Pros: reliable, fun to drive, economical
Cons: tight back seat
A few automotive stereotypes have made it into the permanent collection of American pop culture; most of them on the strength of a lasting look at our local movie theatre. Think pickup trucks with rifle racks in the back window, and you'll probably flash on "Easy Rider." Picture a black limo with tinted windows, and does "The Godfather" come to mind? Think bright red sports car, and there's Bruce Dern (for you young'uns, Laura's daddy) going "Middle-Age Crazy." Me, I'm middle-aged (please tell me I'm not already past it!), and the nearest thing I've ever owned to a flashy red sports car just rolled out of my driveway for the last time. Don't laugh, now, she was a '92 Accord Coupe - not the ultimate driving machine, but enough fun that she kept me happy for almost a decade, and I think she has a lot of fun left in her...
Love at First Sight?
Not hardly... it's tough to get me to part with my cars, especially if I've had them for a while (I'd spent ten years with the Accord's predecessor, an '82 Civic Wagon). But when the Ms decides she wants a new car, no force short of a hurricane will stand in her way! And so it was that Sugar came into our lives.
The lady in question -- our cars have names: all the trucks are male and the cars female; vans and SUVs tend to be androgynous -- is an Accord EX coupe, all stock. And what a dandy little lady she's been.
Stylish - Inside and Out
The '92 is a fourth-generation Accord body ('90-93); the second generation of Honda's notch-back Coupe style. Since the nameplate's inception in 1976, the Accord's wheelbase had grown from its original 94" to 107", and overall weight had increased almost 900 pounds. By this point the Accord's basic platform was no longer the original pure "compact," but had grown large enough to be considered mid-size in many classifications. The '92 model, by the way, marks the eleventh year in which the Accord was assembled at the company's Marysville, Ohio, plant.
The angular facets of the late-eighties Accords have been left behind in this design, replaced by smooth curves. The clean lines of this era's Accord are accentuated by cab-forward design, resulting in a long, sloping windshield, and the Coupe adds a longer slope to the rear window with a resultant short trunk-line. The overall side view is one of sleek, aerodynamic design and an illusion of forward motion, similar to the styling of Ford Probes and other production "sporty" cars of the period. From the rear, the Coupe is similarly sleek yet substantial; not yet having attained the broad-beamed look of post-1993 models.
Interior design and styling also impart a sports-car feel: cockpit controls are generously-sized and located within easy reach from a low driving position. Exterior sight lines are enhanced by the broad expanses of glass front and rear, and interior views to the instrument cluster are similarly clean.
The most popular car in the US for three years running (1990-1992), the Accord was offered in three trim lines: DX, LX, and EX; and three body styles: sedan, coupe, and station wagon. Trim lines were defined by optional equipment then as now. The DX -- a stripped version with 13-inch wheels, a driver's side airbag, and an electronically fuel-infected 2.2 litre 130-hp four-cylinder power plant anchored the bottom of the line, pretty generous for the position traditionally called "key-and-a-heater." Addition of power windows and locks, AM/FM/Cassette, cruise, and air conditioning with interior refinements resulted in the mid-line LX. The top-of-the line EX added 14-inch alloy wheels with four-wheel disk brakes and ABS, and power sunroof and antenna. Fine tuning of the engine teased out an additional ten horsepower.
Fun to Drive?
Definitely! matching that spunky 140-hp four to a responsive five-speed manual transmission, the EX accelerates well out of the blocks and has adequate power at freeway speeds (note that Honda would not offer their first V6 Accord until 1995). Redline hovers around 6500 revs, though the engine purrs along at 2700 rpm for 70mph in fifth. Gas mileage is an admirable 30mpg highway, about 25mpg in city driving for the EX; the lower-horsepower engine in the DX and LX gets marginally better mileage. The Coupe's sporty looks are mirrored by her handling, with fine, responsive cornering on freeways, on city streets, or in parking lots (she's a dream to parallel park -- take that, Suburban owners!) Handling on slick streets is also good due to front-wheel drive and a wide stance; though her very low clearance limits driving in truly heavy snow.
Not only handling nicely, the '92 Coupe yields a comfortable, quiet ride. Road and wind noise are negligible; and engine noise is little more than a purr even under hard acceleration. Seats are firm but comfortable, with good support - the driver's seat in the EX has its own fold-down armrest. Back seat room is tight, though comfortable.
Appointments and Safety
For 1992, the Accord EX included four-wheel disc brakes, with rear ABS. A driver's side airbag supplements four shoulder belts (only a lab belt for the rear center position); passenger airbags didn't appear in the Honda line until the next year. The vehicle is pre-LATCH, so child carseat attachment is relatively clumsy (so I've heard).
Interior storage comprises the usual map pockets in the doors plus a medium-sized glove compartment and a small coin tray on the driver's side. The trunk is surprisingly roomy, and a fold-down rear seat (not split) allows for further expansion. Access to the trunk is somewhat difficult, as the opening is quite small, and I've had to disassemble bulky items a time or two to carry them securely. Both trunk and fuel filler cap open remotely in this trim line, and can be locked with the ignition key (a valet key is provided that fits only doors and ignition).
The stock AM/FM/Cassette (six speakers) provides good quality sound; a CD player was a optional in '92.
Through 125K miles, our Accord accumulated only a few problems: the power antenna stopped retracting after nine years, and a sensor died in the fuel-injection system at about 110K miles. All other maintenance was normal -- oil changes at the manufacturer's recommended 7500-mile intervals, tuneups at 30K and 60K intervals.
In keeping with Honda's reputation for building quality automobiles, our '92 Accord has held up beautifully. Body squeaks and rattles remain minimal after all these years, and the interior looks almost brand new. This is a well-built car.
There are a few design problems:
* the sunroof control and master switch for cruise control are out of sight behind the steering wheel
* the intermittent wipers are one speed
* access to the rear seat is pretty tough, and the doors are long and somewhat heavy.
* the seatbelt retractors are finicky (I see this often in Hondas and Toyotas)
Bottom Line? this is a quality car that will still provide years of service if properly cared for. I recommend the model and year highly as a second car or a student vehicle. We sold ours to the family across the street, so we can visit her any time we want (sniff...).