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Buying a Used Honda Accord: Everything You Need to Know

The Honda Accord may be one of the best-regarded names in the automotive industry. Countless generations have grown up knowing this car as a dependable and reliable mode of transportation, while countless more have found it to be a great used car buy. Offered over the years as a coupe, hatchback, wagon, and sedan, the Accord always seems to hit the sweet spot when it comes to features, comfort, driving dynamics, and price point.

A powerful sales leader, the Accord has captured the title of best-selling car in America on more than one occasion, meaning there are going to be lots of models to choose from.

1st Generation (1976-1981)

When the Accord first landed on U.S. soil, it was a 3-door hatchback touting a 68-horsepower 1.6-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, and $4,000 price tag. The Accord set the automotive industry on its head, and Americans fell in love. One of the most revolutionary aspects of the Accord was its CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine that burned so clean that it didn’t require the use of a catalytic converter to pass tough new emission laws.

The styling wasn’t bold, but it was attractive. In 1979, a sedan was introduced to the line, bringing with it a more powerful 78-hp engine and more features such as air conditioning and power steering. For its final year, the 1981 Accord offered a special edition trim that included leather seats, power windows, and alloy wheels; all features unheard of in a car of this size and price at the time. Unfortunately, due to excessive rust issues, you won’t find many first-generation Accords running around, but if you do, and you want a true classic, you likely find even today, a 1977-81 Accord makes for a comfortable, economical, and nicely equipped small car.

2nd Generation (1982-1985)

1982 saw a more squared-off design emerge, with a bit more interior room, more upscale options, and a plusher cabin. This generation marked the first Accords to be produced in Honda’s new Marysville, Ohio plant, a first for a Japanese car manufacturer. Quality was as good as the cars coming out of Japan, and sales remained brisk. In 1983, a 4-speed automatic was introduced, followed in 1984 by a larger 1.8-liter engine producing 84 hp and returning 40 miles per gallon on the highway. The rust issues were addressed with better undercoating and protective plastic wheel well liners. For the most part, these cars had very few issues and certainly no major mechanical failings to tarnish the Accord’s reputation. Find a 2nd generation Honda Accord for sale

3rd Generation (1986-1989)

In response to criticism that the Accord was too small for the average American family, the third-generation version grew much larger. The 1986 Accord was nearly four inches longer than the previous car, with a wheelbase extended by nearly six inches. The styling was also radical, touting a sleek, wedge-shaped hood and pop-up headlights. Underneath, the Accord gained a sophisticated double-wishbone front suspension borrowed from Honda’s experience in professional racing.

A new 2.0-liter engine boosted horsepower to 98 when carbureted and 110 with the optional fuel injection. The automotive press, again, fell in love with the Accord, as did the American public, and sales took off. In 1998, a coupe model was added to the lineup, joining the sedan and hatchback. During this time, the Accord continued to offer more luxury features, including leather seating, 4-wheel disc brakes, and a Bose audio system. Some rust issues resurfaced in parts of the country heavily reliant on road salt, but for the most part, owners had very little to complain about, which only solidified the Accord’s reputation as a flawless car. Over time, however, the Weber carburetor will go bad and can be difficult to replace. Find a 3rd generation Honda Accord for sale

4th Generation (1990-1993)

With the debut of the 1990 Accord, the popular sedan had grown into a true midsize car. The styling was more conservative, with clear influences from BMW’s 3 and 5 Series cars, most notably around the dog leg rear door design and high flat deck. The hatchback was dropped from the lineup, but a wagon model was added. A new fuel-injected 2.2-liter 16-valve engine increased horsepower to 130, and both manual and automatic transmissions remained.

Prices began to move up noticeably, with the most basic DX sedan starting just over $12,000. Customers loved the tasteful interior and numerous options but hated the motorized automatic seat belts mandated by the government on the 1990 and ’91 cars. In 1992, the Accord received a standard driver’s side airbag, and a return to the traditional manually operated shoulder seat belts. Find a 4th generation Honda Accord for sale

5th Generation (1994-1997)

The fifth-generation Accord strayed a bit from the past. Again larger and more comfortable, the styling seemed rather generic. Gone were the low-slung dash and cowl, as well as the colorful interiors. Beige and gray became the new standard for Accord’s cabin, along with new safety features like dual front airbags. Variable valve timing was introduced to the 2.2-liter engine, and in 1995, the Accord got its first-ever V6 engine. Rated at 170 hp, the 2.7-liter V6 was borrowed from the Acura luxury car division and proved highly popular, as well as reliable. This would be the last year for the wagon. Some common issues with these years included easily warped front brake rotors, issues with a faulty door lock actuator, and clogged drainage tubes from the power sunroof. Find a 5th generation Honda Accord for sale

6th Generation (1998-2002)

1998 saw the sixth-generation Accord arrive. The Accord was larger in every way with a more powerful engine and more features. For the first time, the coupe was completely separate from the sedan having been penned at Honda’s American styling studio. Trim lines were simplified to DX, LX, and EX, with new options such as automatic temperature control and a power driver’s seat. The standard engine was a 135-hp 2.3-liter VTEC 4-cylinder, while a new 200-hp 3.0-liter V6 was optional.

