New Car/Review

Honda

The Honda Accord V-6 EX

by Larry Weitzman

Honda Full Line factory footage (16:28) 28.8, 56k, or 200k

The first thing I noticed about this sixth generation Honda Accord are the front seats. The support and positioning make the driver or passenger feel very comfortable without feeling confined. The perception is that you are not sitting on the floor that creates an expansive view or your surroundings.

Honda has moved from being a sort of the solid and reliable generic car to being a leader again in design, utility and performance. Although the new Accord has grown marginally over the previous V-6 (by .4 inches on the outside), it has expanded its interior significantly by ingenious design changes. Because of the new enlarged interior space, the Accord no longer qualifies as a compact car by EPA standards, it is now a midsize car with passenger interior room exceeding that of the Taurus and Lumina.

When I speak of an enlarged cabin, I mean enlarged. Rear seat leg room has grown by a gigantic 3.6 inches and front seat leg room grew over half an inch. Front and rear hip room has expanded by over 2 inches and shoulder room is up nearly 2 inches. Even the trunk has over a cubic foot more room. Remember on the outside, this car is less than half an inch longer then the previous model.

Engine refinement and engineering has been the Honda linchpin since its creation of the high efficiency overhead cam motorcycle engine which revolutionized that industry, and I owned several. Honda's new single overhead cam (sohc), 24 valve, VTEC (variable valve time and lift electronic control) V-6, which actually had its debut in the Acura CL in 1997, has grown from 2.7 liters to 3.0 liters and 30 horsepower to 200 full grown thoroughbreds.

The overall design of the exterior may look as if it evolved from the previous model, but a closer inspection reveals a different look. It has a more aggressive stance with flared wheel wells and a body crease that runs the entire length of the side. It creates a visual stretch of the car with a lean look. I like the design and think it's the best-looking Honda ever. I could do without the red plastic across the trunk, but the good looking headlights and front end more than make up for it.

The only problem is that the way this car performs the only thing that other people will see is the rear end. This car really scoots. I was able to attain 60 mph from a standing start in only 7.7 seconds, which is nearly as fast as the 7.5 second time of a 1998 Infiniti Q45 V-8. This is about a second faster than the previous Accord V-6 (1997). The Accord also sparkles in passing ability. It will take about 5.1 seconds to reach 50-70 mph and going up hill will only add 1.1 seconds to that time. It does it without the feeling that its straining or working hard. As an additional bonus, I found very little torque steer that is usually associated with high-powered front drivers such as the Honda. They have done an admirable job.

It also will do a great job in passing gas stations. It is EPA rated at 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. I estimate I was getting about 25 mpg during my test drive while thoroughly exploring the full potential of its very powerful and velvety smooth V-6 engine. I would estimate mileage in the mid to high twenties around the County and over 30 mpg during relaxed highway cruising. Not bad for a roomy sedan that is capable of 0-60 times in the mid seven seconds range (I had one run at 7.64 seconds).

With all that performance, a strong chassis and well designed suspension is required to compliment and enhance its character. Being a Honda, its all there. New chassis reinforcements have allowed Honda to have slightly softer spring rates and suspension tuning. The result is a more supple, compliant ride and feel with none of the wallow that one would associate with this kind of ride quality.

Honda has gone to a state of the art double wishbone multi-link suspension at each wheel. In addition, the rear wheel has the ability to move rearward to better absorb bump and road irregularities. The result is a ride quality and handling ability that may become the benchmark in its class.

In my test drive on Ponderosa, it absorbed the road shock and uneven road conditions with aplomb. Bass Lake Road and Green Valley became an enjoyable experience in negotiating its twists and turns. This Honda is just plain fun in the corners. I now understand that guy in the Honda commercial who didn't come home for three days when he went out for milk.

Going down the freeway allows another personality of this Honda to reveal itself. Smooth, quiet and serene would best describe the Honda at cruise. This engine turns a relaxed 2200 rpm at 65 mph and the only noise is from some wind. The excellent radio and C/D, however will make any distractions disappear, however slight.

The excellent brakes are four wheel (front ventilated) disks with full ABS. Their feel and performance exceed what would be expected in a car this good.

I remarked before how large the interior is. The amazing part is that the overall length is about 8 inches shorter than a Taurus and a couple of inches narrower, yet it feels just as large inside and that's because it is. This EX model that I tested comes standard with about everything, including soft leather on the seats, door panels, steering wheel and shifter. I could have done without the fake woodgrain trim (although it looks real, I am still a purist).

The front cockpit is tastefully laid out with an instrument pod containing a large tach and speedo flanked to the right with a very nice fuel and temp gauge split by a gear shift indicator. The center pod has the simple automatic air conditioning controls with the radio and single play C/D beneath. The center console has an armrest and large storage bin with cupholders. The overhead console contains the nice feature of programmable electronic controls for your garage, house lights and gate to your mansion (not necessary to own this car).

Now for the extra bonus, this car has a great back seat considering its relatively small exterior. It's very comfortable, with great leg and thigh support and a seat back that's just right. There is plenty of legroom along with good window visibility. It also has a small locking trunk pass through for skis and the whole seat back folds down if the 14 cubic foot trunk is too small. What haven't they thought of?

Honda has a reputation for reliability and quality that's second to none. The fit and finish on this car was flawless and the body left me with the impression it was carved out of an aluminum ingot. It's made in the Honda factory at Marysville, Ohio and is not an import. There is more good news. It costs less than last year.

The car I drove was a standard EX V-6. It had a list price of $24,715 and had no options. It had features such as lighted dual vanity mirrors to a sophisticated anti-theft system and a power driver's seat. The non-leather and very nicely equipped LX model sells for $22,115. The interior is a very rich looking cloth material and this car is a great value. Personally, I prefer the look, feel, durability and smell of leather and I like the alloy wheels that are standard on the EX.

This direct decedent of the Acura Legend GS deserves more than a look, it deserves a thorough evaluation, and don't give them the story that you need to go to the store to get some milk. They are familiar with that result.

SPECIFICATIONS

Price                                       $22,115 to $24,715
Engine                                      60 degree, sohc 3.0L V-6
                                            with vtec200 hp @ 5500 rpm
                                            195 lb-ft torque @ 4700
                                            6300 redline
Transmission                                4-speed electronically
                                            controlled automatic with 
                                            gradelogic control

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase                                   106.9 inches
Length                                      188.8 inches 
Height                                      57.3  inches
Width                                       70.3  inches
Weight                                      3285  pounds
Fuel Capacity                               17.1  gallons

PERFORMANCE

0-60                                        7.7 seconds
50-70                                       5.1 seconds
50-70 (uphill)                              6.2 seconds
Top Speed                                   124 mph (estimated)
Fuel Econ                                   21/28 city/hwy,
                                            my estimate is 23-26 
                                            mpg in El Dorado County, 30 plus
                                            mpgin highway cruising 

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