- Powerful and fuel-efficient engines
- Ample passenger space
- Balanced approach to handling and ride comfort
- Striking coupe styling
- Center stack's button-riddled design
My, how the little Honda Accord has grown. He used to be this cute, compact sedan and now look at him -- a large, strapping lad that's bigger and more powerful than ever before. Mommy and Daddy Honda must be very proud. And they should be, because the 2008 Accord raises the bar in arguably the most competitive automotive segment -- midsize family sedans -- by striking a brilliant balance of performance, value and efficiency into a package that no longer blends into a crowd. The Accord has always been good and now it's even better.
Still available in sedan and coupe body styles, the all-new 2008 Honda Accord is most obviously highlighted by its slick new styling. The two-door is particularly striking, as it's mostly unchanged from the Accord concept car that debuted at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. The sedan, meanwhile, has an eye-catching elegance that sets it apart from past Accords, which were mostly understated to the point of anonymity. Although, once the first 100,000 2008 Accords hit the streets, the sedan may start to seem pretty anonymous, too.
The biggest news lies under the hood, where Honda has devoted its considerable engine expertise to perfecting three power plants that deliver both performance and fuel efficiency. Available on EX sedans and all coupes, the midlevel inline-four-cylinder produces a best-in-class 190 horsepower -- by comparison, the 1998 all-new Accord featured an optional V6 that produced 200 hp. All that power comes at no fuel economy expense, as it matches the fuel economy estimates of the previous model's four-cylinder.
A new 3.5-liter V6 debuts as well. This engine equals the hefty horsepower and torque ratings of the Toyota Camry's V6, but falls a wee bit short of the Altima 3.5. New to this segment is Honda's cylinder-deactivation technology, which allows the engine to run on six, four or three cylinders depending on driving conditions for maximum fuel economy. The result is an improvement of 3 highway mpg over the last V6, despite 24 more horses. As a matter of fact, all 2008 Accord engines get better highway fuel economy than the 125-hp 1990 Accord and even come close to the tiny 68-hp 1977 edition. Now that's progress.
The outgoing Honda Accord managed to hold its own against the recently redesigned Altima and Camry sedans, and the all-new Accord should make Toyota and Nissan sweat even more. Although each of these three class leaders offers a slightly different take on the midsize segment, the 2008 Honda Accord is perhaps the best execution in terms of appealing both to people who prioritize comfort and those who desire a little fun in their daily driver. Plus, it's bigger, more powerful and definitely more strapping than ever.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2008
Honda Accord has been fully redesigned for 2008. It's bigger and roomier. New four- and six-cylinder engines are not only more powerful, they either match or surpass their predecessors in terms of fuel economy.
The 2008 Honda Accord is available in sedan and coupe body styles. The sedan comes in LX, LX-P, EX and EX-L trim levels, while the coupe comes in LX-S, EX and EX-L trims. The sedan's base LX comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, fold-down rear seats and a six-speaker stereo with a single CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. The sedan's LX-P adds 16-inch alloy wheels, auto up-down front windows and a power driver seat. The coupe's base LX-S trim includes the LX-P's equipment (minus the passenger-side auto-up window and power driver seat) and adds an in-dash six-CD changer.
The EX adds 17-inch wheels and a sunroof to each body style's upgraded LX trim level. The EX sedan gains the in-dash six-CD changer, while the EX coupe gets a premium stereo system with subwoofer. The EX-L trim level adds leather upholstery, auto-on headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and satellite radio. The EX-L sedan gains the premium stereo system, while the EX-L coupe gains the power driver seat.
The lone option is a navigation system available on the EX-L trim level that includes voice-activated controls and Bluetooth.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Honda Accord has always distinguished itself with interior quality that is a cut above the rest, and while the all-new 2008 edition hardly disappoints, the competition has largely caught up. Fit and finish remains very good. The overall design is simple, yet handsome -- even in lower trim levels. One of our few complaints with the Accord regards the center control stack, which is packed with buttons for the climate control, stereo and available navigation system. It's a setup you'll certainly get used to, but it looks cluttered.
This is the largest Accord ever made and as such, buyers can expect an ample supply of front and rear passenger room. The sedan in particular offers the most interior space available in the midsize segment (although the Altima, Camry and Sonata are awfully close). The sedan features 14 cubic feet of trunk space, which is at least a cube less than its major competitors. The coupe offers a respectable 11.9 cubes for similar two-door cars.
All Accords come standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and full-length curtain airbags.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2008 Honda Accord comes with a choice of powerful and fuel-efficient engines. The LX and LX-P sedans come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 177 hp and 161 pound-feet of torque. An upgraded version of that 2.4-liter engine that makes a class-leading 190 hp is standard on the EX sedans and all coupes. A five-speed manual is standard with the four-cylinder engines, with a five-speed automatic optional. Available on the EX trim levels is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is typically standard with this engine, though the V6 coupe is available with a six-speed manual.
The Accord's fuel economy is very impressive. Both four-cylinder engines with automatic transmissions achieve 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while the six-cylinder with the automatic gets 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. These numbers match the current mpg champ, the Toyota Camry, and better everything else in its class. The V6 coupe with the six-speed manual gets a 17/25 mpg rating, as it lacks the V6's otherwise standard cylinder-deactivation technology.
The 2008 Honda Accord maintains the car's traditional mix of both sporty handling and comfort. Handling is very good, with excellent steering that provides a tremendous combination of just-right feel and weight. While other sporty midsize sedans tend to thrive on twisty roads or city streets, the Accord does the best job of remaining consistently competent no matter the driving condition. "Well-rounded" is an adjective that applies to most Honda models and the new Accord is no different. The wonderfully smooth and powerful 3.5-liter V6 is an excellent engine, producing strong acceleration and fuel economy; however, the 190-hp four-cylinder provides more than enough motivation. The new Accord is also quieter thanks to additional sound-deadening materials and body-stiffening measures.
The 2008 Honda Accord maintains and improves upon the aspects that have made past Accords so great. Plus, the sedan and coupe's eye-catching styling proves that reliable transportation doesn't have to be bland.