If you have been following my series, you know that of the many COALs I have written about, the most numerous and best were the full sized GM sedans and wagons; the B bodies. I have been driving for 26 years and have owned B-bodies on and off for close to half that time. In their heyday, they were ubiquitous because of their reliability, competence, versatility, economy, comfort and performance. Everyone including families, cab drivers, captains of industry and police offices relied on them. They were always ready to complete yeoman’s tasks with minimal fuss and maximum reliability.
Chevy used a particular nomenclature to differentiate the level of equipment and luxury of its flagship sedans. The Biscayne was the lowest-priced and least-equipped model; the Bel Air was the midrange model; and the Impala, and later Caprice, represented the top of the line.
I submit that the Honda Accord now fills a role similar to the legendary large GM B body sedans of the past. This post is so titled because I see the Accord as a sort of demonstration of of why so many people bought B-bodies. Indeed, I liken the Accord buyers of today to the Chevy buyers of yore; families looking for reliable, cost effective transportation; on the other hand, Acuras remind me of Buicks or Oldsmobiles: more luxurious and refined than the Chevy, but with the same underlying goodness and offeering dependable, reliable motoring.
I find it interesting that the Accord started off as a compact car for the yuppies of the era and has evolved into a daily workhorse for families and commuters. How would people have reacted in 1976 if they were told that someday, the Accord would replace the Bel Air, LTD and Newport as the go-to family sedan?
My first Accord, the 7th generation 2005 model mentioned in last week’s COAL, was an experiment–apparently a very successful one, since I put 40,000 trouble-free miles on it the first year I owned it.
Hence, it was replaced with an eighth-generation 2010 Honda Accord LX in Polished Metal Metallic: my first brand new car. Often derided, the eighth-generation Accords (2008-2012) were the largest Accords to date and were classified as full-size cars. I remember when I first test drove it that I immediately took a liking to its large interior…it was good to be back in a big car. The LX trim level was the base level and for 2010, in terms of mission, cost, and equipment, it was definitely akin to an old fashioned Biscayne. The interior, while roomy, was definitely decontented. Gone were the classy flourishes I’d gotten used to in my last Accord, which was also a base-level LX. Gone were lighted power window switches, extra ambient lighting, console tray, lighted glove box and engine trimming.
Despite its austere level of equipment, I was impressed with it as a whole. As I said, the interior was very roomy and its drivetrain smooth and responsive. It came with the base engine, a VTEC DOHC 2.4 liter inline 4 with 177 HP, which was more HP than in my last Accord. It also came equipped with a very smooth five speed automatic. There is a bit of disagreement on this, but I found it faster and smoother than its predecessor. It also came standard with traction control and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
I took delivery of it the week before Christmas 2009. Because of the holidays, I put 744 miles on it in my first week of ownership. We traveled down to Maryland for Christmas, and this is where it really impressed me. I loved the stereo. This was the first time I had a factory stereo with an auxiliary jack for my MP3 player. Plus, the stereo played MP3 discs and had steering-wheel stereo controls. The leg room and elbow room were perfect for a long drive, especially with the kids aboard. I felt like I was back in my Caprice.
Our two small kids, their luggage, plus their Christmas presents (which included a small bicycle) ALL fit in this larger Accord. Initially, we were worried that all the stuff would not fit and we would have to leave a few items behind, but everything fit nicely.
I was surprised how much snow came down in the Baltimore-Washington DC metro area. It looked like upstate NY. Anyway, the Accord with its Vehicle Stability Assist and Traction Control did better than my brother-in-law’s CRV, which ended up stuck in his driveway, as well as his neighbor’s Suburban which was stuck in the middle of the street! I was very apprehensive, but the Accord managed to get through their unplowed street with no issues whatsoever! It may be an illusion, but it also seemed that my new Accord had more ground clearance than my previous one since the bumpers seemed to line up more with my brother in law’s CRV, which may have helped in the snow. On stock tires, my 2005 Accord was mediocre in the snow. I felt much more confident in the 2010 and its stock Dunlops although getting out of a parking spot after an overnight snow was still an issue when we got over 4-5 inches of snow.
I was actually quite happy with this car as my daily driver and our family road trip car. Gas mileage was very good. One summer, we drove from Central New Jersey to Bar Harbor, Maine (550 miles) without refueling. Only two things about the car really annoyed me. The first was that road noise at highway speed was very noticeable. I have read that this is a common Honda complaint. The second issue I had was that the stock headlights were dim and inadequate at night, particularly in winter when I had a few close calls due to visibility. I rectified this by installing HID headlights, which were a huge improvement over the stock units. There was one problem. Somehow, this caused the TPMS light to come on as soon as the HIDs were on for a half hour or longer. I’m told that an upgraded headlight wiring harness would solve this but I didn’t bother.
I had a few mishaps with the car, all occurring during the winter. The first one happened when I’d had the car for less than a month. A large icicle fell from our roof overhang, impacting and denting the top of the right fender. A few years later, in a freak late October snowstorm, the rear fender was clipped by an inexperienced snow plow driver. Thankfully, we were able to repair the body damage issues at little to no cost.
