Honda Accord EX-L Review

Megan Benoit
by Megan Benoit
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honda accord ex l review

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?

Megan Benoit
Megan Benoit

I'm a computer security geek raised in Nebraska and recently transplanted to Atlanta. I like me some cars, got into car geekery a few years ago and haven't looked back since. I also volunteer at a local ferret shelter and participate in various charity and fund-raising events related to that.

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2 of 78 comments
  • Gimmeamanual Gimmeamanual on Dec 15, 2007

    Skidpads from Motor Trend... '99 Stang GT: 0.86 '06 SE-R: 0.86 '08 Accord V6: 0.78 '08 Altima V6: 0.83 '07 Camry V6: 0.78 '08 Malibu LTZ: 0.79 '07 BMW 335i: 0.84 '08 G37S: 0.83 '04 TL: 0.81 And yes, I realize that there's more to handling than skidpad #s, but as a comparative tool, they're useful. But good try anyways.

  • Jdm1810 Jdm1810 on Mar 06, 2013

    Fast forward 5 years and the pretentious reviewer looks like a donkey to me. I bought an 05 6sp 6cy after searching for years for one that was bought by a "feminine type" , one owner, low miles for one reason, TO RAT BAG IT, drive it as hard as I could as fast as I could, and if I had some trouble in the corners IT DID NOT MATTER, I was MASCULINE enough to handle it and maybe bump the odd "feminine types" clear into the ditch and not care if I dented the thing when the occassion warrented it. That the reviewer here did not recognize the future value of this car as a pleaseure vehicle to those that actually DRIVE as pleasure is a shame indeed. This car, is a classic, meant for real drivers, that want a cheap thrill, not for New york opera goers. AS always, the test of time, is what counts. Pick up a used honda 6 cyl , 6 spd drive it into the ground and actually feel what driving is supposed to do. MAKE YOU LAUGH. I am still trying to kill this thing but it JUST WONT DIE.

  • Oberkanone BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen have different fleet emissions rules than Stellantis and other manufacturers. This is unfair trade practice and California is the leader of this criminal conspiracy. Unified emissions regulations are needed. Disjointed patchwork of CARB and Federal emissions states results in harm to our economy inefficient manufacturing. CARB emissions regulations violate the Commerce Clause by engaging in extraterritorial regulation.
  • 28-Cars-Later Ha, about 60% of the original price... I think these were going out for around $14s in stripper edition with row your own (I believe this was still the first gen made in Japan as well). If I'm right about JDM assembly, this will sell itself soon.
  • MaintenanceCosts 2035 is TWELVE YEARS from now. They could buy new diesel buses today and get a full service life out of them before the mandate comes into effect. And if the technology still isn't good enough in 2035, the most rural districts will get a waiver. Nobody is trying to ban rural high schools from their volleyball games.
  • Kwik_Shift One day I'll bring myself around to trying one of these out, with manual transmission. They look fun.
  • Zipper69 It worked in London, because the center of that city is a medieval layout ON TOP of a Roman layout, both designed for horse drawn traffic.Manhattan's grid and the available public transport options are a different matter.