The mid-size Accord
's top-seller and regularly finishes as the second best-selling car in America behind the Toyota Camry. That probably will be the case again this year, but the Accord
might overtake the Camry next year because the new version has improved styling, more power and added features.
Revised front/rear fascias cosmetically distinguish 2006 Accord
s. They look slick, with such things as a new front bumper and grille design, restyled wheels, new rear bumper and trunk lid design and a nicely revised interior. Sedans have restyled rear fenders to accommodate the newly styled LED taillights.
Horsepower of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is up to 166 from 160, and power for the 3-liter V-6 has been increased to 244 from 240. Those are scarcely tremendous gains, but astute drivers should be able to detect the difference in performance.
The variety of Accord
models can make your head spin. The car comes in no less than 30 front-drive sedan and coupe models in base VP and various mid-range LX and LX-SE and top-line EX and EX-L trim levels. There's also the 253-horsepower gasoline-electric Hybrid.
mostly is sold as a mid-size family car, so an extra-cost five-speed automatic is the most popular transmission. But the Accord
also is offered with either five- or six-speed manual transmissions. Honda
says a new Accord
V-6 sedan with a six-speed manual gearbox is "designed to appeal to driving enthusiasts.''
Estimated fuel economy with the four-cylinder is 26 and 34 with the manual and 24 and 34 with the automatic. Figures for the V-6 are 21 and 30 with the manual, 20 and 29 with the automatic. The Hybrid, which comes only with the automatic transmission, is the fuel champ: 29 city, 37 highway.
List prices for gas engine Accord
s range from $18,225 to $29,300, which are up from the 2005 range of $16,295 to $28,850. No prices yet for the Hybrid, which Honda
says goes on sale soon. The 2005 Accord
Hybrid (January 16 AutoTimes) cost $30,140 and $32,140.
Hybrid has been criticized for looking too much like standard Accord
s, so the 2006 hybrid has new features. They include a power sunroof, revised front/rear spoilers, heated side mirrors with built-in turn signals and an exclusive taillight design. Two new exclusive Hybrid colors are Silver Frost Metallic and Premium White Pearl. However, the offbeat styling of the rival 2006 Toyota Prius hybrid still looks more distinctive Accord
V-6 versions are pricey despite all the car's trim levels. Most Accord
s come with the four-cylinder engine, which Honda
traditionally -- and stubbornly -- has thought is ideal for most driving. One must step up to the $25,100 Accord
LX automatic-transmission sedan to get a V-6, which means many Accord
buyers back away from it.
The top Accord
V-6 sedan is the EX with an automatic transmission and navigation system, but is priced in the near-luxury car class at $29,300. (Honda
could argue that it qualifies as a near-luxury model, but Honda
lacks a near-luxury nameplate.)
A new entry-level $18,225-$19,025 Accord
VP (Value Package) model replaces the 2005 entry Accord
DX. The VP comes with a manual or automatic transmission and is nicely equipped. Standard items include air conditioning, tilt/telescopic wheel, cruise control, folding rear seat, power windows and mirrors, AM/FM/CD player and door locks with remote keyless entry.
Safety features for all Accord
s include standard anti-lock brakes, front side air bags and head-protecting curtain side air bags. Also, all 2006 Accord
s get daytime running lights.
The LX versions add dual power mirrors, and the $21,525 LX SE automatic transmission sedan adds an AM/FM radio with in-dash 6-disc CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, rear disc brakes and larger 16-inch (vs. 15-inch) tires and alloy wheels.
Move to the LX V-6 and you get a power sunroof, power driver's seat, heated power mirrors and wider tires on 17-inch wheels.
V-6 models get an anti-skid system, traction control and brake assist for surer fast stops.
The EX-L four-cylinder and EX V-6 sedans add lots of convenience and luxury items, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio.
I tested the $23,250 Accord
EX four-cylinder sedan with the automatic transmission, which is a popular drivetrain combination. The V-6 is the best Accord
engine, but its sophisticated four-cylinder provides lively acceleration and the automatic transmission upshifts smoothly and downshifts quickly.
always has been more fun to drive than the Camry because it has a decidedly European feel. The quick steering has the right amount of power assist and allows a tight turning radius for good low-speed maneuvering. Occupants can feel sharp bumps, but the supple suspension provides a generally smooth ride and adroit handling.
sedan has large outside door handles that make it easy to enter the quiet, user-friendly interior, which has good room for four tall occupants -- or for five in a pinch because the middle of the rear seat is reasonably soft.
Front bucket seats are supportive. There's a new steering wheel, and the restyled gauge cluster can be quickly read in the revised instrument panel. Controls can be easily worked, although audio system controls aren't as simple as they could be. Cupholders are strategically located, and storage areas for small items include pockets in all doors.
However, the ignition switch is hard to reach on the steering column, and really should be on the dashboard. Another gripe: Thick windshield posts occasionally partly block visibility, especially when making turns at street corners with pedestrians crossing in front of the car.
The roomy, flat-floor trunk has a rather high opening, and the shape of the opening might make it difficult for some to easily slip golf clubs through it. Also, trunk lid hinges eat some room and the inside of the lid looks unfinished because it has no cover. No pull-down handle or indented inner lid area prevents getting hands dirty on the outside lid metal when closing the lid.
Rear seatbacks flip forward to enlarge the cargo area, but must be unlocked by inserting the ignition key in a hard-to-reach lock under the rear window. And the rear seatbacks don't sit entirely flat when folded forward.
The hood is held open with an old-fashioned prop rod instead of hydraulic struts, but the underhood area is neatly designed, with easily reached fluid-filler areas. Honda
has become a lot more aggressive, with such new models as a racier 2006 Civic (October 10 AutoTimes). The new Accord
is the best one yet, and is the one to watch in the race to become the top-selling car.
2006 HONDA ACCORD
Roomy. Refined. Good highway fuel economy. Nice ride and adroit handling.
Pricey V-6 models. High trunk opening. Awkward folding rear seatback release.