The choice between automatic and manual transmission remained. This new Accord was praised for its quiet interior, roomy rear seat, and smooth ride. In 2000, front-seat side-impact airbags were made standard on all V6 and leather-equipped EX models. These would later be offered on LX and DX models as an option. 2001 saw the V6 cars get standard traction control. This generation earned more recalls than past Accords, including issues with the ignition, airbags, and improper welds on the seat belt anchors. The sixth-generation cars also had issues with the automatic transmission locking up, causing Honda to extend the warranty for some years. Other less important complaints revolved around radio and CD player failure as well as uncharacteristic complaints about the clear coat paint peeling off. Find a 6th generation Honda Accord for sale

7th Generation (2003-2007)

As sales figures continued to grow, so to did the Accord’s size and horsepower. The standard 2.4-liter DOHC 16V engine now put out 160 hp, while the 3.0-liter V6’s output jumped to 240 hp. Fuel economy on the 4-cylinder remained impressive even by today’s standards, approaching 35 mpg on the highway. New features like a navigation radio were offered on top-line models. In 2005, Honda equipped every Accord with side curtain airbags and front side-impact airbags. 2005 also saw the introduction of the Accord Hybrid, powered by a V6 engine and an electric motor generator. This combination was fast but not all that fuel-efficient.

The Accord’s newfound size and weight diminished its fun to drive factor, although the V6 coupe was still an enjoyable car. Common issues for these years again included faulty automatic transmissions requiring extended warranty coverage, some recalls regarding the front and side airbags, and a number of owner complaints around the CD player not working with MP3s or failing to eject CDs. Find a 7th generation Honda Accord for sale

8th Generation (2008-2012)

Compared to the original Accord, the 2008 model was some 30 inches long, with substantially more interior room, a longer wheelbase, and nearly three times the horsepower. The base model LX featured a 177-hp 2.4-liter engine, while the EX with the same engine put out 190 hp. An all-new 3.5-liter V6 put out an impressive 272 hp. So big was this Accord that the EPA moved its status from midsize to full size. The eighth-generation Accord also saw a return to more dynamic styling, especially the coupe.

A new wagon-like model dubbed the Crosstour joined the lineup, but its odd looks and fastback rear hatch made it a poor choice for those needing the cargo-hauling abilities of a roomy wagon, and sales were tepid. By this time, the Accord was continuing to top just about every “top 10” list, and its resale values continued to lead the segment. The cabin continued its move to the luxury side, with SE and EX trims offering things like power lumbar support, heated front seats, navigation, a rear backup camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. Problems are few but not unheard of in these cars.

Some owners reported issues with excessive oil consumption, while others took issue with excessive brake wear. So bad was the brake wear problem on 2008-2010 models that Honda settled a class-action lawsuit over the matter. Find a 8th generation Honda Accord for sale

9th Generation (2013-2017)

The Honda Accord continued to grow larger, more sophisticated, and more expensive. The coupe and sedan returned with the standard 4-cylinder engine producing 180 hp. A new Sport trim was added, and a new CVT automatic replaced the previous model’s 5-speed automatic — a 6-speed manual remained an option. Fuel economy for the CVT-equipped 4-cylinder cars reached an EPA estimated 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy, while the V6 pulled off a respectable 21 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with the automatic.

In 2014, a new hybrid with an emphasis on fuel-efficiency returned to the lineup, touting an estimated 50 mpg city fuel economy rating. Overall, the Accord’s interior was highly praised, with less clutter than the last model and more rear-seat legroom. Advanced safety features first appear on the 2013 Accord, including Honda’s LaneWatch passenger-side camera system, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning. Standard on the Touring, these features would later become part of the HondaSensing package offered on lesser trims. In 2017, a more powerful hybrid model was offered and came standard with HondaSensing. As this generation is so new, there are no real issues or complaints to note. Find a 9th generation Honda Accord for sale

10th Generation (2018-Present)

The Honda Accord was fully redesigned for 2018, this time as a sedan only. The updated Accord brought with it a sleek new look and a more upscale interior, making it almost like a luxury sedan in the top trims. Available with two different turbocharged inline-four engines, the Accord held up its reputation as combining great fuel economy with an enjoyable driving experience. A new Accord Hybrid was also introduced, which is rated at 47 city/47 hwy mpg. 2020 was the final model year that a manual transmission was still available for the Accord. Early examples of the 10th generation Accord are starting to become available under the $20,000 mark. Find a 10th generation Honda Accord for sale

Which Honda Accord Is Right For Me?

If your budget is under $10,000, you’re going to want to look at a low mileage seventh or eighth generation car. These models are new enough to have many modern safety and conveniences yet still have low enough miles to make them good used buys. Anything older is probably going to be pretty cheap but will also nickel and dime you for standard maintenance items like brakes, front axles, water pump, steering components, etc.

If you can swing a bit more, you should be able to pick up a nice ninth-generation 2014 or 2015 LX or Sport for around $15,000-$18,000. Remember, the Accord holds its value well, so if you have a set dollar number in mind, you’re better off going with a lower mileage base model than a more expensive EX or Touring with higher mileage for the same money. A car only a few years old might be better bought from a dealer that can provide an inspection as well as some type of warranty, such as a CPO (certified pre-owned) car. Find a used Honda Accord for sale

Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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