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2008 Honda Accord Preview

2008 Honda Accord Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2007
Critical Knowledge:
  • 2008 Honda Accord is bigger inside, more powerful, and more fuel efficient

  • Sedan is classified as a Large Car by the EPA

  • Standard stability control and side curtain air bags

  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine gets Variable Cylinder Management

  • Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV) rating, even for V-6 engine

  • Hybrid model is discontinued; diesel option may appear in '09 or '10

  • Over 95% of Accord's parts are recyclable

  • Optional voice-activated navigation system with Zagat Survey ratings

  • Bluetooth hands-free communication offered for first time

  • On sale in September of 2008 as Coupe or Sedan
Introduction
In 1976, Honda introduced the Accord to America. The little 3-door hatchback was a bit bigger and more powerful than the Civic, while riding on a wheelbase shorter than today's Honda Fit. Over the years, the Accord grew larger as its loyal customer base grew older, adding a sedan body style in 1979, becoming the first Japanese-nameplate car to be manufactured in the U.S. in 1982, taking the title of best-selling car in America in 1990, and ultimately dropping the original hatchback configuration for a coupe and a station wagon. In 1998, the wagon vanished and the Accord sedan graduated from the compact car class to the midsize segment. Now, after 32 years on the market, the all-new 2008 Honda Accord debuts, classified as a Large Car by the EPA in sedan form and offering more interior space, more horsepower, and more features than ever before.

Model Lineup
Gary Robinson, product planner for the 2008 Accord, says that Honda didn't focus on the competition when creating the new car, stating: "The needs of the customer drive our decision making." The new Accord is offered as a roomy sedan and as a smaller coupe. The sedan is the volume seller, and while the coupe is a lower-volume model it gets unique body panels, glass, lighting elements, and a shorter wheelbase.

LX Sedan
Gone from the sedan lineup are the DX, SE and Hybrid models. Honda says the LX Sedan will account for 35% of sales, and it comes standard with a 4-cylinder engine, manual transmission, stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA), six air bags, and 16-inch wheels with wheelcovers. Power windows, locks, and mirrors are standard, as is cruise control. A 160-watt stereo with CD/MP3, 6 speakers, and an auxiliary input jack is also included.

The Accord LX-P has the Premium Package with 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver's seat, one-touch front passenger window, a security alarm and a chrome exhaust outlet. An automatic transmission is optional on either of these trim levels.

EX Sedan
The EX Sedan is expected to account for 40% of Accord model sales. It adds a more powerful engine, standard 17-inch alloy wheels, a power moonroof, a CD changer, heated side mirrors, power lumbar support for the driver, and Active Noise Cancellation technology for a quieter cabin. The EX also has a sportier suspension with a shock tower brace, as well as upgraded interior trim. Adding the Leather Package creates the Accord EX-L, which has leather seats (heated in front), a premium audio system with XM satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass, an exterior temperature display, and automatic headlights. The EX-L can also be outfitted with a voice-activated navigation system with Bluetooth hands-free communication. An automatic transmission is optional on both EX and EX-L models.

The 2008 Honda Accord Sedan is also available in EX trim with a V-6 engine and automatic transmission-with or without the Leather Package. Honda says 25% of all Accord Sedan sales will be this top trim level. When the V-6 is ordered, the Accord Sedan has dual exhaust outlets, chrome door handles, and fog lights. The EX-L V6 adds a 4-way power passenger's seat and Homelink to the Leather Package offered on the 4-cylinder model.

LX-S Coupe
If you guessed that the "S" in Accord LX-S stands for "Sport," you're right. Honda says only 15% of buyers will select the Accord Coupe in LX-S trim, which includes the more powerful of the two Accord 4-cylinder engines and most of the same equipment found on the Accord LX-P Sedan plus 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension with shock tower brace, a CD changer, and Active Noise Cancellation technology.

EX Coupe
The features for the 2008 Honda Accord EX and EX-L Coupe mirror those of similarly-trimmed Sedans, though to get an 8-way power driver's seat on the Coupe buyers must select the EX-L model (this comes standard on the LX-P Sedan). Honda says 45% of Accord Coupe buyers will choose one of these two 4-cylinder models. Close behind, however, with a planned 40% of sales volume, is the Accord EX-L V6 Coupe. The EX-L Coupe drops the 4-way power front passenger's seat found on the similarly-trimmed Sedan model, but gains 18-inch alloy wheels. For sportier driving, a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission is available for the EX-L Coupe, and on this model the V-6 engine is tuned to deliver more torque at low- and mid-range speeds for livelier response.

