2008 Honda Accord Expert Review:Autoblog
Click above image for a high-res gallery of the 2008 Honda Accord
While 1976 was a big birthday year for the United States, it was still a pretty dark time for cars. Exhaust emission control systems were only a few years old and engineers were still struggling with the new technology. A new gizmo called a catalytic converter was starting to appear in many cars and that necessitated the use of gasoline that was free of tetra-ethyl lead. In those days before sophisticated electronic engine controls, most components were still mechanical and engines weren't working as well as they had only a few years earlier. They were using more gas and they were down on power.
Honda Motor Company had its first automotive hit with the Civic that had been introduced a few years earlier. In 1976, Honda introduced a second larger model to its U.S. lineup dubbed the Accord. While the new car was indeed larger than the Civic, it was by no means large. The first Accords measured a whopping 93.7 inches between the axle center-lines and 162.0 inches from bumper to bumper. Power came from a "screaming" 1.6L four-cylinder with a finger pulling 68 HP and Honda's revolutionary CVCC system. September 2007 marked the debut of what is arguably Honda of America's most important model, the new eighth generation 2008 Honda Accord. Honda provided Autoblog with a fresh Accord EX-L V-6 sedan to drive from the first week's production run. We'll tell you all about our experience after the jump.
All photos ©2007 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Since it's original appearance in 1976, the Accord has grown both in importance and physical stature, with the newest iteration being bigger than ever. For comparison's sake, Honda's smallest current U.S. market car is the Fit, which has a wheelbase three inches longer than the 1st gen. Accord and 400 lbs. more mass. Of course, the Fit has a lot things that first Accord never did like a plethora of airbags, four doors, anti-lock brakes, traction control and other features. As each of the seven successive generations got bigger, sales continued to climb. A four door sedan was eventually added while the original two door hatch was dropped. Later a station wagon was added and dropped and a two-door coupe joined the party and remains today. In 1982 when Honda's Marysville Ohio plant opened, the Accord also became the first Japanese branded car to be assembled in North America.
Along the way. Honda decided that the U.S. market needed a design distinct from the Accord sold in the rest of the world. Honda developed an architecture for it that could easily be stretched in length and width. Since the early '90s, Honda R&D in the U.S. has taken primary responsibility for developing the North American model that is longer and wider than other Accords sold around the world. The Accord platform has since evolved to underpin a wide variety of vehicles including the Odyssey, HighlanderPilot, and Acura MDX and TL. Subsequently, the overseas market Accord also became available here as the Acura TSX. During the mid-90s, the Accord overtook the Ford Taurus as the best selling passenger car in the U.S., a slot it held for a couple of years before being passed by the Toyota Camry. The Camry still maintains the top spot with the Accord close behind, both selling upwards of 400,000 units a year in the U.S.
From a car that began smaller than the Fit, the new car is now classed as a Large Car based on EPA classifications. The 194.3-inch body sits on top of a 110.2-wheelbase that is five inches and one inch longer than a Camry, respectively. The Chevy Impala, however, has a quarter inch longer wheelbase and six inches more body length. The new Malibu is 2.5 inches shorter, but the wheels are two inches closer to the bumpers. As with so many people living in America, the Accord has also put on some pounds. Over eight generations of evolution, the Accord has gone from a featherweight 2,000 lbs to an almost porky 3,616 lbs in V6 form, although the base four-cylinder model is a more moderate 3,230 lbs.
While the last Accord's exterior design was considered pretty bland by most observers, the new car has a lot more character. The overall proportions of the sedan are attractive with a fairly short overhang in the front but a little more substance in the back. In profile it becomes apparent that the line of the rear glass is extended downward and picked up by the lower edge of the tail-lights. Letting the eye meander over the body, a lot of surface detailing starts to become apparent. Elements appear like the flaring around the fog-lights and the dividers between the segments in the front turn signals. The lower edge of the fog-light enclosure continues backward in a continuous line around the wheel wells, across the lower sill and into the rear bumper. Higher up on the side, another character line starts near the top of the wheel well with a horizontal orientation and curves up, sweeping back to meet the top edge of the tail-light cluster and providing a bit of a wedge to the profile.
