Pros: Plentiful interior space; exceptional reliability rating
Cons: Drab design; outdated engine and transmission
The Honda Accord made its U.S. debut way back in 1976. In the intervening years, the Accord grew from a compact car to the full-size sedan it is now. The 2012 model year is the last one for the Accord's eighth generation, which was launched in 2008 and will be replaced by the new, ninth generation for the 2013 model year.
The Accord was built in Japan until the late 1980s, when production was moved to Marysville, Ohio. At the time, it was the only Japanese-nameplate car built in the U.S. Honda Accord assembly has remained stateside ever since.
The Accord is available in five models: LX, LX-P, LX-S, EX and EX-L. The Accord has never been a flashy or exciting car but appeals to customers seeking a comfortable, reliable sedan. The Accord, like many Hondas, continuously tops independent reliability ratings.
Comfort & Utility
The current-generation Accord is the largest Accord ever. With 106 cubic feet of interior volume, the Accord has been upgraded from mid-size to large sedan. Honda boasts that this extra space has been used wisely to provide "equal" seating comfort for both front and rear passengers.
The standard sound system found in the Accord features a 160-watt, single-disc CD player with six speakers. Uplevel EX models feature six-disc CD changers, and all models have audio playback capability and an auxiliary input jack to connect portable devices.
The Accord EX-L has Honda's latest-generation satellite navigation system as an option. The system has an eight-inch display and can be controlled through voice commands or by using an interface dial located at the center of the entertainment unit. In addition to maps and directions, Honda's satellite navigation system features Bluetooth connectivity and the Zagat guide for restaurants, nightlife, hotels and attractions.
Performance & Fuel Economy
The Accord is available with two engine choices and two transmission choices, which vary based on model. The lower-end model is the LX. Its 2.4-liter inline-4 makes 177 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. One step up is the LX-P, in which Honda upgrades the transmission to a five-speed automatic. Further along the LX model line is the LX-S, which features the same 2.4-liter inline-4, but Honda adds high-flow exhaust, that increases from 177 to 190 hp. The Accord with the 2.4-liter is rated at 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway.
At the top of the range is the Accord EX with a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine producing 271 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque; on the sedan, it's mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Coupe buyers can choose the standard six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The 3.5-liter V6 is estimated at 20/30 mpg.
In 2003, Honda introduced its Safety for Everyone initiative, ensuring its cars would protect passengers of both the Honda and other vehicles it may meet up with in an accident. Accordingly, every 2012 Accord integrates sophisticated safety technology that includes the ACE body structure, side curtain airbags, driver's and front passenger's dual-chamber side airbags with a passenger's-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), and dual-stage, dual-threshold driver's and front passenger's airbags.
Additionally, the Accord has active front seat head restraints that reduce the risk and severity of neck injuries in the event of a rear-end collision. Honda has included, as standard on all Accords, several active safety features including a four-wheel ABS with brake assist and electronic brake distribution, front seatbelts with an automatic tensioning system and load limiters.
The Accord's ordinary appearance provides an accurate reflection of the way it drives. That is to say, there's little to openly complain about in the driving feel of the Accord. There are also few reasons to rave about it. The Accord neither amazes nor dismays. It simply exists as a functional form of transportation. It is smooth and-when fitted with the 3.5-liter V6-powerful.
Drivers of most any stature will find the Accord to have ample room, and both front and rear seats are comfortable on long trips. The cabin can suffer from road noise, especially on older asphalt freeways, but this is easily overpowered by any one of the speaker system options.
The accelerative properties of both the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder and the 3.5-liter V6 are decent. Unfortunately, when the throttle is wide open, both engines suffer from an obnoxious buzzing sound. But this is for good reason. Engines invariably make sound and need to be muffled in one way or another. The designs Honda uses to keep these engines mostly quiet can't overcome the racket created during full throttle. The result is reminiscent of a hoard of angry bees. Thankfully, most Accord drivers will find little occasion to floor the accelerator and therefore won't often be bothered by the engine buzz.
Other Cars to Consider
Kia Optima - Starting at $21,000, the Optima is far newer and therefore far more sophisticated than the Accord. It's also much better looking and features a 100,000-mile warranty, which is hard to beat.
Ford Fusion - Starting at $20,705, the Fusion has been an excellent competitor for the Accord. For 2013, however, the Fusion is being reborn with an all-new version that looks like an Aston Martin and has models ranging from a small economical four-cylinder up to a plug-in hybrid.
Toyota Camry - The Camry is new for 2012 and better than ever. Starting at $21,955, the Camry is an excellent buy. The interior is improved, as is fuel economy and driving quality.
Customers interested in the Accord are at an interesting crossroads that only occurs every few years, since this is the final year for the long-serving eighth generation, and 2013 will usher in a new model.
For 2013, the new Accord will receive direct fuel injection on its engine options, a six-speed automatic transmission and a tweaked body design. For customers who don't need to have the latest and greatest, we suggest they wait until the last half of 2012 when the prices of the old-generation Accord are slashed. Either way, we recommend customers hold out until the last half of 2012 before they make their Accord purchase.