Hardware
Honda installs one of three engines into the 2008 Accord. Notably, in California and New England states where emissions regulations are stricter, all three Accord engines meet the standards for a Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV). The LX and LX-P Sedans have a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 177 hp. The LX-S Coupe, EX Sedan, and EX-L Sedan also have a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, but this one is tuned to produce 190 hp. On all of these models, a 5-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 5-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy with this engine is 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the manual; with the automatic, the city rating drops 1 mpg to 21.

Accord V-6 models have a 3.5-liter V-6 making 268 hp, making this new Accord the most powerful Honda-badged model ever built. The V-6 is equipped with a 5-speed automatic, but a 6-speed close-ratio manual is available on the Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe. With the manual, the V-6 is tuned to deliver as much as 30 additional lb.-ft. of torque at low- and mid-range engine speeds. Honda says fuel economy ranges from a high of 29 mpg highway with the automatic to a low of 17 mpg for the V-6 with the manual transmission. The V-6 is equipped with Variable Cylinder Management, which allows it to operate on four or three of its six cylinders under low-load driving conditions, thus improving fuel economy.

With a body that is 20% more rigid than the outgoing model, Honda says the Accord's ride and handling characteristics are improved and that noise, vibration and harshness have also been reduced. Additional upgrades help, too. For 2008, every Accord gets 4-wheel-disc brakes for maximum stopping power and improved pedal feel. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist are also standard, along with stability control. The new Accord rides on a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, and the only model without a sport-tuned suspension and a front shock tower brace is the LX Sedan. Variable Gear Ratio steering is designed to provide lighter and quicker response at low speeds, and better on-center stability and feel at higher speeds. The new Accord also has a lower center of gravity and a wider track for more responsive handling and, despite larger wheels ranging from 16 to 18 inches in diameter, the turning circle is tighter than before.

Safety
Equipped with Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, the new Accord is predicted to manage frontal collision energy better than the previous model, channeling forces over and under the passenger compartment to limit intrusion into the cabin. Dual-stage front air bags, dual-chamber front side-impact air bags, and side curtain air bags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System are standard, along with active front head restraints designed to limit whiplash injury in a rear impact. Every Accord has front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, and all five seating positions are equipped with 3-point seat belts and head restraints. Stability control is a new standard feature for 2008, and all models have ABS, EBD and Brake Assist.

Technology
The big news on the technology front is the Variable Cylinder Management system that lets the V-6 engine run on either four or three cylinders, depending on driving conditions, to help conserve fuel and increase mileage. Honda debuted this feature on the 2005 Odyssey inivan, and now it helps the Accord V-6 with an automatic transmission achieve an EPA-estimated 29 mpg on the highway. Variable Gear Ratio steering is also new for 2008, a mechanical system that Honda says provides better on-center feel at highway speeds and quicker response at lower speeds. As it did last year, the Accord offers an optional voice-activated navigation system with Zagat Survey information for restaurants, hotels and attractions, in addition to other features. What's new is Honda's Bluetooth Hands-Free-Link communications feature, previously offered only in Acura models. Finally, all Accords-except for the LX and LX-P Sedan-have Active Noise Control for a quieter interior.

Design
Completely redesigned for 2008, Honda aimed for a more upscale look and feel for the Accord's cabin. Capitalizing on the new Accord's added width, the front seats were redesigned, made larger, and equipped with additional lateral bolstering. In back, thanks in part to a lower floor and taller seating hip points, the 2008 Accord adds 3 inches of rear occupant knee space, creating what Honda says is "equal" comfort for front and rear passengers. The Accord Sedan offers Ivory, Gray and Black interior color schemes; Accord Coupes are available with Ivory or Black interiors. With LX, LX-P and LX-S trims, the interior is accented with Gunmetal trim, while EX, EX-L and V-6 versions offer a choice between silver and woodgrain d_cor.

Honda says the new Accord features "expressive and upscale.bold, sophisticated, and prestigious.styling." Design is subjective, but it sure is hard to tell the difference between a 4-cylinder and V-6 model. Differences are limited to dual exhaust outlets, fog lights, chrome door handles, and a "V6" badge on the trunk. When comparing the Accord Sedan and Accord Coupe, the differences are easier to spot. The Coupe rides on a shorter wheelbase than the sedan and gets a unique look all its own, with different body panels, lights, glass, and the largest wheels ever offered on a factory-produced Honda Accord.

Video of the 2008 Honda Accord
Ratings for the 2008 Honda Accord Sedan
Ratings and details for all Honda models
Read More Previews
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