1996 Honda Accord LX sedan
1996 Honda Accord LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

By Jeremy Cato

The re-invented 1994 Honda Accord was a victory of steady evolution over snappy revolution. That is, Honda did not stray far the formula which by the early 1990s had created a huge success in family sedans, coupes and even, at times, station wagons.

Now what do I mean by evolution?

The 1994-97 Accord is about the same size as the 1990-93 version. As well, in ’94 the two engine choices available were basically upgraded versions of the cast aluminium 2.2-litre fours which powered the 1993 Accords. Very quickly, though, a 2.7-litre V6 (170 horsepower) arrived.

So in a nutshell, if you’re looking at an older Accord, keep in mind that the 1994-97 did not stray from the long-running Accord themes of fun, sporty, reliable and practical. That said, Honda did not stand pat when it re-styled and re-engineered the 1994 Accord.

The latter Accord borrows design cues from BMW and Acura and under the skin Honda engineers delivered a number of structural changes. A stronger body structure shows up in significantly better road manners compared to the ’93 Accord.

In 1994, Honda made the Accord available in sedan, coupe and wagon versions. The most fun of the bunch, and certainly a used car to look for, is the Accord EX-R. It is powered by the 145-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The base inline four in the LX and EX models is rated at 130 hp.

All Accords from this era were available with a choice of manual five-speed or electronically-controlled four-speed automatic. The automatics have computer programming that adjusts shift patterns according to six preprogrammed schedules.

So this transmission chooses its shift points to match driving conditions. For instance, if you’re slowing as you descend a hill, the transmission will shift from fourth to third as soon a possible to maximize engine braking. Similarly, there’s less “hunting” for the right gear on uphill grades. Honda calls this system Grade Logic.

In terms of design, the 1994 Accord has an aero-wedge look. The hoodline is heavily reminiscent of the Acura Legend of that era, while the rear deck appears to have been strongly influenced by the mid-1990s BMW’s 3-series cars. Inside, the designers massaged the hard edges off the plastic pieces of the 1993 Accord.

On matters of safety and the environment, this Accord meets 1997 U.S. government side-impact. Driver and passenger airbags were available, as was anti-lock braking.

Overall, the 1994-97 Accord is more substantial than its predecessor. The four-cylinder cars provide adequate power, but the V6 punch is more fun. Automatic transmission shift quality could be better. Cabin room is adequate for a mid-size car. The driver enjoys excellent visibility thanks to thin roof pillars all around and a low cowl up front.

Clearly an older Accord is a very good used car for a wide range of reasons. However, don’t expect to find many bargains out there. If you do come across what appears to be a real steal, then be suspicious, because Accords hold their value very, very well.

Finally, an older used car, even one as well built as the Accord, should undergo a thorough mechanical inspection.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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