Honda Accord (America) / Inspire

Debut: 2007
Maker: Honda
Predecessor: Honda Accord Mk7

New Accord grows considerably in all dimensions, so much that it is now classified as "large car" by EPA.

Size matters in the United States. They live in big houses, eat Big Mac, build big warships, borrow big money and have big spending on their elections. As for driving habits, they also prefer bigger cars and trucks. Feeling the need to please American customers, since the late 1990s Honda started building larger Accord for the America market and a smaller Accord for Japan and Europe. As the two cars have too many differences, we had better to split their reports into two. Now let us concentrate on the American car, which has been renewed just recently.

The 8th generation Accord is again larger than the car it replaced. It is some 117 mm longer, 32 mm wider, 21 mm taller and the wheelbase is stretched by 60 mm. The 4930 mm length and 2800 mm wheelbase put it clearly ahead of its arch-rival Toyota Camry, while an interior volume of 120 cubic feet elevates it to the "large car" category of EPA, so theoretically it competes with Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus (the previous 500), Toyota Avalon and Buick Lucerne. More shocking, the new Accord is even larger than Honda's own flagship luxury car, Legend / Acura RL !

Of course, Honda has no intention to promote internal competition. Mid-size cars are still the best selling segment in the USA, thus the new Accord will continue to compete with Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Chrysler Sebring, Saturn Aura and the recently renewed Chevrolet Malibu. However, by far the strongest rival is Camry, which overtook Accord to be the best selling car in the USA since 1997 (although Honda regained the title briefly in 2001). If it succeed to beat Camry, it could generate a sales of 400,000 units a year in the United States alone, plus another 200,000 units or so from the China market ! By any standards this is a very profitable business.


There are traces of BMW 5-Series in its styling, but not dynamics, unfortunately.

But to get more customers, a good look is very important. Some people may find the new Accord looking upmarket because it copied various design elements (say, the kickback C-pillars) from BMW 5-Series. Other people like us may accuse it for lacking originality. Most people agree that the angular front end is too odd to appreciate and the rear end design looks quite bland. Besides, the elevated bonnet doesn't help to achieve a sleek appearance. It is designed to comply with the new pedestrian safety regulation in Japan (similar to Europe) because this car will be sold there as Honda Inspire. Seems quite nonsense to me, as the sales volume of Inspire is negligible compare with the American and Chinese market. Apparently, this design is not my cup of tea, but fortunately neither is the current Toyota Camry. By adopting boring designs, the Japanese is so kind to give the stylish American cars like Malibu, Aura and 300 some space for survival.

In contrast, the interior is hard to fault. Although it doesn't possess the quality feel of European cars (e.g. most plastics are grained but hard ones), the dashboard is well designed to provide good ergonomics and convenience. A LCD screen is mounted high in the middle to cause less distraction from the road ahead. In dark color the environment is quite cold, but the large windows and slim pillars provide excellent view out. Benefited by the larger body, the cabin offers slightly more front head room, shoulder room and rear legroom than the already roomy outgoing car. It isn't as roomy as Chrysler 300 or Ford Taurus, but it accommodates 3 large passengers at the back more comfortably than Camry.



The new chassis employs more high-strength steel (48% vs 39%) and stronger frame rail structure to boost 20 percent in torsional rigidity. Needless to say, its crash worthiness is vastly improved and more safety equipment becomes standard. The body's drag coefficient of 0.31 isn't remarkable, but it won't prevent the car to reach its regulated top speed at 130 mph. Suspending the monocoque body is a pair of double-wishbone up front (similar to the old car) and a new multi-link rear setup composed of an upper wishbone, two lower links and a toe-control link. It should return better ride and handling than the old double-wishbone-based system. The new suspension geometry results in higher roll centers, while the center of gravity of the whole car is lowered by approximately 10 mm thanks to mounting the powertrain and fuel tank lower. Both factors enhance cornering stability. A new variable gear ratio steering should improve steering precision.

With little surprise, the larger and stronger new Accord is more than 100 kg heavier than the old car. As American drivers are not willing to sacrifice performance, Honda has to tune its 2.4-liter DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine to produce more punch. Now this engine has two states of tune: the base engine produces 177 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque; a high-output version employs variable back-pressure exhaust and higher compression ratio to produce 190 horsepower and 162 lb-ft. Both are more powerful than the 160 hp old engine while retaining the smoothness (thanks to twin-balancer shafts) and tractability. The rev-happy 190 hp engine is especially sweet to keen drivers when mated with 5-speed manual gearbox, whose slick and short-throw gearchange is one of the industry's bests.

At the upper end, the outgoing 240-horsepower 3.0-liter SOHC VTEC V6 has been replaced with a larger 3.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. In terms of output, it is on a par with the 3.5-liter Camry and Altima. In terms of refinement, it is second to none. You might think enlarging from 3 liters to 3.5 liters will bring a higher fuel consumption. On the contrary, the new Accord V6 actually drinks slightly less fuel than the old car. This is due to the cylinder deactivation technology (or VCM Variable Cylinder Management as Honda calls) it adopted. The i-VTEC system is based on the old cam-changing VTEC but with an additional function to deactivate the valves and effectively shut down individual cylinders. This mean the V6 can run on 3 or 4 cylinders at light load to save fuel, and return to 6 cylinders to provide full power. To deal with the unpleasant sound in 3-cylinder mode, it is equipped with anti-noise control - which produce a 180-degree out-of-phase noise to cancel the noise source - like the outgoing Honda Inspire.


We expect a lot from the new Accord, but it turns out to be not the car we expected.

