Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Honda Accord performs well and still has some of the most powerful

It only takes a cursory look at the new Honda Accord or a short drive to see why it's a best seller. No matter what your priorities—interior space, styling, ride comfort, performance, or features—the 2010 Accord has you covered, and it's one of the better choices in its class.

Although the Honda Accord was redesigned for 2008, it carries through to 2010 with very few appearance changes, and it still manages to look quite fresh relative to most of the competition. The Accord Sedan's current design is considerably more exciting than the previous version, now including flared fenders, projector-beam headlamps, and a swoopier roofline overall. Inside it's especially distinctive, with a curvier look and bolder styling that reminds us of some luxury models. The coupe is of course a little sexier; it looks to be in a constant state of motion because of the bold character line sweeping from front wheels to rear lamps and the quicker curve of its roof, which also imbue the Accord Coupe with a sleek, modern profile. The new Accord's cockpit is definitely among the best, too; the dashboard is laid out in a sort of dual-cockpit mode, and gauges and controls are particularly well placed. Top trims of the Accord keep the same basic appearance inside but include upgraded trim and surfaces.

The front-wheel-drive Accord remains powered by either four-cylinder or V-6 engines, both with a five-speed automatic transmission; for those who prefer to do the shifting themselves, a five-speed manual can still be specified with the four-cylinder model.

Either way, the 2010 Honda Accord performs well and still has some of the most powerful, refined engines in its class. Both of the 2.4-liter fours are smooth operators, but the EX sedan (and all four-cylinder Coupes) have 190 horsepower instead of 177 hp; you can sense the added pep in passing, though both feel about the same from a standing start. The preferred engine for hauling lots of people or cargo is the V-6. In the Accord, it makes 271 hp and incorporates Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which helps improve fuel economy. Simply put, it's a refined engine that gives the Accord a luxurious feel. Overall, the four delivers up to 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and the V-6 at 2 mpg less with both. In the Coupe, ratings are 22/31 mpg for the four and 19/28 mpg with the V-6.

The 2010 Honda Accord has superb suspension tuning; it's able to soak up all of the largest bumps, yet there's enough responsiveness to take tight curves confidently. Base four-cylinder models feel the softest, with V-6 models a bit firmer. On the V-6 models, the 18-inch wheels soak up bumps almost imperceptibly, without numbing road feel. The variable gear ratio steering is precise and supple, with a clear, on-center sensation; it can come across as a bit heavy, but there's a sporty element to the Accord when pushing hard into corners and it has a hint of feedback from the road—a relative rarity in this class.

Although in the eyes of most shoppers the 2010 Honda Accord is a mid-size car, it actually qualifies as a large car according to the EPA, based upon interior space. That goes to say the Accord's interior feels generous. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, there's plenty of legroom in back, and the trunk is huge. About the only issue is the sloping roofline headroom, which will be tight in back for tall adults. In the Coupe, the backseats aren't so easily accessible, but average-size adults will fit.

Build quality and Honda's reputation for reliability and resale value remain strong arguments for considering the 2010 Honda Accord. Each of the test cars driven by's editors have felt tight and free of rattles—even though the swooping, dual-cockpit instrument panel appears more complex in construction and upscale in appearance than other affordable sedans.

On the safety side, there's some conflicting information regarding the 2010 Honda Accord. The Accord has been an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick, with top "good" scores in all of that agency's categories, yet in the federal government's crash tests, the Accord Sedan got a dismal three-star score for rear-passenger protection in side-impact tests and the Accord Coupe got an imperfect four stars for driver side-impact protection. However, feature-wise, the Accord's list is strong, including electronic stability control, front side airbags, side curtain bags, and anti-lock brakes.

Base LX models of the Honda Accord have no lack of standard features. Remote keyless entry, cruise control, power accessories, air conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering, a fold-down rear seatback, and a six-speaker, 160-watt sound system are all included. LX-P models add a few more desirable features, including alloy wheels, then a moonroof, upgraded seats, rear-seat heated ducts, and premium sound with an active noise-cancellation system. Top EX-L models of the 2010 Accord pack in the luxury features, including dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, and a sound system with active noise cancellation. A navigation system is also available.

The Bottom Line: Honda hasn't changed much about the Accord, and that's a good thing. In base four-cylinder form, the 2010 Honda Accord feels sophisticated beyond its price range, and even as a $30,000 coupe or sedan, the top V-6 models offer compelling refinement, performance, and luxury.

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