Used 2003 Honda Accord Sedan

Style:
2003 Honda Accord
List price range
2003 Honda Accord

Pros

  • Tight build quality, quiet cabin, refined powertrains, comfortable driver seat, outstanding optional navigation system.

Cons

  • Missing key features, relatively small trunk, mushy handling with V6.

Used 2003 Honda Accord Sedan for Sale

Honda Accord 2003 EX 2dr Coupe (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
108,986 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
List$5,994
Est.Loan: $123/mo
Fair Deal!Fair Deal!
$165 Below Market
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Dealer Notes
*** A CARFAX CERTIFIED *** 2003 HONDA ACCORD *** TOP OF THE LINE *** EX-L COUPE *** COVERED BY A SOLID POWER TRAIN WARRANTY *** DARK GRAY ON BLACK LEATHER INTERIOR *** LOW ORIGINAL MILES *** FUEL EFFICIENT FOUR 4 CYLINDERS WITH AN AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION *** LOADED WITH ALL OPTIONS INCLUDING *** LEATHER INTERIOR *** POWER DUAL HEATED FRONT SEATS *** SUNROOF *** SIDE AIRBAGS *** ALLOY WHEELS ON A GOOD SET OF TIRES *** AND MORE....*** FULLY DETAILED *** SERVICED AND *** VIRGINIA STATE INSPECTED. *** WE BUY CARS *** TRADE-INS WELCOME *** *** WE ARE *** 1ST CHOICE AUTO SALES *** OPEN 10:00AM TO 7:30PM, LOCATED IN FAIRFAX CITY (ON ROUTE 50, BETWEEN TOWN AND COUNTRY ANIMAL HOSPITAL AND THE CASH STORE) AT 9772 LEE HWY.(AKA. FAIRFAX BLVDROUTE 50) FAIRFAX VA, 22031. METROAIRPORT PICK-UP. *** VIEW MORE PICTURES AT *** WWW.1STCHOICEAUTOSALES.CO *** 703-273-9310 ***
Honda Accord 2003 EX V-6 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
74,816 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX V-6
List$6,999
Est.Loan: $143/mo
Fair Deal!Fair Deal!
$192 Below Market
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Dealer Notes
This 2003 Honda Accord Sdn EX is offered to you for sale by Brown's Arlington Honda. It's not often you find just the vehicle you are looking for AND with low mileage. This is your chance to take home a gently used and barely driven Honda Accord Sdn. There is no reason why you shouldn't buy this Honda Accord Sdn EX. It is incomparable for the price and quality. You've found the one you've been looking for. Your dream car. Based on the superb condition of this vehicle, along with the options and color, this Honda Accord Sdn EX is sure to sell fast.
Honda Accord 2003 EX V-6 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
206,440 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX V-6
List$2,500
Est.Loan: $51/mo
Great Deal!Great Deal!
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Dealer Notes
100%25 GUARANTEED ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ON MOST VEHICLES. AUCTIONS ARE HELD EVERY SATURDAY AT 12%3A00 NOON. YOU CAN ALSO MAKE OFFERS DAILY WITH A MINIMUM DEPOSIT OF %2524200.00 AND MUST BE PAID IN FULL WITHIN 7-10 DAYS WWW.BRANCHAVEAUTOAUCTION.COM The front windshield is in excellent condition. The paint is in great shape and condition. No dings are visible on this vehicle. The tires are slightly worn with about 75%25 of tread life left. Interior Condition is average for this vehicle. The exterior is clean and in good condition. The engine is functioning properly and has no issues. This vehicle has no previous collision damage. The transmission shifts very smoothly. The brakes are in great condition. The battery is in good condition. The car was previously owned by a non smoker Front Air Conditioning,�_< Front Air Conditioning - Automatic Climate Control,�_< Front Air Conditioning Zones - Dual,�_< Steering Wheel Trim - Leather,�_< Center Console,�_< Cruise Control,�_< Multi-Function Remote - Keyless Entry,�_< Multi-Function Remote - Trunk Release,�_< Power Steering,�_< Steering Wheel - Tilt And Telescopic,�_< Steering Wheel Mounted Controls - Audio,�_< Universal Remote Transmitter - Garage Door Opener,�_< Overhead Console - Front,�_< Abs - 4-Wheel,�_< Power Brakes,�_< Traction Control,�_< Clock,�_< In-Dash Cd - 6 Disc,�_< Radio - Am/Fm,�_< In-Dash Cd - Mp3 Playback,�_< Gauge - Tachometer,�_< Headlights - Halogen,�_< Wheel Diameter - 16 Inch,�_< Wheels - Alloy,�_< Front Wipers - Intermittent,�_< Power Windows,�_< Window Defogger - Rear,�_< Moonroof / Sunroof - Power,�_< Front Airbags - Dual,�_< Power Door Locks,�_< Side Airbags - Front,�_< Side Curtain Airbags - Front,�_< Anti-Theft System - Alarm,�_< Side Mirror Adjustments - Power,�_< Front Seat Type - Bucket,�_< Upholstery - Leather,�_< Driver Seat - Heated,�_< Driver Seat Power Adjustments,�_< Passenger Seat - Heated,�_< Passenger Seat Power Adjustments,�_< Rear Seat Type - Bench,�_< Rear Seat Type - Split-Bench
Honda Accord 2003
168,235 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
List$6,000
Est.Loan: $123/mo
View Details
Dealer Notes
