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2006 Honda Accord reviews

February 23, 2006 09:45 AM EST | Coupes , Honda , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageNo other midsize sedan puts together all the elements of a family car as well as the Accord.

Pros
Roomy and stylish interior with simple controls, tight build quality, smooth ride, refined drivetrains, good crash test scores, strong reputation for reliability, high resale value.

Cons
Tepid handling, brakes should be more powerful.

What's New for 2006
The Honda Accord receives freshened interior and exterior styling and mechanical- and feature-related updates for 2006. Sharp eyes will notice the Accord's revised fascias and new alloy wheel designs. Minor engine tweaks, including drive-by-wire throttle control, result in a slight bump in horsepower for both the four-cylinder and V6 engine (a more significant development than you might think given the more stringent SAE testing procedures in effect this year). Additionally, the V6 sedan can now be equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, and all V6 models have revised suspension settings, 17-inch alloy wheels and stability control. Last year's DX has been replaced by the VP (Value Package) trim with standard air conditioning and cruise control, and LX V6 and Hybrid models gain a moonroof. The LX Special Edition includes alloy wheels, rear disc brakes and a CD changer. The Accord Hybrid also picks up stability control and a temporary spare tire in place of last year's flat-fix kit. Finally, all models get a smart maintenance system and daytime running lamps.

Introduction:
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 Accord was quite fine by any measure, Honda made substantial changes in 2003 to create the seventh-generation 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 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 Accord ties with the Toyota 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 a hybrid electric sedan, 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 29 city/37 highway. The 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 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 Accord is on your short list.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The midsize Accord comes as a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan. Available trim levels include VP (Value Package, sedan only), LX, LX Special Edition, EX and Hybrid. The VP provides air conditioning, power windows and locks, a CD stereo, keyless entry and cruise control. The LX adds an upgraded audio system and power mirrors. LX Special Edition models include 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, a six-disc CD changer and steering wheel-mounted controls. V6-equipped LX models gain 17-inch wheels, heated mirrors, a moonroof and a power driver seat. The four-cylinder EX is equipped much like the LX, though leather seating is optional. EX V6 and Hybrid models come with standard leather, dual power front seats with heaters, satellite radio and automatic dual-zone climate control; a navigation system is optional.

Powertrains and Performance:
Most Accords come with either a 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline four or a 244-hp, 3.0-liter V6. Select the Hybrid sedan, which pairs an electric motor with the standard V6, and you'll get a combined 253 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque and a 29 city/37 highway EPA rating (best in the lineup). Four-cylinder engines are available with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front wheels, while V6 Accords take either the automatic or a six-speed manual. The Hybrid sedan is automatic only.

Safety:
Antilock brakes are standard on all Accords, and side and head curtain airbags are either standard or optional, depending on the trim. Stability control is standard only on V6 models. In government crash testing, the Accord received a perfect five stars for frontal-impact protection. Four stars were awarded for protection of front occupants in side impacts; side-impact protection for rear occupants rates five stars for the coupe and four stars for the sedan. In IIHS testing, the Accord earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for frontal-offset crash safety; in side-impact tests, it received a "Good" rating when equipped with side airbags and a "Poor" rating (the lowest) without them.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Honda tailored the Accord's interior to meet the needs of the American family. The seating arrangements are top-notch, and the interior design and materials quality continue the high-caliber standards established by previous-generation Accords. The car's backseat is among the roomiest in the segment, and our only complaint is that the trunk is a bit smaller than that of some peers.

Driving Impressions:
With 253 hp available, the Accord Hybrid can out-accelerate about any other family car; however, most buyers will be perfectly content with the power and refinement of the four-cylinder engine. The Accord's steering has a slick, precise feel and the suspension provides a comfortable ride as well as decent levels of road grip while cornering, though sharper-handling cars like the Nissan Altima or Mazda 6 are more entertaining to drive. Brake feel is reassuring, though the Accord's stopping distances are a bit longer than we'd like.

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