For many families in the hunt for reliable transportation, the search often begins and ends with a Honda Accord. But besides being reliable, this best selling nameplate delivers the features and finesse of cars costing thousands more. So, what could the all-new 7th generation Accord sedan and coupe possible do for an encore? The answer is simple. More!
More of what, you may ask. Well, how about more room, more comfort, more technology, more balanced ride and handling, and, our favorites, more power and economy! And that’s just the broad strokes. When you hone in on the details that make up the all-new 2003 Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe, you’ll discover there’s more to this car than we can possibly tell you in 5 minutes. And with that I mind, we’ll primarily focus on the high volume 4-door. At first blush the new Accord Sedan looks smaller than its predecessor. But it’s not. Using the posture of a crouched cheetah as inspiration, Honda designers have tightened the Accord’s skin around its new unitized body. And in the process, dropped the flat sided look in favor of a more organic, curvy, and yes, younger approach. Think rippling muscles. The new short deck lid also makes the new Accord overall look shorter, but in reality, the car is a tenth of an inch longer, and wheelbase has been stretched an inch to 107.9 inches.
The new Accord’s torsional body stiffness has also been substantially increased and that was very noticeable during our low speed slalom test. Turn ins are quick and understeer has been reduced considerably. The new Accord retains the proven double wishbone suspension under the front and rear, but suspension geometry has been revised to offer sportier control and a more refined ride. The rack and pinion steering has also been tweaked for the same reasons. Our LX V-6 model comes standard with 205/60 series rubber on 16 inch rims and they complete the handling equation, with the overall result an Accord that feels more solid, stable, and responsive than any previous generation model.
The new Accord is also the most powerful Accord ever, in both 4 and 6 cylinder configurations. All trim levels are available with the new 2.4 liter, twin-cam, 16-valve I-VTEC 4- cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque, and now includes Honda’s intelligent variable valve control system. Our LX V-6 tester features the heavily revised 3.0 liter, single-cam, 24-valve VTEC V-6 that now spins out 240 horsepower, up from 200, and 212 pound-feet of torque, up from 195.
At the track, that more power is demonstrated in a refined rather than brute force manner. There is plenty of energy from the mid to the upper ranges of the powerband. Launches to 60 end in 8.0 seconds flat, with a quarter mile pass of 16.3 seconds at 89 MPH. All Accords available this fall sport 5-speed transmissions, manual and automatic. Our LX V-6 has Honda’s new 5-speed automatic. It makes a super smooth partner for the velvet V-6, feeling more like a CVT tranny. The 5-speed manual is standard in 4 cylinder models, but early next year the Accord Coupe V-6 will be available with a 6-speed manual appropriated from Acura. V-6s also come standard with traction control.
While some automakers are making ABS brakes optional to save cost, anti-lock is now standard on all Accords. Plus, 4 cylinder EX and all V-6s add 11 inch discs both front and rear. Despite rather longish stops from 60 of 138 feet on average, the Accord delivered solid and consistent braking performance run after run.
Slip inside the new Accord, and you’ll immediately notice that Honda designers worked hard to bring buyers more in the way of interior style and comfort too. Special attention was given to the driving position, and to optimize that the Accord’s front seats have been completely redesigned and are now taller and wider. Additional lumbar support is especially noticeable and the steering wheel now telescopes as well as tilts. Gauges too have been improved with LED lighting for more even illumination. A big change is the grille-shaped center stack which includes integrated controls. Audio, climate, and the optional DVD navigation systems also use a single display. While much more sophisticated than past Accords, controls may not be as easy to use. So, the best voice recognition system we’ve yet tried comes with the nav and operates all three systems, and is compatible with a hands free cellular phone system.
The new Accord also features more interior room up front and more storage options. Along with front and side impact airbags, the new Accord is available with side curtain airbags for the first time. Passenger volume grows to 102.7 cubic feet, putting the Accord between the larger Altima and the smaller Camry and Passat. Trunk capacity, at 14 cubic feet, is however unchanged, and the smallest of major competitors.
As of this writing, final pricing hasn’t been set, but we’ve been told that it will be near current levels, despite more of just about everything. That means that 4 cylinder Accord Sedans will range from about $16,000 to $24,000, and V-6 sedans from $23,00 to $26,000. Coupes will be priced from $17,000 to $24,000.
Honda sells over 400,000 Accords each year, many of those to repeat buyers. But the 2003 Accords reach out beyond the faithful, to younger buyers that might be more disposed to European alternatives like the Volkswagen Passat and Volvo S40. The 7th generation Accord is simply more mid-size car for the money than you will find from any other brand. And that leaves us with little doubt that the end result of this more 2003 Honda Accord will be to sell more Accords.
Engine: 3.0 Liter, Single-cam, 24-valve Vtec V-6
Torque: 212 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.0 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.3 Seconds @ 89 MPH
60-0 MPH: 133 Feet
Motorweek's Mileage Loop: 27.7 MPG Mixed City/highway