Please call us at 844-820-4128 with any questions you may have! This vehicle is Maryland state inspected. We do not charge reconditioning or inspection fees. Clean CARFAX. Graphite Pearl 2003 Honda Accord EX 2.4 FWD 5-Speed Automatic with Overdrive 2.4L I4 DOHC i-VTEC 16V Gray w/Cloth Seat Trim, 120-Watt AM/FM/6-Disc In-Dash CD Changer, 6 Speakers, Alloy wheels, Power moonroof, Remote keyless entry, Security system, Steering wheel mounted audio controls. Recent Arrival! 33/24 Highway/City MPG** Please submit your information for additional details or to schedule your test drive today! Baltimore's Largest volume Honda dealer and the area's only President's Award Dealer.
Honda Accord 2003
119,891 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
List$5,995
Est.Loan: $123/mo
View Details
Dealer Notes
Clean CARFAX. Maryland State Inspected and Ready To Go!!!, Black.Odometer is 9523 miles below market average!2003 Honda Accord EX 2.4 EX 2.4 FWD 2.4L I4 DOHC i-VTEC 16V 33/24 Highway/City MPG**
Honda Accord 2003 EX V-6 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
138,838 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX V-6
Auto Land Inc.
48.1 mi away
List$3,999
Est.Loan: $82/mo
Fair Deal!Fair Deal!
$110 Below Market
View Details
Dealer Notes
RUNS AND DRIVE GREAT, FRESH VA INSPECTION, CHECK IT OUT TODAY!
Honda Accord 2003 LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
83,528 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
LX
List$5,787
Est.Loan: $119/mo
Fair Deal!Fair Deal!
View Details
Dealer Notes
Happy customers, Quality cars, Better prices, That is Hampstead Pre Owned. We eliminate all the anxiety and frustration of purchasing a used car by following the golden rule of treating others the way we would want to be treated. This company was founded on three simple principles: The first and and most important is that we never put profits before our customers. We have always and will always put our customers satisfaction before anything and everything else, no exception. Second, We put every car through a rigorous pre-sale check which far surpasses any state inspection required by law to absolutely ensure that you always get a safe and reliable vehicle , also every pre owned vehicle here comes with a complementary warranty, and our unprecedented 7 day exchange. Third, we use the most current pricing applications and programs to analyze each vehicle and compare them to the current market price to ensure you never over pay. Please take a moment to read our reviews and see what our customers have to say about us. We are a pre owned dealership with old fashioned values, building an amazing reputation one deal at a time.
Honda Accord 2003 EX V-6 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
147,952 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX V-6
List$5,454
Est.Loan: $112/mo
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Honda Accord 2003 EX V-6 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
151,004 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX V-6
(1)
Umansky Honda
83.5 mi away
List$4,765
Est.Loan: $98/mo
Fair Deal!Fair Deal!
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Honda Accord 2003 EX V-6 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
155,452 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX V-6
List$4,995
Est.Loan: $102/mo
Fair Deal!Fair Deal!
View Details
Honda Accord 2003
160,214 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
List$4,991
Est.Loan: $102/mo
View Details
Dealer Notes
CARS COST LESS IN PRESTON
Honda Accord 2003 LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
209,464 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
LX
ListNot Listed
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Honda Accord 2003 LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
55,172 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
LX
ListNot Listed
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Honda Accord 2003
203,035 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
ListNot Listed
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Honda Accord 2003
290,488 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
Antrim Way Honda
53.9 mi away
ListNot Listed
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Honda Accord 2003 LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
308,240 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
LX
(1)
Keystone Ford
62.8 mi away
ListNot Listed
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Honda Accord 2003 LX V-6 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
176,192 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
LX V-6
ListNot Listed
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Honda Accord 2003
219,004 miles
Used 2003
Honda Accord
EX
BMW of Bel Air
69.1 mi away
ListNot Listed
View Details

