And I hoped perhaps the car would irritate me less, but that was not to be. The annoyances went in before the name went on, to paraphrase an old Zenith TV tagline. The controls and displays are thoughtlessly designed throughout, to a degree that varies from annoying to unsafe. The instrument cluster is always lit, day or night; it would not be legible otherwise. A dim little telltale is the only indication that one is driving around at night dark from the back and sides and throwing around too much glare up front from the high beam daytime running lights. I almost never make this mistake—hi, I’m Daniel Stern—but it’s an easy one to make.
The dashboard illumination is adjustable. Some of it, that is; certain lights respond to turning the knob, and others don’t. Turning the knob also causes the dashboard to go “Beep!” when entering or leaving maximum-intensity mode, and a line of little doughnut-ring lights to replace the odometer/outside temperature/trip odometer/oil life display. Because multiple redundant audiovisual indications of how my dashboard lights are adjusted is rilly important, you guys; even ask god.
The HVAC controls are highly concentrated stupidity. There’s an LCD display that can show fan speed, system mode, A/C on or off. I say can show because sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Turn off the system, then turn it on, and none of the information shows up until I press the relevant button. Want to know what the fan speed is? I have to hit the + or – button, then that part of the display comes on. Want to know the system mode? I have to press the Mode button, which changes the mode and makes that part of the display come on; if the system was already in the mode (or at the fan speed) I wanted, it isn’t any more and I’ll have to select it again. Want to know whether the A/C compressor is on or off? I have to press the A/C button. If it was on (off) and I just turned it off (on) but I wanted it on (off), I have to press the button again. Pressing Mode steps through four of the five modes available: floor, panel, floor + panel, and floor + dashtop air ducting. If I want the fith mode, just defog, I can’t get it via that button. Instead I have to push the separate defog button, which turns off the mode indicator and A/C indicator portions of the display (they won’t come back on until I repeat the monkey motion already described) and—this is the best part—ramps the blower to maximum speed. I never want maximum blower speed, which is noisy and gusty, so I have to push the – button as many times as it takes to ramp the speed down to where I want it. This mess is grossly inferior to the controls in the Spirit, which had a separate button for each available mode and could be easily and accurately operated by touch, without looking. Looking is mandatory in the Accord.
Stepping on and then releasing the brake pedal causes the intermittent wipers, if they’re engaged, to give a single wipe even if the selected interval hasn’t elapsed (good) but they don’t provide the same courtesy when the interval is shifted from a longer to a shorter one (duhh), and the entire range of intervals is too slow. The Dodge was much better there, too. I still haven’t got round to having the rest of that RainTracker system put in, and I imagine I never will. The Bosch ParkPilot quit working; it started squealing full-time as though I were about to hit something. The only way to stop it was to unplug the control unit. Replacement parts aren’t available and the system is no longer supported; thanks heaps, Bosch. I might have better luck with a Valeo system, or not; I don’t guess I’ll try my luck. The Bosch Supertone horns I put in, on the other hand, work great. They’re not the ones meant for making cars louder when needed, they’re the ones meant for use on European emergency vehicles with a wig-wag controller to provide the hee-haw siren: very much louder.
Folding down the rear seatbacks to accommodate large items in the trunk is much more difficult and unwieldy than in the Dodge, and the pass-through is smaller. The rear head restraints worsened already-poor sightlines until I removed them; nobody ever rides in the back anyway.
The car is unreasonably thirsty. It’s in perfect running order—that was checked carefully when the Check Engine light came on to indicate a faulty front-bank front oxygen sensor; I replaced both front sensors and put in a new set of spark plugs (the old ones were still pretty), and all readings are nominal. Nevertheless, I get 14 to 15 miles per US gallon around town in good weather—less in winter—and that’s driving like a grandpa. It’s markedly better on the highway, where it gets close to its rated economy. I find it a little baffling that this car uses a speed-density fuel injection system with a MAP sensor rather than a mass-airflow system, and a lot baffling that a 3,300-pound 2007 car with a 3-litre V6 and 5-speed automatic gets so much poorer fuel economy than a 3,200-pound 1991 car with a 3-litre V6 and 4-speed automatic.
It has an unreasonably large turning radius and a ridiculously long lag before engaging Reverse or Drive. The latter is because Honda deliberately programmed the transmission, shifted into any version of Forward, to engage first 3rd and then 1st: thup…thup. This is said to provide a smoother engagement. When I’m doing a multiple-point turnaround or a parallel-parking manœuvre, holding up traffic and marvelling at how long a second or two can be, I’m ever so tickled that some idiot pretendgineer signed off on this. The rest of the transmission’s shift logic is drunken, too: under light throttle at moderate road load it shifts 1, 3 (or perhaps 1, 2+lockup) then senses the lug condition and goes back into 2 (or unlocks the converter). There’s nothing the matter with the transmission; this is how it’s programmed. No use complaining about it; it can’t be changed.
Speaking of which: unlock the doors, either with the fob or the door switch, and they will lock again in an unreasonably short number of seconds. No, goddammit, I unlocked the car and I really meant it! No matter; the stupid car is programmed to win that argument. Open a door and the dome lights come on, so if it’s dark out you have light…for a short period of time, after which the dome lights shut off even if the door’s still open. If I still want light, I have to either close and then open the door(s) or reach up and manually switch on the lights. Having the lights stay on as long as the door is open, like every other car on the planet, is not an option. Same with the parking lights: if the ignition isn’t switched on, and I switch on the parking and tail lights, I’m allowed to have the use of them for something like 60 seconds, then they switch off. Which is wrong, but the car is programmed to win that argument, too.
