Powerful V6 engine, Sporty but comfortable ride, Great seats
Clunky transmissions, Cramped rear seat, Mediocre interior trim
Florida, Texas, California are strong two-door markets. Strangely enough, Chicago is as well. That's not surprising if you look at it logically. While two-door convertibles sell very well in warm-weather climates, two-door coupes make more sense in northern climates. Coupes are also important to a brand's image. Just ask Chevrolet about Corvette.
Though the four-door sedan accounts for the bulk of Accord sales, Honda has long offered a two-door coupe in the Accord lineup and continues to do so with a 2008 redesign. Still front-drive, both body styles are longer, taller, and wider than their previous-generation counterparts. Accord coupe battles vehicles like the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chrysler Sebring, Ford Mustang, Nissan Altima coupe, Pontiac G6 coupe, and Toyota Solara.
Coupes come in LX or EX trim with prices starting as low as $ 21,860. The LX coupe gets a 190-horsepower four-cylinder engine. LX V6 and EX V6 get a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6--the most powerful engine is Accord's history. Four-cylinder buyers can choose between a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. V6 fans get either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active head restraints, and front, front-side, and curtain-side airbags. Park assist is not available, but a rear-view camera is a dealer-installed option on navigation-equipped models.
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6
Base Price: $30,510
As-Tested Price: $31,145
Built in Ohio.
Engine: SOHC 3.5-liter V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive Wheels: front-wheel drive
LX models come with air conditioning, tilt and telescope steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, front bucket seats, center console, folding rear seat with trunk pass-through, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital media player connection, auto headlights, and theft-deterrent system. EX models add power driver seat, heated mirrors, sunroof, upgraded sound system, fog lights, and alloy wheels. There is also an EX-L package that adds dual-zone climate control leather upholstery, heated front seats, satellite radio, and auto-dimming mirror. The only option is a navigation system with voice activation and Bluetooth cell-phone connection. It is available on EX-L package models.
Accord coupes are built in Marysville, Ohio. Sedans are built in Ohio and Japan. All have a destination charge of $635.
Get up and Go
Though horsepower numbers don't show it, there are really two V6 engines offered in Accord coupe. Automatic-transmission coupes share their V6 engine with sedans. This V6 has a cylinder-deactivation system that disables three cylinders when cruising and coasting to save fuel. Manual-transmission coupes get a V6 with more low-range torque but without the cylinder deactivation system. The improved torque is designed to give the manual-transmission models better acceleration.
Regardless of transmission, the V6-powered Accord coupe is a quick car. Honda doesn't quote a 0-60 mph time, but it is easily less than six seconds on manual-transmission models. That's faster than the V6-powered Nissan Altima coupe and faster than some purported sports coupes. Drivers wanting more power probably won't have their licenses long.
In addition to being powerful, the V6 is ultra smooth. It has a deadly silent idle and cruises seamlessly all day long. In hard acceleration, the engine emits a refined expensive growl.
Perhaps the only cracks in Accord's driveline armor are its transmissions. The five-speed automatic transmission doesn't upshift smoothly and downshifts with a thud. You can also feel the transmission downshift as you slow for stoplights. The manual transmission suffers from imprecise throws and a flimsy clutch that lacks feel.
The EPA gives the Accord V6/manual a city rating of 17 mpg and a highway rating of 25 mpg. Those fall short of the Accord V6 automatics 19/28 mpg rating and the 19/26 mpg rating for the V6/manual-transmission Nissan Altima. In routine highway driving it's easy to average 25 mpg. If your commute includes lots of stop-and-go city driving expect 18 mpg. One positive factor is that Honda says all Accord engines run fine on regular-grade fuel.
On the Road
If you've spent any time behind the wheel of a previous-generation Accord, the 2008 model will feel very familiar. Honda engineers have done an excellent job of delivering an athletic and comfortable ride. The coupe's ride is more firm than the sedan's, but it never pounds or feels hard. For comparison, Toyota Solara rides more smoothly and Nissan Altima rides more firmly.
Accord has an athletic feel, but when pushed hard into turns it understeers (resists turning) just like every other front-drive coupe. Perhaps the biggest difference between the '07 and '08 models is the steering. The new Accord has precise steering that has good road feel. In addition, the variable-rate rack reduces the effort required in parking lots. Brakes are strong and the pedal is easy to modulate.
Accords have always had a trifle more road and wind noise than the midsize-car norm and the '08 model is no exception. Though quieter than the model it replaces, there's still some tire thrum on coarse concrete and a trace of unexpected wind noise around the side windows. Neither is likely to hinder conversation.
Behind the Wheel
The Accord's interior is traditional Honda. That means clear and simple gauges and large and well-marked buttons. The more expensive the model, the more complicated the controls, though even navigation-equipped EX models are fairly straight forward. Materials are on par with other vehicles in this class, but not outstanding.
Front seat leg and head room are good and you definitely notice that the new car is wider. Seats strike a good balance between comfortable and supportive without feeling confining. Visibility is excellent, but the outside mirrors are quite small.
NHTSA Crash-Test Results, 2008 Honda Acord coupe
|Front Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Front Impact, Passenger ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Driver ||4 stars|
|Side Impact, Rear Passenger ||5 stars|
|Rollover Resistance ||5 stars|
The back seat in coupes is roomier than you might expect, but putting three adults back there is out of the question. Both leg and head room are tight for anyone over 5-foot-10 and getting in and out is a chore as the front doors aren't very long and the front seats don't pivot forward very far. The front seatbacks also don't have a memory, so each time you let someone in or out, you have to re-adjust the seatback.
Trunk space is just average for the class. The opening has inexpensive-looking hinges that eat into cargo space. In addition, the rear seat folds, but is not split and the center seatbelt does not remove. So, if you want to expand cargo space, no one can ride in the back seat.
You'd be a fool not to consider Accord if you are looking for a big coupe. Some might find fault with its recalcitrant transmissions, but otherwise the car is nearly flawless. The coupe strikes a near-prefect balance between sport and practicality and never feels like a sedan with two less doors.
Honda was careful to give this new coupe strikingly different--almost dramatic--styling. The Japanese automaker also packed in enough technology to keep the IT generation happy, though lack of true iPod control and a digital hard drive might turn off some. Accord coupe should appeal to traditional Honda buyers and attract those looking for something with more sophistication than a traditional sport coupe.
The ace in the hole for this two-door is the fact that it is an Accord. That means exceptional resale value, solid reliability, and reasonable pricing. If you bypassed Accord because you felt it didn't have a lot of character, you might want to look again.