A Genteel Sports Sedan
What a difference a clutch makes. The third pedal in Honda's lively Accord transforms it from a well-mannered four-door into a well-bred sports sedan. The opportunity to road test a Honda Accord isn't the Holly Grail of road testing that automotive journalists earnestly seek. Yet I came away from a week behind the wheel of my staid-looking tester with a renewed appreciation for the vehicle that put Honda on the map in the mid-size category. My bone-white example didn't excite me visually; fortunately it did that and more from behind the wheel.
|The Accord will impress you more with its manners than its exterior design.|
The lines of Honda's latest generation Accord are pleasant enough, if not a tad on the boring side. Its interior architecture is sharp though, adding some much-needed flair to the overall package. Honda produces some of the best switchgear in the mid-market range, along with what may be the best leather-wrapped front perches in any market.
You'll also find decent quality materials flooding the tightly assembled cabin. For all intents and purposes, the Accord's human space is a lesson in proper planning and packaging. From within its spaciousness, many a content motorist has administered this benchmark-setting, polished and refined five-passenger sedan. Until late, administrative duties did not include the management of six forward gears through a short throw stick. Prior to 2007, the exhilaration of shifting through a half dozen cogs in an Accord meant coping with two-doors rather than the much more practical arrangement of four.
The Accord Coupe EX-V6 with its manual six-speed mixer has always been a favorite of mine due to its spirited driving dynamics, not its ability to accommodate passengers. Like leveraging strength from the perfect merger, adding the six-speed stick to the EX-L V6 sedan instills similar driving dynamics into a vehicle better suited to hauling the rest of the family when need be.
|This powertrain is smooth and well suited to this vehicle.|
My leather-lined EX-L tester was powered by Honda's silk-smooth, 3.0 litre, 24-valve DOHC i-VTEC V6. This long-serving mill effortlessly spins-out 244 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm and 211 foot-pounds of torque @ 5,000 rpm but the real magic behind the performance is the wide range of gearing brought forth by the six-speed manual gearbox now available in the Accord Sedan.
For driving enthusiasts, the engine and transmission combo is nirvana. I don't think there is a sweeter pair anywhere within this vehicle's price structure- period. I was absolutely smitten with how quietly, smoothly and confidently the two hustled the Accord's curb weight of 1,443 kg (3,175 lb) about town or down the open highway. Perhaps more so than with its acceleration, I was astounded by the outstanding operational refinement of the spirited Honda drivetrain.
|The Accord offers unmatched dynamics in this price range.|
I've always been a stickler about operational refinement, and quite frankly I'm often disappointed to find only moderate levels of such refinement in vehicles touting themselves as "premium" offerings. How some manufacturers can get it so right while others get it so wrong continues to be one of life's deep mysteries. Trust me- Honda got it right.
Not only does the Accord EX-L V6 six-speed impart refinement to the max, it also serves up a tremendously well composed ride. For my taste, the ride-versus-handling conundrum that vexes all vehicles has been dealt a serious blow by the Accord. This week's tester exhibited rock-solid body structure over the most deteriorated portions of pavement I could come up with. Nary a rattle, thump or shudder permeated the rigid cabin as the fully independent suspension soaked-up the degradation of pot-holed roads.
The solidity of the Accord was further impressive to me than its ride comfort. That said, my tester was much more athletic on its 17-inch rubber than any Toyota Camry or Buick Allure I have driven lately, although in fairness both examples cited treat occupants to a slightly smoother ride. Road and wind noise intrusion in the three vehicles is roughly equal, which is to say, very little in the way of such irritation makes into the quiet cabins.
|Good quality materials are assembled flawlessly.|
Applying the antilock binders in my tester was in keeping with its athleticism. In fact, I found the certainty and effectiveness in their operation quite similar to the immediacy that German binders seem to deliver over those more domestic. Sharp, responsive braking arises out of light, easy pedal pressure giving the Accord short, predictable sure-footed stops with very little nosedive or fanfare.
If things were to get out hand, the Accord EX-L V6 is equipped with Honda's Vehicle Stability Assist program (VSA), augmented with traction control; VSA is technology which can help maintain control of a vehicle by applying wheel-specific braking and engine modulation. Regrettably, some collisions are beyond human and electronic intervention. In such a case, the Accord's standard equipment airbags - which include frontal and front side airbags - will assist in preserving life and diminishing injuries.
|A practical yet polished four-door sedan.|
I can quite candidly admit to enjoying the six-speed Accord far more than I expected. Why? Well, its level of operational refinement, which I've already heavily lauded on about, is really something to experience. When the engine finds its sweet spot north of 4,000 rpm, it takes on a muted growl that would sound perfectly in place in any premium marque. Otherwise the engine operates with near anonymity. Sometimes I wondered whether it was even there at all although my speedometer assured me it was. Those in the market for a practical yet polished four-door sedan capable of unleashing itself when the time is right must sample the Accord EX-L V6, six-speed. It rocks in a genteel sort of way.Impressive:
- Remarkably refined drivetrain
- Six gears to happiness
- Honda practicality and build quality
- Conservative styling
- Creeping up on $40K fully loaded
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