The Good: The 2006 Honda Accord EX features Honda's excellent voice-controlled navigation system, standard satellite radio prep, and a solid balance between efficiency and performance. The Bad: Speaker placement and sound-system wattage combine to produce mediocre audio performance, and an optional CD player is needed to play MP3 CDs. Bluetooth would have been nice at this trim level. The Bottom Line: The 2006 Honda Accord EX is fun to drive but bland in the looks department. Its navigation system is top notch, but the audio system lets it down considerably. Now in its 30th year on the American automotive scene, the Honda Accord maintains its original design brief, still offering good value with the right combination of advanced technology, efficiency, space, and simple drivability.Our test car was a 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 with a six-speed manual transmission and navigation. This top trim level comes well equipped with heated, power-adjustable leather seats; steering-wheel controls for audio and cruise control; the HomeLink system; XM Satellite Radio; and with the manual transmission, imitation carbon-fiber interior accents.The styling is conservative and unassuming inside and out, in keeping with Honda's sensible image. Our test car's Graphite Pearl paint and dark-gray leather made it even more unobtrusive. The EX V-6's main distinguishing exterior features are 17-inch alloy wheels of a five-spoke design exclusive to the six-speed EX.Standout features include the six-speed transmission and the navigation system. Almost everything else on the car is above average but not exactly cutting edge. Our major complaint centers on the sound system. The audio quality is mediocre at best, and it won't play MP3s.At a list price of $29,300, plus a $550 destination charge, the 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 comes in just less than the $30,000 threshold. At this price point, it melds economy, technology, and driving entertainment as well or better than the competition. It's a tough slice of the market, but the Accord has 30 years of refinement behind it.Both front seats in the 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 are leather trimmed and power adjustable. They offer good support that holds up over longer drives. Lesser Accord trim levels have a manually adjustable passenger seat. The EX V-6 also makes heated seats standard. Beyond the carbon-fiber interior accents, the interior is refined.The Accord EX with navigation includes Honda's voice-recognition- and touch-screen-equipped navigation system, one of the best in the industry at any price. Entering destinations is quick whether using the map, the onscreen keyboard, or the voice prompts. Multiple route options are calculated quickly, and processing power is adequate to make zooming smooth. Rerouting is similarly quick, and the system speaks both street and city names.Premium isn't how we would describe this audio system, but the navigation is top notch.The large main screen is a must-have for displaying satellite-radio song and artist information, and plenty of presets are available for quick-touch access. We also appreciated the convenience of the in-dash six-CD changer. But our praise for the audio system ended there, as the 2006 Honda Accord EX fails to deliver on a few easy points. The 180-watt stereo's sound was rather weak, especially with the beefy 350-watt subwoofer of the 2006 Honda Civic Si's system still fresh in our ears. The cheaper Civic also played MP3 and WMA discs and included a standard auxiliary audio input, neither of which was included in the Accord EX. An optional single-CD player that plays MP3s and WMAs can be added for $544. Honda also offers an iPod adapter for $214 and, strangely enough, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system for $1,859. But none of these options will improve the audio quality. The Accord EX's six speakers were mostly to blame; the rear speakers mounted on the back deck produced particularly poor sound in the backseat.There are 12-volt outlets in the dash and center console of the 2006 Honda Accord EX, but no further nods to the presence of a cell phone are made. Bluetooth is unavailable, which is a shame because the navigation database's inclusion of business phone numbers is ripe for use.The biggest surprise with our 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 was how much fun it was to drive. The 3.0-liter V-6 churns out a healthy 244 horsepower and 211 pound-feet of torque. These figures are easily exploited with the six-speed manual transmission, which is similar in feel to the units we've tried in the Civic Si and the 2006 Acura RSX Type-S. Shift feel is very good, and the ratios are placed nicely both for acceleration and sustained cruising.The V-6 Accord uses the VTEC engine-management system of variable-valve timing and lift control but doesn't add the i (intelligent) aspect for further computerized adjustment, as on the four-cylinder base engine. The V-6 does manage to produce ULEV-2 emissions ratings when equipped with the manual transmission. Fuel economy is also quite good for a sedan with this much pep, with EPA ratings of 21mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway. The six-speed shifter makes the normally bland Honda Accord EX fun to drive.With a standard front strut-tower brace improving front-end stiffness, the 2006 Honda Accord EX's handling is a step above that of the Accord Hybrid we also recently drove. Minor torque steer is detectable under heavy first-gear acceleration, but overall, the car feels very planted when cornering and rock solid during highway cruising. Sixth gear encourages 80mph speeds, where the engine is turning about 3,000rpm.During the Interstate 5 portions of a holiday weekend drive in the Accord EX from San Francisco to Southern California, we cruised at 80mph to 85mph with occasional bursts up to 100mph and were impressed at the effortless way the Accord handled those speeds, turning just more than 3,300rpm at 100mph. This allowed us to average more than 28mpg while eating up miles rapidly. Taking into account some around-town and good old-fashioned Orange County stop-and-go driving, during which mileage dipped closer to 20mpg, we averaged nearly 25mpg over the whole trip.With a full complement of standard air bags--including dual-stage, dual-threshold front-driver and passenger bags; front-side bags with passenger seat-occupant detection; and side curtain bags--the 2006 Honda Accord EX scores well in government crash testing. The four-door Accord gets five stars for both driver and passenger in a frontal impact and four stars for both front and rear seats in a side-impact collision.ABS braking with electronic brake-force distribution is standard on the 2006 Honda Accord EX, as are vehicle stability assist (which can be switched off) and traction control.Honda's warranty plan for new vehicles covers three years\/36,000 miles, with power train coverage for five years\/60,000 miles and corrosion protection for five years with unlimited miles.