During the press launch of the 2008 Honda Accord its chief engineer, Chitoshi Yokota was blunt as he discussed the car's lack of a push-button start. "We wanted to apply the push-button start but we will wait until we perfect the technology."
This sort of measured strategy is understandable as Honda does not want to try anything that might mess with the Accord's mojo. That's because the Accord is the Superman to Honda's Metropolis. In the U.S. it is Honda's best-selling vehicle, as well as one of the top five best-selling vehicles overall for nearly two decades. The Accord accounts for nearly one-fifth of all midsize vehicles sold in the U.S. It was not only the first Honda built here, but the first Japanese car built in the U.S., and 2007 marks the 25th year of manufacturing Accords in North America. So yeah, the Accord with a 32-year history is a very big deal to Honda-and the entire U.S. car-buying populace for that matter-and you can be sure that the automaker is careful with its tack. But the car wars are not always won by staying the course and Honda, being Honda, bumped up the features on the latest and greatest Accord, er, accordingly.
The '08 Accord is once again available with two or four doors, depending on which way you swing. Both Sedan and Coupe come with either a 2.4L four-banger (making 180 or 200 hp) or a saucy 273hp V-6, depending on which of the four available trim levels you select. The four can be had with a five-speed gearbox in both manual and automatic flavors.
The V-6 can be fitted with the same five-speed gearbox (albeit with slightly different ratios than the four-cylinder auto) or with a super snickety six-speed manual as an available treat for coupe owners. The automated V-6 is equipped with Honda's new Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that automatically switches from six-, four-, and three-cylinders to achieve the optimal balance between power and fuel economy. Each of the four and six-cylinder engines saw a bump in power while still meeting the ultra strict PZEV and ULEV/Tier-2, Bin-5 emissions certification. In short, the engines in the new Accord got more mean and more green. This is mostly because they feature exhaust manifolds built into the cylinder heads, allowing for quicker catalytic converter light-off-great for Mother Nature, but not so great for aftermarket potential. This pitfall shouldn't trouble too many Accord owners, as the model's substantial customer base is not exactly brimming with JDM Honda heads.
Because it's such a big seller, the styling on the Accord is neither daring nor dramatic in order to be all things to all people. Take the Coupe for example: The '07 model was not a bad looking car, and the '08 pushes the wedge-shaped design even further. It's a much more contemporary style but it retains its Accord-like appearance. The tale of the tape places the overall length of the new Accord Coupe at 190.7 inches, making it 2.9 inches longer; its width of 72.7 inches is 1.4 inches wider; and height of 55.7 inches is 0.7 inches higher than the '07 model. Compared to the '08 Accord Sedan the coupe is 3.4 inches shorter in length and 1.7 inches shorter in height, with the same width between the two. This swelling actually bumped the new Accord Sedan from the EPA Midsize to Large classification. To put this into perspective, the first generation CVCC Accord with its 93.7-inch wheelbase is actually three inches shorter than that of the Fit and its 68 hp is 22 ponies more than just one cylinder on the new Accord.
Not only is the upcoming Accord larger than the CVCC, it's equipped in such a manner that only eight generations of progress can provide. The intuitive voice-activated Navi includes a Zagat Survey guide, an 8-inch screen, and an interface dial. It should also be noted that this is the first use of a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink in a Honda product.
Even the Sporty Spice V-6 six-speed MT Accord Coupe we sampled drove like, well, an Accord. This car is smooth and easy to drive, a commuter's dream, cosseting the driver without disengaging him from the drive. The lack of an LSD on the six-speed manual wasn't even an issue as there wasn't the slightest hint of torque steer even when we rocked out on the 273 hp V-6. WOT was rewarded with surprising alacrity and a heartier growl as the intake manifold and higher flow-rate silencer were specifically tuned on the 6MT Coupe.
The '08 Accord Sedan should go on sale Sept. 12 of this year with the Coupe debuting later in the month on the 20th. The base model LX Sedan with the 180-hp four should start at $20K while the EX-L V-6 6-Speed Coupe should come in at $30K. If quality, dependability, and reliability are high on your list of priorities, then the Accord is the car for you. But if aftermarket personalization is more of your bag then you may be better off with a Civic.
That New Car Smell
'08 Honda Accord
The Sticker $20,000 (LX Sedan)-$30,000 (EX-L Coupe) est.
Under The Hood 2.4L 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder; 3.5L 24-valve SOHC VTEC 6-cylinder
The Power 180 hp @ 6500 rpm, 166 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm (I-4); 200 hp @ 7000 rpm, 170 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm (I-4); 273 hp @ 6200 rpm, 250 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm (V-6)
Scale Tipping 3213 lb (LX I-4 MT Sedan); 3,544 lb (EX-L V-6 MT Coupe)
Layout Front engine, FWD
Gearbox 5-speed MT; 5-speed AT; 6-speed MT
Stiff Stuff Front: double wishbone, shock tower bar; Rear: independent multi-link; front and rear stabilizer bars
Rollers 16x6.5 alloy; 215/60R16 94H All-Season tires (LX-P Sedan); 18x8 aluminum wheels; 235/45R18 94V tires (EX-L V-6 MT Coupe)
Stoppers Power assist ABS with EBD; ventilated front and solid rear discs
At The Pump 22/31 (LX I-4 MT Sedan); 17/25 (EX-L V-6 MT Coupe) EPA mpg city/highway
The Pack Ford Fusion; Hyundai Sonata; Nissan Altima; Nissan Maxima; Saturn Aura; Toyota Camry
Deep Thoughts When you outgrow your K-swapped EG hatch the Accord will help preserve your Honda loyalty.