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New car Review: 2004 Honda Accord Coupe EX

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MODEL:  Honda Accord Coupe EX
ENGINE: 3.0-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:  240@ 6,250 rpm/212 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
WHEELBASE:  107.9 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 187.6 x 71.3 x 55.7 in.
TIRES:  P205/60R16 All-Season

While my wife doesn't particularly like coupes because they limit entry to the back seat, and if you're carrying extra passengers it can be confining. But she approved of the Honda Accord coupe, which is a great package.

Our tester had the optional (in the EX) 3.0-liter V6 engine that delivers 240 horsepower and 212 lb.-ft. of torque. Now 240 horses is enormous, when you consider that only a few years ago, 200 horsepower out of a 3.0-liter V6 was considered the norm.

The engine puts the power to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is available in the V6-powered Accords, but the automatic is fine. Some shifting junkies might want a manual mode with the automatic, but there's enough power in the engine to make a manual mode unnecessary. We were able to chirp the tires in dry weather at almost every stop sign, whether we wanted to or not.

With the automatic, though, the detent for the main drive gear wasn't as firm as for D3, so every time we shifted out of "P" we found ourselves in a lower gear than we would have preferred.

In line with the engine and gearbox, the suspension is tight, but ride quality over all qualities of roads is excellent. You can drive the Accord coupe like a sports car, or use it as a boulevard or Interstate cruiser. The car runs happily in either mode.

Our tester had voice controls for the audio and navigation systems. It was relatively easy to learn how to use the voice controls (basically, it's just talking, but you have to use language the computer understands). We used them primarily for the audio system, and then primarily to change media.

You can also use voice controls to adjust the navigation system, but to me that was as annoying as having the nav system talk back to me. I prefer punching the buttons to communicate with the navigation system. The system itself and its screen were less obtrusive than many systems we've dealt with. I did feel that the screen shut off and "went to black" too quickly, even when we weren't interested in navigation but were more concerned with the audio.

One feature I didn't like was that we always had to go through the "distraction disclaimer" every time we turned the screen on, even to get audio settings.

To me, the best feature of the audio system was the presence of XM Satellite radio, even though it wasn't hooked up on our tester. I became a convert ot XM on a multi-state trip a few months ago, and have even become a disc jockey fan of some of the stations.

As far as the HVAC system, we could be as cool as we wanted, even on the hottest days of the summer, so it worked well.

I liked the styling of the Accord coupe, although designers always seem to prefer styling coupes over sedans. It's something about having only two doors to worry about. The car is sleek and aerodynamic without being excessively so.

The Honda designers also did a nice job with the instrument panel. The instruments are white on black in the day, which made them easy to read.

Inside, the Accord has several storage areas. There's a CD-sized cubby in the center of the dash, storage in the doors with cupholders, there's a cubby in the center arm rest and two cupholders in the console. I felt the trunk was on the small side for golf clubs, though, which is a minus for a mid-size car.

It's pretty packed under the hood, but the dipsticks were clear as was the oil fill cap.

The Honda Accord can have prices that vary from $15,900 to $28,500. Our tester had a sticker price of $26,960, with a base of $26,500 and a destination charge of $460. That's a fair price.

2004 The Auto Page Syndicate