2008 Honda Accord Sedan

Today, it seems every new model comes with more – more space, more technology, more power and, in the case of the 2008 Accord, more to confuse. Walking towards the eighth generation, you spot the differences immediately. The bolder lines bring an upscale visage that moves the sedan away from its staid persona and into the eye-candy realm occupied by the likes Acura. It is handsome piece to say the least.

2008 Honda Accord

It has also blossomed in size – it is longer (76-mm), wider (26-mm), taller (23-mm) and it rides on a stretched wheelbase (up 60-mm). This brings a much more spacious interior for all riders, especially those relegated to the rear seat – it is limo-like in its proportions and so riding back there is now something to savour and not dread.
The rest of the interior is finished with an obvious attention to detail – for the most part. In spite of the predominantly black finish in the test car (there are some tasteful splashes of brushed aluminum), the cabin has an inviting feel and all the right toys. The leather buckets are comfortable, the audio package is loud and proud and the navigation system is a snap to program. Even the power moonroof switch sits up where it should done have all along.
The source of confusion is the overly busy centre stack. While there are plenty of stand alone buttons (including steering wheel-mounted audio controls) and a voice recognition system that is pretty smart, squeezing forty buttons, a volume knob and an eight-direction mouse/enter button complete with rotary ring into a 310180-mm chunk of the car crams the controls together in a manner that is not intuitive – it’s not the sort of design to be tackled without studying the owner’s manual at length. I found it almost as cantankerous as iDrive.

The increased size also shows up in the dynamics. Where the previous car had a light and lithe feel to its drive, the upsized car feels heavier (it is actually 84-kg heavier) and less tossable – initially. This sensation, however, changes quickly as the sedan is an enjoyable drive that’s surprisingly athletic for such a full-bodied ride. The steering delivers great feedback, the suspension cushions large potholes while keeping unwanted body motion at bay and understeer stays out of the picture until liberties are taken, all of which means the electronic stability control system remains dormant much of the time.

The other notable improvement, stiffer body aside, is the upsized rubber – the large P225/50R17 tires deliver plenty of lateral grip and more predictability. The extra traction also shows up in the braking. The stopping distances (39.8-metres from 100 km/h) are short, the pedal has a crisp feel that’s easily modulated and the anti-lock system stays out of the picture until it’s actually needed – previous Accords seemed to lean on the ABS way too much.

The size, and its attendant mass, also touches performance. The tester featured a 2.4-litre inline four married to a five-speed manual gearbox. With 190 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque on tap, the launch off the line is brisk and it holds the urgency through the mid-range. The transmission’s close gate and light progressive clutch make it easy to pick the gears off quickly, which keeps the engine revving where it delivers its best work (above 4,000 rpm). As an about-town runabout it has all the right qualities.

At the top end, however, things start to come unglued. The 80-120 km/h passing time (in fourth gear) takes an agonizing eleven seconds to accomplish. Dropping down into third gear cuts the time to 7.5 seconds, which is still less than brisk. Adding a sixth gear and closing up the ratios would help matters enormously – frankly, a six-speed box should be standard in any car of the Accord’s stature and price.

The uplevel 3.5-litre V6 and its 268 horsepower suffers no such malady, and so it is the engine of choice unless fuel economy is paramount. On that note, the four is very good – a test average of 8.9 L/100 km surpassed expectation.
One does not get to the eight generation of a vehicle without getting a lot of things right along the way. Honda has nailed it for the most part with the latest Accord. While I do not care for the complexity of the centre stack and the rather windy performance of the four-cylinder engine, the rest of the car is spot on. The style is pleasing and the interior amenities, especially in the EX-L Navi, are there for all to enjoy. I also enjoyed the handling and the peace that comes with a back seat that’s large enough to accommodate three teens – it dispensed with the usual fighting about who gets to ride up front.

Type of vehicle: Front-wheel drive, mid-sized sedan
Engine: 2.4L, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 190 @ 7,000 rpm; 162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS
Tires: P225/50R17
Base price/as tested: $25,090/$32,690
Destination charge: $1,390
Fuel economy L/100 km: 9.4 city, 6.4 hwy.
Standard features: Dual-zone climate control with filtration, power locks, windows, mirrors, moonroof, 8-way power driver’s seat, leather trimmed seating/steering wheel/shift knob, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering, 270-watt AM/FM/6-disc CD/MP3/WMA/XM satellite audio with seven speakers including subwoofer, Homelink, Bluetooth cell phone interface, navigation system with bilingual voice recognition, electronic stability control