Review: 2008 Honda Accord
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Have you heard the one about Honda Accord owners? They're so loyal that when it's time to get a new car, they simply buy the newest version of the Accord.
This may sound like a joke, but it's true in about one half of Accord sales. You see, Honda research shows that 50 percent of new Accords go to consumers who already own Accords—a noteworthy statistic for a nameplate that's now more than 30 years old.
In fact, Honda officials know of owners who are on their fourth straight Accord. Some don't even bother to shop around to see what else is new on the market. This year, there'll be even less reason for them to look beyond their Honda dealership, as the latest, eighth-generation Accord arrives.
The 2008 Accord is a roomier, more powerful, front-wheel-drive sedan and coupe with richer looks, more features, safety improvements, detailed special touches and a pleasing ride.
It's also pricier. Starting retail price now is $20,360 for a sedan with four-cylinder engine and manual transmission. This compares with $18,625 for a base, 2007 Accord sedan with four cylinder and manual. Accord coupe prices increased, too, with the lowest starting retail price now at $21,860. This contrasts with $20,475 for a base 2007 Accord coupe. The lowest-priced, 2008 Accord with V6 is a sedan with automatic and a starting retail price of $25,960.
The reason for the price increases is primarily new, additional equipment, and the elimination of the lowest-priced Accord, the Value Package (VP). All 2008 Accords come with standard steering-wheel-mounted controls, anti-whiplash front-seat head restraints and electronic stability control. The new, safer head restraints weren't offered in the predecessor Accord, and stability control and steering-wheel controls used to be available only on upper-trim models. The Accord's standard side-curtain airbags also are more sophisticated, with new two-chamber units that can stay deployed longer than before.
But what hasn't changed in the 5-passenger Accord is its aura of durability and quality, which are the primary purchase reasons for those oh-so-loyal buyers. In a pre-sale consumer showing of the 2008 Accord, Honda officials found people praised perceived quality, and some expressed that they thought the new Accord looks more prestigious than what they'd expect from the Honda brand.
This probably won't hurt sales of the Accord, a model that's been among the five best-selling cars in the U.S. for more than 20 years. In fact, by the end of 2007, total U.S. sales of Accords should top 10 million, surpassing such well-known nameplates as the Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus.
Accord Grows Bigger
Another growth indicator is that the 2008 Accord sedan is now classified as a "Large" car, according to the interior volume rankings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 2007 Accord sedan was—like its direct competitors, the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima—ranked as a "Midsize."
Don't fret that the Accord four door now is the size of a Lincoln Town Car. Far from it. The 2008 Accord's 106 cubic feet of passenger volume just tips the sedan into the "Large" class for the first time. The midsize Camry has 101.4 cubic feet of passenger compartment volume, while Toyota's "large" Avalon has 106.9 cubic feet. If you want a cozier ride in a midsize sedan, try the Mazda6, whose passenger volume is 96.1 cubic feet.
The new Accord coupe is a bit smaller inside than the Accord sedan and its 104.1 cubic feet of passenger volume increased just 0.1 cubic feet over the 2007 Accord coupe.
How did the Accord sedan get larger? Three inches were added to the overall length, with an extra inch added to the width. The new Accord sedan is now nearly 5 inches longer than a Camry, and 4.3 inches longer than Nissan's Altima.
Fuel-capacity is up 1.4 gallons to match the Camry's 18.5-gallon gas tank, but the sedan's trunk space remains the same at a generous 14 cubic feet (which will accommodate four golf bags). With trunk room remaining static, you can probably guess the passenger compartment received the gains from the increased dimensions.
Rear legroom has grown from last year's 36.8 inches to 37.2, and there are 2 more inches of hip-room in the front seats than there were last year. This also means there are 2 more inches of front-seat hip-room in the Accord sedan than in the Camry, though the Camry has a half inch more rear-seat legroom.
The best part of the 2008 Accord is that it doesn't drive like a large car. With a double-wishbone suspension up front and a new multilink suspension replacing the rear's previous double-wishbone setup, the new Accord maintains an agile, easy-to-drive feeling. One of the few nits is that the turning circle has jumped slightly, to 37 feet, from the 2007 sedan's 36.1 feet.
Bigger Car That's Fuel Efficient?
According to Honda's preliminary estimates, the best government mileage rating for a 2008 Accord is with the 4-cylinder engine mated to the 5-speed manual transmission: 22 city /31 hwy mpg. This is nearly the same as last year's less-powerful, 4-cylinder manual-tranny Accord, which would have rated 23/31 mpg if the 2008 government mileage calculations were used (the federal government is lowering fuel mileage ratings of virtually all vehicles in 2008 because a new, more stringent fuel-usage formula is employed).
The story is even better for the 2008 Accord with its new, larger displacement, 3.5-liter V6. With 268 horsepower, this is the most powerful engine ever offered in a Honda. But despite the power increase, the 2008 Accord V6 has a preliminary government mileage rating of 19/29 mpg for the sedan equipped with a 5-speed automatic. This surpasses the rating of the less powerful, 3.0-liter 2007 Accord V6 automatic (18/26 mpg) under the new 2008 government calculations.
The noteworthy fuel mileage figures for the i-VTEC V6 derive from a variable engine cylinder management system that lets the engine operate on six, four or even three cylinders, depending on driver needs, terrain, etc. A first for Honda on a nonhybrid production car, the variable cylinder management is available only with the Accord's 5-speed automatic transmission. Note that Honda's Odyssey minivan has had variable cylinder management in its V6 before the arrival of the 2008 Accord. But the Odyssey V6 was only able to adjust from six cylinders to three.
Still, while some consumers no doubt will wish for a smaller Accord with even higher fuel economy, Honda officials tried to "achieve accord" by balancing a roomier car with fuel efficiency.
Ann Job is a freelance automotive writer.