The seats are passable—the driver side has a heater in the bottom and the back; the passenger gets only a bottom heater—but the rest of the ergonomics are awful. The door checks don’t hold the doors open even on level ground, let alone nose-up, and it’s not because they’re worn, it’s by design—I installed new genuine Honda door checks, and they’re no better. The trunk lid springs are inadequate; the lid wants to come back down on my head with the slightest touch, breeze or whim. This, too, is by design; new springs didn’t help. The glovebox latch is designed such that it can’t be opened unless one’s thumb and pull are at exactly a specific angle. The gearshift was fine in ’03-’05 Accords—a spring-loaded pushbutton on the driver’s side, where it fell readily to thumb—but for ’06 they moved the trigger to the front and configured it to require an awkward, uncomfortable, unintuitive finger-curl motion. The power window lockout is the same dumb kind that could’ve got me copshot in a rental Corolla in Missouri some years ago, if I hadn’t been white.
All of these complaints (and more!) are intrinsic to the design, programming, configuration, and construction of the vehicle. Bill and I hate the damn thing, but it’s as functionally sound as its faulty design and engineering permit, and feels likely to carry on dependably for the foreseeable future. This isn’t a good time to replace it; there’s a chip shortage driving up new and used car prices. And I have no idea what I’d replace it with. A Subaru of some kind, maybe? I’ve toyed with the idea of a handshift car—guaranteed to be more engaging, but maybe that’s an overreaction to this rolling bowl of plain cold oatmeal; if I think about it, I remember what a nuisance my last manual car was in city driving and parking.
So for the time being, we carry on bitching about it and maintaining it. I had the timing belt done, along with the usual list of things with it—water pump, etc. The rubber bellows between the throttle body and the air cleaner cracked, so I replaced it, big schmeal. I don’t know who in Japan makes Honda’s wiper blades, but they’re by far the best and most durable I’ve ever bought. In digging through factory parts cattledogs I found that European-market Civics used the same-shape sideview mirror glass as the rest-of-world-and-American-hybrid Accords, so I bought a set of replacement mirror glasses from a dealership in the UK. They’re convex with an aspheric outboard section. The driver side item went right on: carefully pry with a screwdriver to unsnap the bottom of the framed glass from its mount, swing it up and out, unclip the top, lift it away, disconnect the heater wires; connect the wires to the new framed glass, hook in the top, swing it down, and press the bottom until it snaps into its bracket. Easy. The passenger side was fine until that last step: I pressed carefully, but the glass broke before the frame snapped into the bracket. Dammit!
I ordered another glass and it broke the same way. I ordered a third one and had the shop do it; they succeeded. These mirrors give a giant improvement in field of view; I miss them terribly when I have to drive another car (though I do wish this magic mirror had been commercialised). Years later, someone stole the glass off the passenger-side mirror. Maybe they wanted to snort drugs off it, or maybe it wound up amidst a sidewalk homeless-mart. They ripped the mount bracket right off the motor. I sighed and ordered yet another Euro-glass and a used mirror assembly. I transferred the mount bracket onto the car’s existing mirror, installed the glass (successfully this time) and that’s where things stand now.
Some shitsmear broke both driver side windows. There was nothing to steal in the car; they pawed through the detritus and left it all. Alarm didn’t go off because they didn’t open the doors. Really good glass shop walk distance to and from my office, but Chinese aftermarket glass was the only option, and even the “good” brand had the wrong curvature to it, so it wanted to bind in its track. The glass guy sighed and said this isn’t unusual. With some tapdancing and insurance-persuading, used OE glass from a wrecking yard was installed instead. Another time, the (Chinese aftermarket) windshield suddenly had a weird nest of spiral cracks. The new windshield, same Chinese brand, went in okeh but hasn’t been very resistant to pitting and sandblasting.
In Autumn 2019 one day there came a new whine from under the hood, rising and falling with engine speed, in any gear or Park or Neutral, not sensitive to steering wheel movement. Up or down thru the gears it sounded like a semi-distant siren. One end of a stick (okeh, steering wheel club lock) on the alternator, other end in my ear: yep, it’s the alternator. My aforementioned wizard said to go get front and rear bearing and brush holder assemblies and give ‘im a call when I had ’em: these Denso alternators aren’t like the GM item; it’ll be noisy for a long time without locking up. Parts bought, and…oops, turns out it wasn’t a bearing noise. It was a dead-diode noise which, before I knew that, got a lot louder the morning I used the car to go down to Honda of Seattle to fetch bearings and a brush holder. Wizard came over to help with (i.e., do) what we thought would be a bearing-and-brush-holder swap, but as soon as he heard it, he said “That’s a diode”. Pulled the alternator: yup, two fryodes. Had to put in a “remanufactured” alternator from O’Really Auto Parts; I hold a dim view, but—touch wood—so far so good. Whatever, don’t care. It’s installed. It’s quiet. The battery light is not illuminated on the dashboard. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I last changed oil and filter at 125,000 miles toward the end of 2019, when the amount of driving I do dropped sharply—no more trips back and forth between Vancover and Seattle. It’s now at 132,000 miles, with no sign of moisture contamination or other issues, so this oil will stick around awhile. I had to add a pint a few months ago.
I never did get around to replacing those dashboard bulbs; they’re still in their Honda parts bags somewhere around here.