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Honda fiddles with a successful recipe, leaving out some of the parts people seem to like and adding spice for which nobody asked. The result, to a critic's eye, is questionable, though it will certainly sell to the masses in the same quantities it does today.

vehicle overview

Introduction: For the 2003 model year, an all-new Accord will be rolling into Honda dealerships across the country. Unlike many automakers that launch a new car and leave it to molder for nearly a decade, Honda prefers to keep its vehicles fresh and competitive; thus, a new Accord arrives even though the old one is still plenty better than most of the competition on the market. The 2002 car was a favorite of family sedan buyers nationwide. It had a proper size, a low price, high fuel economy, plenty of occupant comfort and high safety scores. Oh, and don't forget its renowned dependability and strong resale value.

This time around, Honda wanted to introduce some excitement to the Accord lineup. People are expected to consider the Accord for emotional -- as well as practical -- reasons. Performance was quickly identified as one area where improvement was necessary, and to this end Honda has boosted engine power, improved the suspension and reworked the transmissions. The company also created a new V6 sport coupe with big tires and a six-speed manual transmission.

Two advanced engines are available in the 2003 Accord: a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder and an extensively revised 3.0-liter V6. Both have more peak power and torque than their predecessors, as well as improved midrange and bottom-end performance. Along with these power gains come lower emissions and improved fuel economy. Like the CR-V and Acura RSX, these engines feature Honda's latest variable valve timing system, called i-VTEC. The four-cylinder makes 160 hp and 161 lb-ft of torque, while the V6 makes 240 hp and 212 lb-ft of torque.

Wisely, Honda decided to stick with the previous-generation Accord's double wishbone suspension front and rear. Modifications in front amount to revised geometry to suppress body roll, dive and squat. In back, similar changes are employed, along with increased rear subframe stiffness. The result is a tighter ride with less thump and thrum from the underpinnings.

It also helps that the Accord's structure has been strengthened for 2003, with torsional rigidity increased 27 percent. Feeling more buttoned-down and stout under all driving conditions, the new Accord exhibits a solid feeling of heft uncommon in a Honda. The steering system has been fitted with a new type of damper that reduces kickback without canceling out road feedback.

It should come as no surprise that the primary allure of the Accord continues to be what it was good at before. In most respects, it's even better. The styling is more polarizing than before, but is still somewhat timid when compared to the Nissan Altima and Mazda 6. And as far as sport sedan performance goes, well, both the Nissan and Mazda are emotional driver's cars. This Honda is not.

Yet our initial impression of the new Accord is quite favorable overall, and we expect it to be a bestseller. This is certainly a car you'll want to consider for your 2003 family sedan shopping.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: The least expensive model is the DX. It does without air conditioning, keyless entry, power door locks, power mirrors, rear stereo speakers or a seat height adjuster; all are standard on the LX. Unlike other Accords, it has smaller 15-inch wheels, black door handles and black mirrors.

The approximate $2,500 price walk to the well-equipped and most-popular LX model is worth it. This model represents the quintessential Accord and is the most sensible choice in the lineup. It is quiet, peppy, refined, a decent handler and quite comfortable. It exudes quality in terms of materials and construction. Not terribly exciting, this LX model, but it will serve the needs of the average American family perfectly.

