Pros: First-class engineering and ergonomics, smooth engine, responsive throttle, roominess, interior storage.
Cons: Noisy power windows, no traction control available on 4-cylinder models, no mp3 jack
Back in May, I traded in my 2007 Subaru Legacy (see http://www.epinions.com/content_328383106692 for my review) for a 2007 Honda Accord SE (4-cylinder). Ive had the Accord for 5 months, and wanted to share my thoughts on it.
Decision Making Process (Test Drives, Competitors)
As potential replacements for the Legacy, I considered the Accord as well as the Toyota Camry (2007 models, 4-cylinder). I first test drove the Camry LE, which I found to be a good but underwhelming car. I then test drove the Accord SE, and was impressed. I ended up test driving the Accord at 2 other dealerships as I tried to work out my trade-in, and became more impressed with each drive. For the majority of drivers, the Camry is probably more than enough. But for those who want to have some fun while driving, I think the Accord is clearly a better choice.
I felt that the SE trim level was the best deal in terms of the features that I was interested in. It has all the basic features found in the LX - including ABS, six airbags, power locks and windows, and air conditioning - plus 16-inch aluminum wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, 6-speaker audio system with a 6-disc CD changer, and steering-mounted controls for the audio and cruise control systems. The price difference between the SE and LX trim levels was marginal ($700 based on the MSRP), and well worth the investment.
The only features I added were fog lights, all-weather mats, and the rubberized trunk mat. This brought the final price to $20,100.
I am very impressed with the way the Accord drives. Even though it's a pretty big car, it feels like a smaller one and is nimble. It feels very solid too, almost what you would expect from a German car. It offers good road feel without the ride being too stiff or rough, and is comfortable on both the highway and while driving around town. The steering is properly weighted and responsive - light without sacrificing road feel. Handling is good, though not sporty. There is some body lean in turns and corners, but not too much. There is more road noise than I would like, but I usually counteract that by turning up the audio system.
The engine feels more like a small 6 than a 4 cylinder - it is smooth and has a responsive throttle. It feels most impressive when merging onto the highway or trying to pass someone. With the 5-speed automatic transmission, the engine is typically running under 2500 rpm at most highway speeds, and this makes for a nice highway ride. The engine doesnt seem to strain and has a nice exhaust note. With gas prices as high as they are, the Accord's 4 cylinder provides a nice blend of power and fuel economy - EPA estimates are 24/34 mpg city/highway. In primarily city driving, I have been getting around 24 mpg, though I expect this to improve when the car has a little more mileage on it (currently I have 3400 miles). In addition, the Accord is an LEV (Low Emission Vehicle).
While the throttle feels light and responsive, the brake pedal has a firm feel with little travel. I prefer this feel to the spongy type of pedal. If you are used to pedals that are less firm, this might take a little getting used to. The ABS in the SE and higher trim levels has a feature called Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, which is supposed to improve braking performance (see http://www.obd-codes.com/faq/ebd-explained.php for an explanation of how this works). I recently had a good test of the brakes under emergency conditions, and they were very effective. I thought for sure that I would hit the car in front of me, and was able to stop with room to spare.
The interior is not flashy and may seem a little dated compared to some of the newer designs found in other cars in its class, but I really like it. It is probably best described as functional everything is laid out where you would expect it to be.
The Accord is very roomy with plenty of headroom. There is plenty of storage in the cabin - deep center console with coin slots, large cubby in front of the shifter with a door that flips down to conceal the contents, and large map pockets with built-in bottle holders.
The drivers seat is comfortable and easily adjustable (manual adjustments on most of the 4-cylinder models), with an excellent driving position and good sightlines. The dashboard design is clean and easy to read I really like the fonts that Honda used. At first, I didn't think I would like the huge speedometer and small tachometer (I was used to both gauges being the same size), but it works well that way and I got used to it quickly. The white light on the dash is easy to see at night, and even with the headlights off the dashboard is backlit. The steering wheel mounted controls for the audio system and cruise controls are illuminated at night, though dimmer than the other interior lighting. There are also bright map lights and both the visor mirrors have lighting.
The steering wheel is smooth, and has a dimpled pattern that provides enough resistance so as not to feel slippery. It tilts and telescopes. The top of the shifter is wrapped with a perforated synthetic material that seems leather-like and feels nice to the touch. The center armrest extends towards the front of the car, and is perfectly in line with the shifter. It is also cushioned on top, which is useful if you typically rest your right arm on the center console as I do. There is even some cushioning for the driver's left elbow on the door, so both my elbows can rest on a cushioned surface.
The audio system is very good, though audiophiles will want something better. There are 6 speakers with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer, and the tweeters on top of the dash sound especially clear. There is no auxiliary jack for an MP3 player, which would be nice to have.
The key and fob are an integrated unit, which Im seeing more and more these days. I like the design. A neat feature, which is great in warmer weather - the remote control can be used to open all the windows at the same time from outside the car. You can open the windows anywhere from slightly open to all the way down (the back windows do not go all the way down).
Another neat feature is the Maintenance Minder system. This provides information regarding when to take the car in for maintenance service. The indicators are located in the same place as the trip odometer you simply cycle through the trip A and B odometers to get to the Maintenance Minder display, which will show the remaining oil life (as a percentage) as well as other codes if necessary.
While the car is not sexy, it has clean lines. The styling was slightly changed for the 2006 model year the front grille and bumper were made to look nicer, and the wraparound style taillights were replaced with LED taillights similar in shape to those on the Accord coupes. This makes the rear end of the car much more attractive it seemed rather frumpy looking before.
I got the graphite (dark gray) with the gray interior. I think the Accord looks a bit sleeker in the darker colors.
Thus far, the only real complaint I have is that the power windows are rather noisy. I took it in to the dealer after a month, and they replaced the regulators in both rear windows, but they are still rather noisy. The front windows are quieter but a bit noisy.