Passenger and cargo room, Athletic ride, Good fuel economy
CONS Uncooperative automatic transmission, smallish trunk
The prototypical midsize car gets a full makeover
In the last decade, few cars have more impact on the auto industry than the Honda Accord. Of course it wasn't always that way. Back in 1976 when the Accord was introduced, domestic cars ruled the roost and the imports collected sloppy seconds. Today, the market has come 180 degrees and vehicles like the Accord and Toyota Camry are the benchmarks in the midsize class.
With a 2008 redesign, Accord enters it eighth generation. Last year, it was the bestselling model in Honda's lineup. In case you've spent the last twenty years under a rock, you should know that it competes against vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Pontiac G6, and Toyota Camry in the hot midsize-car segment. The '08 model comes in sedan and coupe form with four-cylinder and V6 engines and front-wheel drive.
Both the sedan and coupe are longer, taller, and wider than their previous-generation counterparts. The sedan's exterior measurements are very similar to the Toyota Camry and slightly larger than the Nissan Altima. Two trim levels are offered with prices starting as low as $20,360. The LX sedan is powered by a 177-horsepower four-cylinder engine. LX coupe and EX sedan and coupe get a 190-horsepower version of the same 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 either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. V6 sedans come with a five-speed automatic. V6 coupes get either the five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.
Standard safety features on all models includes antilock brakes, 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 V6 sedan
Base Price: $25,325
As-Tested Price: $25,960
Built in USA and Japan.
Engine: DOHC 3.5-liter V6
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: front-wheel drive
Honda claims that the new body is 20 percent more rigid than before. Front suspension is double wishbone while the rear is a multi-link design. New for '08 is variable ratio steering that is designed to lessen steering input at parking speeds. Standard on V6 models is a cylinder management system that shuts down two or three cylinders when they are not needed. This is designed to save fuel. Also included on V6 models are active engine mounts and a noise canceling system.
Key features include navigation system, leather upholstery, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, and XM satellite radio. Accord Hybrid was discontinued in early 2007 and will not return for 2008. Honda claims to be working on a hybrid only vehicle that will be in showrooms before 2010. Accord is built in Japan and Ohio.
Get up and Go
If there is one thing Honda does right, it is engines. The four-cylinder in the Accord is plenty powerful four routine driving and is so smooth you might confuse it with a competitor's V6.
Speaking of V6 engines, the Accord's has ample power and really shines in passing situations. The engine is silky smooth and delivers more power instantly when called upon. There's a slight hiccup in power delivery as the engine switches between three-, four- and six-cylinder mode, but it's hardly noticeable and the fuel-economy benefit is more than worth the blip.
Perhaps the only crack in Accord's driveline armor is the five-speed automatic transmission. It doesn't upshift smoothly and downshifts with a thud. In addition, as you are slowing for stoplights, you can feel the transmission shifting down to first gear.
The 2008 Accord hasn't been officially EPA rated yet. Honda is claiming that four-cylinder sedans will average 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, and that V6 sedans will net 19 mpg highway and 29 mpg highway. Those are impressive numbers, but no better than the competition. Honda says that all engines will run fine on regular-grade gasoline.
On the Road
If you've spent any time behind the wheel of an Accord in the past decade, then the 2008 model will feel very familiar. Honda does an excellent job of delivering an athletic and comfortable ride. The Toyota Camry rides more smoothly, yet Accord has less bouncing and bobbing. Accord's ride grows firm on EX V6 sedans and any coupe, but it never pounds or feels hard.
Though Accord feels athletic, when pushed hard into turns it understeers (resists turning) just like every other front-drive sedan. 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. Accord drivers will instantly 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 Accord sedan
|Front Impact, Driver ||NA|
|Front Impact, Passenger ||NA|
|Side Impact, Driver ||NA|
|Side Impact, Rear Passenger ||NA|
|Rollover Resistance ||NA|
The back seat is roomy enough for three adults, but two would be more comfortable. There is adult-size head and leg room in sedans. Coupe models have less rear-seat room, but it is still larger than most competitors.
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.
The new Accord is bigger, that's true. Is it better? Yes, but when you reach the level of goodness Accord has attained, the gains are incremental rather than monumental. Further, when you build a car to a price point--as everyone must today--anything you add comes off the other end. For example, the new Accord has a simple pull handle in the trunk to release the rear seatback. The previous generation had a locking button inside the passenger compartment.
Of course, Honda fans will snap up the new Accord like peanuts in an elephant cage. Yet, the new and larger Accord makes just as much sense for families as it always has. Honda's made some wise choices to keep prices down. There's no "smart key," because Honda felt the added expense wasn't one the typical midsize buyer was willing to accept.
In all, the new Accord offers the goodness of the previous generation in a package that is, at once, more comfortable, and more family orientated. It took eight generations, but the Accord has finally become the prototypical midsize American car--roomy, athletic, and affordable. Who could ask for more?
|Specifications, 2008 Honda Accord EX V6|
|Wheelbase, in. |
|Size, liters/cu. in. |
3.5 / 212
|Length, in. |
|Horsepower @ rpm |
268 @ 6200
|Width, in. |
|Torque (lb-ft) @ rpm |
248 @ 5000
|Weight, lbs. |
|EPA Estimates, mpg|
19 city / 29 highway
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft. |
|Fuel Capacity, gals. |
3 years / 36,000 miles
|Front Head Room, in. |
5 years / 60,000 miles
|Front Leg Room, in. |
5 years / unlimited miles
|Rear Head Room, in. |
|Free Roadside Assistance |
|Rear Leg Room, in. |
|Free Scheduled Maintenance|