2008 Honda Accord EX-L
 2008 Honda Accord EX-L
 inside the Accord EX-L
 you get the V-6 engine
 the Accord EX-L rocks!

2008 marks the 8th generation of Honda's flagship vehicle. Introduced in 1976, the Accord has been a huge seller forever, thanks to its high quality, reliability, and efficiency.

Huge is the right word, because for 2008, the Accord moves from the midsize to fullsize category, with a whopping 120.0 cubic foot capacity. Compared to the 2007 model, the 2008 is 3.3 cubic feet larger, and three inches longer, 1.1 inch wider, and nearly an inch taller. With a 2.3-inch longer wheelbase, there is limo-like rear legroom.

Thanks to some advanced body construction and the use of high-tensile steel, weight rose only about five percent. The first Accord weighed just 2,020 pounds, but the new one is a portly 3,371 pounds for the four-cylinder model and 3,577 lbs. for the V6. Ouch!

Length has grown nearly two feet since 1976. And horsepower? The first model's 1.6-liter four boasted a mere 68. Today's car offers a standard 2.4-liter four with either 177 or 190 horsepower, depending on model. The optional 3.5-liter V6 puts out an astounding 268 horsepower--the most ever in an Accord.

Honda uses various techniques to reduce emissions and increase mileage. Considering its bulk, its 21 City, 31 Highway mileage with the four-cylinder is pretty good.

My tester, in Basque Red Pearl, came with the big V6. Through a five-speed automatic, it rocketed smoothly and silently to highway speeds with a toe touch of the accelerator. The EX-L is the only model that offers a manual six-speed transmission, if you want one.

Thanks to Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), the Accord's V6 engine uses all six cylinders, four, or three, depending on driving conditions. The car earns a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) rating while logging fuel mileage of 19 City, 29 Highway. I averaged 17.0 mpg.

Air Pollution scores in the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide numbers are a little confusing. All cars receive either a 7 or a 9.5, with no apparent difference. Be sure you find one of the latter models-it's likely the PZEV one. For the Greenhouse Gases scores, the four-cylinder Accord gets a 7 and the V6 earns a 6. Those are reasonable numbers, but won't put a smile on Al Gore's face.

Over its 32 year life, the Accord has grown into a mighty Impala. But Honda can say that the baby boomers that comprise a major portion of its customers want this car, and that Honda is simply supplying it. Nobody can argue with annual sales in the 350,000 to 400,000 range.

Accord styling has always been conservative but tasteful. Originally available only as a hatchback that looked like a stretched Civic, a four-door sedan arrived for the 1979 model year. In 1988, during the third generation, a coupe model was added. A wagon appeared with the fourth generation in 1990.

The 2008 comes as a sedan or coupe only. Now, during a period of more expressive designs from Japanese-name manufacturers, the Accord wears some surprising angles and edges. The taillamps and headlamps stretch way out onto the sides of the car. The lenses actually break away from the flow of the fenders on the new car, and a bold crease rises from the top of the front wheelwell to the upper rear fender. More chrome adorns both ends.

Inside, the Accord continues to impress. You'll see the usual attractive color combinations, rich textures, and exquisite fit and finish. The controls are cleanly designed and easy to operate. The designers have cleverly distinguished audio controls from climate controls at night by illuminating the former in white and the latter in aqua. Staggered cupholders can accommodate two large Taco Bell beverages.

My EX-L tester occupies the top echelon of the Accord family. Sedans start with the 177-horsepower LX, at $20,360. The next level is the LX-Premium, with alloy wheels, a security system, and a few other goodies for an additional $1,000.

The EX and EX-L offer a standard 190-horsepower four-cylinder or the optional V6. The EX upgrades to 17-inch wheels and adds a power moonroof, heated mirrors, and a few other treats ($23,060). The EX-L coddles with heated leather seats, leather steering wheel, an upgraded audio system, and dual-zone climate control. You can order a navigation system. Prices for the EX-L start at $ 25,060. The V6 in either model bumps the price by $3,000. Add a $630 destination charge to all of these prices.

Note: The first Accord carried a sticker price of $3,995 (in 1976 dollars, of course).

If you want a pleasant, comfortable car that you can start, drive to work and back, carry five people on weekend trips, and hardly ever take to the dealership, this is it. The 268-horsepower models offer a surprising wealth of power, and you can options it out into Acura territory. Looks like another good year for Honda's big car.

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