I should be more careful what I wish for (a change from hoarding parts and special knowledge and keeping an oldie on the road in daily service) because the gods might laugh and grant it (dangerously boring car). Or, stated another way: a pendulum swings both ways, and if I push it just so, it’ll come back with a vengeance and whack me in the crotch.
The Accord is my current car, but we’re not yet done with this COAL series, so…tune in next week!
»Back to Daniel Stern’s COAL Series index«
Yay its Saturday morning!
Another great read, Daniel.
Honda used to say “We Keep It Simple”.
Sounds like in some ways (HVAC controls, etc.) this may no longer be true.
Do companies make things that work well work worse on purpose so that it can be “improved” later? If so, I am not a fan of this.
I still think my ’05 Taurus (credit where due) had ergonomic perfection, and miss that.
Look forward to your next installment.
Have a great day.
I donno how come Honda did such a halfassed job of so much on this car. I keep coming back to the same adjective: thoughtless. I have a vague sense that the previous Mk6 and subsequent Mk8 Accords are considered better, but that’s just think-I’ve-heard-tell stuff.
Speaking of the Taurus, I recall a Ford person being quoted in a magazine sometime in the ’90s, enthusing about the redesigned HVAC controls: they’d gone from buttons and switches back to rotary dials and bowden cables, because they’d been found to be much easier to use and entirely reliable. Huh! Y’think?
I’ve got a Mk8 Accord. Based on your rant, I’d say it’s no better and no worse. It runs with no complaint (4cyl, base model) and is built solidly.
But some of the engineering baffles me. It’s bigger and bloatier than the Mk7, for no reason I can identify. And it doesn’t feel as thoughtfully engineered as my Mk2 CR-V, which is an exceptionally well-designed vehicle. Lots of wasted space, little thought for how the car would be actually used. For example: the trunk is big, but the passthrough to the back seat is comically small. The wheel is all but useless to hold at the 6 o’clock position: the area between the two bottom spokes is too small for an average hand like mine. The headlight plastic has fogged for the second time; I’ve got to get out there with the 3M kit and brighten it up again.
I’ve wanted to replace it for years but have no real reason to.
Wow, Daniel, I’ve never read such an exhaustive detail of quirks in a Honda. Of course, as you stated, some are due to differing regulations. I do concur, however, that some ergonomics are indeed wonky. My biggest complaint with my 5 speed Fit Sport is that the spacing between the dead pedal and the clutch pedal often catches my size 13 shoe, as well as the spacing between the brake and accelerator pedal means that if I’m not careful, my foot can be on both at the same time! I know that Honda “decontented” the Fit, so as to make buying it more “economical” than a Civic, but it would have been nice to have the illuminated ignition ring; I did, however, switch out the standard cargo light with one for an Acura that has an off/on switch, so I can leave the rear hatch open. Otherwise, it has and continues to be an engaging car to drive! I’ll be here, “same Dan time, same Dan channel” for the next installment, LOL!! 🙂
I have the same problem with my 13-size shoes. Sometimes, I have to take my shoes off and use my feet to operate the pedals in some cars.
Perfect for double-declutching, though, eh!
Hondas are usually fairly good not perfect any means but fairly reliably and well screwed together but so are most cars from the current century Ive had better reliability from my current 03 model car than from any others Ive owned over 100 and counting and that includes quite a few Japanese models,
Oh, stop praising the French with yer ’03 Citroen, ya Kiwi, or the bastards ‘ll put a bomb in yer yacht!
Must agree from three ownerships that Hondas are beautifully made, but not really as superior as that build seems to imply when time and miles mount. They’re indeed just “fairly good.”
They wanted to kindly put a bomb in your submarine for you and you wouldn’t let them. Hydropneumatic turbodiesel submarine anyone?
Some Oz market Hondas are made in Thailand.
The blobby 2010ish Accords were, whereas the Accord Euro (Acura to Americans) was… Japanese? Can’t remember. There was definitely a relatively cheapo feel to the Thai ones but of course they were at different price points.
Wow. What a mixed bag on this Accord. While reliability and safety are excellent cards to be holding, not actually *wanting* to drive your car because it provides no positive feedback, no joy… is a real bummer. Maybe that’s an unintentional safety feature, as it’s pretty hard to have a crash if you’re sitting at home procrastinating and dreading that trip to wherever because of the sensory deprivation chamber sitting in the driveway.
I too had an Accord at one time- Grandma gave me her well maintained and liked 1987 Accord as a high school graduation gift (Thanks, Gramma… I love and miss you!), so much older than yours. Some parts are quite different, others very familiar Honda fare. In the latter category: good fit and finish, warped brake rotors, leaks in the trunk through taillight gaskets and other places, two different shades of the same color vis a vis American or Japanese production, non-serviceable transmission filter (not sure if there was secret filter access on mine), and uncomfortable seats. What’s different was that yours has power, while mine tried its best to make an engaging driving experience with ha-ha horsepower. The switchgear was thoughtfully laid out and systems did exactly what you told them to do… the latter bit has more to do with the tech available at the time, of course. I kept it for a few years, then gifted it to Dad when I bought my 1995 Firebird Formula.
I ran into the same issue as you with the parking lights on my ex’s 2014 Mazda 3; it kept turning them off about 15 or 30 seconds after I turned them on with the ignition off. Dammit! I turned them on for a reason, HAL! Trying to trick the computer responsible for this whackery was pretty frustrating, and of course there was no override for most of it. I was able to turn the lights and DRL’s off by engaging the parking brake to the first click while pulling into apartment parking spots late at night, to avoid spraying light into bedroom windows, but really!
