My, how the little Honda Accord has grown. He used to be this cute, compact sedan and now look at him -- a large, strapping lad that's bigger and more powerful than ever before. Mommy and Daddy Honda must be very proud. And they should be, because the 2008 Accord raises the bar in arguably the most competitive automotive segment -- midsize family sedans -- by striking a brilliant balance of performance, value and efficiency into a package that no longer blends into a crowd. The Accord has always been good and now it's even better.
Still available in sedan and coupe body styles, the all-new 2008 Honda Accord is most obviously highlighted by its slick new styling. The two-door is particularly striking, as it's mostly unchanged from the Accord concept car that debuted at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. The sedan, meanwhile, has an eye-catching elegance that sets it apart from past Accords, which were mostly understated to the point of anonymity. Although, once the first 100,000 2008 Accords hit the streets, the sedan may start to seem pretty anonymous, too.
The biggest news lies under the hood, where Honda has devoted its considerable engine expertise to perfecting three power plants that deliver both performance and fuel efficiency. Available on EX sedans and all coupes, the midlevel inline-four-cylinder produces a best-in-class 190 horsepower -- by comparison, the 1998 all-new Accord featured an optional V6 that produced 200 hp. All that power comes at no fuel economy expense, as it matches the fuel economy estimates of the previous model's four-cylinder.
A new 3.5-liter V6 debuts as well. This engine equals the hefty horsepower and torque ratings of the Toyota Camry's V6, but falls a wee bit short of the Altima 3.5. New to this segment is Honda's cylinder-deactivation technology, which allows the engine to run on six, four or three cylinders depending on driving conditions for maximum fuel economy. The result is an improvement of 3 highway mpg over the last V6, despite 24 more horses. As a matter of fact, all 2008 Accord engines get better highway fuel economy than the 125-hp 1990 Accord and even come close to the tiny 68-hp 1977 edition. Now that's progress.
The outgoing Honda Accord managed to hold its own against the recently redesigned Altima and Camry sedans, and the all-new Accord should make Toyota and Nissan sweat even more. Although each of these three class leaders offers a slightly different take on the midsize segment, the 2008 Honda Accord is perhaps the best execution in terms of appealing both to people who prioritize comfort and those who desire a little fun in their daily driver. Plus, it's bigger, more powerful and definitely more strapping than ever.