2008 Honda Accord EX-L Navi Review

Surprisingly peppy and light on gas

2008 Honda Accord EX-L Navi Review

FAST FACTS

1.

Revised 2.4L four-cylinder makes 24 more hp for a total of 190 and is more fuel-efficient.

2.

Standard features include 17-inch rims, cruise control, a moon roof and an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat.

The redesigned Honda Accord sedan is held by many as one of the best family cars for 2008. Available with four- or six-cylinder powerplants, the DOHC i-VTEC 16-valve 2.4L four I experienced in a fully-loaded EX-L model was surprisingly peppy.

Earlier this year, I got to participate in a rally-style driving event hosted by Honda Canada that pitted four different drivers behind the wheels of four identically-prepped four-cylinder Accords against one another in a battle of wits, strategy, navigation and skill.

The challenges took us from the world famous Angus Glen Golf Club north of Toronto, Canada to the historic Windermere House on beautiful Lake Rosseau in the Muskoka cottage region. Teams scored points for answering trivia questions, navigating to various towns along the way and completing various photo challenges, but the one taken most seriously by all competitors was the fuel economy challenge.

BETTER THAN EPA FUEL CONSUMPTION!

To that end, I managed a great 31.8 mpg combined over 200 miles in the supplied 2008 Accord EX-L Navi ($28,455 as tested). Not bad at all since the EPA rates the five-speed automatic Accord four at 21/31 mpg (city/highway)! In fact, I thought the gas gauge was broken since it didn’t appear to move at all over the first 130 miles of the drive. I wasn’t the only one either; one of the other drivers managed a stunning 34.7 mpg (over approximately the same distance) although she admitted to being extremely light-footed in her pursuit of perfection. Not a bad thing by any stretch, but it’s hard to argue with figures like these.

With the next-gen Insight hybrid due to re-launch next year, Honda has long known that more fuel efficient engine and emission technologies are essential to address the environmental issues that affect the automotive landscape. As the first auto maker to bring Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) and gasoline/electric hybrid technology to North America (the original 2001 Insight), Honda now has one of most fuel-efficient lineups of any manufacturer with a commitment to release more fuel-friendlier products into the marketplace soon.

As for the current Accord, while this may be the largest of its kind to date, its four-cylinder engine is more powerful and efficient than the previous engine, despite having 24 more horses for a total of 190 hp. It even gets better mileage than a 2005 Honda Accord V6 hybrid. Perhaps that’s why Honda quietly scrapped that model.

PLENTY OF I4 AND V6 MODELS TO CHOOSE FROM

Base Accord LX models start at $20,755 with the four-cylinder lineup topping out at $28,455 for the “as tested” version with a five-speed automatic transmission with grade logic control. The 270-hp 3.5L six-cylinder V-6 models start at $26,455 and rise to $30,755 for the top-of-the-line EX-L with the Honda GPS navigation system equipped. An automatic is the only transmission choice on this trim. The V-6 achieves 19/29 mpg (city/highway) by EPA standards.

A LONG LIST OF STANDARD FEATURES, PLUS IMPRESSIVE OPTIONS

All new Accords feature Hondas Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, variable gear ratio steering, active noise cancellation, 17-inch aluminum wheels and four-wheel disc brakes. Additional noteworthy standard features include: full front, side and curtain airbag coverage, power locks, windows, side mirrors and moonroof, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with integrated cruise control, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with lockable pass-through and eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat.

My EX-L Navi model was also sporting black leather upholstery, dual-zone climate controls, a six-CD 270-watt premium audio system with seven speakers and XM Satellite Radio. Overall, the interior is comfortable and ergonomic. Besides finding the nav screen difficult to see because of glare, there’s little to complain about. The front seats might be a bit narrow for some people, but there is plenty of space for you and your passengers to sit without feeling cramped. The trunk is huge, however, the tall rear end does reduce rear visibility somewhat.

THAT GREAT HONDA DRIVING EXPERIENCE

PLUS

Impressive fuel economy, even for a four-cylinder Lengthy list of standard features Typically responsive Honda steering and suspension

MINUS

Glare makes navigation screen hard to see Tall rear end reduces visibility Narrow front seats

Steering is lightweight and precise while the nimble Honda suspension helps the Accord track dead straight most of the time. Understeer and body roll are imperceptible at normal cornering speeds and there’s very little road, tire, wind or engine noise entering the cabin. The four-cylinder might take about 10 seconds to reach 61 mph from zero, but the i-VTEC boost ensures there’s plenty of power for passing and merging.

THE VERDICT

A road trip through cottage country is one of my favorite pastimes. Driving Hondas is another. The Accord sedan is well-suited for family life anywhere in the world – perhaps that’s why it’s such a great selling car. With more power, more room and with greater efficiency over previous generations, the four-cylinder 2008 Accord is greener, safer and more fun than ever.

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