Looking forward to your next installment, hoping it brings you more happiness!
My previous experience with Hondas was limited to riding in a few and a brief drive in a ’94ish Accord—that car felt very much better thought out than mine.
Daniel, some chamomile, and a peace-filled location in which to sip it.
You do not like this form of transport, an entirely subjective thing, an entirely free zone when it comes to the opining of others and the irrelevance thereof. This is all well, as much as it is good.
But you have smashed out many words per minute – maybe, indeed, as much as 130 – to make it seem that an entirely reliable second-hand car sound tried to set your hair on fire every time you went near it. Given the existence of your beardism, this is clearly not at all true. Honda may very well have produced a car that induces a soporific result for you, but Sir, you must respect its ability to do so, because that is what the vast majority of people who need to get about, want.
I do, in fact, get it.
Had an Odyssey 4-cyl that we took from 180Kms to 340, and there were plenty of annoyances in its reliable service. That very HVAC nonsense you describe is indeed bloody stupid (and btw, in a hotter clime, that dumbass screen thing eventually warps enough that thumps and bangs on the dash are all one can do to get air). Transmission (4speed) was also a nuisance in various behaviours, though I will give it marks for getting to 340+. The whole shebang also just looked uninterested, in and out (though again, that Accord is even worse). There was a lot to dislike.
But I gotta say, it had unexpected charms. Really good (brown mousefur) seats, excellent handling (but numb steering), and quite adequate ride. I didn’t have quite the level of discord you have to this Accord.
So sip your tea, and look for the best. There’s surely some there. Also, stop fixing the damn thing. It won’t make you like it any greater, you know.
Wow, 15mpg! Ok, you can fix that, that’s absurd.
I would much prefer brown instead of black, and mousefur instead of leather.
I would love to improve the fuel economy, but how? There is really, actually nothing mechanically or electronically the matter with the car. It’s been very closely scrutinised and it’s not running rich or anything. About the only thing I can think of to try is a new set of tires.
I did get a proper detail job done on it this past August, finally. That made it a considerably less obnoxious place to spend time, but didn’t fix any of its inherent badnesses. And while this isn’t a good time to buy a car, it’s a very good time to sell one, so perhaps that’s a wash. Accords like this seem to have high resale value. But again: what to replace it with? A “crossover” (turn, »spit!«, wipe) or tallish wagon of some kind would be a better fit than a sedan…
3 liters and 244 horsepower, with an automatic transmission and over 3,000 lb of car to move, has its trade offs. Fuel mileage is the thing that has to give.
183 cubic inches and 244 horsepower, without turbos or superchargers, is an awesome result. The old school rule of thumb was that over 1 horsepower per cubic inch was very hard to accomplish, and that was with the gross HP figures, not the lower net HP calculations that came in during the early ‘70s.
But in my experience, the cars and minivans equipped with this engine don’t show off that power very well. We take 200 or 300 horsepower for granted now, and the heavy cars, capable suspension dynamics, and automatic transmissions thwart our capacity, as drivers, to “experience” all that power.
Sure, use the 244 horses and the fuel economy will be rotten. But I just about never need (or ask) anywhere near the engine’s full output, and even all the way back in 2007 Honda (of all companies!) ought to have been able to do a much better job of delivering economy when power isn’t being called for.
We had an 06 Odyssey and have a 10 CRV, and neither got/gets near the mileage expected … when my wife drives it. She’s always got her foot on one pedal or the other, while I tend to accelerate fairly quick and brake late, but keep off both pedals in between. And she always has the A/C on in the CRV, while I almost never do.
But in your case I think the culprit may be the auto climate control. Our Odyssey had it and it had the compressor running almost any time the auto mode was engaged. Does driving with it off (and not in defrost) help the mileage? Sure helped our Odyssey.
Also, IIRC Honda did something fairly sophisticated to make the compressor spin easier while idling or under load, vs. most American cars (and my 02 Subie and 06 Mazda 6) which just use a simple.clutch. my sense is it didn’t disengage nearly as completely. Probably good for the A/C performance, but I think it affected mileage.
I wish it were that simple, but that’s not it—I never use the automatic mode of the climate control (I have yet to encounter an agreeable automatic climate control) and I keep the compressor switched off unless I’m actually using it.
I’ve had two Honda J series V-6 motors, in my 2000 Acura TL and my 2003 Accord Coupe.
These motors make good power, the TL at 225 hp and the Accord 240, making both cars very quick for someone like me who grew up driving a Rabbit Diesel.
The TL got 14.5L/100 KM in the city and 9.5 on the highway.
The Accord was 12L/100KM in the city and 8.5 on the highway.
These are not fuel efficient motors.
For comparison, my Golf does 7L/100KM city and 5.0 on the highway and it is just as quick as the TL was.
12 L/100km = nearly 20 miles per US gallon. That would suit me better than this what I get.
It has been interesting to read of Daniel Stern Specs ™ applied to a Honda. As one who has spent an increasing amount of time in and around Hondas from the 1970s on, I have concluded that newer and larger models have lost some of the “Honda-ness” that I loved. You might have avoided some of these niggles had you gone to the other end of the range – my 07 Fit was an old design when I bought it new and was still very Honda-y.
Like the HVAC controls – simple dials with an LED in the A/C button to tell you if its on or off. But then I don’t have the dual zones. And mine is a hoot to drive, which I confirmed with I traded off with my kid’s 98 Civic, which feels a lot more like a Buick than it felt when I was driving a Ford Club Wagon or a Cadillac Brougham.