A V6 version of the LX is also available. A few extra goodies, such as a six-disc in-dash CD changer and a power driver seat, are also included. Top-line EX models get a bounty of features, including a power sunroof, alloy wheels and steering wheel-mounted stereo controls. Get the EX V6 Sedan, and you're living large with heated leather seats, a power passenger seat and dual-zone climate control. If you opt for leather on the four-cylinder model, you'll also get similar equipment. The EX V6 Coupe with the six-speed manual transmission includes 17-inch alloy wheels and a 180-watt sound system. Also available on the EX models is a voice-activated GPS navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance: Driving the front wheels is either a 160-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four or a 3.0-liter V6 engine. The 3.0-liter V6 pumps out an impressive 240 hp. Four-cylinder 2003 Accord models come with an improved five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic (replacing the previous four-speed auto) is available for both engines. The manual transmission in the V6-powered EX Coupe is a short-throw six-speed manual transmission.

Safety: Testing has yet to be performed. Honda claims this new car can achieve five-star ratings from the NHTSA and a "good" rating from the IIHS. Side airbags are optional on DX and LX models with the four-cylinder engine and standard on other models. Only the Accord EX V6 can be equipped with the side curtain airbag system. For 2003, four-wheel-disc ABS is standard on all Accords.

Interior Design and Special Features: Honda has done a nice job of tailoring the interior to meet the needs of the American family. The sedan has plenty of thoughtfully designed nooks and crannies. The trunk, however, measures has 14 cubic feet of volume. Cars like the Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat offer more.

Driving Impressions: In practice, we find the four-cylinder models to be more entertaining on twisty roads. Less weight over the front tires translates to crisper steering and handling. In the city, the four is sprightly enough, especially when matched to a manual transmission, but the deceptively quick V6 Accord is our preference for freeway driving.

2003 Highlights

The Honda Accord -- one of America's favorite vehicles -- has been substantially changed for 2003. Continuing as a sedan and a coupe, the 2003 Honda Accord features more powerful and fuel-efficient engines, increased safety and higher levels of interior comfort. A voice-activated GPS navigation system is optional, and a sporty EX coupe debuts in early 2003.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Honda Accord.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Failed Transmission
willm3,10/30/2013
Great car but transmission is not dependable. I would not buy this car unless you are a transmission mechanic.
Transmission Failure
Shannon,08/13/2015
I bought this car as my first car. It worked wonderfully, I loved it! Then two weeks later the transmission fails. Everywhere I read says this is a common problem with this year. I spent all my money I saved on this car, I don't have enough to buy a new transmission.
Great car with lots of little issues
Pickandpray,07/24/2015
I got this car second hand and it has many little problems that don't sully the overall satisfaction with driving the car. BAD: door lock actuator failure moon roof limiter switch preventing moonroof from closing dark radio prevents seeing the station or the time tail lights leak water internally rear wheel camber gets negative with wear of rear linkages clear coat peeling GOOD: Very acceptable audio quality (decent bass in factory component setup) Very smooth quiet ride Pretty good handling (not sporty but not floaty either) No excessive wind noise on the highway During high speed road trips the suspension feels under dampened when hitting DPS in the road at 80mph. Suspension feels great below 70mph
Running Strong after All Theses Years
Wendy G,05/13/2016
I have done all the required maintenance on time and this car has never broken down..ever. That is the best thing about Honda's. You take care of them, they will take care of you. After 178,000 miles, all I have done is replace batteries, wipers, tires, brakes and an alternator. Regular attention to the owners manual has kept me rolling along and safe. Love this car!!
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Features & Specs

MPG
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
240 hp @ 6250 rpm
MPG
21 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
160 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG
21 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
160 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG
21 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
160 hp @ 5500 rpm
See all Used 2003 Honda Accord Sedan features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Poor
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2003 Honda Accord
More About This Model

As modern car companies go, Honda is rather unique. See, most automakers base their product line redesigns on a very specific cost-benefit ratio. Essentially, it costs a car company money to redesign a model, but these redesigns (if properly executed) benefit the company with increased sales. Scheduling these model makeovers to maximize the cost-benefit-redesign equation can be the focus of entire accounting teams for some carmakers. But Honda, despite bragging rights to several top sellers, continues to redesign its models every five years or so. The Civic was redesigned in 2001 and an all-new CR-V came along in 2002. Both nameplates were doing just fine in terms of showroom activity, but Honda reworked 'em all the same. We know of some bloated automotive conglomerates that could learn a thing or three from the big "H."

