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Saturday, December 1, 2007
Review
Bigger, stylish Accord gets an outstanding makeover for 2008
Richard Williamson / Scripps Howard News Service



Don't be surprised if the new Honda Accord overtakes Toyota's Camry as the best selling car in 2008. The eighth generation is one of the best sedans ever built.

Those who have watched the Accord evolve since its 1976 debut as a tinny economy car will be impressed by the beauty, luxury and performance of the latest model.

With its introduction as a 2008, the Accord gains a one-year advantage in novelty over the current generation Camry, which continues to look fresh in its sophomore year. Camry also comes under attack in 2008 from the laudable new Chevrolet Malibu.

Determined to make a grand entry this year, Honda endowed the new Accord with the largest passenger space and the greatest range of technology in the vehicle's 32-year history. According to EPA standards, the new model moves up from a mid-size to a large car, but the competition is still considered mid-size.

While sport utilities and pickups have faltered amid rising fuel prices, the sedan market in the U.S. is still strong, with annual sales of roughly 2 million units. The Accord accounts for nearly a fifth of all vehicles sold in its category.

With prices ranging from $20,360 for the 4-cylinder LX with five-speed manual to $30,260 for the V6-powered EX with five-speed automatic, the Accord covers a broad swath of the mid-range market, stopping just short of the luxury end.

The Accord is also available in a coupe with the same engine choices. The sedan's trim levels include the LX and LX-P ($21,360) with 177-horsepower 4-cylinder engines and five-speed sticks, the EX at $23,060 with a 190-horsepower 4-cylinder and a stick, the EX with a 268-horsepower V6 and automatic at $25,960. The EX-L with the same engine and transmission is priced at $28,060. Adding the navigation system costs $2,200 more. Buyers can choose five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions on all of the 4-cylinder models. Automatic adds about $800 to the window sticker.
The EX-L review car included the navigation system and the V6, which ranks as the most powerful ever installed in an Accord.

The new generation measures 3 inches longer than the 2007 model, 1.1 inch wider and 0.9-inch taller. That translates to an interior that is 3.3 cubic-feet larger than before.

Honda designers adopted the theme of "athletic dynamism" to guide their creative efforts, and those words describe the sedan's performance, as well. The exterior conveys sophistication and luxury, with lines that flow and sweep in graceful harmony. The back end is particularly stylish, with flat, sloping tail that seems blunt-cut by the trunk line.

The interior is roomy and well designed, with especially generous legroom in the back seats. A wider center console creates more space around the front passengers.

The interior controls in the center stack are attractively designed but confusing to the eye. With so many options available for navigation, trip-computer, audio and ventilation, Honda took the route of BMW and others in creating a toggle-knob type control that allows you to pick the system you want to adjust by turning the knob and pushing it to enter the command. With experience, the system becomes easier to use.

At night, the controls are distinguished by color to separate climate controls in aqua green from audio controls in white. Steering wheel audio controls are standard on every trim level.

The visual dimensions of the dash relative to the eye and steering wheel seem ideal. The only distraction at night is the reflection of the brightly lit navigation screen in the windshield.

The Accord's redesigned front bucket seats are larger, with better lateral support. The fold-down lockable rear seatback expands cargo capacity and the back seats include a lockable pass-through for long objects in the trunk such as skis or lumber.

On the road, the V6-powered Accord is simply outstanding, with incredible road feel, great on-center steering, responsive reflexes and brisk, quiet acceleration. The five-speed automatic glides through the gears effortlessly.

The sedan feels very light on its feet, like a sprinter wearing state-of-the-art running shoes. With a slightly lower center of gravity, the Accord corners splendidly.

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The Accord styling has certainly gotten bolder, but then any attempt to distance themselves from the vanilla styling of old could have helped that endeavor.

It is simply a much better car than the Camry, and I would own one myself......if buying from a manufacturer that helps my country and economy the most, was NOT a sizable factor. I think that a Taurus or Malibu is just as good and even better in some respects, so it's not like I am simply buying American to be a patriot. Those days are now -- officially dead!!! You can have the best, and support the best - America.
 
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