The issue on the brakes is fascinating. For close to 30 years I have learned over and over that having brakes done at an independent shop invariably led to nasty brake pulsation after awhile, always fixed by new Genuine Honda pads installed at a dealer (usually at a very reasonable cost) with nothing whatsoever done to the rotors.
I laughed at the location of your oil analysis lab – right there in my hometown of Fort Wayne – though its a south side location and I was a north side boy.
The rotors were due when I needed brakes, and there seemed to be a lot of people complaining of persistent/repeated pedal pulsation even with new Honda rotors and pads. So I went for Centric cryo-rotors and (I think) EBC Yellowstuff pads. Zero pulsation ever since.
This car does a poor job of representing Honda’s engineering and design prowess. I know they can do a whole lot better than this—they just chose not to. It’s a lazy phone-in of a half-effort.
Did you add the Hella front side markers in expectation of retrofitting the ROW headlights…or did they provide better visibility than the ones in the North American light clusters? Or was the thought process “Well, I installed them in the back, so I might as well install them in the front too so that both ends match!”
Well-done retrofit of the taillights! Honda and Acura have waffled on the amber/red turn signal issue for decades, treating it as a stylistic/”easy way to do a mid-generation facelift” issue, and it’s irritating. The only car I’ve owned with red turn signals was a Ford Focus hatchback, and I had limited recourse for fixing them: The ROW taillights lacked a side reflector and backup lens, and since the turn signal function was combined with the brake light, I would have had to cut the wiring to ribbons to separate the functions. It also lacked anti-lock brakes (a grave fault), and I knew that drivers behind me couldn’t make comprehension of what I was doing when I was signalling a turn and pumping the brakes at the same time.
It was the second thing; I put on the redundant Hella front side markers because I thought it’d look goofy to have just rear ones with no matching front ones. The RH-traffic European-spec headlamps have the same amber side reflector as the American lamps (allowed but not required outside North America), and they’re perfectly happy to accept the American-spec 2-filament park/turn bulb socket, so there would be no functional need for the separate front side markers.
Wiring needn’t necessarily be cut to ribbons to split combined brake/turn lights out to separate lamps; there’s this or this bit of cleverness.
“Yay, German bulbs.”
Sounds like the Narvas were good, but where did Osram Sylvania make the bad ones? Every Sylvania bulb I can think of having bought were German, too.
Sylvania’s car bulbs come from all over the place. Some are from Germany, but many are from America, Korea, Taiwan, etc.
Well, technology finally caught up and delivered a car that was somewhat Daniel Upgrade Resistant, if partially by boring you into inaction.
Yes a manual transmission would have helped, but as you said not in a major city. At least it’s dependable, this is why I divide cars into interesting and transportation. A Valiant is interesting, a 2007 Honda with autobox is transportation.
Your Accord is an older cousin to Stephanie’s 2013 TSX wagon, so this was of some interest to me. It only has 75k now, but it’s never had a single issue (I think there was one minor recall). It too had the inevitable pulsing brakes, which thanks to your input, was readily (and permanently) fixed by a set of those cryogenically treated front rotors, which Amazon delivered to me along with some decent pads. Replacing them was super easy.
Other than that, it’s been just oil changes. Its HID headlights (low beam only) are a revelation. What a difference , especially after the Subaru’s pathetic lights. I never use the conventional high beams, as they add very little. But then I rarely use high beams; I find that they worsen my night time vision.
Our TSX has the four, and it’s plenty fast enough, and gets decent mileage (24 in town; up to 30 on the highway, depending on speed). The five speed automatic is pretty good as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve never noticed it skipping a gear like yours. Maybe the programming was changed. Actually, I rather like it quite a bit, as it’s not so quick to upshift or downshift as boxes with mre gears. One can use the throttle fairly effectively to influence its shifting. And then the shift paddles are handy for when one wants to grab a gear one way or the other.
The handling is stellar. It’s just about as good as it gets. With the four and the rear-heavy wagon, it’s front-rear balance and suspension tuning makes it almost impossible to tell that it has FWD. Yes, the electric steering is a wee bit numb, but it’s ok.
I hardly ever drive it anymore, but when I do, it’s a pleasant departure from my xB and van, other than having to drop myself down into it. It feels like I’m strapping myself into a sports car; so low. But it’s still a blast to drive fast through the mountains.
It’s boringly reliable, and I would not want to have it as my daily driver, as I can’t bear low cars anymore, but I can’t fault it otherwise. Oh yes, the climate controls suck.
In my experience, the four cylinder Accord is a much better choice than the six. Much like choosing a small block V-8 instead of a big block in the old days. The overall economy and better workings of the thing easily are a trade up, even though one gives up a bit of torque and power here and there.
I suspect I’d find this car—or at least its fuel economy—much less gritching with a 4-cylinder motor.
After four years of driving it I’ve come to rely on my ’04 Toyota’s parking sonar, so much so that I find it aggravating when I drive a car without it. IDK if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It has three different beep frequencies: the closer the sensor gets to the obstruction, the faster it beeps. Makes parallel parking a breeze.
I don’t hold with the idea that driver assistants are dulling our skill; most of us never had much of it to begin with.
The fundamental competency and reliability of the Honda allows one to focus instead on the niggling issues and specs of the car. That said, it really is an appliance that safely gets you from here to there and back again, but little more than that. No drama, no listening for sounds or waiting for vibrations that might land you stuck at the side of the road at any moment. Our Accord and CR-X are for when I want to drive somewhere without thinking about the journey or the driving experience. It just gets me there.