And with the 2003 Honda Accord comes the most unnecessary redesign of all, at least in terms of fixing what isn't broken. The Honda Accord has essentially owned the "best-selling car in America" title for more than a decade, and it continues to be the benchmark by which all other four-door people movers are measured. Consider it the BMW 3 Series of the midsize sedan class. But where the BMW excels in terms of driving passion and premium accoutrements, the Accord has traditionally based its success on solid interior ergonomics, roomy front- and rear-seat accommodations and a comfortable, confident ride.

For 2003 Honda has suggested a new direction for the Accord. The company tells us the car is now more "passionate" and "emotional." Its styling and demeanor are supposed to capture the spirit of a cheetah. There have even been industry trade stories reporting that Honda used the Volkswagen Passat as inspiration on how to give the company's volume sedan an appealing aura that goes beyond pure logic.

A week spent driving the new Honda Accord confirmed two things: It's still the segment benchmark in terms of ergonomic design, interior roominess and overall ride quality; and it still won't derail Passat intenders.

Our specific model was a Graphite Pearl Honda Accord LX sedan equipped with the 3.0-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission. The LX trim is the volume seller in the Accord line and it can be had with either a 2.4-liter iVTEC four-cylinder or the larger V6. The smaller four makes 160 peak horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 161 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. It can be mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic, but if you go with the V6 in either the LX or EX sedan, you must let the larger engine shift itself. (A V6 mated to a short-throw six-speed manual transmission is available in the Honda Accord EX coupe.)

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the Honda Accord's 240-horsepower V6 is how the engine masks its performance capabilities. Acceleration testing at our closed-course facility showed that the car had strong off-the-line power followed by consistent pull all the way up to its 6,500 rpm shift points (redline is 6,800 rpm). There was little of the high-end rush we've come to expect from Honda's VTEC variable valve timing equipped engines. Upshifts from the five-speed automatic were consistently crisp, and the overall sensation was one of highly refined and wholly adequate performance. Then we checked the numbers and saw that it was doing zero to 60 mph in seven seconds flat.

For comparison's sake we brought along our long-term Nissan Altima SE, equipped with that model's 240-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and a four-speed automatic, and ran it only moments after testing the Accord (meaning essentially identical testing conditions). While the Nissan felt far quicker than the Honda Accord due to increased engine roar and vibration, we could only manage a 6.8-second 0-to-60-mph time. It would appear that, while the new Accord isn't setting the performance pace in the midsize sedan category, it's certainly keeping up with the front-runners.

Actually, the Honda Accord keeps pace with the segment's fastest sedans in terms of straight-line acceleration, but when it comes to outright handling prowess, the Passat, Altima and new Mazda 6 have it beat. Honda continues to utilize a double-wishbone suspension front and rear on the new Accord, and refinements to suspension geometry at both ends, plus a rise in torsional rigidity of 27 percent, have further improved the car's ride quality. Steering weight, and associated road feel, has risen to near Germanic levels, and confidence under relaxed — or even moderately aggressive — driving conditions is again on par with anything in the segment.

However, Honda has foregone offering a sport package on the Accord, meaning a trip to your local wheel shop is necessary if you want something more than the 16-inch alloys offered on the top-of-the-line Accord EX V6 sedan (our LX test car had 16-inch steel wheels). Of course, you could buy an EX coupe if you really want an Accord with factory 17-inch alloy wheels, but getting the kids into and out of their child safety seats just got a lot tougher. Or, you could buy a Nissan Altima SE and get four doors and 17-inch wheels (17s are standard equipment on the Altima SE). As a company that wants us to believe the Accord is getting more "passionate" and "cheetahlike," the absence of a sport package makes no sense.

