2008 Accord Four-Door LX-PPosted on April 27th, 2008
Is bigger better?
By Nina Russin
For over twenty-five years, the Accord has won the hearts of American buyers by being a beacon of simplicity in a gimmick-laden world. Its large windshield and low cowl contribute to excellent forward vision, its interior is logical and ergonomic, its four-cylinder engine fuel efficient, and all grades have a high level of standard safety.
This year, the all-new Accord edges its way up from the mid-sized to the full-sized sedan segment. The slightly bigger Accord has a 2.3-inch longer wheelbase and 1-inch wider track than the model it replaces, translated to 3.3 cubic feet of additional interior space.
While making models bigger with each new iteration seems to have become standard operating procedure in the car industry, the jury’s still out on whether bigger is necessarily better. Accord owners are pragmatic people. Will the additional interior space justify the model’s increase in weight and decrease in fuel economy?
Just what kind of a decrease are we talking about? According to EPA ratings, the new LX sedan averages three miles per gallon less than the outgoing LX model. In all fairness, more stringent EPA standards for the 2008 model year mean that the actual difference is somewhat less.
However gas mileage during my own test was worse than the EPA figures: the car averaged about 23 miles per gallon for city and highway driving. With gas prices approaching four dollars per gallon, any loss in fuel economy makes a big impact on the driver’s wallet.
The new model is also more expensive. Honda no longer offers the VP grade, priced under $20,000. The PZEV version of the LX sedan now costs $22,160, as opposed to $21,075 for the outgoing model.
Having said that, the new Accord LX has a more refined, powerful engine, bigger standard wheels, and more comfort and convenience features than the model it replaces. The inline four-cylinder engine gets ten more horsepower, though torque remains virtually the same. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels that were an option on the old LX are now standard.
The audio system on the new LX-P includes a MP3 plug-in and a CD changer. Steering wheel mounted audio controls make it easier for the driver to change channels without taking his eyes off the road. Buyers who want satellite radio and Bluetooth compatibility will need to upgrade to the EX model.
The 2008 LX-P sedan gets some important new standard safety features as well: vehicle stability assist with traction control, active front head restraints, and a tire pressure monitoring system. A new advanced compatibility engineering body structure makes the front end of the car more compatible with vehicles of different sizes and bumper heights.
Sporty exterior styling
Back in the mid-1980s my mother purchased the first of two Accords she owned. The first car was a hatchback, followed by a sedan eight years later. While the cars weren’t unattractive, there was nothing about the exterior styling that set the Accords apart from the crowd.
Non-descript exteriors on former models have given way to sporty designs that appeal to drivers of all ages and lifestyles. Large wrap-around headlamps frame the grille up front. The increase in track and bigger wheels give the car a more muscular stance. The taillamps wrap around the rear quarter panels beginning at the trunk: a style reminiscent of some BMW designs.
The roof is slightly raked to the back to make the profile look sportier, though not enough to interfere with headroom for the rear passengers. Body-color door handles look and feel substantial. Standard alloy wheels on the new model are more attractive than the hubcaps on the outgoing LX: drivers living in areas with lots of potholes no longer have to worry about the hubcaps taking flight in the middle of traffic.
Excellent visibility; improved ride and handling
Despite the increase in price, the 2008 Accord LX-P meets our ALV best value standards. But its ride and handling rival cars in the entry luxury segment. While it isn’t a barn burner, the four-cylinder engine has plenty of power: acceleration off the line is surprisingly good.
On a drive up the 17 freeway between Phoenix and Sedona, the engine had enough power to pass slower cars on the uphill grade. There’s more downshifting with the four-cylinder engine than there would be for a bigger block, but the five-speed automatic transmission doesn’t produce a lot of shift shock.
Visibility all the way around the car is outstanding. I’ve already mentioned the low front cowl which enhances the driver’s forward vision. The side mirrors do a good job of minimizing blind spots without obstructing the driver’s view to the front or sides. The Accord is unique among new car designs for not having a thick rear pillar, so the driver has a better view to the rear as well.
A fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars gives the Accord a compliant ride, without sacrificing stability in the corners. The car can easily handle decreasing radius turns, and take cloverleaf entrance ramps at speed. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel is small enough that women won’t feel as if they’re driving a man’s car.
Rear disc brakes replace drums on the old LX model, making the car easier to service, and improving braking performance in wet weather. The brakes are firm and linear. All models come with standard four-channel antilock brakes.
Both rows of passengers get plenty of room to stretch out in. While a tunnel through the rear floor compromises legroom on the middle seat, passengers in the outboard seats should be quite comfortable. I found both front and second-row seats to have better-than-average lower back support.
An eight-way power driver’s seat, standard on the test car, makes it easy for people of all sizes to find a comfortable position. The standard tilt and telescoping steering wheel enables small women to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag. The standard cloth upholstery is attractive, and doesn’t retain heat in the warm southwestern climate the way leather does.
Access is excellent for all seating positions. While I didn’t have a problem exiting the rear seats, the knee bolster on the driver’s side hit my knees on several occasions exiting the car.
The front doors have map pockets with bottle holders. Two cupholders in the floor console are large enough to hold bottles as well. I liked the small shelf located to the left of the steering wheel, meant to hold cell phones or small electronic devices.
There are two, 12-volt power points up front: the cigarette lighter in the center stack, and a second outlet inside the center console bin. The MP3 plug-in is located in that bin as well.
The center stack is logically laid out, with audio system information displayed on top, temperature controls in the center, and two storage shelves beneath. The gauges in the instrument cluster are easy to read in any light.
A small bin overhead holds sunglasses or a garage door opener. Both rows of passengers get reading lamps. Although the LX-P does not have a moonroof, there seems to be enough ambient light in the car to make rear-seat passengers comfortable.
A fold-down armrest in back has two small cupholders: possibly large enough for small cans, but not big enough for bottles. There is a lockable pass-though that’s big enough to fit golf bags, skis and possibly a surf board. The trunk itself is almost large enough to hold a bicycle with the front wheel removed, but the pass through isn’t wide enough to make the job easier.
The LX-P comes equipped with standard antilock brakes, traction and electronic stability program, a tire pressure monitoring system, active head restraints for front-seat passengers, front, side and side curtain airbags. About half the car body is made of high-strength steel, improving occupant protection as well as torsional rigidity.
The new Accord sedan is available in either the base LX or upscale EX grades with the choice of an inline four-cylinder or V6 engine, five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions. Pricing ranges from $20,360 for the LX sedan with five-speed manual transmission to $30,260 for the EX-L grade with a V6 engine, automatic transmission and navigation system.
The all-new Accord is on display at Honda dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A spacious sedan with excellent visibility, and a high level of standard safety features. Ride and handling rival luxury cars costing considerably more.
Dislikes: The wrap-around front knee bolster can be an obstacle when exiting the driver’s seat. The rear pass-through isn’t wide enough to make the Accord bicycle friendly.
Model: Accord LX-P sedan
Base price: $22,160
As tested: $22,795
Horsepower: 177 Hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 161 lbs-ft. @ 4300 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Not available
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 21/31 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $635 delivery charge.
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