second point, the writer states that "nothing at all feels cheap in the accord". This is not true at all. This new iteration is definitely a step down from the previous accords in terms of fit and finish. The huge, unsightly two-tiered dashboard is mostly made of plastic. And the XL size buttons in the middle exude cheapness.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'd be more shocked that any car company would expect me to spend 1 minute in the new Accord.

        That is the most hideous and random blob of buttons I've ever seen. I would never buy a Honda so its not my problem, but if I had to drive this thing, I'd tear out the whole center console. I'd rather not have a stereo or A/C than deal with that mess.

        Frylock, if you don't have the eye to discern the difference between cheap plastics and quality plastics then the term "fit and finish" is probably going right over your head in most car reviews you read. If all plastics are the same to you, I suggest you sit in a Kia and squeeze the dash - touch and feel - then sit in a BMW and do the same.

        Are they really the same plastics?? Do you know much about plastic materials??
      • 7 Years Ago
      Did you have the MT or the AT? I thought the V6 coupes dispensed with the VCM figuring that coupe buyers would prefer performance over MPGs. Maybe it's just with the MT6...
        • 7 Years Ago
        6 speed stick omits cylinder shutoff & gets the variable resonance intake manifold.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nissan Altima coupe is much sexier! And that VQ...mmm!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Nissan Altima coupe is nasty... especially with that French mustache on it's front grill, along with wheels that look like they are 14-inchers. Although I'm not a Honda fan, this Accord coupe is leagues ahead of the Altima.
        • 7 Years Ago
        i think the Altima looks a bit bland and old, mabye because it's "newness" is blurred by it's resemblance to the Infiniti G35.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Sexier is subjective, and I'm sure the VQ is really nice but nearly every car mag that has compared both rank the Accord better overall.

        Re: review
        - the controls on the center console - stuff like radio tuning and cabin fan controls are things that are rarely ever used (and therefore not put in as easy reach) because radio presets becomes a priority and so does automatic climate control. I haven't used the up/down switch for temperature so i can't say if it's good or not.
        - There always is that 'roar' in Hondas because they skimp on the minor details like extra sound dampening material and thicker glass.
        - I would be surprised if the leather was that much nicer because Honda hasn't been too good in putting high quality leather in their cars.
        - I am disappointed with the new navi knob though, but having a touch screen means a not so good location for a quick glance.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've had a 2003 accord coupe lease before my current car. Excellent, excellent car. 50K miles and never changed brake pads, no check engine, same tires, oil was as golden coming out as it was coming in. And the manual shifter was marvelous. I trust what Honda would do to the accord (or inspire or whatever), for sure. 2008 model looks nice too!
        • 7 Years Ago
        A car isn't even broken in at 50K, come back in a decade and then we'll talk. I'm over 160K in a 1992 Chrysler and I have yet to have the check engine light come on, engine compression is still at the factory spec, every pair of tires I've put on it has worn evenly down to the wear bars without ever needing an alignment and I consistently get better than the EPA's 25mpg highway estimate on my commute which has 15 traffic lights in 12 miles.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, I did change the oil every 3-4K. It was all dealer serviced so it was dino oil, but from what I hear Honda has one of the better, if not best OEM motor oils.

        I guess I forgot to mention clearly that it was a 4 cylinder, 5 spd. manual. So if you have an 07 Pontiac, wait till you hit 47,000 miles to pass judgement. Unless you did already?

        I guess I am a honda fanboi... Can't blame me for liking a good product.
        • 7 Years Ago
        (bad Mondays Frylock?)

        OEM tires/brake pads can last 50K miles, it all depends on how you drive.

        Read again, he never said his oil change interval was 50K miles. Honda's have maintenance minders, so the oil change interval can be 10K miles.

        I wouldn't consider anything less than 5000 miles with an oil like Mobil DriveClean 7500, 7500 miles with Mobil1, and 10K with M1-EP

        All those people who think they are 'babying' their engine by changing the oil every 2500 miles, are the same ones who install the oil filter dry.
        No, you need to have a minimum of disruption of the oil circuit. So if your filter has a 1/2 quart capacity, how long does it take to fill up at idle?
        • 6 Years Ago
        anybody knows the life span of Honda Accord brake pads? we have our 2007 Honda Accord service just today with a 20,000+ miles and they already changed the front & rear brake pads, is this normal? thanks very much
        • 7 Years Ago
        my 03 accord ex-v6 went thru brakes like no other and then the trans took a dump at 46,000 miles...and b4 u say its how i drove the car...consider i drove several other cars the same way including my 07 pontiac g5 gt which has been virtually trouble free
        • 7 Years Ago
        "50K miles and never changed brake pads, no check engine, same tires, oil was as golden coming out as it was coming in. "

        What car doesn't perform like this up to 50k miles?
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