(The Honda Accord has been an American favorite since it was first
introduced in 1976. Tom Hagin wished for V6 power while his father Bob
was quite content with the four-cylinder powerplant.)
BOB - The Honda Accord has been locked in a well-publicized see-saw
battle for supremacy as the top-selling car in America. Millions of them
have been sold since it came out 20 years ago, and it's close to being
all-American, too, since they're built in Marysville, Ohio. It comes as
a coupe, a sedan or as a wagon, in Plain Jane trim or fully decked-out.
TOM - I see a lot of them on the road and most of those are several
years old. I wonder if Honda has any regrets about making them last so
long. Accord owners tend to be happy with their mounts and aren't in a
hurry to part with them.
BOB - Honda owners are really loyal and they get a bit testy if you
say anything bad about their pets. And it's been the Accord model
specifically that's pushed the Honda name at or close to the top of U.S.
car sales charts. But I'm sure that most Accord buyers go for the sedan
model, not the wagon like the one we tested.
TOM - You're probably right, Dad, and Honda's Odyssey minivan
further pulls sales from the Accord Wagon. Minivans are trendy and very
much "in" so I look for a continued decline in conventional station
BOB - Accord wagons come in either LX or top-line EX trim levels,
with a couple of engines available. But the wagon can't be bought with
the new V6 that's available in the Accord sedan, which gives it quite a
bit more power - although I'm not convinced that the V6 isn't much more
than a response to a perceived request for more power by American
drivers. I drove a V6-powered sedan last year and I wasn't as impressed
as I was with Honda's four-banger that carried the VTEC variable timing
system. And the mileage was better, too.
TOM - Although I like the V6 better, I admit that the VTEC system is
pretty slick mechanically. It starts with the basic 2.2 liter engine
like the one in the LX version, and adds a second set of high-
performance cam lobes that come into play at higher engine speeds.
Driving around town, for example, the engine operates on the first set,
which provides good fuel economy, but not a lot of power. But when the
driver pushes the revs up around 5000, the extra lobes kick in and the
power jumps dramatically. It works great when you're trying to pass
someone or when you want to get onto a crowded freeway.
BOB - When the VTEC is activated, it feels like a turbocharger boost
or as if you've just released the parking brake -it really works great.
The VTEC system in the Accord gives 145 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of
torque, which isn't all that much, but it delivers it in a very
efficient package. I really don't think that the Accord needs the V6.
TOM - So we disagree there, Dad, but I bet we feel the same about
Honda's four-speed automatic transmission, the only gearbox available
with the EX wagon. It changes gears solidly, and uses computer-
controlled Grade Logic, which minimizes unnecessary shifting and
stretches fuel mileage. The gearbox also uses a locking torque converter
- another gas saving feature.
BOB - This EX version is a little fancy for my tastes. The moon-roof
I could do without - but it's standard equipment. I do like the fact
that all EX models come with anti-skid braking as standard equipment.
The remote-entry lock is a pleasant thing, too, especially when you're
fumbling around trying to open the door in the dark, but the standard
roof rack is a waste as far as I'm concerned.
TOM - That's because you're not a skier, Dad. During the winter
season, I give the roof racks on our test cars a real workout. It's so
simple to attach a ski carrier to the existing rack and just head east.
BOB - The last time I used a roof rack was when your mother and I
took all you kids on a vacation to Disneyland years ago. It was such a
hassle, I swore I'd never use one again - even if I didn't have a car
load of noisy kids.