Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor
Large cars often bring larger expectations. When pondering big sedans, you probably think of a car with a huge trunk, cushy ride and handling in the nautical class. Although the EPA has classified the 2009 Honda Accord LX-P sedan as a large vehicle, it retains its midsize handling dynamics and remains a strong competitor in the volume-selling family sedan segment.
On our test car, the "P" in LX-P stands for premium. This $1,000 upgrade over the standard Accord LX nets you 16-inch wheels, a security system, auto up/down driver and passenger windows with illuminated switches, an eight-way power driver seat and a chrome exhaust finisher. With an MSRP of just less than $24,000, the LX-P trim presents a viable alternative for those considering the more luxed-out EX, while also hoping to save a few bucks.
For family sedan shoppers, the 2009 Honda Accord remains a strong, sensible choice. It may not be as sporty as the Nissan Altima or the Mazda 6, but it offers a more satisfying driving experience than its closest competitor, the Toyota Camry. What the Accord may lack in sportiness, it makes up for in build quality and cabin materials. This improved quality, combined with Honda's well-deserved reputation for reliability, makes the Accord a solid bet in the midsize sedan segment.
On par with its four-cylinder competitors, the Accord's 2.4-liter engine produces 177 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. Opting for the EX model will increase the output of the 2.4-liter by 13 hp, but the base engine is sufficient for everyday use. The EPA estimates that the 2009 Honda Accord LX-P will net 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and a combined 24 mpg. During our testing, we averaged 22 mpg in varied conditions.
Though equal in thrust to most of its base-engine foes, the Accord does not fare as well when it comes to stopping. At the test track, the Accord's brakes earned a "poor" rating. According to our testers, the feel of the pedal remained consistent under heavy braking, but yielded an underwhelming 60-0 stopping distance of 137 feet. This is about 12 feet longer than it takes to stop a 2009 Mazda 6. Our testers also noticed a high level of body roll during hard cornering.
Most Accord owners will never drive their cars on a track, however, and in real-world driving conditions, the brakes garnered no undue attention. Around town, the 2.4-liter engine accelerates the Accord smartly, with sufficient power to pass slower vehicles. Steering is tight and accurate, and when pushed, the Accord reveals a capable chassis lurking beneath the body roll. Beyond the fact that you might have to start looking for slightly larger parking spaces, rarely does the Accord give the impression that you are driving such a spacious sedan.
The 2009 Honda Accord's cavernous interior makes it easy to get in and out of the car, and finding a comfortable driving position is also a breeze thanks to a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. An eight-way power-adjustable driver seat is included in the LX-P trim, but our test car did not have lumbar support. Rear passengers will find that they have copious amounts of leg- and headroom. There was also plenty of room to install child safety seats on either side, both forward- and rear-facing.
Since Honda had more interior space to work with, the Accord's seats benefit from a few more inches of hip and shoulder room. Regardless of where you sit, you'll find that the seats are firm and well-bolstered, and the cloth upholstery is soft and comfortable.
The Accord's ride quality is slightly firmer than its competitors' — this, of course, is a common trend with vehicles in the Honda lineup. It's not necessarily a bad thing if you're looking for a sportier feel, but accompanying the firm ride is a moderately high level of road noise. You can hear and feel every change in the pavement or bump on the road. As long as you're not expecting Buick levels of isolation, the Accord's level of involvement can prove quite satisfying from the driver's perspective.
Some of our editors have found the 2009 Honda Accord's center stack to be "overly cluttered with identical-looking buttons." This may be the case on the upper trim levels with navigation and heated seats, but on the LX-P, the layout is more straightforward. Each horizontal row of buttons has a different-size arrangement, and most are large and easy to read. The major functions (climate control, stereo volume and tuning) are mapped to uniquely shaped knobs that can be identified easily by touch. The steering wheel also has a set of controls for cruise control and basic stereo functions. However, we found ourselves using the large volume knob on the dash more often than the small buttons on the steering wheel.
The power outlet in the center stack has a strange design quirk. It's covered by a plastic flap that doesn't stay in the up position. This flap needs to be held up with one hand as you manipulate your fingers to remove the cap that covers the socket; only then can you plug in the charger, using your other hand. As a result, plugging in a phone charger takes a bit more dexterity than it should.
The Accord's trunk has a large opening, but the placement of the rear struts causes the usable space in the back of the trunk to narrow like an hourglass. With a maximum cargo capacity of 14 cubic feet, this limitation causes the Accord to have less usable trunk space than its competitors. In our real-world testing, we were able to easily fit a large suitcase and a few golf bags in the trunk. To squeeze in more luggage, you'll need to place smaller bags in first or fold down the one-piece rear seatback.
Design/Fit and Finish
The Accord's styling can best be described as inoffensive. Its simple and clean design cues don't stand out, and the best angle is from behind, with its trapezoidal-styled taillights and slightly rounded deck lid. To put its increased size into perspective, the 2009 Honda Accord is 5 inches longer and an inch wider than a 2009 Camry.
High-quality materials have been used throughout the Accord's well-built interior. The instrument cluster has a clean layout and the brushed aluminum on the gauges gives the car an upscale look. The buttons on the center stack have a nice, solid feel to them, regardless of how you feel about their placement.
Who should consider this vehicle
People looking for a spacious, well-equipped and fuel-efficient sedan. The Honda Accord has gotten larger this generation, but the increased size doesn't come at the expense of its driving characteristics. The LX-P trim level adds value to the base-model Accord with some noteworthy additions that bring the equipment list reasonably close to that of an EX.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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