The Subaru Legacy GT, Infiniti G35 and Acura TSX are paid-in-full members of the practical power automotive niche. They cater to financially responsible enthusiasts who want their reliability served with a supersized side of hoon and a la carte cog-swapping. Although Honda’s new Accord V-6 packs a 268-horsepower punch, the four-door’s a pedal short in the row-your-own department. Fortunately, the Accord EX-L coupe boasts a six-speed manual transmission. So is the EX-L a category killer or just another vanilla thrilla?
The EX-L coupe is a rolling homage to BMWs 3 through 8, adorned with a small sprinkling of performance cues: chrome door handles (ew), coffee can chromed pipes (huh?) and 18” rims (bow-chicka-bow-wow). And get a load of that teeny little spoiler– no compensating for anything here. In terms of sporting proportions, the EX-L is the automotive definition of cognitive dissonance: a two-door vehicle that stretches farther than a standard four-door. Clearly, this baby has a lot of ass to haul.
On the upside, the EX-L’s bootylicious bounteousness makes the rear seats roomy enough for at least two adults. Unfortunately the back seat is a journey, not a destination; ensconcing oneself in the EX-L’s rearmost chairs is a convoluted and agonizing process. Returning to the positive spin, the Accord's huge trunk compensates for the back seats’ limited access– especially for coupe drivers familiar with the fine art of securing grocery bags with shoulder belts.
The view from behind the EX-L’s wheel is strangely… feminine. Like the Dodge logo and the Subaru Tribeca, the EX-L’s interior offers-up a pistonhead paean to the female reproductive system. From the way the dashboard curves sweep inward like fallopian tubes into the uterus slash radio/climate control unit, to the oversized, top-heavy H on the steering wheel, Freud would have had a heyday.
Yes, well, the outward edges of the dash connected with my knees more than once while I was entering and exiting the vehicle, leading to some decidedly un-Ladylike cursing. (Take it from me, fallopian tubes are not known for their ergonomics.) As for the radio head unit (so to speak), Honda's answer to complaints of overly-complex controls is the engineering equivalent of talking louder. They've made the buttons bigger and the writing larger. It may be easier for fat-fingered folks to grope through the ICE menus, but it's no more intuitive than before– or BMW's iDrive.
Ergonomics be damned. Practical funsters focus on less prosaic matters, like sheer horsepower. Turn the key, fire-up the filly and slip into the bliss that is a well-tuned Honda V6. This mill’s got torque all over and horsepower galore, all mated to yet another blissfully smooth and easy-shifting Honda gearbox. Girth aside, Road and Track’s resident tire shredders mustered a very respectable 5.9 seconds on the zero to 60 sprint– a hair behind most of the competition. The EX-L won’t light your hair on fire, but at this price you’ll shut up and drive.
The ridiculous pipes provide a terrific aural balance between a savory exhaust note and cruising silence. Punch the gas and you’ll be cackling before you know it. The exhaust's sexy bwaaahhhhh is almost enough to drown out the unholy road noise those 18” tires unleash beneath you. (I had to double-check to make sure some bureaucrat didn’t accidentally ship a car with snow tires to the dirty South.) Charitable drivers should consider the EX-L’s din a not-so-subtle advertisement for Acura.
In a straight line, the EX-L coupe is silken joy. Try to throw this porker around a corner and you’ll get an abrupt reminder of why God invented rear wheel-drive. It’s like talking your inebriated, obese buddy into being the rear part of a two-person horse costume. No matter how hard you try, the EX-L's rear end is sluggish and unwieldy. Eventually you give up and just drag the stupid ass along behind you.
Honda’s point-and-shoot steering and crisp turn-in are also absent, sacrificed on the altar of a comfortably numb ride. Anyone wanting a manual EX-L is probably more interested in sampling some Si-style driving dynamics than keeping the cups in their holders; failing to tune the EX-L’s suspension to match the coupe’s demeanor one of da meanest things Honda’s done to enthusiasts in quite some time.
The EX-L coupe is a conflicted vehicle. It’s got a powerful engine with a snick-happy transmission mated to an average suspension. It’s got all the appearance of a luxury vehicle, with none of the quiet and little of the luxuriousness. It’s fun to drive, but not REALLY fun.
Yes, the EX-L's a strange offering, given Honda aspirations for the Accord as the nü full-size family sedan. With a sport-tuned suspension, SH-AWD and a few more toys, the EX-L would blow its competitors into the weeds. As it is, the EX-L is… um… I’m sorry. What were we talking about?