Honda has spent 30 years quietly perfecting the midsize family sedan. Through eight generations, some Accords have had three doors and some Accords have had three speeds, yet all have shared Honda's unique appreciation for practical, efficient mobility. The Accord first came to North America in 1976, and the car earned such a popular reputation for quality and dependability that it began to be built here in 1982 as well.
The Honda Accord secured a spot as the top-selling Japanese sedan in this country shortly after its introduction and has never looked back, even after the Camry ultimately outpaced it in sales. It is the definition of what Americans want in a midsize family sedan, combining Japanese-style reliability with American-style comfort in a package that looks European. And its functional, reliable and affordable nature has earned it lasting popularity, even though style and flash have never been part of the package.
Why We Bought It
For 2008 Honda threatened to add an element of style to the new Accord. A change to a formula so predictable that we have practically set our watches to it for decades. We couldn't pass on the opportunity to test a long-term 2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6. After all, it is one of the important reference points in the American car market. So we ordered one up.
All aspects of the Accord have grown for this new-generation car. Interior and exterior dimensions grew, as did engine size and output for both four- and six-cylinder versions. The new 3.5-liter V6 in our EX-L generates 268 horsepower, a substantial improvement that kept pace with the other power increases we've seen in the midsize sedan segment.
Our long-term test fleet further influenced our decision to add the Honda. We had already had a Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry in the garage. First drive and full test impressions sized up the Accord as a compromise between its closest competitors. The Altima was biased toward a sportier ride, while the Camry followed the path of most comfort. Could the Accord establish an effective middle ground between the two?
Many aspects of the 2008 Honda Accord feel deliberately understated, including the way it drives. Climb behind the wheel and there are few distractions. Seats are reasonably comfortable. Engine power is adequate without being overwhelming. It doesn't require much mental effort to drive. Wind and road noise are well isolated. But sometimes this bland personality lulls its driver into going down the road on mental autopilot.
Managing Editor Donna DeRosa fell under the Accord's spell to the point where Johnny Law got involved. DeRosa recounts, "I hadn't been pulled over since I was 17 years old. This is the second time — ever. So I couldn't imagine why I was being snagged by the Redondo Beach PD. I definitely wasn't speeding. But it turns out I didn't have my lights on. A little earlier I had driven to the store and forgot I'd turned off the lights. When I got back into the car the running lights turned on automatically, so I thought the headlights were on, too."
A few months later DeRosa fell victim to the Accord's siren song once again. She wrote on the long-term blog pages, "On my way home Friday I was in the Accord and got pulled over again. Only three times in my life, but twice in this car. And this time got a speeding ticket. The Accord is so quiet, comfortable and smooth on the road you don't get a sense of how fast you are really going. It's easy to drive over the limit without realizing it."
Senior Editor Erin Riches has reflected on life in the cabin of our Accord. She notes, "The cabin layout bears many similarities to the previous Accord, which I liked. My favorite detail is the amazing feeling of spaciousness when you're seated in the cockpit. It's something no other manufacturer has quite managed to copy over the years. Larger physical dimensions undoubtedly help the current Accord in this regard. Here's the thing, though. I think the car loses some Accord-ness when loaded with a V6, leather upholstery and navigation. It gets expensive, but for no good reason when the base four-cylinder is so capable. Plus, I think the cloth seats are more comfortable."
Road Test Editor Brian Moody commented on the Honda's tech bits, "Our Accord offers a lot of technology. Satellite radio, Bluetooth capability, navigation, CD changer and voice commands for many features. It even has a calculator and unit converter for distance and temperature. However, it does not have a real-time traffic readout on the navigation screen. Not good. It just doesn't make sense. Everything is already in place — XM radio and a nav screen. I need nav-traffic much more than a unit converter. Acuras have this feature. A loaded Accord should, too."
We did not have any major mechanical issues with our Accord during its 20,000-mile tour of duty. Our only minor issue was with the rear brake pads, which had to be replaced at the 15,000-mile mark. We experienced a similar lifespan with the rear brakes on our long-term Accord Hybrid.
Body shop work on a quarter-panel and some scuffed wheels were the extent of the cosmetic problems we encountered with the 2008 Honda Accord. The body damage was the result of low-speed parking lot maneuvers and a now multicolored cement pillar. Wheel damage was more the result of design. Our Honda was equipped with a set of wheels that protrude beyond the tire sidewall. As one might expect, the wheel impacts unsuspecting curbs before the rubber does.
A new tire was the only other unexpected out-of-pocket expense. A nail punctured the P225/50R17 Michelin Pilot a little too close to the sidewall for a safe repair. As luck would have it, there weren't any Michelin retailers in the town where we sustained the damage, so we bought a Bridgestone Potenza in the correct size.
Total Body Repair Costs: $250.00
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $219.69
Additional Maintenance Costs: $242.54 for a tire replacement
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: Rear brake pad replacement
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Performance and Fuel Economy
From a performance perspective, the 3,500-pound Accord is sportier than in years past, but showed some signs of aging after 20,000 miles of dutiful service.
Acceleration to 60 mph from a standstill required 7 seconds (with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) when new, but grew to 7.8 seconds by the Accord's final test. Quarter-mile times slowed from 15.3 seconds at 95.4 mph to 15.8 seconds at 90.3 mph.
From 60 mph the 2008 Honda Accord consistently used 127 feet to brake to a stop. Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot noted after testing, "Brake pedal effort is light, even at full ABS engagement. Good responsiveness and effectiveness, but fade is inevitable after just a few stops."
Speed through the slalom reached 65.6 mph at 1,000 miles, but it had dropped to 63.5 mph by the end of the car's term with Edmunds.com. In contrast, lateral force around the skid pad remained constant at 0.80g.
Best Fuel Economy: 28.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 14.5 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 21.0 mpg
The 2008 Honda Accord EX-L entered our fleet with its $30,895 MSRP in tow. After 12 months and 20,000 miles, its value depreciated 20 percent according to Edmunds' TMV® calculator. Over the same amount of time, our long-term Camry and Altima each declined 26 percent in value. Honda's tradition of high resale value is still intact.
True Market Value at service end: $24,601
Depreciation: $6,294 or 20 percent of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 19,480
A conversation that took place in the halls of Edmunds.com yesterday summarizes our time with the Honda Accord.
"Can I drive the Accord tonight? I haven't driven it home in awhile."
"Umm...its long-term test ended four weeks ago."
"Oh. Can I drive the GT-R instead?"
Our test of the Accord came and went before many of us realized it. This car's staunch reliability and admirable build quality limited the opportunities for negative gossip. And its bland appearance helped maintain the car's low profile in the fleet. In the end, the Honda's not-too-sporty but not-too-comfortable persona meant it was never the first choice when it came to choose a ride from our test fleet, but it also was never the last one picked.
Perhaps no news is good news in the case of the 2008 Honda Accord. It lives up to its heritage and does all you can ask, staking out the middle ground in the world of midsize family sedans. The Accord faithful will not be disappointed.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.