2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord. Click image to enlarge

Article and photos by Paul Williams

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery: 2008 Honda Accord

Halifax, Nova Scotia – It doesn’t seem long ago that Honda introduced an all-new 2003 Accord. That car – in sedan and coupe versions – offered a pair of super-smooth engines with excellent fuel economy, and a progressive suite of standard safety features in a package that was functional and modern, but not particularly exciting (the six-speed manual coupe was an exception).

It sold like hotcakes.

Since then, the bar for the midsize car segment has been raised considerably. Toyota and Nissan have excellent new products in their Camry and Altima, and the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Dodge Avenger lengthen the shopping list with appealing alternatives. Competition is heating up.

2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord (left) with 2007 model. Click image to enlarge

Is the new Accord more of the same from Honda? Yes and no. Yes, Honda builds on Accord strengths that include advanced engines, comprehensive safety features and practicality. And no, Honda is looking to add some passion to the recipe, with sharper lines and a more eye-catching presence.

The most obvious difference is that the fully redesigned 2008 Accord Sedan is bigger in all key interior and exterior dimensions in comparison with its predecessor. Specifically, the 2008 Accord offers a significant increase in cabin and cargo space by extending the wheelbase by 60 millimetres, width by 26 mm and overall length by 76 mm.

The Accord Coupe is also longer, wider and slightly taller than the outgoing model, with passenger volume increasing considerably. And for the first time, the Accord Coupe shares no visible exterior body panels, lights, glass, grille or bumpers with the Accord Sedan (only the door mirrors and door handles are common), making the Accord Coupe virtually a stand-alone model in the Honda line-up.

2008 Honda Accord coupe
2008 Honda Accord coupe. Click image to enlarge

With the larger dimensions comes new styling that Honda describes as “emotional” and “dynamic”. Perhaps sensitive to criticism that their previous generation of cars lacked visual appeal, the company has made obvious efforts to add some pizzazz to the Accord. Certainly this has worked with the Civic, which is now one of the most striking compact car designs on the road, and it works with the new Accord as well.

Starting at the front, the hoodline is 51 mm taller than the outgoing model’s, with contours that intentionally recall the Honda S2000 sports car. Overall, the Accord is designed to be more substantial, more expressive, and more impressive.

Standard wheels are 16-inch steel, with 17-inch aluminum wheels optional on the Sedan. The Coupe arrives with standard 17-inch aluminum wheels, and 18-inch aluminum wheels on the Coupe V6/manual.

2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord. Click image to enlarge

Speaking of engines, there is now a choice of four powerplants for the Accord – or more accurately, two versions of the four-cylinder inline (I4) and two versions of the V6. The Accord Hybrid model has been discontinued. For 2008, the engine you receive depends on the trim level, which follows familiar Accord designations of LX, EX, EX-L (Leather) for I4 Sedans, and EX, EX-L for V6 Sedans. Four cylinder Coupes can be purchased in EX, EX-L trim, and if you specify a V6, you get the EX-L model.

Of the four engine options, the base version is a 2.4-litre i-VTEC (intelligent variable valve timing) making 177 horsepower and 161 pounds-feet of torque. This engine is only available with the LX Sedan, and is basically the same engine found in the four-cylinder 2007 Accord (it’s also found in the current Honda CR-V). This is an entirely satisfactory engine – fuel efficient, clean and quiet – now delivering a six-percent increase in horsepower and a one-percent increase in torque. Fuel consumption (regular grade) is 9.9/6.5 L/100km, city/highway; a slight improvement over the 2007 version.

The EX and EX-L models are equipped with the same 2.4-L engine, but it’s tuned to generate 190 hp and 162 lb.-ft. torque, benefiting from a high-flow muffler and reprogrammed Powertrain Control Module (PCM). This is the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever offered in a North American Accord, but it is also designed to run on regular grade fuel.

2008 Honda Accord coupe
2008 Honda Accord coupe
2008 Honda Accord coupe. Click image to enlarge

With a five-speed automatic transmission, it delivers estimated City/Highway fuel economy of 9.9/6.5 L/100 km (the same as the LX model with the less-powerful engine). A five-speed manual transmission is available with all I4 models, but not with the V6.

Replacing the previous 244-hp 3.0-litre V6 is a new 3.5-litre V6 engine with 268-hp and 248 lb.-ft. torque. This engine features a new generation of Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) variable displacement technology. Depending on driving conditions, the engine will operate on three, four or all six cylinders to optimize fuel economy and power as required (your only indication that this is happening is a green “Eco” light that flashed in the instrument panel).

In order to enhance low and midrange performance for the sportier Accord EX-L V6 Coupe with six-speed manual transmission, it uses a variation of the Accord V6 that doesn’t feature VCM. It also features a stiffer suspension, rorty exhaust note and optional 18-inch aluminum wheels.

All Accord sedans and coupes are well-equipped. Standard equipment includes side-curtain airbags, active head restraints, vehicle stability control and traction control, air conditioning, power windows, locks and outside mirrors, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.

2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord. Click image to enlarge

The EX Sedan and Coupe ride on 17-inch aluminum wheels, have a power driver’s seat, active noise control, and a power moonroof and chrome exhaust finisher. The EX-L completes the package with leather interior and automatic headlights, and can be purchased with a Navigation package that includes XM satellite radio and Bluetooth communication interface.

Interior space in both cars is appreciably larger, supplying more legroom and more shoulder room. The dashboard, controls and centre stack are evolutions of the previous design, having a more angular, expensive and technical look and feel. That can be said of the whole car, which seems entirely more substantial and advanced. The seats offer excellent support and comfort; trunk space is generous.

Power is formidable, too, especially with the V6. That engine has surprising reserves, and pulls strongly and evenly up to its redline. The I4 will be sufficient for most drivers and is almost as smooth as the V6 at highway speeds.

Performance from the six-speed manual Coupe is markedly sportier; shifting is a delight, with power and handling to match. Rear seating is comfortable, with somewhat restricted headroom (but it’s certainly enough space for two adults).

2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord
2008 Honda Accord. Click image to enlarge

In my view, Honda’s design team has successfully achieved their objectives of making the Accord more dynamic and expressive. The Accord Sedan certainly has something of the Acura TL in its appearance, and the Accord Coupe looks powerful and agile (now you can even get one in bright red, or black with beige interior, a striking combination missing from the previous generation).

It’s fascinating to see how Accords have evolved over time. First offered in Canada in 1976, and now in its eighth generation, the current version is a new benchmark for vehicles of this type. Smooth, powerful, spacious, tight, precise and built to exacting standards, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in more ways than one when you take the wheel of this splendid car.

At a glance: 2008 Honda Accord

  • Price: $25,000-$38,000 Sedan; $27,000-$39,000 Coupe (exact pricing to be announced).
  • Available: Sedan: September 21, 2007; Coupe: October 1, 2007
  • Notable: Build quality, sophisticated design and technology, road presence, quietness, power.

Manufacturer’s web site

Connect with Autos.ca