The beauty of the 2008 Honda Accord Coupe first struck us when we saw a picture of the car on an advertisement in an airport last year. Since then, we've seen a few Accord Coupes driving around, and we've been as impressed with the real thing as the photograph. During our review week with the Accord Coupe, we found it to be as exciting as the Accord Sedan is dull. Of course, we had the top trimmed EX-L Accord Coupe with its V-6 engine and six-speed manual transmission, much more fun than the five-speed automatic in the sedan.
Beyond its good looks, our Accord Coupe also had the navigation package and a set of cabin gadgets we've been impressed with in plenty of other Hondas. Like the Accord Sedan, it adds Bluetooth cell phone integration. Although the navigation system and other cabin gadgets aren't as cutting edge as they could be, they still work very well for running errands or exploring unfamiliar areas.
Test the tech: Local knowledge competition
To test the 2008 Honda Accord Coupe's tech, we used a modified version of our local knowledge test we previously tried on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK550. In that test, we gave the navigation system a destination in San Francisco, then drove our preferred route and counted how many times it tried to correct us. With the Accord Coupe, we first drove to a destination using our own route, then drove using the navigation system's suggested route, and compared how long each route took. City traffic would obviously be a factor on each route, but that is part of the test, and we would also use our aggressive city driving skills on each route to minimize our driving time.
Our first run involved a time-honored route, traditionally taken in a taxicab, from Houston's, a bar and grill nearby CNET's old headquarters, to the Dovre Club, a bar in the Mission district. This route would take us from the northeast corner of San Francisco down to a central southern area. While it doesn't cover a lot of miles, it does run through the most congested areas of the city.
For our preferred route, we made most of our way south on just three streets: Battery Street, Gough Street, and Valencia Street, with a quick jog west on Broadway Street to avoid the downtown area. We generally made good time, except for slow traffic on Valencia Street. Gough Street, with its steep incline and stoplights, challenged the Accord Coupe. The car required some finesse on these hill starts--with its V-6 the front tires easily spun free. We practiced giving it just enough gas as we let out the clutch, keeping the car from rolling back and the front tires from spinning. The hand brake is conveniently placed on the console to assist in these maneuvers, but we didn't have to resort to it. This route, according to Google maps, was 5.5 miles, and took us 22 minutes and 49 seconds to complete.
When we got back to Houston's and found the Dovre Club in the navigation system, it gave us a route along the other side of downtown, along The Embarcadero, then a jog down Harrison to the freeway for some more southeasterly distance. The last part of this route took us along Cesar Chavez and then up Valencia Street, ending across the street from the Dovre Club. We slogged through traffic on The Embarcadero, then dealt with more on the freeway. This route was 6 miles, a half mile longer than our route, and took longer, at 24 minutes and 2 seconds.
The second route we tried represented a standard commuter route, going from 24th and Church streets in Noe Valley to CNET's downtown headquarters. For our preferred route, we kept it simple, taking just four streets: Church, 18th, Folsom, and Second. We started off poorly, though, getting stuck behind a slow driver on Church. Eighteenth also proved slow because of traffic, but we got to push the Accord Coupe harder on Folsom Street, using its maneuverability to get around slower traffic and make some time. This 3.5 mile route took us 18 minutes and 9 seconds to complete.
When we plugged our destination into the navigation system, it took us to Dolores Street, a good choice as it has more lanes than Church Street, to which it runs parallel. But then it put us on Market Street for most of the trip, something we consider a very bad choice as you have to share this road with trolley cars, plus a lot of foot, bicycle, and car traffic. The last couple of blocks on Market, before our turn onto Second Street, were especially slow. This route was 3.6 miles, which took us 20 minutes and 14 seconds to drive.
Our preferred routes were faster than the navigation system's for each test, but only by 2 minutes. You could argue that the difference is negligible, but we found some of the roads the navigation system chose, such as Market Street, to be particularly poor. Fortunately, the system in the Accord Coupe recalculates quickly if you go your own way.