During a time when many car manufacturers are scaling down to offer smaller cars with improved fuel economy, the new 2008 Honda Accord is hitting the market with a "bigger is better" philosophy.
Besides having an obviously new look, the new Accord is larger in all interior and exterior dimensions. It's longer, wider, and taller on the outside, and roomier on the inside. In fact, the 3.3 cubic feet of additional interior space was enough to bump it into the EPAs "large car" category, although Honda says the car will still compete in the midsize segment.
Aside from the change in the physical appearance, other additions include a larger, 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the first use of Honda's active noise cancellation technology in a non-hybrid car, and variable gear ratio steering. In addition, several features will come standard on all Accord trim levels for the first time, including Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), audio control buttons on the steering wheel, and 100 percent use of four-wheel disc brakes.
The 2008 Accord is available with four engine options. The base sedan includes a 2.4-liter, i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, which puts out 177 horsepower at 6500 rpm and delivers 161 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm, and is available with a 5-speed automatic or manual transmission. A more powerful 4-cylinder engine, along with a high-flow exhaust system, puts out 190 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm.
The Accord's i-VTEC V-6 engine puts out 268 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 248 lb-ft. or torque at 5000 rpm. The 5-speed automatic transmission features Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology, which allows the car to operate on either three, four, or all six cylinders, depending on driving conditions, to conserve fuel when possible (but still provide plenty of power when needed). The top-of-the-line Accord coupe is also available with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.
The interior is filled with plenty of bells and whistles. All models include a power driver's seat, cruise control, and a MP3/WMA auxiliary jack. Some options, depending on the trim level, include a 6-disc in-dash CD changer, heated front seats, a premium 270-watt sound system with XM satellite radio, and dual-zone climate control. Navigation and Bluetooth hands-free system is also available on the higher-end sedans and coupes.
Despite the increase in size and performance, the 2008 Accord's fuel economy numbers remain reasonable. The 4-cylinder models with the 5-speed manual transmission yield 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon highway. The automatic transmission gets 21 miles per gallon in the city, with the same highway performance. The V-6 sedans get 19 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway. The EX-L trim level on the Accord coupe with the automatic transmission gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. The manual 6-speed is the worst performer, with 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway. All mileage estimates are based on new 2008 EPA ratings standards.
The 2008 Honda Accord sedan is expected to go on sale in mid-September, with the coupe following a few days behind. Pricing has not been announced, but Honda reps say the cars will fall between $20,000 and $30,000, depending on the trim level.