The FCX concept on the left and 2008 Accord on the right
The grille features what appears to be the new face of Honda with a look that appeared on the FCX concept and was added to the Odyssey van this year, as well. It's comprised of three thin dark horizontal bars with an upturn at each end. Out back the LED tail-lights shine through their clear covers in a star-burst pattern and the reflectors eschew the oh-so-2005 silver look for a more traditional red. Other beautiful details abound like the shape of the door handles (finished in chrome on our top-level EX, body color on lower models) and the mirror housings. The whole look is very well integrated with plenty of elements to catch the light though not appearing over-wrought like some of the vehicles from a certain Munich-based company.
Interior materials are first rate. The black interior is set off by selected strips of contrasting matte finish alumi-plastic. On a mainstream sedan like this one, we wouldn't expect leather covering the dash and door panels. However, the soft touch plastic on the top of the dash has a grain and color that almost perfectly matches the leather covering the seats. And those seats! The Accord has what are probably the best front seats I've occupied in recent memory. They have padding that is firm without being hard, providing support in all the right places with plenty of lateral grip to keep you from sliding around when cornering. The lower cushions are long enough to provide plenty of thigh support and I'm pretty sure one's back would not come away from a long road trip feeling tortured. If there is a single element I would take from the Accord and apply to every other vehicle on the road it is the front seats.
The rear seats obviously don't have as much contouring, but they easily accommodate three passengers. The wide center arm-rest folds down to provide a pair of cup-holders, and a pass-through is available for long thin objects. The rear seat back can also fold down but doesn't split, which somewhat lessens its utility. Returning to the driver's space, all the switchgear is within easy reach and HVAC and audio controls controls are housed in a pod that protrudes just slightly from the rest of the dash. There are quite a few buttons, but they are large and clearly marked. Even though the GPS navigation screen is deeply recessed into the top center of the dash, at times the sun coming in from the passenger side would still wash it out. The distance to the display also means a touch screen would be impractical. Honda provides a big round, combination joy-stick dial controller in the center pod that is primarily for use with the NAV system but also operates some of the secondary functionality that's embedded within, like the trip computer and calculator. We found the NAV system to be quite easy to use and thanks to dedicated buttons for the audio and HVAC on the dash, there was minimal menu navigation. The instruments, though few, are extremely easy to read with a clear font and good lighting at night.
The trunk is fairly spacious and well shaped, but interestingly Honda has chosen to forgo four-bar-link hinges in favor of more intrusive fixed units in an obvious cost cutting measure. Another cost saver appears to be the trunk lid. Closing the trunk doesn't give that nice solid feel that the doors have. It actually felt flimsy. That's a minor nit pick but not the only fit and finish issue on this very early production unit. A close examination revealed a couple of minor panel alignment problems that are sure to be worked out as production proceeds. However, one of these mis-fits was likely the source of what sounded like an air leak around one of the doors that would also squeak when traversing rougher pavement.
Speaking of traversing pavement, the Accord suspension does a great job at that. While a bit more roll control would be appreciated in some instances, the spring rates and damping felt just right. The car never felt loose and steering response was excellent. As with most mainstream cars, there wasn't much feedback, but the effort was nicely weighted and there was no noticeable dead spot off-center. Spirited driving was enhanced by those wonderful seats and a nicely positioned dead pedal for the driver's left foot.
The brake pedal, meanwhile, had good feel and was easily modulated. The panic brake assist system never made its presence felt in any noticeable way unlike some other vehicles we've driven. When the electronic stability control decides you need some assistance, it just subtly helps keep the car going where the driver is pointing the wheel without jerking it around in your hands or providing any additional sound effects (Are you listening Toyota?).
