2004 Honda Accord Review
Dazzling performance meets everyday economy.
Regardless of whether you choose a cloth Accord sedan four-cylinder automatic or a sporty coupe with the V6, you're getting an outstanding automobile.
We think the four-cylinder Accord sedan is the best car in its price class. It strikes a perfect balance between ride and handling. The Accord rides more smoothly and more comfortably than the Nissan Altima. Yet its handling is controlled. The Accord feels more poised and handles better than the Toyota Camry. Its suspension smooths out bumps and ripples in the road, but isn't so mushy that your back-seat passengers get motion sickness. When pushed hard, it's balanced and fun to drive. We found it inspired confidence at high speeds on winding roads. It's smooth and supremely stable.
The four-cylinder engine is smooth and powerful, with a high-quality, mature feel. It's strongest at higher rpm, but never gets buzzy. The Accord's 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine delivers 160 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 161 pounds-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. It's one of the most sophisticated four-cylinder engines in the automotive industry, equipped with Honda's new i-VTEC valvetrain, which means the valve timing is continually adjusted according to demands. It's the same system used on the racy Acura RSX and Honda Civic Si. It's responsive at all speeds, delivering strong torque over its entire rpm range. (Torque is that force that propels you away from intersections and up hills.) Bottom line: Stand on the gas and this baby goes. Yet it delivers excellent fuel mileage (24/34 with the automatic, 26/34 with the manual) with ultra-low emissions.
The five-speed automatic transmission is incredibly smooth. The drive-by-wire throttle is programmed to cut the gas during upshifts, and its timing is perfect. It's not often that the performance of an automatic transmission is so tight that it stands out.
The five-speed manual gearbox is especially wonderful. The gear ratios are perfect and the shifting is buttery smooth. It shifts beautifully, and seems to love aggressive downshifts. Acceleration with the automatic transmission was decent. With the five-speed manual, acceleration was strong, although you still need to downshift to keep the revs above 4000 if you want to accelerate quickly.
If you haven't driven a V6 Accord since 2002, you'll be surprised by the performance of the new Honda V6 that appeared with last-year's all-new car. The new V6 is substantially lighter and more powerful than the old engine. It's rated 240 horsepower and 219 pounds-feet of torque. Its torque range is broader, and begins at relatively low rpm. And it gets better EPA fuel economy numbers (21/30 mpg) with an automatic transmission.
The V6 delivers 80 more horsepower than the four-cylinder engine with a penalty of only 4 mpg on the highway. The Accord is a care-free car. Both engines run on regular fuel. And there's no scheduled maintenance for at least 105,000 miles, except for oil changes, and even those are required only every 10,000 miles. It's also a clean car: LX and EX four-cylinder automatic sedans are available in California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine that are rated as PZEV cars ($150), which essentially have zero evaporative emissions.
The EX V-6 MT coupe is particularly fun to drive. The smooth six-speed gearbox is especially wonderful. It shifts beautifully, and loves aggressive downshifts that would cause many other gearboxes to cry abuse. Obviously, Honda spent great attention to detail in designing the gear ratios and synchronizers. The six-speed model features a special resonator in the intake system, put there just for your listening pleasure. Get with the gas and the engine responds with an enthusiastic growl that's music to the ears. You simply don't expect a Honda Accord to give you this kind of high-performance, sport-driving pleasure, but the V6 coupe redefines the Accord.
ABS is standard on all models with four-wheel-disc brakes with EBD (electronic brake distribution) standard on all but the DX and LX. (ABS helps the driver maintain steering control under hard braking; EBD distributes braking force to the tires with the best grip, improving stopping performance.) The V6 coupe stops nicely, and the pedal feel is firm and sensitive. The brakes faded after driving it hard on a twisty uphill section, however. (Fade occurs when brakes get hot and results in diminished braking performance.)
Not surprisingly, the coupe's handling is well balanced. The Accord's double-wishbone suspension, front and rear, has been engineered to reduce fore and aft body motions under acceleration and deceleration, and to provide flat cornering. It's also been tuned to deliver a sporty, European feel.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2004 Honda Accord, click here: 2004 Honda Accord.