I never had any mechanical problems with the car in almost four years of ownership. Major maintenance items came down to rear brake pads and transmission fluid.
When the car was approaching 100,000 miles, I was contacted by my local Honda dealer about upgrading to the new ninth-generation Accord. How could I say no?
If the 2010 Accord LX was a Biscayne, its replacement, a 2013 Accord LX, was a Bel Air. When the 2008-2012 eighth-generation Accord was released, the word was that Honda was slipping. The car’s larger dimensions were criticized as ungainly and bulbous. In my opinion, the criticism to the car’s look was similar to the criticism given to the 1991 Caprice. In addition, the low-tech decontented interiors were also criticized, especially in light of the well-equipped cars from Hyundai and Kia. Honda responded with the current ninth-generation Accord.
For roughly what I paid for my 2010 Accord, my 2013 model in Basque Red Pearl II was indeed an upgrade. Even though it was a base model LX, it came with a backup camera, Bluetooth, Pandora radio integration, extra ambient lighting, USB port, traction control, CVT transmission with sport and economy modes, alloy wheels, external temperature display, fuel economy computer and dual-zone automatic climate control. All standard. Along with the CVT, the DOHC base four cylinder now had 185 HP and 181 lb./ft. of torque. Honda had indeed stepped up their game. The level of technology on this car is light years ahead of anything I have ever owned…and it all works reliably! Just to be sure, the dealer threw in a 120,000 mile extended warranty and free oil changes for the next three years. I find the backup camera most useful. Accords have short and thus hard-to-see rear decklids, so backing in was always a pain since I couldn’t see where the trunk ended. The backup camera has completely solved this problem.
I have to say I love this car. I drive 120 miles a day; the car is not only comfortable, but when driven gingerly on the highway with no traffic, manages 36-40 MPG. Shift the CVT into sport mode and it pulls almost as strongly as my 9C1 did. The car is slightly smaller than the previous generation but I don’t mind since it is better equipped, faster, more fuel efficient and more nimble. Plus, the trunk is actually larger than the old car. I have owned it a little less than two years and have put about 60,000 trouble-free miles on it. This winter has been brutal in New Jersey. Sub zero temperatures and wind chills, piles of snow, and icy roads have been the norm around here lately. I have come to regard my Accord as excellent in the snow. I’m not sure if it’s the weight ratio, the stock Continental tires, or the traction control, but I’ve not gotten stuck once this winter. I’ve had issues with my last two Accords when getting out of a parking spot after an overnight snow storm. This has not been an issue at all with my current Accord. In fact, we just got eight inches of snow and there was no need to dig out to provide traction or ground clearance go to work in the morning, I just put the car in gear, backed up, and left. I dare say that thus far, I do not miss the All Wheel drive traction of my Subaru.
I ended up trading in my last two Accords at about 100,000 miles even though there was really no reason to do so. I think this Accord will be different because I will not be trading it in early. It is just about perfect for me. It is comfortable, sporty, economical, very well equipped and fun to drive. This is easily the best car I have ever owned. As Jim Klein put it at the end of his COAL series…. “My daily driver is a keeper.”
Post Script: 2014 Honda Civic
My wife’s 2002 Subaru Forester featured last week served us for over five years and at 145,000 miles needed about $2,000 worth of work, not to mention a known design flaw that allows the head gasket to become susceptible to failure at higher mileage. It was Thanksgiving weekend 2014, and we decided to check out the holiday offers and ended up with a 2014 Honda Civic LX. Like the Accord, it came very well- equipped for a base model, sporting both a backup camera and Bluetooth. Since I compared my last two Accords to a Biscayne and a Bel Air, what would the Civic be? A Nova or a Chevelle?
In the short time we have owned it, my wife appreciates the much improved fuel economy over the Subaru as well as the technology such as the backup camera and Bluetooth. She does miss the storage capacity that the Subaru offered. On my part, I think the two-tiered dashboard takes some getting used to, but I do appreciate the build quality and very competent road manners. It is still very new to us so we are still getting to know it.
This concludes my COAL series. I have enjoyed sharing the times of my life as they relate to the cars I have loved or not loved. I am filled with a sense of gratitude as I reflect back on my life. I have been surrounded by wonderful people, great experiences and great cars. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this, and I hope you have enjoyed hearing about my Cars of a Lifetime!
In case you missed them, here they are again in order:
Most Memorable: 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
Rarest ( Have not seen one of the same year in 20 years): 1986 Pontiac Grand Am
Most Embarrassing: 1985 Chrysler LeBaron & 1987 Chrysler New Yorker Turbo
Least Reliable/Most Unusual: 1983 Saab 900
Most Surprising: 1988 Dodge Aries
Most Fun: 1995 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1
Most Beloved: 1995 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
Weirdest Experience: 1994 Dodge Caravan
Most Life Threatening/Scariest: 1990 GMC Suburban
Shortest Ownership: 1998 Plymouth Voyager and 1997 Ford Crown Victoria
2010 Honda Accord LX, 2013 Honda Accord LX (The Best I’ve Ever Owned), & 2014 Honda Civic