As is usually the case in a Honda, the engine is perfectly suited to the task at hand. The 3.5L V-6 couldn't be smoother as it develops it's 268 HP and 248 lb-ft of torque. To help fuel efficiency, this engine has received a cylinder deactivation system that allows it to seamlessly switch between running on three, four or six cylinders. We were never able to detect how many cylinders were active at any given time or even feel the transitions. Additionally, a green "ECO" light comes on in the lower part of the tach when the car is operating at its maximum efficiency. The engine's output is transferred to the front wheels via a five speed automatic that is not augmented with paddle shifters, and frankly, they're not missed. Acceleration was noticeably stronger under all circumstances than the Dodge Avenger we recently drove, which is to be expected given the substantially higher output. In spite of all that extra acceleration, the Accord still managed 22 mpg in a week of mixed driving, only one less than the Avenger and about 2.5 more than the Avenger running on E85. That's not great mileage, but it's certainly competitive with other big V-6 sedans. We're looking forward to 2009 and the new 2.2L turbo-diesel that Honda will supposedly be dropping in the Accord that should yield rear-world highway mileage in the upper 40s.
This particular loaded Accord priced out at $30,895 including destination. If you can live without the built-in navigation system or you don't need the added grunt of the six-cylinder engine, manual transmission four-cylinder models can be had for as low as $20,360. As long as the team in Marysville can sort out their door alignment issue, and I suspect they already have, this is an outstanding and stylish family-sized sedan with the best seats in the business. Now hurry up and bring on that diesel over here so we can get some serious mileage, too.
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.
The first Honda Accord, released in 1976, had a 93.7-inch wheelbase and 68 horsepower. This latest Accord, the 7th generation, has a wheelbase nearly 17 inches longer, and 200 more horsepower. My, how you've grown. You've seen the pictures and read the releases on the new Honda Accord sedan and coupe. The only question that remains is how do they drive? Honda invited Autoblog to find out, and we weren't disappointed. Follow the jump for the rest of the story, and check out (even more) shots of the exterior and interior from the event.
First thing's first: I haven't been in an Accord since 1989. (Don't ask.) I don't think it was a 1989 model. The '08 is a lot nicer than the one I remember. According to the presentation, the Accord's most serious competitors are the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima. The Altima is considered more sporty, the Camry more luxurious, and the new Accord is meant to slot comfortably, and perfectly, between the two.
We'll start with the exterior. The Camry's latest redesign was purposeful enough that you could say it was actually styled. The Altima was done so well from the beginning that it drop-kicked the Maxima into some dark, quiet place. The Accord's new body was meant to give it some in-your-face-ness that would get the attention of the young professionals researching the segment and yet, as ever, wouldn't alienate the Accord lover. It has already received a noteworthy share of kudos and knocks, which is what happens any time a design attempts to make a statement. "Camber" was the word of the day, in reference to how the front of the car is drawn back at the headlights and the rear corners of the car gently slope into the valance. Along with the can't-be-missed side cut line and lower door line, there are quite a few instances of very subtly shaped bodywork: the merest hint of lines around the lower front fog lights and on the rear bumpers. Even the side mirror cover curves, seahorse-like, from a gently rounded top to the sculptured flick of a tail near the bottom, then curves again around the lower portion to the trim. In the flesh it's a good looking car, with silver and black suiting it exceptionally well in our opinion. It will more than hold its own with its competitors.
Inside? While all of the dimensions-interior and exterior-have grown, with the Accord's interior growth spurt by 3.3 cubic feet to 106, it's now classed as a large car by EPA standards. It was overall a fine place to be. The door panels flexed more than expected, and some cars had wider than usual gaps between the IP and the door, which could be explained by the fact that we were in a mix of production and pre-production vehicles.
We didn't spend extended stretches in them, but the seats are plenty comfy and offer all the movements your body could want. Due to the added width, the center console can practically hide bodies. Lift the cover on the armrest and at the bottom of the abyss are a 12V outlet and an auxiliary (read: iPod) jack. Even the cupholders grew. In fact, they're immense. One of Honda's PR team said she sent Slurpee cups to Japan to prove to them that, yes, we really do need cavities that can hold firehouse buckets.
Forward, there's a contoured swath of textured plastic that caps the dashboard and console. The instrument panel lurks behind an enjoyably grippable steering wheel. Everything, though, flows to the center, which is where you'll find mission control. If you don't order the navigation, a 2-color screen sits atop the center stack. It was clear and legible in nearly all lighting conditions, save for when the coastal sun shone directly on it. If you splurge for the navigation, you get a much larger screen with a color display. On that, I wish the dashboard curved outward a bit more, to keep out more glare from the sun.
