But the navigation system wasn't perfect. For the first part of the trip, getting out of Belvedere, we actually preferred the route advised by the Magic 8 Ball. It took us on a number of fairly straight roads with few intersections, until it started running us around in circles. The navigation system charted a complex course with more intersections to negotiate in the first part of the trip.
We're pretty sure the Magic 8 Ball eventually would have led us back to our offices, in the same way that an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters will eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare. But the navigation system got us to our destination much faster, and required fewer inputs, proving to be the more practical solution.
In the cabin
The interior of the Honda Accord is pretty comfortable, with power-adjustable leather-covered seats and generally nice materials over the dashboard. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels nice, although it could have been a little thicker. There is also an interesting styling cue where the navigation module dips down to a point, in the center of the stack, with the climate control buttons nicely lined up along its two bottom edges.
The two major gadgets in the cabin are the navigation system and stereo, both of which can be controlled with voice command. The navigation system is fast and very usable. It redraws maps and calculates routes quickly. As we pointed out above, it offers three possible routes whenever you enter a destination. And it gives adequate warning of upcoming turns.
We particularly like the navigation's points-of-interest database, which includes even the smallest retail stores. This type of information is very useful for running weekend errands, although it's also more prone to be out of date. Restaurant listings are pretty commonplace in navigation systems, but Honda's does that one better by including the Zagat listings, making it possible to look up restaurants by price, dÃ©cor, and how highly the food is rated.
We like the navigation, but the stereo leaves a few things to be desired. The interface on the LCD is good for navigating XM satellite and AM/FM radio, but the six-disc in-dash changer doesn't read MP3 or WMA CDs. Nor is there an auxiliary audio input jack for plugging in an MP3 player, although an iPod connection is available.
The audio quality is passable in the front seats, but mediocre in the rear seats. The stereo has two speakers on either side in front, but only one on each side in back, making a total of six speakers. The 180-watt amplifier isn't particularly powerful, either. The stereo didn't offer great separation, instead giving a pretty muddled sound.
Honda doesn't offer Bluetooth cell phone integration in the Accord, something that is becoming more commonly available in this class of car.
Under the hood
With its V6 engine and six-speed manual transmission, the Accord is a great car to drive, up to a point. The throttle is very responsive, and the shifter slots nicely into each gear. Better yet, the gear ratios are very well-designed to give you lots of choice. You can cruise the car for hours at high speed on the freeway in sixth gear, while keeping the tachometer hovering around 2,500rpm. Or you can perform fast launches, running the rpm up to 6,000 in first gear, then watch it only drop to 5,000rpm on the upshift. These sorts of gear ratios let you get some real fast, smooth acceleration.
The 3-liter V6 is more than ample for this size of car, putting out 244 horsepower and 212 ft-lbs of torque. This engine gives the gears wide power bands; for example, it lets you take the car up to 45mph in second gear. But this being an Accord, it's a pretty quiet engine, refusing to call much attention to itself. The EPA gives the Accord 21mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway, but we could only get it up to 20.5mpg in our mixed city and freeway driving. Accords sold in California and all other states that follow California's air quality standards get a very good ULEV II rating for emissions. But the version of the Accord sold in other states still qualifies as LEV II under California's rating system.
Although we enjoyed driving the Accord on city streets and freeways, we found its limits on a nice, windy mountain road. The steering felt tight and responsive in normal usage, but understeer became a big factor when we tried to push it hard. This is not a car you want to tune up and try out in autocross.
Our 2007 Honda Accord EX with navigation, a V6 engine, and a six-speed manual transmission has a base price of $29,400. With a $595 destination charge, the total comes out to $29,995. There are a number of dealer-installed accessories, but Honda keeps the choice of cars rolling out of the factory very simple. At its very base level, which Honda calls the Value Package, you can get an Accord with a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission for $18,625. But we can't imagine that car's power train will be nearly as satisfying as we had in our test car. The lowest price Accord with a V6, the SE, comes in at $23,350, but that only has an automatic transmission.
There are a lot of trade-offs when looking for a good car to compare with the 2007 Honda Accord. The four-door Volkswagen GTI is a more sporty car for less money, but it has inferior navigation. The 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid is also less expensive, and is a more practical commute car if you deal with heavy traffic, but it's less fun to drive. Or you could get more power, worse gas mileage, and about the same amount of tech with the Nissan Maxima. If we were looking for a car that had similar tech to the Honda Accord, but better handling, the Subaru Legacy would come out on top.