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Review: 2003 Honda Accord Coupe EX V6

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2003 Honda Accord Coupe

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
1981 Honda Accord - Number one

SEE ALSO: Honda Buyer's Guide


    One day during my recent week with a new top-of-the-line Honda 
Accord EX V6 coupe, I came back to the car after running errands 
and found a first-generation Accord hatchback parked next to it. 
That produced a moment of surprise and reflection. There has been a 
little change in the Honda lineup in the past 27 years.

    Yes, it has been almost three decades since the debut of first 
Honda Accord. Born in the era of rapidly rising fuel prices and 
intermittent shortages, the 1976 Accord combined efficient space 
utilization with great fuel economy. By today's standards, it was 
small, Spartan in equipment, and its main luxury feature was the 
ability to cruise past the lineup at the gas station. The newest Accord 
has moved considerably upscale in design and equipment, 
particularly in EX trim, but continues the Honda standard of value 
and economy. 

    Like the newest Accord sedan, with which it shares 
underpinnings, the 2003 Accord coupe has gone upscale in size, 
equipment, and performance. LX and EX trim levels are offered with 
a 2.4-liter, 160-horsepower four-cylinder engine, while the EX is 
also available with a 3.0-liter, 240-horse V6. Sport-minded drivers 
take note - the EX V6 can also be had with a six-speed manual 

    Coupes have not been the most popular vehicles in recent years. 
That may be understandable - many coupes emphasize style or 
performance over function, making them unsuited for everyday, 
only-car use. These problems will never happen to the 2003 Accord 
coupe driver. After a week in the V6, automatic transmission 
version, I've found that it's a typical Honda. That is to say, space 
efficiency and fuel economy are still top priorities, but not at the 
expense of the driving experience. It's grown more inside than 
outside, and combines style, comfort, and efficient performance in 
the way that Honda does best.

APPEARANCE: Although there is some similarity in style ahead of 
the windshield, the Accord sedan and coupe share only their 
headlights. As with the sedan, those lights, and the angular shape of 
the front fenders, give a passing nod to Honda's technology-leader 
S2000 sports car, although the Accord is considerably larger. A 
wedge-shaped profile courtesy of the high shoulder line, and a 
sharply-raked windshield and backlight give the Accord coupe a 
sleek look that combines luxury with sport. The new bodywork is 
also very functional, designed for low aerodynamic drag to increase 
fuel efficiency and stability and decrease wind noise.

COMFORT: In EX V6 trim, an Accord Coupe will disappoint only 
someone who absolutely has to have a luxury-brand name and wood 
trim. Seating surfaces and the steering wheel rim are leather, the 
console trim is aluminum veneer for a contemporary sport look, and 
carefully-designed soundproofing results in low noise levels. Both 
the power-adjustable driver's seat and manual front passenger seat 
are very comfortable, with good support for long drives. The driver 
is treated to a tilt and telescope-adjustable steering wheel. LED-lit 
instruments are easy to read in any light, and all controls are placed 
for easy use. The rear passengers are not an afterthought. If room 
and access aren't quite up to Accord sedan standards, they are still 
remarkably good, and two large-average sized people fit easily, with 
the center best for a smaller person. The trunk is huge, and the rear 
seat is split 60/40 to fold if really large items need to be carried. 
There is no need to compromise between form and function with the 
2003 Accord Coupe.

SAFETY: With a strong central structure and controlled crumple 
zones, the 2003 Accord was designed to rank at the top of all safety 
test ratings. Antilock brakes are standard on all new Accord sedans 
and coupes, and side airbags are available in LX four-cylinder 
models and standard in all V6 models.

ROADABILITY: When designing the new Accord's structure, 
Honda engineers benchmarked much more expensive European 
sports sedans and coupes, and it shows. In ride and handling, the 
Accord EX V6 coupe feels like a much more expensive car. A rigid 
unibody structure and a revised and recalibrated fully-independent 
double-wishbone suspension provide the smooth, quiet, well-
damped ride of a European luxury-sports car. Sixteen-inch 60-series 
tires are standard on automatic-equipped EX V6 coupes, while 
models with the six-speed manual transmission get 17-inch, lower-
profile wheels and tires for slightly crisper turning response.

PERFORMANCE: Some things never change. Even though its 3.0-
liter VTEC V6 engine makes 240 horsepower at 6250 rpm and 212 
lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm, the Accord EX V6 Coupe is rated by 
the EPA at 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, as good or better than 
many ``economy cars'' of the past. And it has an LEV emissions 
rating and runs on unleaded regular. If the power and torque maxima 
seem high, VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology is used to 
fatten the low- and mid-range to the point that an automatic 
transmission may be the perfect match. There is never any power 
shortage, even for fast acceleration in traffic or while passing. The 
five-speed automatic is smooth and efficient, and uses ``grade logic'' 
programming to downshift smoothly on hills, and is very civilized. 
Acceleration is immediate. For the performance-minded, a six-speed 
manual gearbox is available at no extra cost, and should add to the 
already good fun-to-drive factor.

CONCLUSIONS: Combine characteristics of a personal luxury-
sport coupe with power and fuel economy and you get a 2003 
Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe.

2003 Honda Accord Coupe EX V6

Base Price			$ 25,900
Price As Tested		$ 26,360
Engine Type			single overhead cam 24-valve V6 with 
VTEC variable valve lift and timing
Engine Size			3.0 liters / 183 cu. in.
Horsepower			240 @ 6250 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			212 @ 5000 rpm
Transmission			5-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		105.1 in. / 187.6 in.
Curb Weight			3294 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower	13.7
Fuel Capacity			17.1 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				P205/60 VR16 Bridgestone Turanza
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
 antilock standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent double wishbone /
				  independent multilink double 
Drivetrain			front engine, front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		21 / 30 / 23
0 to 60 mph				7.0  sec
Coefficient of Drag (cd)		0.29

Destination charge			$ 460