Monday, March 12, 2012

Used Car Review - Honda Accord (2003-2007)

This week, its time for our second premium or executive sedan. And if Myk Belmonte had featured something from the 90s last week, this time, it would be a wonder from the middle of the 21st century. And interestingly enough, the featured car is basically an arch-rival of last week's! Clueless? Just read on.

2003-2007 Honda Accord

Thanks to user GTi of for correcting some data!

Just like the human (according to our friend Charles Darwin, who can be seen in History and Discovery Channels), the Honda Accord had faced evolution stages. It was introduced in 1976 as a compact hatchback, but sedan, coupe, and wagon configurations had been added in 1981 (gradually discontinuing the hatch variant). With its sixth generation model (1994-1997), Honda went to intermediate size. It had one basic platform but with different versions and sizes to increase competitiveness against rivals worldwide. The current model - released in 2008 - graduated from intermediate to full-size class, as what the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified.

The Seventh generation Accord was launched in 2002 and two versions were made available; one variant for the European and Japanese markets (although sold in Australia, and New Zealand as the Accord Euro and as the Acura TSX in North America) and the other for the North American and Asian (excluding Japan) markets. To differentiate the two, the Japanese one had the previous generation's chassis but wearing a new body. It was available in sedan and estate versions plus a sporty Euro R variant. The one that Americans and Asians drive is way different than the ones being purchased by Europeans and the Japanese. They do have sedan, coupe, and hybrid flavors - with the latter two being North America exclusive.

Locally, the 2003-2007 Accord is the third generation locally, with its introduction in 1994 (being a choice of affluent but low profile people). This generation of Accord was not to a sales success (against other Hondas in the line-up) but still a decent seller within the competition, which is composed of the Toyota Camry, and the Nissan Cefiro. It may not be feature loaded but it still remains a favorite for those who want to drive and stay in the backseat. Initially in 2003, a 2.0 K20 engine derived from the CR-V powers the sedan. But in late 2004, a 2.4 4-cylinder engine (for VTi-L trim lines) and a 3.0 V6 engine ditched the K20 power plant. The Accord was treated to a minor model change (MMC) in 2006 and sales continued until 2007, which gave way to its eighth generation the following year.

Value and Costs
With the fate that mid-size sedans receive locally when it comes to resale values, a seventh generation Accord retails between P365,000-P580,000. This is a good option for those who want a touch of class, luxury, and style at an affordable cost (but on an older model). Those with the 2.0 engine would take the lower end of the range while recent year models take the upper side of the scale.

The Accord's maintenance cost is nearly similar to Japanese premium sedans of the same era. The earlier models have the K20 2.0 engine that is shared with the second generation CR-V, so parts with the mechanicals are nearly identical. In contrast with the K20, the V6 engine would be costly to maintain due to - obviously - the fuel consumption and the complicated engine parts (this has to be purchased with the casa more often, due to limited parts outside of it). Have a keen eye on the automatic climate control, sensors (especially the ones controlling the VSA, or Vehicle Stability Control), and the sunroof in V6 models. And if possible, let the Accord drink 95 octane and above fuel to avoid engine issues.

Exterior and Interior
A trivia: Honda chose an animal to have some design inspiration, and that animal is a Cheetah. It may possess luxury car angles and edges but it is a bit bland and less luxurious looking than previous Accords. Try having a closer inspection that you'll see traces of cheetah design cues in the Accord, that is, until you reach the bland rear. The 2006 Minor Model Change had its rear resemble its coupe counterpart, which could be interpreted as ugly or awkward looking.

The interior does have the category usual faux wood paneling, but does not look tacky. Controls are legible, logically located, and avoids the usual problem with its high end counterparts, complicated function buttons - which are usually combined. The good thing is that, passengers do get decent space for their legs, head, and their body figures. Leather seating comes standard with higher trim lines, as well as a sunroof for the V6.

Three engine configurations were made available in the Philippine market. Initially available with the K20 1,998cc with 149hp at 6,000rpm and 186Nm at 4,500rpm from 2003-2004. Two engines replaced the K20 in late 2004, and these were the K24A4 2,354cc 4-Cylinder (upgraded to K24A8 for 2006-2007 that bumped out to 166hp at 5,500rpm and 217Nm at 4,000rpm) which possess 160hp at 5,800rpm and 220Nm at 4,000rpm; and a smooth J30A4 2,997cc V6 that has 240hp at 5,500rpm and 288Nm at 5,000rpm. VTi and VTi-S variants have both K20 and K24 engines, while the V6 variant is simply named as the 3.0 VTEC V6. The K20 engine is good for cruising in the highways but not a good companion in city driving, due to the weight penalty of the body and the small engine. We recommend springing-up for variants with the K24 engine, since it can propel the car well and decently. The V6 power plant is nothing but freakin' fast and goes to the limits without drama, just prepare the fuel bills and drive prudently.

Driving Impressions
Not all executive or premium sedans are for the chauffeur, and not all of them are for the older crowd (who are now of retirement age). The Accord balances passenger comfort and driver excitement. Handling is a bit numb and provides less feedback but still precise and accurate. Comfortable to be in, since you feel isolated with the outside world even at high speeds. Keeping the senior market in mind, suspension settings had been tuned to battle the rattles present on streets. The V6, as I mentioned earlier, is fast and you can (but don't tell the driver or your teenage kids, ok?) outsprint Civic SiRs and Corollas with 4AGE Black Tops at night.

There are cars that appeal to those who want to be driven in, and there are cars that appeal to those who really want to drive. The seventh generation Accord is the best compromise between the two qualities. It does have a stronger V6 engine and good handling feedback for drivers and a spacious rear seat and something rare, a sunroof during cold, summer nights for those who have drivers. Now, where can you find a mid-size sedan having two personalities under one body?

The Good:
  • Monstrous V6 engine
  • Elegant looking
  • Balance between comfort and sporty handling
The Bad:
  • Underpowered K20 engine
  • Not that feature loaded against the competition
  • A bit anonymous looking
The Pick: Late 2004-2007 2.4 VTi

Engines: 1,998cc K20, 2,354cc K24A4 (2004-2005), K24A8 (2006-2007) I4 and 2,997cc J30A1 V6 gasoline engines.
Power: 149hp @ 6,000rpm (2.0), 160hp @ 5,800rpm (2.4 K24A4), 166hp@ 5,500rpm (2.4 K24A8), 240hp @ 5,500rpm (3.0 V6)
Torque: 186Nm @ 4,500rpm (2.0), 220Nm @ 4,000rpm (2.4 K24A4), 217Nm @ 4,000rpm (2.4 K24A8), 288Nm @ 5,000rpm (3.0 V6)
Fuel Consumption: 4-8km/L (city); 8-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear multilink

Price (New): P1,120,000-P1,690,000 (range from 2003-2007)
Price (Now): P365,000-P580,000
Rivals: Toyota Camry, Nissan Cefiro, Nissan Teana, Mazda 6, Mitsubishi Galant, Hyundai Sonata, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes Benz C Class, Audi A4, Volvo S40, Chevrolet Lumina, Subaru Legacy Sedan
On Sale: 2003-2007

Honda Cars Quezon City - 712-6850
Honda Cars Kalookan - 366-5701
Honda Cars Pasig - 988-1288

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