The benchmark for mid-size sedans.
by Mitch McCullough
Base Price $15,350
As Tested $24,965
Honda Accord is arguably the best mid-size sedan available. It does everything well. The interior is roomy and comfortable, the suspension is responsive and well damped, the brakes are excellent, and both of its VTEC engines-a 3.0-liter V6 and a 2.3-liter four-cylinder-are incredibly smooth. It is a remarkably easy car to drive and every aspect of it is user friendly.
But most people buy an Accord because they feel it is a safe choice. It is, after all, a Honda, so reliability should not be an issue. The Accord is a car that a family can buy, then turn its attention back to the other concerns of a hectic daily life. An entire generation has grown up with Hondas and the Accord has been one of America's best-selling cars for the past 10 years.
For 2000, all Accords feature Honda's patented dual-stage inflator airbag technology, which automatically adjusts the deployment of the front passenger airbag based on the severity of the crash and whether seatbelts are being worn. Top Sedan trim levels are also fitted with a side airbag system; the system is capable of deactivating the passenger's side-airbag if a matrix of seven sensors determines the passenger is too small or out of position.
Two body styles are available, a four-door sedan and a sporty coupe. They are nearly identical from an engineering standpoint, though the Coupe features some performance tweaks designed to make it more fun to drive
Trim levels and pricing for Sedan and Coupe are nearly identical. Each comes in LX ($18,540) and EX ($21,050) trim levels. The sedan is also available as a DX base model ($15,350). For 2000, Honda sells the Accord Special Edition, or SE ($20,490), which adds anti-lock brakes (ABS), alloy wheels and other popular features to the LX.
Accord LX, SE and EX come with Honda's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 150 horsepower. DX comes with a 135-horsepower version (lower compression ratio and sans-VTEC) of the same engine. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on all four-cylinder models; an automatic transmission adds $800. EX models come standard with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and offer leather seating surfaces for $1250.
LX V-6 ($21,950) and EX V-6 ($24,550) are powered by a 200-horsepower V6; both come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission and ABS. EX V-6 comes fully loaded with leather seating surfaces.
Completely redesigned for 1998, the Accord features sharp edges and rounded corners that lend an understated, refined look, while an aggressive stance gives it the air of a European sedan. The nose is short, the hood and cowl are low, which complement the glassy cabin to provide excellent visibility from inside.
Honda designed the Coupe to have its own identity. It is distinguished from the Sedan by its unique styling. Only the headlights and door handles are shared. The Coupe is a handsome car, and a good choice for busy executives who want a car that is both sporty and practical.
Honda used airline business-class seating as a model for the Accord interior and it is a marvel of space efficiency. The front seats are wide and comfortable and there's a surprising amount of room for rear seat passengers. While pre-1998 Accords were considered big compacts, the current-generation Accord is a true midsize sedan. Generous front and rear door openings make it easy to get in and out of the car. It's also easy to load cargo because the trunk opening is large and offers good cargo capacity.
The instrument panel features a two-tone finish with big gauges that are highly legible. Features associated with luxury cars abound, particularly on the high-level models. Leather interiors are available in light tones that are warm and inviting. Sun visors offer sliding extensions, a HomeLink remote control system can be programmed to open garage doors, turn on house lights and turn off security systems. The air conditioning system, designed to quickly cool the car down after getting in on a hot day, uses an air filtration system to keep pollen out and reduce diesel fumes from buses and trucks.
The Accord corners well with steering that's light and precise. This is an easy car to drive. The Accord offers incredibly good handling on bumpy roads; a series of big bumps in the middle of a turn hardly affects it. The suspension damps out the bumps and keeps the tires planted on the road. This handling balance is a benefit of the Accord's strong chassis and double-wishbone front and rear suspensions. At the handling limit, it tends toward understeer - the front tires lose grip before the rear tires. The Michelin tires are quiet and the ride quality is flawless.
Accord EX V-6 feels lighter on its feet than the Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu. Blasting up and down a rough, twisting back road, we explored the limits of handling, power and braking. The Camry offered superb damping over the rippled pavement and the Malibu surprised us with its handling prowess. The Accord provided the sharpest transient response - turning left, then right, then left again. The Accord also had the best brakes.
In cruise mode, the 3.0-liter V6 engine just purrs along, barely audible. It's so smooth and so quiet that sometimes a glance at the tachometer is required to confirm that it's running. Stomp on the throttle and the growls with the authority of a free-breathing cylinder head. This engine delivers lots of power for merging into traffic or entertaining its driver. This double overhead-cam V6 is equipped with Honda's VTEC (Variable valve Timing and valve lift Electronic Control) system is tuned to deliver optimum torque over a broad rev range.
While the V6 provides lots of gusto, most people order the 2.3-liter VTEC four-cylinder engine. It's smooth, powerful and efficient. Generating 150 horsepower at 5700 rpm, an Accord equipped with this engine is a great package that deserves consideration by anyone shopping for a roomy mid-size car that excels in quality, durability, reliability, smoothness, ride quality, practicality and fuel efficiency.
For 2000, all Accords meet or exceed California's Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) standard, regardless of engine. Honda also sells an Accord EX ($23,200) that meets California's demanding Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standard, the most stringent in the world. The California Air Resources Board says a SULEV engine emits only 2.3 pounds of ozone-forming hydrocarbons during 100,000 miles of driving - about the same as spilling a quart of gasoline; SULEV offers an 86 percent reduction in hydrocarbons over a LEV.
Honda's new Accord sets the standard for mid-size sedans. It is a great family sedan, at or near the top of its class in every measure. Accord offers a smooth, quiet ride quality, and an attractive interior with front and rear seats that are roomy and comfortable. Its handling inspires confidence and its VTEC engines are smooth, powerful and efficient. To those ingredients are added Honda's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.
For these reasons, the Accord is extremely popular. Don't expect to own the only one in your neighborhood: Honda sold more than 400,000 Accords in 1999. And don't expect bargain prices because this vote of confidence puts dealers in the driver's seat. Even so, those who buy a Honda Accord should enjoy many years of pleasant, trouble-free motoring - important qualities for great family sedans.
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