A family looking for a reliable and comfortable sedan that will maintain a high resale value.
Comparable cars in this class:
Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Stratus, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Azera, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Amanti, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Mercury Milan, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima, Pontiac G6, Pontiac Grand Prix, Subaru Legacy, Suzuki Verona, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat
Just like people who get facelifts and tummy tucks to camouflage the aging process, automobiles commonly receive revisions and upgrades as they reach mid-life.
The always fast-selling Honda Accord is now in the fourth of an anticipated five-year product cycle, and even though nobody has been heard to complain that it was starting to get a bit dowdy, its Japanese manufacturer has taken considerable pains to freshen the 2006 sedans and coupes inside and out.
On the exterior, there is a major redesign of the tail and a freshening of the grille and bumper. The new rear, with updated lighting, gives the car a slightly larger, more substantial look while changes at the front end bring a little more attention to the car.
Updates inside the car include a new steering wheel, revised gauge cluster, new cloth seat fabrics and a maintenance reminder that calculates when routine service is required. Even the ambience has been upgraded, thanks to the addition of light-weight sound-deadening material.
New safety features are daytime running lights on all Accords and a stability control system on models with V-6 engines.
An improvement in intake and exhaust airflow has resulted in a slight power increase across the board. The V-6 models generate 244 horsepower, up 4, and four-cylinder models generate166, an increase of six. In addition, electronic throttle controls, which had been available only on V-6 models, are now also standard on four-cylinder Accords.
To the enthusiast with a need for four doors, the biggest news for 2006 is the availability of a six-speed manual transmission as a same-price alternative to the five-speed automatic on top-of-of-the-line V-6 Accords. In addition to the short-throw shifter, it has 17-inch wheels, a 180-watt sound system and exclusive carbon fiber interior trim. Previously, the do-it-yourself six-speed, 17-inch wheels and sound system had been available only on V-6 coupes.
Even the Accord Hybrid sedan, now in only its second year, gets a couple of updates to call its own. A power sunroof and a temporary-use spare tire have been added, as well as a stability control system. In addition to the exterior changes common to all Accords, the Hybrid gets a new rear deck-lid spoiler, new front chin spoiler, heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators and an exclusive clear-lens rear taillight design. Perhaps most importantly, the Accord Hybrid has been upgraded by the California Air Resources Board to AT-PZEV for its low level of pollutants.
But to the 70 percent of Accord buyers who opt for the four-cylinder models, the more significant news may be a revision to the bottom of the lineup. The VP, with a starting price of ,225, replaces the DX as the most affordable Accord, and its standard features include air conditioning, cruise control, 120-watt sound system, keyless entry and power windows and door locks.
The car provided for my inspection was the Accord EX sedan with four-cylinder engine and optional five-speed automatic transmission. Although it comes with more standard comfort and convenience features, its powertrain can be duplicated across the four-cylinder lineup.
My extensive travels during a week with the car covered most traffic situations a driver will normally encounter high-speed interstates, low-speed suburban and rural thorough fares and no-speed congested rush-hour traffic.
In every situation, the test car was nearly flawless. Its well muffled engine was ready and eager to pick up the pace when required. Its transmission moved unobtrusively from gear to gear to maximize the engines potential. The nicely weighted steering offered sufficient feedback. The suspension not only absorbed many of winters assaults on road surfaces, it was taut enough to provide reasonably quick responses to driver inputs. The brakes, with a tendency to overreact under initial pressure, were the only minor disappointment in the driving experience.
And, over all those miles the Accord averaged between 21 and 29 miles per gallon of regular fuel.
After a few days behind the wheel, I came to realize that those seven out of 10 Accord buyers are not giving up a lot with their lower-priced sedans and coupes. The six may have the sizzle an extra 78 horsepower will do that - but the four is a lot more than just basic transportation.
The price of the EX sedan is ,250, ,225 more than a VP with automatic transmission. For that price it comes standard with everything the VP offers plus a power sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker sound package, steering wheel audio controls, a security system, power drivers seat height adjustment and outside mirrors that are power-operated and heated.
Its a nice package and with leather seating, a few more accessories and an extra ,700 it would have been even nicer. But I couldnt help thinking that a person who buys the base VP edition may be laughing all the way to (or from) the bank.