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Car reviews - Honda - Accord - sedan range

Our Opinion

We like
V6 power, refinement and economy increased space and comfort undeniable value more safety resale value measurably improved steering ride and handling attributes
Room for improvement
Steering still feels numb styling is not to all tastes road noise on some surfaces infuriating rattle from the parcel shelf

26 Feb 2008

THE problems with the last ‘big’ Accord – awful steering feel, bloated styling, sundry NVH issues – were magnified by a completely different looking and driving car that used the same name but with a marsupial attached at the end of it – the Accord Euro.

In a nutshell, the compact Euro was as good as the Accord was bad. And it was infuriating that Honda could produce such a great car in the former and leave the keeper of the latter feeling so second-rate.

No keen driver worth their salt would even consider driving the larger vehicle, and it is no coincidence that Honda’s chief engineer on the new CP Accord program himself declared the outgoing car characterless and substandard dynamically.

Well, keeping in mind that the big Accord has the job of keeping the unrelenting marketing machine that is Toyota from completely taking over the Free World by creating a family car that will primarily appeal to Middle America, then the Honda is a giant step forward... for the Camry kind.

The great news is that the way the car steers and handles is at last on par with expectations, since the steering is responsive to inputs, linear in operation and willing to change direction smoothly and eagerly.

That the helm is free of feel and still devoid of interactivity will disappoint keener drivers, but expecting Falcon-style tactility from a modern Honda is setting yourself up for disappointment.

So adjust the attitude and set your expectations from Type R to Type Refinement, and the new Accord starts to shine.

The ride, for instance, is absorbent, isolating and yet nicely controlled over a wide variety of road surfaces. Your hands might be numb but your bum will be fine.

The four-cylinder model we drove – a VTi Luxury – was still brand-new and felt tight, so it did not set any performance records.

However, with a few more kilometres under the belt, the 2.4-litre sedan should deliver sufficient if not scintillating acceleration, aided by a responsive and slick five-speed automatic gearbox.

Two observations though – the much quieter body and drivetrain seem to have made the Accord seem a little more susceptible to a bit more road roar than we remembered from the older models. And every car we drove suffered from an annoying rattle centred around the rear centre-mounted stoplight.

We think the real star of the range will be the trick new V6 with its economy-benefiting cylinder cut-off system.

Powerful, with a strong engine note, this powerplant shrouds the new Accord with a thick veneer of refinement and class.

Again, we were driving a low-kilometre example, but the performance and responsiveness of the 3.5-litre V6, combined with the promising fuel consumption figures (in a variety of driving conditions we were averaging under 11.0L/100km, according to the trip computer) make this a very compelling drivetrain.

Better still, and very unexpectedly, the V6 seemed even more composed dynamically over the winding country roads of rural Victoria, despite weighing in at around 100kg than the equivalent four-cylinder versions.

Again, however, the intrusion of some road noise undermined the total refinement gains that Honda has achieved.

Nevertheless, we look forward to driving it again – and we haven’t been able to say that about a big Accord for a very long time.

Honda is crowing about this car being a large vehicle, and we have no qualms about that.

The classy and distinctive interior presentation is matched by seats that feel larger and inviting, while the level of standard equipment is certainly one of the Accord’s biggest showroom enticements.

Some smaller items of note include an excellent reverse camera screen, very intuitive dash controls and a smart cabin ambience.

So, after a few hundred kilometres on some mildly demanding roads, the eighth-generation Accord certainly seems to have come a long way.

In terms of safety, space, refinement, efficiency and comfort, we believe it is the most credible effort the series has ever offered Australian family-car buyers.

And at last, this car can stand a lot more proudly alongside its superb Euro sibling than its sub-average predecessor ever could.

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