First Glance: Sleek and sophisticated
Introduced in the United States way back in 1976, the Honda Accord has been through seven major model revisions over the last 30 years. The sleek, spacious sedan available today is a far cry from the diminutive Accord hatchback (and sedan) that rolled into dealer showrooms back then.
The Accord has grown in size and sophistication since then, gradually transitioning from an economical compact into a midsize sedan of ample proportions. My test vehicle was a top-of-the-line Accord EX-L powered by a 244 horsepower 3.0 liter V6 engine (link goes to photo) mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
Some may find the Honda Accord's conservative shape a bit too bland, but I feel it has the right mix of style and form, being sleek and sophisticated without being overly flashy. The graphite pearl color was accented with tasteful amounts of chrome on the grille, window frames and exhaust tips. Combined with the 17 alloy wheels, these design elements helped make the Accord look classy and upscale. The somewhat innocuous styling may be perfect for those of you who prefer to do our driving discreetly. A power moonroof is standard on the EX model, as are heated power door mirrors.
In the Driver's Seat: Oh baby, that's a-what I like!
Sliding behind the wheel of the Accord was made easier by the leather-trimmed bucket seats, which I found to be very comfortable and supportive, and tilt/telescope steering wheel. Both front seats are power-adjustable and heated. Leg room was expansive and I found lots of useful storage space.
When it comes to instrument panel design, I'm of the opinion that keeping a driver's attention on the road is paramount. That means all gauges and instruments need to be overly clear and legible. The Accord's luminescent gauges with bright, clear numbers and readouts don't disappoint. The touch-screen nav system is easy to use thanks to its intuitive menu layout. The buttons are clearly labeled with bright white lettering, making them easy to spot at a glance.
The rear seats are spacious and comfortable. My wife and I agreed that the LATCH child seat anchor points were easier to access than many vehicles, which often bury them buried within the seat cushions. Our EX-L model came with a full complement of front, side- and side-curtain airbags, and also boasted 5-star frontal and 4-star side-impact crash test ratings from the NHTSA. The IIHS rated the Accord "good" (their highest score) for both front and side impacts.
On the Road: Who says family sedans need to be dull?
Part of the credit goes to the 4-wheel double-wishbone independent suspension (as opposed to the cheaper McPhereson strut design used in many cars). The Accord handles most minor road irregularities with ease while giving the driver a good feel for the road surface. It also excels at navigating twisty bits of road, making it worth your while to find that curvy alternate route to work.
The 244hp 3.0 liter V6 engine generally had plenty of power, and when under light vehicle load conditions it provided sprightly acceleration for passing and merging into traffic. Engine performance was a bit more restrained when the vehicle was full of visiting relatives and their accoutrements; a tiny sliver of extra power would have been welcome. If you want to have a bit more involvement with your driving, opt for the 6-speed manual transmission option. Not only does it allow you to wring a bit more power out of the engine, but it's a sports-car-quality unit that makes the Accord way more enjoyable to drive than it ought to be.
Journey's End: Are you getting what you pay for?
With that said, if youre a fan of the timeworn adage "you get what you pay for", you may not mind paying the extra coin to spring for a vehicle with such a winning combination of driving performance, reliability, resale value, interior comfort and overall refinement. It may cost a pretty penny, but youd be hard-pressed to find a better midsize sedan under $30k on the market today. -- Jeff James