Coverage of the new 2003 Accord has tended to concentrate on how Honda has aimed to goose the Accord’s appeal by adding some Passat-like style to a car that’s only popular because of its high quality and despite an insipid driving experience. The Accord is the safe play; the mainstream sedan (or coupe) buyers buy when they lack the imagination and youth to buy something more daring. It’s not the car anyone discerning would consider. And besides, look what much more stylish cars like the VW Passat and Nissan Altima are!
What a load of crap.
The truth is that the Accord has always been an engaging car to drive. The engines have always been responsive, the handling always sweet and the composure outstanding. It’s always been well built and it’s always been keenly priced. How many Car and Driver 10Best lists has it been on? How many comparisons tests has it won? The truth is the Accord has become spectacularly successful because it deserves to be spectacularly successful. But familiarity breeds contempt, and there’s a significant portion of the mush-headed press that figures the Accord has to be tepid simply because anything that sells in such huge numbers must be built to the lowest common denominator.
Familiar stuff, reconfigured
While the seventh-generation 2003 Accord looks completely new, it’s actually a comprehensive redevelopment of the sixth-generation car, which itself was a thorough update of the fifth generation which, naturally, was a hearty rework of the fourth generation. Over the generations just about every element of the Accord’s engineering has been modified or evolved significantly in some way or another, but the basic layout of the 2003 Accord is amazingly similar to the 1990 model that inaugurated the fourth generation. There’s still a double wishbone suspension up front and multi-link rear suspension, the engine still sits transversely up front driving the front wheels and the structure is still a robust unibody. However, the only sheetmetal that actually comes over from the sixth-generation car intact is the trunk floor stamping.