Perhaps…but if I’m going to be stuck in a featureless room, at least if there are some cracks, peels, and runs in the paint I’ll have something to imagine I see airplanes and carrots in.
So much to unpack here, as the current lingo goes. Loved this unique Daniel Stern car review as applied to modern wheels. You won’t find anything else like this on the internet!
I have a 2015 Camry Hybrid with some of the annoying quirks you mention, but many (most?) can be programmed to my preference. At least it has Toyota’s hybrid system, so no stepped transmission gears and the only selection is between D and B, the latter to provide effective simulated engine braking.
On HVAC controls, my view is perfection was achieved for single-zone, manual systems with the 3 rotary knobs, as first popularized in the US with the 1986 Taurus/Sable. My former 2004 Camry had one that may very well have been the pinnacle — the 3 knobs with a button and telltale in each knob center, for a/c, recirc, and rear defog. Simple, foolproof, and easy to operate by feel. Now, only low-line compacts and economy trucks have this system.
The HVAC display blanking out unless you select a control? Reminds me of a 2016 Audi A4 my employer had. This problem existed for the sport (manual) mode of the automatic transmission, which IIRC, had 7 forward gears. When you shifted from “D” to “S,” the IP display would indicate your current gear numerically, BUT the display would revert back to “S” after a momentary delay. Drove me crazy; I wanted to know what gear I was in, but no, you had to bump the + or – selector to find out!
With regard to your falling asleep while driving, do you take prescription drugs or have sleep apnea? I ask because both conditions apply to me. I didn’t know I had sleep apnea until I fell asleep long enough to cross over a highway’s right turn lane and off the right shoulder, putting my 2 right wheels in grass. The bumping jarred me awake and I was able to make a controlled stop. Fortunately, there were no obstacles or drop-offs in that particular spot.
I had been having intermittent trouble staying awake on the 13-mile easy drive home from work, many times having to resist the urge to close my eyes by the time I got to the halfway mark. A sleep test after my incident revealed severe apnea, for which I now use a CPAP device. The funny thing is I never felt particularly tired at work and believed my sleeping at night was fine.
I do have “mild to moderate” OSA: loud snoring, but I don’t actually stop breathing. I have a mouth plate that moves my lower jaw forward, which quiets me down, and it also helps that I sleep on my side, not on my back. This what I describe in the post isn’t a sleep quality or quantity issue; the car really does aggravate my tendency to grow sleepy with lack of stimulation on long road trips. Over the years I’ve developed countermeasures—get plenty of sleep, go easy on carbohydrates, especially white starch that flashes instantly into sugar and causes a crash; keep the in-car temperature on the cool side—and it helps that I quit caffeine (a struggle that lasted more than a decade). But this car just obliterates all those strategies!
I cannot imagine what train of thought (LOLROFL) drives someone to design a display that behaves as you and I describe. It’s so clearly, obviously the wrong way to do it!
I had a 2003 Accord Coupe EX-L I bought for my wife in 2017. It had 120,000 KM on it when I bought it for $4500.
I drove it daily for a year and I enjoyed it. Yes, it was heavy on fuel but with 240 hp it went really well.
Except it had electrical problems. When I drove it off the lot, the brake light switch failed. Then the airbag light came on all the time. I could reset it by turning the ignition off and on a few times. I check for the infamous Honda airbag recall, but no luck.
When my Kia Rio’s lease came due, I needed a reliable daily driver and a car with electrical gremlins are not reliable. The airbag light went off long for the the Accord to be sold for $4500 since Annie never drove it anyway.
I then went out and bought my Gold. Used car prices are so insane in Vancouver I won’t bother buying a used car again.
Oh, y’know, I meant to mention that airbag recall. I dutifully checked every now and then, but the 6-cylinder ’07 Accords aren’t affected (or at least they’re not recalled), only the 4-cylinder cars. It seems the V6 cars got a slightly more de luxe airbag assembly with a dessicator that staves off the wet-sodium-azide condition that causes the faulty bags to behave like grenades. Sort of like (only) the hybrid cars got real rear turn signals.
Good ol’ Takata…same company who, in the midst of an earlier recall for faulty seatbelts, were said (I can only find nth-hand recollections, and it was a long time ago) to have blamed the problem on slobbish Americans cramming french fries in the belt slot.
I had a 2008 4-cylinder Accord EX-L for 3 months in late 2017, and my impressions of it pretty much track with yours. All the goodies–ABS, traction control, dual-zone HVAC, bun warmers. Totally checked the refinement boxes, didn’t check the fun-to-drive boxes at all.
I say 3 months because one night I parked it on my street, and around 1 a.m. some clown in a ’74 Dodge pickup plowed into it. When I went to the impound yard to get personal effects out of it, the rear bumper was even with the rear window. I’m sure that if this hadn’t happened, the car would have given me many years of good, if not thrilling, service.
If some clown in a ’74 Dodge pickup—or I’m not picky; a Ford or a ’77 would be fine, too—were to total my parked and empty Accord, my displeasure would be at the nuisance and insurance hassle involved.
Everything is wrong since me and my baby parted,
All day long I’m walking ’cause I couldn’t get my car started.
Laid off from my job and I can’t afford to check it,
I wish somebody’d come along and run into it and wreck it.
