In 2008, the Honda Accord grew up. After a restyle and engineering overhaul, it became bigger than ever, and was consequently rated as a full-size sedan in the United States. It remained a mid-sizer in Canada.
This, the eighth generation of Accord, was – and is – built in Marysville, Ohio. It was also on the receiving end of some interesting engineering highlights. For example, it got a V-6 engine that featured an option known as Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). This now-common feature deactivated up to half of the cylinders, depending upon driving conditions. During highway cruising, for example, it shut down one bank of cylinders, leaving the engine to run on just three; during "mild hill climbing", meanwhile, the system switched things around and reverted to four cylinders. Under hard acceleration and during takeoff, all six were operational, and the system continually monitored itself to get optimum power and fuel efficiency.
The result was better fuel economy, plus emissions that conformed to ULEV-2 (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) standards set by the California Air Resources Board. On top of that, this was the most powerful V-6 engine installed in an Accord, developing 268 horsepower.
The four-cylinder engine, meanwhile, came in two stages of tune, both of which got bumped up in power for 2008. The base LX developed 177 horses, while the EX was good for 190 hp. Interestingly, the more powerful of these two four cylinder powerplants generated almost as much horsepower as the V-6 engines units Honda put out just five years before, in 2003.
Transmission choices included five- or six-speed manual and five-speed automatic. The top of the line EX-L V-6 came with the automatic only.
You could get this iteration of Honda's flagship as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe. Interior volume in both models was up over the previous generation, and Honda was claiming that the new Accord had the roomiest interior in this category.
Options and extras with the new Accord were many. Standard equipment included the usual modcons such as power windows and door locks, air conditioning, six-speaker sound system with MP3 and WMA capability, cruise control, tilt-telescoping steering and fold-away side mirrors.
Options included a navigation system, hands-free Bluetooth interface and leather upholstery. The EX-L V-6, with all the bells and whistles, had an almost upscale feel to it. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS were standard on all versions.
Two safety recalls to report from Transport Canada. One concerns the automatic transmission, which could have a range of maladies, including shaft bearing failure and problems with the Park setting. This problem affects Accords made from 2005 to 2010, incidentally. The second recall affects accessory "nose masks" – also known as a front end bra – which could impede the proper closing of the hood, and possibly lead to the hood lifting up while the vehicle is under way.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 14 technical service bulletins on file for the 2008 Accord. These range from "a loud ratting noise at cold startup" to software problems with the automatic transmission shifter, to excessive oil consumption, to issues with the door hinges on the four-door sedan models.
With the exception of sketchy brakes and various body squeaks and rattles, the '08 Accord gets good marks across the board from Consumer Reports. Confusingly, this organization rates it as "average" for predicted reliability, yet awards it a "Good Bet" designation in the used-car market.
Lots of comments from owners, both good and bad. A few samples: "Many mechanical problems," "Good handling for its size," "Good gas mileage with manual transmission" and "Great highway car." The wonky brakes, inordinately high oil consumption and excessive road noise are common complaints.
The car got an "about average" vehicle dependability rating from market research firm J.D. Power. While there are no glaring weak spots and most areas of the car rate average or better, there are no shining beacons of light, with the exception of body interior quality, which gets top marks.
From a base price of about $25,000 in 2008, prices have dropped to between $15,000 to $22,000, depending on the model and trim level. V-6 models are fetching about $1,000 more than the four-cylinders, and the coupe has held its value a little better than the sedan.
2008 Honda Accord
Original Base Price: $25,090-$27,990; Black Book: $18,100-$21,975; Red Book: $15,975-$20,425
Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 177 or 190 hp/162 lb-ft for four-cylinders; 268 hp/248 lb-ft for V-6
Transmission: Five- or six-speed manual/five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 9.4 city/6.4 highway (four-cylinder with manual); regular gas
Alternatives: Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Subaru Legacy, Ford Five Hundred, Chevrolet Malibu