Both at our test facility and in the real world we found the Accord fully adequate at up to seven-tenths driving. Body roll is nicely controlled and the suspension manages to soak up most bumps without feeling overly harsh or too floaty. Push it harder and the tires are the first components to leave the party. The P205/60R Michelin MXV4s simply aren't meant for serious road holding and tended to "wash out" easily on twisty roads. We also noticed a bit more rear-end movement than we'd like, especially during quick transitions (we suspect this would be less of an issue for better-balanced Accord sedans equipped with the lighter four-cylinder engine).

But throwing away Honda's rhetoric about the new Accord's performance (as 95-plus percent of likely buyers will) allows one to see the car's true strengths and weaknesses. For instance, its driver's chair is one of the best seats we've experienced in any market segment. On Honda Accord LX sedans equipped with a V6 (like our test model) the driver seat has power adjustments for legroom, seat-bottom height and angle and seat back angle, but there's no way to alter lumbar support. You'd think this would be a glaring omission, but the Honda seat engineers spent time analyzing how people sit in cars and designed the lower seat back angle to properly orient the driver's torso for maximum comfort. We were as skeptical as anyone regarding this "one size fits all" approach to seat design, but, after putting five road test editors behind the wheel, none of them had anything negative to say about the Accord's driver seat, and several commented specifically on how supportive it felt.

The rear seating arrangements were similarly top notch, particularly with regards to headroom and toe-/footroom (there's plenty under the front seats). The lower rear seat backs aren't quite as supportive as those in the Toyota Camry (though the Camry offers less headroom), but overall the Accord's rear seating accommodations are, once again, equal to or better than anything in the segment.

Interior design and material qualities continue the high-caliber standards established by previous-generation Accords. The first thing a driver will likely notice is the large and crystal-clear gauge cluster. Lexuslike in appearance, the electroluminescent gauges are tied to the interior lights, meaning they come on, minus needles, by simply opening the door. Once the key is inserted, the gauges further brighten, as if to say "ready." Turn the key and all warning lights, plus each gauge needle, illuminate as the engine fires. This same lighting pattern happens in reverse when shutting the Accord down, including a slow fade of the gauge cluster and interior lights after hitting the remote key fob's "lock" button.

Interior materials, whether you're talking the cloth seat covers in a base Honda Accord DX sedan or our LX test car, along with the leather seats found in EX models, are better than you'll find in Nissan's Altima or Mazda's new 6. We weren't fond of the foam rubber headliner in our test vehicle, but otherwise there was little to gripe about. Overall, only the current Camry equals the Accord in terms of high-quality materials, but the Passat still beats them both for pure "premium-ness."

If there's an area where the Honda Accord stomps the competition, it has to be in cupholder design. For 2003 the Accord offers a total of eight, including one in each lower door panel. Seven of these can accommodate one-liter bottles with ease (there are two cupholders in the rear seat's fold-down center armrest, but one of them is too small to house a one-liter bottle). The two primary cupholders, ideally located in the center console, use spring-loaded tabs to secure drinks in the one design point that does indeed smack of BMW-ness. There's also a two-tier center console, complete with a power point in the lower section, and a large center stack bin with a spring-loaded door. The glovebox is also quite large as midsize sedans go.

Functional control layout and high-quality switchgear are both Honda hallmarks, and the new Accord generally sticks with tradition. Whether you're talking about the meaty headlight/turn signal stalk or the large combination power button/volume knob for the audio system, you'll find most controls easy to master. We did miss a tuning knob for the radio and we questioned the use of so many buttons for the ventilation controls when a simple dial could have replaced most of them. There's also no simple "off" button for the system, though turning the fan speed dial all the way to the left accomplishes the same effect. You'll also find a one-touch down and up driver window, but all others require you to hold the button for either direction.

One item we did appreciate was the steering wheel controls that offered both audio and cruise control functions — including the main cruise control on-off button. Honda has placed this button on the lower left of the dash for years. We're glad to see the company address this long-standing design issue...