–Chuck Berry, “Come On”
In my case, I work 25 miles from home, and this was pre-COVID, pre-teleworking. My insurance company’s rental reimbursement was good for only 2 weeks, so I had to find another car fast and couldn’t be picky. The hell of it was, I’d bought the Accord under similar circumstances when an incompetent tow truck driver destroyed my 2003 Saturn L200. I was not pleased. As I said to the insurance adjuster, I’d lost 2 cars in 4 months because other people were idiots.
Maybe I’ve been lucky but this seems like a troublesome car compared to the various Toyota’s, VW’s and Subaru we’ve owned in the past 20-25 years. Even accounting for Daniel Stern pickiness 😀. As for the fuel economy, I think the now-less-popular 2.5-3 liter V6 is the wrong engine for this size car, unless refined horsepower is the only goal. I continue to be impressed by the stellar fuel economy of our 1.8T Volkswagen; mid-40’s (US gallons) on the highway, low 30’s for my wife’s short commute. And performance is just fine, and I think would still be more than adequate in a heavier sedan. Of course, the manual transmission may help. I know some folks have concerns about long term reliability of the new breed of turbo 4 cylinders; I’m sold on the concept, though not sure if I’d take it to the extreme of the newer 1.4 liter engines.
What year and model (I assume Golf or Jetta) is your VW 1.8T? I’m interested in getting something more interesting than my 2005 Honda Civic.
“… I get 14 to 15 miles per US gallon around town, and that’s driving like a grandpa…”
Wow, I get better than that with my 8-cylinder Northstar! (16 in stop-and-go driving.) And that’s in a substantially heavier car.
That is crazy.
Yeah, eh? It’s only rated at 18 city, which seems really poor, but I’d be happier with that than my 14 to 15. And as I say, my hoary old ’91 Spirit did better. ☹️
If the cheap Chinese glass brand is Fuyao, that’s what I ended up with for a windshield in my Avalon a few years ago courtesy of Safelite. I was skeptical of the quality. Then I noticed a coworker’s 2020 Equinox has OE Fuyao glass all around. Hmmm. No complaints on my part, but I don’t drive many miles.
I was hoping this was one of the 2007 only Special Editions. Hertz bought quite a few when new and I worked there. I loved them. Accord LX equipment with the V6 and 17 inch alloys. Great mix of options. Cruise, power windiws locks and mirrors, and that’s about it. Cloth and manual seats. No sunroof. No frills but the big engine. Hyundai had base Sonata V6s in Canada around this time that were similar. V6, big alloys, no other options. Not in the US though.
Believe it or not, Honda still made Accord DXs in 06 and maybe 07. 4 cylinder, no cruise, but they all had power windows and locks and keyless entry by then. That was the only trim with 15″ wheels by this body style. All LX and EX 4 cylinders had 16s and all V6s had 17s.
Man I have grown to hate these LED brakelights on this body style. Too bright at night.
I am pretty sure the brand we’re talking about is FYG (Fuyao). Yes, they make OE glass…but that doesn’t necessarily imply their aftermarket glass is made to the same standards of quality and fit.
Interesting that you object to these LED brake lights—they’re nowhere near the maximum allowable intensity, and they’re large enough not to cause the laser-beam effect (like current RAV4s, recent NXs, etc).
Oops, no, I was wrong: Not FYG/Fuyau, but PGW, which I think is what became of PPG when their auto glass works were sold into China.
Your mention of multiple instrument panel and switch illumination bulbs being burned out sounds familiar. It seems like every modern car I’ve experienced will have a number of these bulbs out by its tenth birthday; and it is most often the lamps that are uncommon or proprietary, sometimes soldered in place, built into a switch that’s ultrasonic welded together, or just a plain pain to deal with. Said lamps will usually have a 15,000 or more hour rated life, but in practice, will not outlast the bog standard and easy to replace PC1xx bulbs that have 500-4000hr lives. It must have something to do with that Murphy guy.
I have memories of scouring wrecking yards 15-20 years ago looking for 1986-89 Toronados and 1986-88 Rivieras, which a crazy friend of mine maintained a personal fleet of, hoping to find examples with low enough mileage that their switchgear (hopefully) still illuminated… those were ones that were filled with incandescent bulbs before being sonic welded together. One or the other had switches made by Singer- yep, the sewing machine company.
It’s amusing to me to read an account of where someone doesn’t particularly care for their Honda; these complaints are generally greeted with: “Well, it’s meant to function as a car, competently with no drama, etc.”. Oddly, when you apply this standard to just about any other brand, you get complaints about how boring or uninspired the car is, as if the other car’s non-drama is somehow doesn’t measure up to the Honda’s non-drama.
It’s really only up to Daniel to be satisfied or unsatisfied with his car; no apologetics or mansplaining will change his opinion. This almost rates up there with my old service manager at the Toyota store who told customers they were driving their vehicles wrong. That may be, but that’s how they drove their car. They were well within their rights to complain. It’s Daniel’s right to be unsatisfied with his car, whether he doesn’t care for the mileage or the interface or whatever, he can still feel that way.
True, but I submit that few things make as little sense as driving a boring car that infuriates you, with surprisingly poor fuel economy to boot. Seriously, what’s the upside?
My mindset is a little different. Gotta run, after lunch I’ll be looking into the fuel leak on the Guzzi 1100, then either the intermittent miss on the w126 500SE or the stubborn power hardtop in the SLK230. Keep it interesting…
The upside is it stays out the shop and does the job, and by keeping it I avoid the hassle of changing cars. So far that’s been enough. Perhaps some other kind of car will grab hold of my fancy hard enough for me to deal with the hassle and wind up happier on the other side. But…what kind???