Below that is knob-and-button central. It's laid out well enough, but with the buttons stretched and pulled and curved to fit the console, I found it a bit Dali-esque. However, it's solid and the buttons feel good. The first time in the car I found almost every button with just a glance. The navigation, controlled by a multi-function knob, took a second to figure out, but it won't have you reaching for the manual. Besides, the control functions are written on the dash-it doesn't get any easier.
Below that is a cubby and two little doors: one covers 12V outlet that would have been a lighter in a previous life, the other covers a hole beside which is written "This is not an ashtray." All right then.
Let's get to the kicker: how do they drive? Well. There are four engine choices depending on which Accord model you choose: two inline 4-cylinders, both 2.4-liter VTECs, one with 177 hp and 161 ft-lb, another with 190 hp and 162 ft-lb; and two V6's, a 3.5-liter with 268 hp and 248 ft-lb, one of which features Honda's Variable Cylinder Management, and one that doesn't. All of the choices are ULEV-2 and/or PZEV rated. The 4-pot mpg comes in at 21 city, 31 hwy for both versions. The 6 cylinder auto gets 19/29, and the manual-in the coupe-gets 17/25.
Speaking of gas mileage, the V6 with VCM (on the auto transmission) works in three modes: 3, 4, or all 6 cylinders. The previous generation only had two modes, 3-cylinder and 6. It also comes with an ECO light that illuminates in the tachometer when you're getting 22.5 mpg or better.
We only drove the 4-cylinder automatic, not the manual. It's quiet, and while it will get the job done, it will do so at a leisurely pace. You can push it, but the extra giddyup won't be worth the effort and revs that come with it except in the most compelling circumstances. This is your sipper, not your slayer, so enjoy it as such. The V6 is a much heartier workhorse. Standing starts, passing maneuvers, climbing, all happen with the competence of a trusted assistant: not quite fast enough to spill anything, but you know the job is getting done right, right now.
The ride is just right for the category. The sedans ride on either 16- or 17-inch wheels, the coupe gets 17- or 18-inch. The front suspension is a modified double wishbone from the previous model, and all but the base LX model get a front suspension tower brace. The rear is a new, compact multi-link with nitrogen-filled coil-over dampers. The result is potholes go barely noticed and poorly-surfaced roads don't rock the ride. A new engine mounting system reduces NVH and helps the body and engine move in greater unison, and the new variable gear steering translates inputs nicely. There's even a fair bit of sporty thrown in, with reassuring composure in turns taken at speed.
The coupe, however, is where the real action resides. The coupe isn't the sedan's sibling; it's more like the third cousin by marriage twice removed. The 6-speed manual mated to the 268 hp doesn't just transform the car, it transmogrifies it. From the first stoplight I understood why the gents who had the car before me took so long to bring it back. I think every stoplight after that had me setting off the ESC, a little yellow triangle flashing furiously as the front wheels did their best not to come unstuck. It has so much jump, in fact, that you need to hold on to the steering wheel quite firmly in order not to let the car torque steer into a regrettable sidestep.
The coupe was like driving a sedate S2000, which, in light of the S2000's frantic nature, isn't at all a letdown. And it's got a more room. And a back seat. And a trunk that fits more than a ham sandwich. Gary said that they wanted to create a driving experience that still fit with the Accord family, but was truly fun. Mission certifiably accomplished.
And though we asked, they didn't give us prices. The best we could get was a range of $20K to $30K. There is also no hybrid coming, but there is a diesel in the works. For now, I'll take a black on black coupe. And a spare set of front tires.
New Car Test Drive
All-new sedan and coupe are bigger and better.
Eight generations ago the Accord was Honda's biggest car but no one foresaw it as a large car. Enter the all-new 2008 Honda Accord, a mid-size sedan that's grown enough to move into the EPA's Large Car segment. Introduced at the same time, is an all-new, two-door Honda Accord coupe.
The all-new, 2008 Honda Accord continues refinement and adds more power, room, safety, and features-to-cost value. Content and engines determine the model designator, though all have the same roomy, functional cabins, array of safety equipment, and driving characteristics.