The display for the sweet-sounding audio system is also improved this year. It's larger and easier to read, and it uses a circular graphical display, along with numbers, to represent volume, bass, treble, fader and balance levels. In Honda Accord LX models with the V6 you also get an in-dash six-disc CD changer.

If you really want to experience high-tech nirvana in a midsize, nonpremium sedan, you'll want to step up to a Honda Accord EX with an available DVD-based navigation system. This year the system not only includes a responsive touchscreen and the entire North American continent's roads on a single disc (as it has in years past), but also a voice-activated feature, a calculator and an event calendar. You can even specify a male or female voice as your own personal tour guide. "Direct me to the nearest Texaco station, Hal…no, make that Halle."

An area we've yet to discuss is the Honda Accord's new "skin." We don't normally spend much time focusing on aesthetics because, in the end, there is simply no way to qualify a vehicle's beauty…or lack thereof. We did, however, drive this Accord alongside the current Camry and Altima, not to mention the new Mazda 6. After studying all four midsize players from various angles it became apparent that no one on staff liked the new Accord's exterior styling. The front end lacks a true grille or any formal hood line, and there's barely a hint of a bodyline running from the fender to the quarter panel. What might be dubbed as "simple and clean" by some was collectively identified as antiseptic and droopy (even as mainstream sedans go) by our staff.

It's important to note that the percentage of Honda Accord buyers seeking a sexy shell is probably about as high as the percentage looking to compete in local SCCA events every weekend. Sure, as driving enthusiasts we'd like the Accord to offer sportier handling and a more seductive appearance. We'd also like Ferraris to be cheaper and SUVs to be purchased only by those people who really need them. At the end of the day, we don't always get what we want... but we're betting most 2003 Honda Accord buyers will.

Stereo Evaluation

System Score: 8.0

Components: We're always curious to see what Honda will do in the stereo area. It wasn't too long ago that the venerable Japanese automaker offered bare-bones sound systems in its vehicles, particularly in the entry-level models in each class. Then, about a year ago, we started to notice a change. First the Civic, then the CR-V, came to market with sound systems that, while not straight-up competitive with the best in class, at least held their own in the marketplace. We had always theorized that Honda did little in this area because it didn't need to; Honda vehicles moved off the lot briskly, regardless of the radio in the dash. This has now changed. Perhaps in response to the competition, with Toyota and, in particular, Nissan offering state-of-the-art audio in the cabin, Honda designers have felt the need to improve the sorry state of its stereos. Whatever the cause, it's a boon to consumers, and one more reason to buy a Honda.

The newly redesigned 2003 Accord is another case in point. We recently had the pleasure of spending some time in the vehicle, putting the stereo system through its paces, and while not blown away by the experience, we were sufficiently impressed to add this vehicle to the growing list of midpriced sedans with exceptional audio.

Let's begin with the electronics. As many know, Honda vehicles have a user-friendly feel second to none. Ergonomics are a hallmark of the brand, and nothing pleases this reviewer more than sliding behind the wheel of a new Honda and finding everything exactly where it should be, right at one's fingertips. This took a little adjustment in the new Accord, since the design is a bit of a departure from the traditional. Instead of a standard head unit, Honda has opted to spread the radio readout and controls across a wide topography within the center stack. Most surprising is the volume knob, positioned in the exact center of the dash instead of the traditional placement to the immediate left of the digital readout. The volume knob is a full two inches in diameter, a large, detented affair with excellent feel, positioned directly below the other radio controls. Although it took a little getting used to, this reviewer quickly fell in love with the logic and feel of the volume knob. Perhaps this is because Honda has also designed a large LCD display into the upper-center of the dash. Approximately five inches wide by two inches high, this readout has a graphic display showing the position of the volume setting; it also displays other functions, such as the radio call number, in large white letters a full half-inch high against a black background. It's classic Honda, with ergonomics second to none. Add to this an in-dash six-disc CD changer and steering wheel controls for volume, mode and seek-scan, and this system is quite competitive in its segment.

Speakers include a bounteous pair of 6-by-9s on the back deck, plus a pair of 6.5-inch full-range drivers in the front doors. These are complemented by a wonderful pair of tweeters tucked into the corners of the dashboard, firing upward into the windshield glass and reflecting into the cabin.

