The 2003-2007 Honda Accord is one of the best selling sedans of all time, consistently doing battle over its five year run with the Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus. Keeping in mind that there is always risk when buying a previously owned car, there is some comfort in the fact that over its many years of production the Honda Accord remains nearly flawless, the closest thing you can get to a sure bet in the used car market. The car's massive production numbers mean you'll have no problem finding the color or trim you desire, but be prepared to pay top dollar as the Accord leads all its rivals in resale value. The Accord Sedan fills many niches, appealing to drivers who sometimes need to carry three or four adults, but don't want to suffer the pitfalls of a bulky and fuel thirsty SUV. Available in three, well-equipped trims with a choice of four or six-cylinder engines and manual or automatic transmissions, there is an Accord to fit just about everyone's needs.

 

Why You Want It

Unlike its domestic rivals, the Accord consistently holds top honors in long-term reliability studies and, with the exception of the Toyota Camry, holds its value better than just about every other sedan in its segment. The seventh generation Accord debuted in 2003 with a larger interior and more powerful engine choices, yet its fuel economy, especially on the four-cylinder models, remains impressive even by today's tougher standards. The car's somewhat subdued styling is attractive enough to lure in higher-end shoppers with an eye for frugality, but music lovers should note that Honda never offered the same type of high-end audio option (think Bose, Boston Acoustic and JBL) as Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Chrysler, and only offered such luxuries as leather seating, power sunroof and navigation on its top-of-the-line models. Also, those looking for maximum rear seat legroom and a bigger trunk might be happier with the Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry. On the flip side, the Accord is one of the few sedans that offer its top-of-the-line trim, in this case the EX, with the smaller, more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine. In 2005, Honda added the hybrid V6 to line, accompanying the gasoline-powered sedan as well as the LX and EX coupe models.

 

Notable Features and Options

The base four-cylinder DX trim includes power windows, a tilt/telescopic wheel, anti-lock brakes, AM/FM stereo with CD, five-speed manual transmission, rear-window defrost and six cup holders. Later models (2005 and up) include front-side and side-curtain airbags. The LX trims add keyless remote, 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks, power mirrors, rear seat trunk pass through and manual driver's seat height adjustment. The LX-V6 gains a five-speed automatic transmission and traction control. The EX trims provide front side airbags, power driver's seat, power sunroof and steering wheel audio controls, while the EX with leather adds dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and an eight way power driver's seat.

As Honda offers its options by trim, there are only a handful of dealer-installed options available for the Accord. You can add satellite radio, larger wheels and tires and protective options such as carpeted floor mats, door edge guards and paint protection.

 

Model Milestones

2003: The all-new seventh generation Accord debuts with a more powerful set of engines and a larger, more luxurious interior.

2004: Satellite radio and expanded availability of side curtain airbags mark the major changes. V6 models gain standard traction control.

2005: A V6 hybrid model is added to the line up, while the entire Accord fleet is fitted with front-side and side-curtain airbags.

2006: The Accord receives a slight exterior freshening and a small bump up in horsepower from 160 to 166 on four cylinder cars and from 240 to 244 on V6 models.

2007: No major changes

 

Engines and Performance

Few will argue that Honda's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is one the quietest, most refined engines in the world. At idle it's nearly imperceptible and even under hard acceleration hardly makes a fuss. But with only160 horsepower, the 2.4-liter has its work cut out for it, often struggling to accelerate when burdened with cabin full of passengers and their luggage. The benefit of the engine is its stellar fuel economy, which approaches 35 mile per gallon on the highway. Of course, if power is what you're all about, Honda's marvelous 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 will not disappoint. And, despite its added cylinder count, fuel economy remains respectable at 20-city and 29-highway.

As for the Accord's driving characteristics, let's just say they are capable but not sporting. While most Accord models are equipped with Honda's five-speed automatic, the smooth and precise manual transmission is a bit quicker and fun to drive. The Accord's steering is direct with good feedback, but some models suffer from a spongy feeling brake pedal. The suspension is tuned for comfort rather than performance driving, delivering a smooth but controlled ride both on the highway and in around town driving. When pressed hard, however, the Accord does exhibit a bit more pitch and sway than does the Nissan Altima or Mazda Mazda6.

 

Recalls, Safety Ratings and Warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued the following recalls for the 2003-2007 Honda Accord:

2003: Recall for defective ignition switch and anti-theft controller.

2003-04: Recall for possible defect in transmission that can cause it lock up.

2004: Recall for possible defective front seat side airbag.

2004-05: Recall for possible defective airbag deployment seat position sensor.

2005: Two recalls for defective wiring that may lead to the fuel pump losing power.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs where performed and if not, will make the fixes at no charge to you.

As for safety, the Accord is ranked near the top of its class by both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). NHTSA gives the Accord with side airbags a five star frontal crash test rating and a four and five stars for driver and passenger side impact respectively. IIHS gives a 'Good' rating in the frontal offset and side impact on all but the 2003 and 2004 models without side airbags, which earn a 'Poor' rating for side-impact protection.

The 2003-2007 Honda Accord offers a 3-year/36,000 mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000 powertrain warranty. Honda also offers a Certified Pre-Owned warranty on eligible vehicles that extends coverage for key components up to 4-years/48,000 miles.

 

Word on the Web

You know what the experts say, but what about people who actually live with the Accord? We've scoured over a number of consumer and fan-based Accord websites including CarComplaints.com, Epinions and HondaAccordForums.com. As was noted in our recall section, the largest number of complaints center around the 2003-2004 model's transmission, as well as some airbag problems, both of which are covered by the manufacturer's recalls. Oddly, the next largest batch of gripes seem to center around the audio system, more precisely, the CD player. Failure to eject, failure to play MP3s and even just plain old failure to work complaints abound.

 

Competitors

The Nissan Altima offers about the same interior room as the Accord, but has a sportier attitude, better handling and a more powerful engine lineup. The Altima?s interior materials are not as nice as the Accords, and its interior sound levels are somewhat high. The Chrysler 300 offers a much larger seat and trunk than the Honda, can be equipped with a potent V8 engine, and will probably cost less than a comparably equipped Accord. The 300 doesn?t have as strong a reputation for reliability, however, and its rear-wheel drive layout might be a negative for those who frequently encounter snow. The Toyota Camry is every bit the Accord?s equal, with excellent reliability and resale, as well as a plentiful supply. The Ford Taurus is also widely available and generally sells for much less than a comparably equipped Accord. But, the Taurus design is very old, its reliability record is only average and its rental car image far from exciting. The Accord also performs better than the Taurus in NHTSA?s side-impact crash tests.

 

AutoTrader Recommendation

We are split into two camps with this car. On the one hand, if safety is your first priority, we'd have to recommend the EX V6 (2004 and later) models due to their standard side curtain airbags and traction control. Although the curtain airbags do become standard on all models after 2005, the traction control feature is a must for those who live with inclement weather. If, on the other hand, economy is your first priority, we recommend either the LX or EX with the four cylinder engine. In this guise, the Accord offers plenty of creature comforts, delivers outstanding fuel economy and can be purchased for less than the V6.

author photo

Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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