For 2008, the Accord is available with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines, two transmissions, and LX and EX trim levels. Further subsets include a new premium package that adds more convenience bits to an LX, and EX-L models that add leather and luxury features. (The hybrid model and V6 sedan with manual transmission have been dropped.)
The Accord is big on efficiency, be it getting the most power and range from a gallon of gas with the least emissions, making the largest interior available given the exterior space it takes up, or providing the smoothest, quietest ride possible in the lightest weight.
Anyone interested in a four-door sedan should consider the Accord, as only very modest budgets and those seeking substantial luxury and high performance couldn't meet those needs with one. Accord is not the perfect car in any single respect but it approaches that point in so many significant aspects you can't talk about family sedans without mentioning it. And if the past is any indicator, there's implicit reliability here.
The 2008 Honda Accord competes with the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6, Saturn Aura, and the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. The extra space offered by the 2008 Accord means that shopping list might also now include the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and VW Passat.
The stylish, two-door 2008 Honda Accord coupe competes directly with the Nissan Altima coupe. Sportiest is the EX-L V6 Coupe with six-speed manual and V6, the only Accord with that combination; it happens to be the lightest V6 model, giving it the best power to weight ratio, and it comes with larger anti-roll bars and low-profile 18-inch tires and wheels.
The 2008 Honda Accord is offered in coupe and sedan forms, with three engine choices.
Accord LX sedans are equipped with a 177-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The LX Sedan ($20,360) comes standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power mirrors and door locks, variable intermittent wipers, tilt-and-telescoping steering column and illuminated wheel-mounted controls, folding rear seats, and an MP3/WMA/auxiliary input 160-watt sound system. The LX-P Sedan ($21,360) is an LX with a premium package that adds alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, power windows, security system, and chrome tailpipe. LX models come with a choice of five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission ($800).
The Accord EX Sedan ($23,060), EX Coupe ($23,160), and LX-S Coupe ($21,860) get a higher-revving, 190-hp version of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. They come with five-speed manual or automatic transmission ($800). The EX Sedan is also available with the V6 and automatic ($25,960). The EX-L Coupe ($28,310) is available with the V6 and a choice of five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
EX models add active noise cancellation and an in-dash CD changer, power moonroof, heated mirrors, an interface dial with scrolling, illuminated switch power windows, premium interior accents, driver power lumbar adjust, and 17-inch alloy wheels with P225/50 Michelin tires.
EX-L stands for leather on the seats and steering wheel, but the EX-L Sedan ($25,060), EX-L Coupe ($25,160) also get dual-zone automatic climate control, a 270-watt sound system with subwoofer, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass and outside temperature display. The EX-L V6 Sedan ($28,060) and EX-L V6 Coupe ($28,310) add four-way power adjust for the front passenger seat. Honda's navigation system is packaged with voice-activation and steering wheel controls, Bluetooth, and XM satellite radio on the EX-L Sedan ($27,260), EX-L V6 Sedan ($30,260), and EX-L V6 Coupe ($30,510).
Safety equipment is standard, with six airbags, including two-stage front airbags, dual-chamber front side airbags, side curtain airbags; active front head restraints, electronic stability control, antilock brakes, and tire pressure monitors.
This latest-generation Honda Accord stays true to its roots with contemporary yet conservative design highlighted by a strong character line that slopes down and forward like that of the Acura TL. Honda hallmarks like narrow windshield pillars and a low cowl for good forward visibility remain, and the rear door pillars share the kink popularized decades ago by BMW and becoming ever more frequent.
While you can see the hood and the top of the fenders where they meet the hood, the edges are not so visible; the swept-back light housings minimize protruding corners and ease maneuverability but exercise caution until you're certain where they are. Many modern design elements are the result of auto/pedestrian collision standards and the Accord is not immune, even the wiper arm mounts are designed to break away when hit.
Forward lights are aptly described as hawk-like and look fiercer on coupes because they use projector headlamps as opposed to the conventional reflector design on the sedans; V6 models include fog lamps. At the rear the lamp elements appear cut off at the style line rather than extending up to the top trunk seam. This contributes a sense of heaviness and more closely mirrors the princess rear end styling of the Acura RL rather than the taut crispness of the TL.