Performance: It sounds better than any Honda we've heard in the past. The dashboard-mounted tweeters provide an excellent soundstage, with superb depth and right-to-left stereo imaging. Bass notes are punchy and tight, with great depth and roundness. Female vocals have a naturalness and warmth in this system as good as most vehicles in its class; likewise acoustic strings. One minor complaint: We were a little bugged by the amplifier, which distorted and got grainy at higher volume settings.

Best Feature: World-class ergonomics.

Worst Feature: No speakers in the rear doors.

Conclusion: While this is not one for the ages, Honda has done a respectable job on the stereo in the new Accord. No consumer will be disappointed, and most won't need anything more. It's not as good a system as, say, the Bose system in the redesigned Nissan Altima, or the Bose setup in the new Mazda 6, but it packs a decent enough punch and makes for a very pleasurable listening experience. — Scott Memmer

Second Opinions

Senior Road Test Editor Brent Romans says:
With little doubt, this is the best Accord ever. OK, OK, "best ever" is a cliché. But it's true. For what most people use their Accords for, this car does just about everything right. It's very roomy. The interior, while not quite luxurious, is solidly built. Little features, such as the "Lexuslike" illuminated gauges and damped grab handles, give it a premium feel. And, with the V6, it's fast enough to leave the majority of other sedans out there sucking wind at the last stoplight. If you see Honda advertising that wants you to believe that this is a sport sedan, don't believe the hype. It's not quite there, or at least with the stock suspension. The Nissan Altima 3.5SE is still more enjoyable to pilot on curvy roads. But around town, it does just fine. My personal choice would be an LX with the V6. For less than $24,000, you get a very enjoyable sedan.

Road Test Editor John DiPietro says:
Did Honda's design team consult with BMW's styling department? Or was it a series of "bad days" at the office? Whatever the reason, the new Accord's exterior doesn't do it for me. The nose resembles a Kia Rio's and the butt looks especially awkward with those upwardly angled taillights. Maybe it will grow on me, but I doubt it; the 1994 to 1997 edition never did.

Although I don't care for the body style, I was impressed with the car's dynamics. With the V6, the new Accord really scoots, the ride is supple and the steering has a nice heft to it. Overall, it provides a pleasant, if not particularly entertaining drive; I instantly felt comfortable behind the wheel. The cabin is typical Honda, meaning attractive with simple controls and comfortable seating.

Although the Accord wouldn't be my first choice in this class (I'd lean towards something sportier, such as the VW Passat), that doesn't mean I won't continue to recommend the car to family and friends looking for a well-built, fine driving and virtually bulletproof midsize sedan.

Consumer Commentary

After shopping for four months, I was ready to buy an Infiniti G35 when I decided to test drive the new Honda. The build quality is great, handling is outstanding and the performance of the four-cylinder is amazing. Having owned two other Hondas, the car seemed to "fit" better than the more expensive Infiniti and the quality of interior of the Honda is much higher. It is not a sports sedan; however, it is a fun-to-drive family sedan..…good job, Honda. Shrewd Shopper, September 18, 2002.

I test drove everything under $32K that was midsize. Some were quicker (G35), quieter (Camry), handled better (used 528), more passionate (Passat), but none put it all together for $26K. This car is loaded for $26K! And it's quiet, quick, comfortable, nice-looking and well built. And, despite magazine reviews, I find it fun to drive considering it is a family car. It has better 50-70 acceleration than the G35, according to some test sources, so it moves quite well. And, it's front-wheel drive, which is good in the snow (five months a year in upstate New York). Keep in mind, this is not a BMW or BMW wannabe, and it's not $40K like a BMW 530, either. — P-man, September 17, 2002.

Decided on the 2003 EX-6 after extensive comparison of Altima 3.5 and Maxima GLE. Altima maybe has a flashier look, but EX-6 beats it on handling and interior quality. Engine performance about the same. Plus insurance and walk-out price lower for the Honda. I'm thinking resale will probably be higher too. — JRT JR, September 20, 2002.

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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Honda Accord?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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