It's not every year we're blessed with an all-new Honda Accord. In fact, it's been five years since we've seen new sheet metal bearing this now-iconic name. With the 2008 Honda Accord V6, the eighth generation of this car since its introduction to the U.S. in 1976, Honda hasn't reinvented the family sedan, but instead has simply perfected it.
Or at least Honda hopes so. The Accord is Honda's bread and butter — some 369,293 examples were sold in the U.S. alone during 2006, so there's a lot riding on its success. The new one is bigger, more powerful, more luxurious and more fuel efficient.
On paper this is a recipe for the usual transportation module. Yet as we said in our First Drive of the 2008 Honda Accord, "Trouble is there's a flipside to all that sensible, middle-of-the-road low-fat goodness and sales success. The Accord has always been bland and ubiquitous. Not anymore."
The 2008 Honda Accord seems more ambitious to us, as if it's aspiring to a new plateau of sedan goodness. Over the next year, we'll discover if it has perfected the modern American sedan.
What We Bought
True to form, Honda's spec sheet is loaded with options bundled into neat little packages. The base-model LX retails for $20,360 with an automatic transmission and comes well-equipped with air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, tilt-telescoping wheel with audio controls and a 177-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 engine. It's a great start, but we wanted more.
The EX-level trim package ($2,700) adds a front strut-tower bar, 17-inch wheels, a tilt-and-slide moonroof, power lumbar support for the driver seat and a 190-hp version of the 2.4-liter inline-4. But once we had a taste of more power in this car, we wanted more, because we believe the chassis is up to it. So we stepped up to an EX equipped with the 268-hp V6.
Armed with an updated version of Honda's fuel-saving variable cylinder deactivation — which allows the V6 to run on three, four or six cylinders depending on driving conditions — this 3.5-liter V6 helps the Accord record 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway on the 2008 EPA cycle. This feature, available only for the Accord equipped with a five-speed automatic, enabled us to exceed the EPA estimate of 22 mpg with a 24.4-mpg average during our full test.
In comparison, the Accord four-cylinder model is rated at 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway. So the addition of 70 hp carries a penalty of just 2 mpg on the highway, a trade we'll take any day. Oh, there's also a slight hit to the wallet to the tune of $2,100.
At this point we just decided to go whole-hog and add the $4,300 L-package option with its satellite-linked navigation. Leather-upholstered seats and steering wheel, a power-adjustable passenger seat, 270-watt stereo with six-disc CD changer and XM radio, and dual-zone climate control highlight the primary luxury items of the L trim.
Honda prides itself on offering a variety of lively colors (for a change) with the new Accord, including deep Basque Red Pearl and Royal Blue Pearl. Like most buyers, however, we chose to blend into the crowd with Alabaster Silver.
Our loaded Accord rolled off the assembly line in Marysville, Ohio, with a price tag of $30,895.
Why We Bought It
With every new generation of a vehicle as popular as this, questions are raised, even more so in a segment as fiercely competitive as the family sedan market. Has Honda gone too far in an effort to spice up its volume offering, aspired to too much sophistication? Is the high-style-fashion sheet metal too much? Is the ride still grandma-approved, yet enthusiast-ready? Will customers be scared off by the Battlestar Galactica-inspired dash?
In a time when every sedan built, from Korea to Kentucky, is virtually as reliable and equally option-laden, can the Accord muster the mojo to command a $30,000 sticker?
We intend to answer these questions, and more, as we spend 20,000 miles over the next 12 months with our new V6-powered 2008 Honda Accord.
Current Odometer: 3,107
Best Fuel Economy: 26.3 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 20.4 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 22.9 mpg
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.