Following trends, the 2008 Accord is larger than any before, and although it competes in the mid-size market segment it is by EPA interpretation a large car. It is about five inches longer than a Camry or Altima, about the same length as a Maxima.
The coupe has grown similarly from the last Accord coupe but you won't confuse it with a large car. Virtually every dimension save width is 2-4 inches smaller outside than that of the sedan. The coupe is sleeker yet still fits the Accord mold. All coupes use projector headlights, body-color rocker panels and add a passenger side easy-entry feature for rear seat access.
Honda (and Acura) owners will feel right at home in the new Accord, one reason repeat buyers account for a good chunk of sales. It is light and airy, spacious, with thoughtful layout and plenty of elbow room. Everything you touch feels right for the price, everything you need seems to be here, and everyone on board should be comfortable.
LX models provide pleasing design and materials and a variety of storage areas for modern conveniences and old-fashioned vices. Stepping up to an EX with leather adds features, but the basics like seat design and driver ergonomics are shared by all Accords.
The tilt-and-telescoping steering column provides a good range of adjustment to complement those available on the seat so all the masses can find a good driving position. There's a clear view all around outside, to the instrument panel with proven dial-and-needle gauges, and the information display or navigation screen is inset under a shade at the same height as the gauges; glare is controlled and it can be viewed with polarized glasses.
EX-L models come with leather on the seats, steering wheel, shifter and door panels. The EX-L leather appears of high quality and assembly as does the rest of the car. The driver's seat has multiple power adjustments and good support for the long haul or around-town errands.
Our only complaints with the Accord cabin were minor: The lumbar support on all front seats (regardless of power or upholstery) is stout and we occasionally wished for less of it; and the front seats have lots of room around them causing some slender pilots to say the door was too far away for a comfortable armrest or leg brace.
The extra width of the 2008 Accord translates directly into a wider cabin, especially in front. The center armrest was designed to be big enough for two adults to share without awkward glances.
Rear-seat passengers will have few complaints as few do in large cars. Seat cushions and backrest carry right out to the door without wheelwell intrusion, offer space for a six-footer to sit comfortably behind another one, and easy entry and egress. The center seat is better padded than many, and as such it loses a bit of headroom to the outer seats. There are no rear reading lamps.
Three interior colors are offered on the sedans, black, gray, and ivory, while the coupe goes black or ivory only. Although it may show dirt more, the ivory includes wood-look accents where the other colors make do with silver trim pieces, so the ivory interior comes across as more elegant.
Coupe models make use of the larger door panels by adding a return sweep and pull handle to the armrest trim.
Controls for lights and wipers are on stalks. Honda's graphics for the variable intermittent wipers are among the simplest: Rather than bars, lines or dots of differing size, the Accord uses one raindrop for long interval and three raindrops for more frequent wiping. The shifter is right at hand, and the proper handbrake has short travel.
Controls for sound, climate, and navigation are central below the navigation screen and vents. On lower-line models, the big round knob controls volume; on others it is the interface through which you work various menus. Even on fully equipped cars with navigation, the layout is less daunting than the number of buttons first suggests. One row of switches controls audio input (AM, XM, CD, etc.) and another row has six audio presets. Climate controls are to the sides, so you needn't wait to approve the legal disclaimer on the screen before you can ask for heat or air conditioning in extreme weather. Voice activation can handle a multitude of chores without a hand ever leaving the steering wheel.
All Accords except the LX sedan include active noise cancellation, but we were hard-pressed to notice the difference between LX and EX. Vibration and engine buzz are kept to a minimum on the four-cylinder engine and are negligible on V6, so all Accords come across as very quie.
The 2008 Honda Accord is an easy drive with good manners regardless of model, engine or transmission. It comes across as firmer than most Camry models but smoother and softer than the Altima.
The Accord LX 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine matches Nissan's 2.5-liter with a bit less fuss or raucousness, and a good deal more ponies than the Camry's four-cylinder. Since the Accord isn't too heavy, its 177 hp is plenty to keep up with the Joneses, whether you choose the manual or automatic. Every Accord compares well against competitors in terms of mileage and emissions, and runs on regular unleaded.
