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2003 Honda Accord coupe EX Review

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SEE ALSO: Honda Buyer's Guide



MODEL: Honda Accord coupe EX
ENGINE: 2.4-liter inline four
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm/161 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 105.1 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 187.6 x 71.3 x 55.7 in.

I have to admit that I was impressed by the new design of the Honda Accord coupe. Accord, in my mind, has always been the epitome of Honda design, and this version is no different.

Our tester was powered by a 2.4-liter I-VTEC DOHC inline four-cylinder engine that is rated at 160 horsepower. In addition, it's certified as a low emissions vehicle and delivers 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. All I know is, we didn't put any fuel in the vehicle and drove it a lot of miles. But we'll get to that later.

The V6 engine available in the LX V-6 and EXV-6, as well as the EX V-6 6-speed is rated at a healthy 240 horsepower. Fuel economy for these variants is about three mpg less, city and highway.

Power reached the wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. Normally, a four-cylinder car with an automatic can be anemic, but the Accord definitely wasn't. The Accord had plenty of power to do anything we wanted. We drove it to Philadelphia for a day of visiting, and we had no trouble merging on Interstates or dicing with the other crazies inside the city limits. For someone who's always complaining about wanting more power, I was impressed with how the Accord did everything with what it had.

My route to the "big city" involves a beautiful winding road to get me to the Interstate. I was able to zip along at a fair rate of speed in a car that has excellent handling characteristics. While I had fun, I did create a bit of car sickness in my wife, who's not a big fan of winding roads.

The urban driving involved negotiating some narrow city streets. While the Accord is listed as a mid-size car, it was narrow enough for all the roads we hit. Again, there was enough torque (1651 lbs.-ft.) to accelerate quickly away from traffic lights when I had to get in front of the cars next to me to make some turns.

The Accord coupe is a good size, with a reasonable back seat. Normally, passengers who are forced to cope with sitting in the back seat of a coupe must be contortionists who can put their knees behind their ears. The Accord, however, has decent legroom that eliminates this potential problem.

Access to the rear seat involves wrestling with a front shoulder belt that threatens to strangle you, but once you've passed that obstacle, you're okay. The Accord could use the new Mercedes-Benz CLK's "belt presenter" that eliminates this problem.

The backs of the rear seats fold down to more than double the listed cargo capacity of 12.8 cubic feet. While we didn't try to cram golf bags or suitcases in the back, the available trunk space was excellent, even with the rear seat backs up. The Accord has controls on the steering wheels for the sound system on the left and for cruise control on the right. This created my biggest complaint about the car. While the power window switches are lighted for night driving, the steering wheel controls aren't. The theory may be that they can be distracting, and they can be the first time you use them, but in daily use lighted steering wheel switches aren't a problem. Unlighted steering wheel switches provide a greater problem. We had an excellent sound system; an AM/FM stereo with a CD player. You could insert multiple CDs in the dash, but we only used one at a time. The HVAC system gave us heat in cool weather and "negative heat" in warm weather. Storage areas abounded. We were able to put large water bottles in the pockets in the doors (they were too big for the oversize cupholders).

The console/arm rest had two pockets. There was a flat area and a deeper area. Down near the bottom was a power outlet. We actually had two cell phones in operation (what did we do before cell phones) and it was nice to keep them both powered. We also had a sunroof that proved to be comfortable in early spring weather. This car was a fairly basic Accord. The bottom line comes from a base price of $22,500 plus a destination and handling charge of $460. As such, it represents a good value, although there are similar vehicles with lower stickers.

© 2003 The Auto Page Syndicate