The Accord at Thirty (Thousand Miles)
Twenty-three months ago, your humble author did what virtually nobody in this auto-journo game does — I went out and paid my own money for a thoroughly mass-market, middle-of-the-road vehicle. In just seven months, my 2014 Accord V6 Coupe 6MT and I made it to twelve thousand miles. Starting this spring, the pace at which I put miles on the big Honda slackened significantly as I diverted about 7,500 miles of commuting to my motorcycles.
Other than an oil change and imaginary tire rotation, the Accord didn’t require anything in 2015. Which bring us to January 2016, the 30,000-mile mark, a set of new shoes, and some long-term-style observations.
I bought snow tires for the first time in the winter of 2000 when I realized that my brand-new 330i Sport simply couldn’t be operated on even a visible dusting of snow. In the years that followed, I put snow tires on everything from a Golf to a Phaeton to an S5 to a Town Car. There have been two years where I didn’t run snow tires. The first was the winter of 2013/2014. My Town Car had ruined one of its Eagle Ultra Grips thanks to a bad alignment. My friend at the Goodyear store who was supposed to order the replacement had some personal issues and attempted to take his own life in December of 2013. I was still waiting for him to get his act together, go back to work, and order my tire when I caught a Sonata in the door that January.
The second year in which I didn’t run snow tires was last year, because we have a Tahoe Z51 (edit: it’s a Z71, of course, the Z51 is a Corvette) in the fleet now and I didn’t drive the Accord when conditions were bad. I cannot express how much I hate driving the Tahoe. It can be useful for picking up Christmas presents:
For me, however, the definition of “Christmas” is “any day I don’t have to drive a truck”. The seats in the Tahoe also have the knack of poking me directly in various recently-fractured bones. Time to get snow tires for the Accord. I bypassed my old friend at the Goodyear store — he never actually got his life back together, losing his wife and children to divorce then sinking into chronic alcoholism — and ordered another winter package from the Rack. This time it’s Dunlop Wintersports on the no-name “Sport Edition” alloy wheels. They’re clearly Chinese garbage but they are light and the Rack was sold out of steelies. We’ll see how they do.
As I prepare to enter my third year with the Accord, I have the pleasant surprise of already being “in equity” on the car. KBB thinks I could sell it for about twenty grand, which is more than I owe. Needless to say, that was never the case with the various Phaetons and AMG Benzes and Land Rovers that littered my driveway throughout the first decade of the millennium.
Another pleasant surprise: nothing’s broken yet. Never in my life have I had a German or Swedish car that made it two whole years without an unscheduled trip to the dealer. The Accord shows no signs of requiring any extraordinary measures in the near future. It’s still on the original brake pads and rotors, although a few trips to racetracks have left them fairly wobbly. The in-dash service meter is calling for a third oil change. I’ll skip the tire rotation this time — it’s on the snows now, and they didn’t actually perform the service the last time anyway — which will make my total service cost for this car somewhere in the $200 range for 35,000 miles.
Come the spring, however, I’ll probably replace the three-season tires. The Michelin Primacy MXM4 that was supplied as standard equipment on 2014 Accords has a considerable fanbase in the Accord-enthusiast community — many owners of the previous-generation car replaced the OEM Michelin Pilots with Primacys, leading Honda to supply them as standard in a rather impressive example of listening to customer demand — but they don’t grip for shit. When the ground is wet that’s twice as true, the V-6 spinning the tires into oblivion during unexpected situations like “moderate throttle, second gear, 35 mph” and “up any meaningful hill.” They’ve also managed to nearly find their wear bars in 30,000 miles. Listen, I own a Porsche 993, the famous Kinematic Toe 4,000-Miler Eater Of Rear Tires, so I understand that rubber ain’t forever. I do, however, think it’s reasonable to get either high grip or reasonable wear from a modern tire.
The cast-aluminum OEM wheels also manage the trick of being both ugly and heavy, so, if I have the funds, I’ll swap in some OZ or Enkei wheels to take some of the lead out of all four corners. Also potentially on the agenda: the RV6 J-pipe. Why? Well …
… or sound mean, anyway.
As time goes on, I feel better and better about having chosen the two-door Accord over the four-door V-6 manual that didn’t exist anyway or the four-door Accord Sport that is a wonderful car and perfectly adequate for all needs. To begin with, the longer doors have been very helpful to me given that I’ve had some sort of fracture or ligament damage for about six of the twenty-three months I’ve owned the car. My son, who is six and a half and slightly above four-feet tall, clambers in and out without difficulty. I’ve had a few different full-sized adults in the back with said progeny for trips of up to four hours without diffculty. I don’t see any reason to buy the sedan unless you regularly travel four-up.
The V-6, as well, has proven to be thoroughly satisfying. It has more than enough power to operate independently of traffic and it surges up to about 110 mph with plenty of vigor (pun intended) which is all I’m going to do on public roads in my mid-40s unless I’m on my Interceptor or behind the wheel of my 993. Fuel economy in mixed use continues to hover in the 24-26 mpg range; on the freeway it can do a steady 30. It sounds good and, as is always the case, the joy of having more than enough power is worth the additional expense.
What don’t I like about the Marysville-built coupe? Well, the quality of the paint leaves a lot to be desired, but as a former Honda contractor I knew that going in for a variety of reasons, of which I am prohibited from discussing by a forged-steel non-disclosure agreement. The quality of the interior materials, as well, is only adequate. Some wear is apparent on the plastics and the leather. My Audi S5 was far superior in this respect; it also cost approximately twice as much as the Accord. The combination trunk/fuel door release feels cheap and worries me with its insubstantiality. That’s really about it.
To tell the truth, I’m so fond of my Honda that I’m considering replacing it. I know. Hear me out. I figure there’s no way that Honda will offer the V-6 in the 2018 car; it’ll be another one of these repugnant low-pressure turbo-fours in the engine bay by then. So if I want to extend my ownership of a V-6 coupe as far into the future as possible, it would be a sound idea to replace my current car with a 2016, thus resetting the mileage clock at the expense of submitting to the new Accord’s Wu-Tang-grille aesthetic. A more likely scenario is that I’ll wait until the very last V-6 stick-shift coupe is built and then buy that one, some time in late 2017, while keeping my current car as a kick-around commuter and first car for my son.
I’ll sum it up like so: The Accord EX-L V6 coupe does 95 percent of what a $60,000 German coupe does, at half the price, while probably lasting twice as long. It’s not a perfect car, but it’s good enough for the way I live now.
More by Jack Baruth
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