Unlike many automakers that launch a new car and leave it to molder for nearly a decade, Honda prefers to keep its vehicles fresh and competitive. So even though the previous 1998-to-2002 Honda Accord was quite fine by any measure, Honda made substantial changes in 2003 to create the seventh-generation Accord model.
Two advanced engines were made available: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and an extensively revised 3.0-liter V6. Both gained more peak power and torque than their predecessors, as well as improved midrange performance, lower emissions and improved fuel economy. For underpinnings, Honda decided to stick with the previous-generation Accord's double-wishbone suspension front and rear. Modifications in front amounted to revised geometry to suppress body movements during cornering, braking and acceleration. In back, similar changes were employed, along with increased rear subframe stiffness. The result was a tighter ride with less thump and thrum from the underpinnings.
Inside, the 2006 Honda Accord is furnished with attractive, high-quality materials assembled to exacting standards. The stylish cockpit is almost flawless when it comes to ergonomics, and the seats are carefully designed to provide a middle-of-the-road compromise of cushioning and support. In back, the Honda Accord ties with the Camry for best-in-class rear-seat accommodations, and the seat design is such that just about any child's car seat can be installed with minimal hassle. Large cupholders, thoughtfully designed storage areas and a surprisingly good sound system round out the Accord's family-friendly package.
For 2005, Honda introduced the Accord Hybrid, which features the company's third-generation IMA electric assist system matched with a gasoline V6 power plant, making it the most powerful and elite Accord in the lineup. The hybrid works by capturing electrical energy during braking or deceleration and using that energy to help power the vehicle. In addition, the system features the ability to shut off the engine during vehicle stops for further efficiency gains. Combined peak output for the hybrid powertrain is 253 hp, and the EPA gives the Accord Hybrid a fuel economy rating of 25 city/34 highway. This is a good rating for a V6, but it's about the same mileage as a four-cylinder Accord gets. The Hybrid's V6 engine also features a Variable Cylinder Management system (VCM) that can deactivate three of the engine's six cylinders during cruising and deceleration with no impact to vehicle performance or passenger comfort.
Overall, you won't find a more balanced package in the family sedan segment. With its inviting interior, amicable on-road demeanor and exemplary build and materials quality, the 2006 Honda Accord is an easy car to like. Add in Honda's reputation for exceptional reliability and high resale value, and you can't lose. If you're shopping for a practical midsize sedan or coupe this year, make sure the Honda Accord is on your short list.