The EX models get the same basic 2.4-liter engine with some minor changes and a higher rev limit to bring 190 hp, clearly besting the competition (VW's Passat 2-liter turbo is the exception) with no degradation in economy or emissions. With the automatic this engine delivers instant downshifts and response for passing, and upshifts at full-throttle well before redline. The console-mounted shifter has no manual mode, and the detent between Drive and D3 is soft, so we found ourselves checking the dash indicator to make sure we had selected the most economical choice.
The five-speed manual has low clutch effort with smooth engagement, and the shifter offers good action if not the short, crisp movement of the Civic Si. But the manual allows you to get the most out of the engine, which cleanly revs happily right past the marked redline. That lets a 177-hp 2.4 manual keep up with a 190-hp 2.4 automatic. Of course, the 190-hp 2.4-liter and five-speed manual are the most entertaining of the four-cylinder models and will appeal to that segment of the Accord audience that enjoys driving and believes shifting is done with hands and feet, not thumbs.
If you don't know whether to choose the 177-hp or 190-hp version (setting aside trim considerations) ask yourself how often you floor the throttle and run your engine to redline: If the answer lies between never and seldom the 177-hp will prove quite satisfactory.
In terms of fuel economy, all Accord sedans with four-cylinder engines are EPA-rated 22/31 mpg City/Highway with the manual, 21/30 mpg with the automatic. Four-cylinder coupes are rated 22/31 mpg with the manual, 21/30 mpg with the automatic. V6 sedans are rated 19/29 mpg. V6 coupes are rated 19/28 mpg with automatic, 17/25 mpg with the six-speed manual.
On EX V6 models, a new 3.5-liter engine brings 268 hp with a five-speed automatic, matching the Camry V6 and just a shade behind the Altima's Z-car-based engine and continuously variable transmission. It's a smooth engine and quieter than the Altima's, more than adequate for any purpose, and uses the latest version of Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM).
Like GM and Chrysler systems designed to save gas on big V8s, VCM changes the number of engine cylinders working at any given time and load to save fuel. The previous example switched off three cylinders (half the V6) when they weren't needed, but this new one changes between six, four, and three cylinders for more fuel-stretching choices. The system is completely automatic and unknown to the driver except for two things: The Eco light illuminates on the dash when the system is on, and there's a slight hunting sensation as it switches back-and-forth between four and three cylinders at certain speeds, but you'll need to be paying attention to notice that.
Coupes with the 190-hp four-cylinder manual or automatic or the VCM V6 automatic use the same powertrain setups as the sedans. However, the V6 used in the coupe with the manual six-speed transmission is a different engine. While size and output are the same, it uses a different intake system for stronger midrange and no VCM because its intended buyer isn't springing for the sportiest model to save gas by letting pistons coast along for the ride.
The softest-riding Accord is the LX by virtue of 16-inch tires w.
All-new, the 2008 Honda Accord impresses with what you don't see, don't feel, and don't hear. There's no gee-whiz gadget, two-tone animal-on-animal upholstery, or 400-hp engine to get worked up about. There's also next to no learning curve to operate it, no weak spots in the powertrain, no unnecessary or intrusive noise, no bad manners in how it responds to driver direction, next to nothing bad for the environment, and no excuse for not asking directions since you can do that without winding down a window. It's a case where a lack of superlative aspects (and the frequent compromises accompanying them) is a very good thing. In short, the new Honda Accord is a great midsize sedan. It's also available as a stylish, trouble-free coupe
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent G.R. Whale filed this report from Santa Monica, California.
Honda Accord LX Sedan ($20,360); LX-P Sedan ($21,360); LX-S Coupe ($21,860); EX Sedan ($23,060); EX Coupe ($23,160); EX-L Sedan ($25,060); EX-L Coupe ($25,160); EX V6 Sedan ($25,960); EX-L V6 Sedan ($28,060); EX-L V6 Coupe ($28,310).
Marysville, Ohio; Sayama, Japan.
Options As Tested
Honda Accord EX-L Sedan ($25,060).
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