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New Car Review: 2004 Honda Accords

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2004 Honda Accord is a Smart Choice

By: Walter Hager

There was a time when automakers used to rely mostly on cars, not trucks, for their profit. Of course we all know that has changed dramatically. Today the majority of the profit comes from trucks and SUV’s, and this is especially true for Chrysler, Ford, and GM. With so much attention focused on that near-saturated market, some automakers have admitted that it’s time to get back in the “car” business again.

In Honda’s case, passenger cars have always been the core of their award-winning lineup, and they are still a huge part of their profit. Over the past decade, they have also added minivans and SUV’s with much success, and for 2005 they will roll out their first truck, code-named SUT.

While Honda is jumping on the truck bandwagon, they are not forgetting one of the cars that propelled them to the top – the Accord. Totally redesigned in 2003, this seventh-generation Accord is one of the best values on the market today, if not the best.

The Accord is available in three trim levels – the base DX, mid-level LX, and the upscale EX. The DX can only be equipped with Honda’s 2.4-liter 160-hp inline i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, which isn’t a bad thing. However, the LX and EX can come with either the 4-cylinder or the more impressive 240-horsepower 3.0-liter VTEC V-6.

What makes these engines so good is the variable valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC) system. That may be a tongue-twister, but in the end it does result in more high-end horsepower and improved low-end torque. Mated to either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, this combination works very well to distribute the right amount of power when needed. The VTEC system also helps improve fuel mileage on the Accord, with the V-6 being rated at 21-mpg in the city and 30-mpg on the highway. The i-VTEC 4-cylinder enjoys even better mileage, rated at 26-mpg/city and 34-mpg/highway when mated to the 5-speed manual transmission. When equipped with an automatic transmission, the 4-cylinder delivers 24-mpg/city and stays at 34-mpg on the highway.

Honda certainly made an effort to make this new Accord better on the inside as well. The self-illuminating gauges are simple and easy to read, and the controls on the center stack are within easy reach. The tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable driving position. What may be more impressive, however, is how Honda managed to make the car so roomy inside without it being big on the outside. There are generous amounts of legroom and headroom in both the front and rear. My test car was equipped with a sunroof, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had extra headroom left over, even though I’m 6’2”. For me, that doesn’t happen very often. The seats are comfortable and supportive with room to stretch out on those long trips. Kudos to Honda for finally making a car equipped with a sunroof that tall people can fit in – front and rear.

Another great feature on the new Accord is its 4-wheel double-wishbone suspension. This five-link setup is designed to offer the right balance in any driving situation. Along with a new rack-and-pinion power steering system, these features make the car easy to drive. It is also very quiet on the road, even with the sunroof open.

Other notable features on the 2004 Accord include dual-zone climate control, in-dash navigation system, and the optional XM satellite radio.

Last but certainly not least, the cost. Honda has set the price on the base DX at about $15,000, a mid-level LX V-6 will begin around $23,000, and a fully-optioned EX V-6 with leather seats can run near $30,000. My EX V-6 test car weighed in at $28,890, and with options like spoiler, moonroof visor, pinstripe, fenderwell trim, and splash guards the final total was $30,110. For those of you who want to add a personal touch inside, you can even have the word “Accord” stitched into the headrests of those nice leather seats.

There are several reasons why this car has been one of the best-selling cars over the last few decades. When Honda introduced the first generation Accord in 1976, no one would have guessed that it would later become so popular with the American public. The 2004 Accord proves that Honda is still on top of its game, and it definitely deserves to be on your new-car shopping list.