However, the V6 Accord is not going to match the equivalent Camry and Altima for performance, because it is not only heavier but also it partners with an old fashion 5-speed automatic transmission. In Camry, you have a 6-speed automatic with manual mode (the Honda transmission doesn't have manual override). In Altima, you can choose between a CVT with 7 manual steps and a 6-speed manual gearbox. We expect the Honda will take 6.6 seconds to go from 0-60 mph, half a second slower than its rivals. It's not the end of the world, but it washes out the driver's car image the old Accord established.

On the road, the new Accord displays a good balance between ride and handling. Its ride quality is noticeably improved over the old car and certainly better than the stiffly sprung Camry SE and Altima. Body roll is also well suppressed in corners, so the suspension revision and lower center of gravity is worthwhile. Most family car buyers will love its smooth ride and lightweight controls (steering, gearchange and clutch), but keen drivers will prefer Ford Fusion and Saturn Aura for their firmer damping and higher agility. The Honda's variable gear ratio steering is responsive (2.6 turns only from lock to lock) and accurate, if not truly communicative. Grip and braking are just average, obviously hampered by the extra weight it carries. Overall speaking, we can't say the new Accord fun to drive.

No matter in dynamics, packaging, quality or styling, the new American Accord does not set any new standards for the class. A competent all-rounder ? Yes, but it falls short of our expectation.
The above report was last updated on 10 Nov 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Accord Coupe

A beautiful design is half it takes a coupe to succeed. What do you think about this ?

Does the market still demand mid-size front-wheel-drive coupes ? After a decade of recession, this segment is getting momentum again. New comers like Alfa Romeo Brera, Audi A5, Nissan Altima Coupe and the forthcoming Renault Laguna Coupe add fuel to the fire, while traditional players like Peugeot 407 Coupe, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Toyota Camry Solara and Honda Accord Coupe continue to present in the segment. Associating closely with a sedan has advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, it utilizes high percentage of component sharing, thus saves a lot of money. On the negative side, the coupe is difficult to establish its own character and identity. You know, this segment is all about image.

In the case of Accord Coupe, from these photos you can see Honda did tried to give it a different design. It said all body panels are different from the sedan. It said the wheelbase has been shortened by 60 mm, the overall length reduced by 80 mm and the roof lowered by 44 mm in order to deliver a sportier profile. Besides, from B-pillar rearward everything is different – for example, more stylish taillights, faster rear window and sporty twin-exhaust. Nevertheless, this car is still far from beautiful. Its biggest problem is a bonnet and shoulder line too high, so it lacks the sleekness a coupe should look. Moreover, the angular front end design is still an eyesore, no matter in the sedan or coupe. When a coupe looks this ugly, it takes a miracle to succeed.


Another half of the formula for success is a sporty driving experience. It lacks too.

Miracle doesn't happen in its cabin either. The Accord Coupe is called Accord Coupe instead of another name because it can't / doesn't want to hide its close relationship with its sedan version. In other words, the cabin is basically the same as the sedan, which is too boring / grey / conservative / mass-production feeling for a coupe. I can't see how it could attract young drivers. On the plus side, the rear seats are roomy by coupe standard, although headroom could be restricted for tall adults.

The coupe is powered by either the 190 hp 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-banger or the 268 hp 3.5 VTEC V6. This V6 employs the old VTEC system instead of the sedan's i-VTEC, meaning it goes without cylinder deactivation, but it produces no more power and torque. (So Honda seems telling us: if you want to buy a coupe, don't bother about fuel consumption or environmental impact ! What is this logic ?!) In the coupe, the V6 engine can be purchased together with a short-throw 6-speed manual gearbox. This shortens 0-60 mph by half a second to around 6 seconds flat.

Thanks to the double-wishbone front suspensions and adequate engine mapping, torque steer is negligible. But the front-wheel drive and front-biased weight distribution result in moderate understeer when the car hurries into corners. Obviously, the Accord Coupe is still very much a sedan in its nature. Honda should have worked harder to tighten its handling and give it a handsome face. Now failing to excel in both areas, the Accord Coupe has no reason to exist.
The above report was last updated on 14 Nov 2007. All Rights Reserved.


General remarks

Accord 2.4 EX
Accord 3.5 V6 EX
Accord Coupe 3.5 V6 EX
Front-engined, FWD
Front-engined, FWD
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel monocoque Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
Mainly steel Mainly steel
Length / width / height 4930 / 1847 / 1476 mm 4930 / 1847 / 1476 mm 4850 / 1847 / 1432 mm
Wheelbase 2800 mm 2800 mm 2740 mm
V6, 60-degree
V6, 60-degree
2354 cc
3471 cc 3471 cc
Valve gears
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
SOHC 24 valves, VVT+L (VTEC)
SOHC 24 valves, VVT+L (VTEC)
- -
Other engine features
Cylinder deactivation -
Max power
190 hp / 7000 rpm
268 hp / 6200 rpm 268 hp / 6200 rpm
Max torque
162 lbft / 4400 rpm 248 lbft / 5000 rpm 248 lbft / 5000 rpm
5-speed manual (5-speed auto)
5-speed automatic
6-speed manual
Suspension layout
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Suspension features
- -
Tyres front/rear
Kerb weight
1480 kg (auto: 1524 kg)
1637 kg 1607 kg
Top speed
130 mph (limited)
130 mph (limited) 130 mph (limited)
0-60 mph (sec)
7.9* (auto: 8.2*)
5.9** / 5.7***
0-100 mph (sec)
20.8* (auto: 22.3*)
14.5** / 13.4***
Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T, ***MT

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