2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6: Taking the Old Road Back from San Francisco
September 30, 2008
I drove up our long-term 2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 up to Napa, CA on Sunday -- and unfortunately not for the usual, winery-touring reasons. When it was time to come home yesterday afternoon, I knew I couldn't squander another lovely fall day on the I-780, I-680 and I-580. So I picked my way though mid-afternoon San Francisco traffic to California Highway 35, aka Skyline Boulevard.
Although there are a lot of cool, gnarly little roads branching off Skyline (which does have a view of the Silicon Valley skyline), the boulevard itself is only moderately curvy, which was ideal for our '08 Accord, which has taken some criticism for its size (extra large).
I really enjoyed the drive. Within the limits imposed by the all-season tires, the chassis feels good -- stiff, balanced, predictable. The steering provides some feedback (and you get some through the driver seat as well) and it feels quite accurate: Getting the Accord set up for corners is quite easy.
Instead of diverting onto Highway 9, my escape route from Skyline involved Black Road, which is narrow, twisty and often lacks a center line. Yet, I had no trouble keeping the big Accord out of the way of oncoming, smaller cars even when they were taking up more than their share of blacktop.
Complaints from the Skyline run center on the brakes. I didn't get any significant fade, but the pedal didn't feel firm and I think the rotors might be a touch out of round. When I noticed this, I tried to avoid taxing them.
Acceleration was also an issue on Skyline when I took advantage of a passing zone. Even with a V6, the Accord is simply too heavy to gather itself up instantaneously and what looked like an easy pass ended up causing a little anxiety. That said, I had no issues with the car's quickness on the interstate and it dispatched the I-5 "Grapevine" at my preferred pace. In addition, it's tough to argue with the fuel economy: I wasn't trying to be efficient and I got 23.8 mpg over 854 miles. I never did better than 22 in our CVT-equipped Nissan Altima.
I was also surprised by how comfortable I found the Accord. I agree with Josh that the car rides busily over the washboard slabs that comprise LA freeways. But in the Central Valley and NorCal, where the freeways are paved more normally, the car rode just fine -- compliantly, even -- and road noise wasn't a big problem. I even liked the driver seat, which I spent a total of 8 hours in yesterday. Yes, it's a firm seat, but I think that's what makes it decently supportive.
Finally, I like that audio information moves to the secondary display when you're busy watching the map screen: I could see the score of Sunday's Dodgers/Giants game. Unfortunately, it's XM rather than the local AM radio station providing the feed that manages the updates, so the displayed score sometimes lagged behind reality.
Erin Riches, Edmunds.com Senior Editor @ 18,825 miles