The Honda Accord has been a favorite among automobile editors and among the general public for as long as I can remember. Now the Accord is in its seventh generation of evolution and its strong points from 30 years ago have not been lost. It’s almost like watching an awkward teen grow into adulthood as the Accord kept its place as a favorite on the list of top 10 sedans. I drove a 2007 Accord LX sedan, Honda’s base trim model (one step up from the VP trim model), for a few hours to reacquaint myself with the brand. Back in ’89 my brother and I purchased a brand new Accord DX coupe for the purpose of building a custom car audio system and winning car audio competitions. I lost count of the number of times I pulled off panels and removed seats just to install new components and wiring. So I am totally familiar with the construction and sturdiness of Honda Accords.
Pros and Cons
Large, easy to read gauges
Good sounding stereo system
Fold-down rear seats, with 60/40 split, help extend cargo area
Basic no-frills transportation with a few minor comfort features
Interior fit and finish is solid with no discernable squeaks, rattles or buzzes
Lost in the crowd blasé styling
Cheap tires that don’t provide very good traction
Interior plastic pieces everywhere
Confusing knobs for climate control and stereo functions
Driving the Accord isn’t going to make any loud statements. No, the Accord is not the Terrell Owens of the family sedan market. Consider the Accord more typical to Art Monk - a superstar whose quiet determination and consistency made him a leader and successful veteran. The base models of the Accord, the Value Package and LX trim levels, are humble in their presentation, but speak volumes if you take the time to look past the conservative body style and hard plastic interior pieces.
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The interior of the Accord LX is understated with the emphasis on simple functionality. The gauges are large and easy to read. Aunty Em, with the coke bottle glasses, would have no excuse for not knowing her speed at any time of day or night. The controls are simple and easy to understand. People with Masters of Science degrees are not required to help explain the use and function of the climate controls to new Accord owners. And there is plenty of storage space throughout the car. Who really needs a gas guzzling, environmental hazard, prone to rollovers, full-size SUV when cargo space of the trunk is dramatically increased in the Accord just by dropping the back seats?
The Accord has no trouble seating five adults – including the adults who shop at the big and tall stores. Our LX tester model did not have a sunroof, thus there was lots of headroom for the tall people who rode in the car with me. If I was wearing my racing helmet, there would be at least an inch or two of clearance above my head.
Upon studying the interior layout I only came across one ergonomic feature that wasn’t up to the usual high standards I’ve become accustomed to with Honda cars. Reaching for the volume control of the stereo, my hand kept finding the fan speed control knob because it was the left most knob on the center dashboard. Traditionally, the volume control knob of the car radio is on the left and within easy reach of the driver. Honda engineers decided to locate the power/volume control knob for the stereo in the middle of the center dashboard. The power/volume control knob may be larger in diameter than the other two controls that were located on either side, but not by much. I want the name of the design engineer who made this decision. What was he thinking: the passenger and driver should have equal access to the volume control?
Another reminder that our Accord LX was not in the luxury category was the presence of too much road noise at freeway speeds. The base models have minimal noise dampening insulation as part of the equation of keeping manufacturing costs down and not carrying too much weight to improve gas mileage. I could actually hear and feel the buzz of the exhaust on a VW Rabbit GTI while on the freeway. Be prepared to reach for the volume knob (not the fan control) to mask the road noise.
Performance / Handling
High performance is not the LX model’s strong suit. The 4-cylinder engine puts out enough power for simple, everyday type of driving that gets you from point A to point B without any drama. Economy and reliability are the Accord LX’s highlights. The 2.4 liter, 166 HP engine is classified as a super ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV) and with its fuel economy rated at 26 city/34 highway you might be visiting the gas station more often to wash the bugs off the windshield than filling up the gas tank.
Handling performance can be greatly improved with a good set of tires. The Michelin Energy MXV4 tires sold with the car were a little scary. I was able to make the tires squeal like a 10-year old school girl just by driving a little over the limit. A better set of passenger tires can make a huge improvement with the braking and wet road performance over what I experienced.
The Accord was built to appeal to a large general audience. Honda has a solid reputation for designing and producing cars that get the business done and does it everyday without any drama. I’ve owned Hondas and Acuras in which I logged over 200,000 miles each and they were still running strong the day that I sold them. I don’t expect this generation of Accord to be any different for owners who adhere to the maintenance schedule. Checking the oil level and tire pressure at least once a month, changing the oil and filter every 5,000 miles, and bringing the car in for its 15,000 mile service interval goes a long way to making a car last a long time and avoiding calls for road side assistance.
Performance and handling were given lower marks because I tested the base model with the 166 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, soft suspension setup and weak performing tires. My personal preferences for handling are towards something more aggressive and grippy. The factory suspension and tire setup will probably work for any driver who doesn’t have delusions of becoming a race car driver like me.
Standard features such as air conditioning, 6-disc in-dash CD changer, cruise control and cloth seats are all included in the base price of the LX. Important safety features (front and side curtain airbags, ABS, and daytime running lights) all add to the value of the LX trim package. The biggest value of any car is its performance from day to day without any unscheduled trips to the mechanic. And all of the Honda Accord owners that I know rarely worry about the running condition of their car. Yes, keeping a low profile by being consistent and dependable can make you a superstar sometimes. Just ask Art Monk.