I don’t have a lot of experience with newer cars these days, and I’m positive that most of them are gonna have a number of ugh-to-duh-to-infuriating details, but my gut instinct says that a Subaru wagon *might* be worth a looksee. I’ve driven a number of early 2000’s Legacy Outbacks when they were newer, and was quite satisfied with their driving dynamics, utility, and overall abilities. Was even happier when the roads turned to snow and ice, and the AWD system pulled and pushed me through with nary a hiccup.
Maybe best to avoid the EJ25 engined models that like to chew on head gaskets, and I’m not sure what their CVT tolerability and reliability is like, but I think the later model ones have been holding up well…
I can relate to the feeling of being in another automotive world. After spending 15 years driving a 90s car with hand crank windows jumping into a 2016 with pushbutton start, a rear view camera, power mirrors and windows a a radio that showed the name of the station and song was heavy wizardry. Your catalog of ergonomic annoyances makes me glad I drive a Mazda with three big clicky knobs to run the HVAC. On the other hand my mother is very happy with her 2013 Accord V6, which is good because it’s probably the last car she will own as she is cutting back on road trips and finally retired at age 80.
I appreciate the relative boredom of my modern car that sees the shop for scheduled maintenance and seasonal tire swaps but has never needed a repair in over 4 years. I have a 2002 Ford F150 and a couple of old motorcycles to keep me ordering parts and turning wrenches without the pressure f having to drive it to work on Monday.
For me surely the closest I came to buying an Accord (hatch though still available at the time) was in 1986 when I bought my ’86 GTi. I spent more time than I ever have looking at and test driving different models; even to the extent that I tried different classes of cars which weren’t at all similar; I think it was partly a calibration to figure out what I liked, and partly a throwback to 8 years before when I worked as a transporter for Hertz and routinely drove different cars. I test drove an Alfa Romeo GTV/6, a Toyota MR2 (if I hadn’t then I likely never would again), Honda Accord Hatch, Mazda 626, Ford Taurus MT5, and Mitsubishi Galant Sigma. I should have added Chrysler LeBaron, or even Plymouth Sundance, but never got around to those…but still have never repeated that level of shopping around. The Accord came close, but I didn’t like power windows/locks and you could only get fuel injected engine in the LXi which came with them (of course 14 years later when I bought my ’00 Golf, it had mandatory power windows/locks) but in 1986 VW still had a la carte options, and my GTi had crank windows (and crank sunroof) and unassisted steering (which I should have avoided, when I had my bicycle accident and broke collar bone and ribs the steering was a handful). Maybe my loss; I always liked midsized hatchbacks and the Accord stopped offering them a few years after I bought my GTi, probably a good reason I’ve not since considered buying a Honda.
Anyhow, I chuckle a bit since I’m contemplating buying kind of the car you have, not because I want to but more because I should…at my age, no one can drive my car (standard) and I’m in denial, I really enjoy driving it, but see the writing on the wall, my next car has to be an automatic, and likely won’t be an enjoyable drive like my present one. So I’ve kept my car longer than I probably should and have had to get things like my power steering rack replaced, new shift mechanism (I live in sunbelt and plastic bits deteriorate quickly) and some other smaller things.
It would drive me bonkers to have a car that 2nd guesses me. When I bought my current car it had the automatic locking at 10MPH that I had them turn off at the dealer.
My car goes the other way and (like a lot of VWs) has issues that would probably deter someone from stealing it. The power locks stopped working in 2/4 doors (and I’m too chicken to tear the window out to get to them, these also have notoriously bad window regulators, I’ve had the window glass fall into the door. You can’t just open 2/4 doors when you unlock them (different 2 doors than have power lock issue)…you have to press on the door to relieve tension from the latch, then you can operate the latch so it opens. I’m not alone, other people on forums have these same issues…but that’s almost the counterpoint to owning a car like the Accord. Oh, here’s another good one…at age 63 I’m well past my thumping stereo days, but the setting for “bass” on my stock radio is stuck at the highest setting….I can change the treble, balance, etc. but not the bass.
You want a car with personality, well I think I have one…though I’m not quite sure who it is.
Ergonomics were much better on the old VWs, with high mounted radio, pretty good visibility (you sat up higher in older models). They had single turn signal indicator on dash, it flashed independent of left or right position that the lever was set to..to me it worked just fine, but the “standardization” folks wanted individual signals for right and left, which my ’00 has..one more bulb to burn out in my opinion. Mine also has the city lights in the headlight enclosure which I’m too chicken to repair, since I think I’d cause the wiring to short out and cause headlights to stop (and the enclosures are expensive to replace) Also has the side marker lights that flash with the turn signals (not on the rearview mirrors like more modern cars have, mine are on the front fender like other VWs of this era). Except for windows/locks/sunroof, everything is manual, including climate control. It does have the deal where if you keep turning the lock cylinder after car is locked, it will eventually crack open the sunroof. When I first got the car I could hear the fuel pump pressurizing when I opened the driver’s door, but it has been probably 16 years since it last did that, so something changed.
So..maybe not the most reliable car (it has left me stranded, but I have owned the car 21 years, so that probably should figure into things)..but pretty durable, but is getting to be needing new timing belt (but mine doesn’t have interference engine, so it would leave me stranded but unlikely any head damage). Original clutch, but as I mentioned the gear selector cables have had to been replaced.