COAL: 2006 Honda Accord V6 6MT – “Performance” for the Common Man

Much has been written on the steadfast Honda Accord, from its humble beginnings and on through its continual refinement. Its staying power as a reliable constant in the ever-shifting automotive landscape, often in close contention with its eternal sparring partner the Toyota Camry, has helped cement its place as one of America’s most enduring mid-size sedans even while the shadow of crossovers and SUVs grows increasingly long. In production for over 40 years, it’s certainly built a legacy for itself as practical, reliable transportation.

But adjectives like “high-performing” or “muscular” were never ones that many would use to describe their humble people-moving Accord. Enter: the V6+6MT Accord. For this example, we’ll be looking at a 4-door sedan version of this combination, which happens to be my daily driver, weirdly enough!

I think it’s safe to say that the 7th generation Accord was more evolutionary than revolutionary. The inaugural 2003 model grew by a few inches in both length and width – from a 104.9 inch wheelbase to 107.9 inches for the sedan, with even the new coupe model elongating slightly to 105.1 inches. Width similarly increased slightly for both sedan and coupe variants, up to 71.5 inches for the sedan and 71.3 for the coupe. Interior space in my experience has been more than adequate, even with 4 adults.

While the majority of 7th generation Accords were powered by various versions of Honda’s K series inline 4 cylinder engine, the J series SOHC V6 first seen on the 6th generation Accord and Acura TL a few years earlier was also on offer, paired either to a 5 speed automatic or a 6 speed manual transmission. Initially, V6 4-door models were only mated to the 5 speed automatic (the 6 speed was exclusive to the V6-equipped coupe), but starting in 2006 buyers looking for a more traditional number of doors on their Accord were able to option the V6 together with the Acura-derived 6 speed stick. Power for both engine options was competitive – 161 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque for the four-popper in 2003 (later bumped up to 166 horses for the ’05-’07 models) while the V6 sought to put some spice in middle America’s daily commute with 240 horsepower and 212 pound feet of torque on tap, those figures being boosted to 244 horses and 211 pound-feet of torque for 2006-2007 models. These power figures were certainly competitive at the time, practically in lockstep with the current generation of Camry and Impala while trailing a bit behind the Altima.

Exterior styling is always a matter of preference, but I believe the ’06-’07 facelift is the best looking design of this particular generation, especially with the replacement of that nasty horizontal taillight bar with the more angular, almost LED-patterned red lights and those dual chrome exhaust tips – distinctive and sporty without being too “boy-racer”. The front end was a recognizable and attractive piece of work from the beginning of the 7th generation, or so it seems it was to Honda as it remained basically unchanged for the entire run.

The situation on the inside was typical Honda fare: intuitive center-stack design and large knobs for HVAC and radio control. There’s a typical mid-2000s level of economy car oeuvre to be found in the cabin – no stitched-leather upper dash or wood paneling in sight, but build quality in my experience has been quite solid and the near-lux features like heated seats on my top end EX-L trim has certainly been appreciated by this author during chilly Michigan winters.

Considering the EX-L’s 244 horsepower comes down solely through the front wheels, I’m curious to hear what others think of the driving experience. Personally this is the most powerful car I’ve owned, and while it definitely is a bit front heavy, and torque steer is a regular occurrence, I really enjoy it and feel like the car has a personality that I appreciate. The interior is roomy and well put together, there’s ample room in the trunk, and that supremely solid-feeling Honda stick shift has gotten praise from both of my parents whose previous experiences with manual transmissions were in late 80’s Toyota pickups or early 00’s Hyundai econoboxes.

While it’s safe to assume a solid portion of V6-powered Accords were sold during the course of its 7th generation, pinning down exactly how many V6 sedans with the 6 speed manual transmission made their way off dealer lots is a bit tricky, as exact production numbers have never been released to my knowledge. Grabbing some rough figures off the web and doing some bar napkin math gives the impression that this variant of Accord is actually quite rare – I would be surprised if more than 10,000 of these cars were sold total, and who knows how many managed to make it to their 14th or 15th (for the 2007 models) birthday.

Forever doomed to an increasingly small slice of the Accord sales pie, the V6/6MT Accord combo continued to be supported by Honda for quite a while, culminating in the 2012 9th generation’s final iteration of this venerable performer with its V6 engine having sprouted an additional 0.5 liters since 2007. Pumping out a solid 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, this seems to have been the final Accord available with 6 cylinders as the current model’s optional mill is a domesticated version of the Civic Type-R’s turbocharged 4 popper – the steadfast 6 speed manual was dropped last year as well, due to lack of sales of both the Accord in particular and mid-size sedans in general.

Certainly no one would accuse the V6 Accord of being some sleeper performance gem, but its attractive combo platter of affordability, reliability, and performance options in the form of the aforementioned V6 and 6 speed transmission made for an interesting beast in the market that I struggle to draw comparisons to – V6s at the Accord’s power range were certainly nothing special at the time of its release, but the optional stick shift is only matched by the Altima as far as I know. In any case, I think it’s an interesting piece of history as naturally aspirated engines continue to get squeezed out of the game and manual transmissions increasingly become an expensive novelty reserved only for dedicated performance vehicles.