Thursday, January 13, 2011

Accord's charms outweigh all other arguments

Sacramento, California – The following is a true story …

I’ve had several friends who spent years telling me the virtues of buying an American car. These aren’t everyday wave-the-flag types, but truly knowledgeable car people who just happen to believe that buying a U.S.-made car is not only patriotic, but something to boost the American economy and workers.

Besides, they reasoned, American quality is underrated, and the quality of foreign cars has been overrated for years.

Then later, I learned that these same “buy-American” folks had purchased a Honda Accord for themselves, their spouses or children.

That can’t be a coincidence. Let me assure you that it isn’t.

Because when real car people start doing their research – especially if they’re helping a loved one buy a practical-size vehicle – they stress safety, reliability, cost and fuel mileage. That usually brings the Accord to the top of the list, and the story is no different for the 2011 model year.

The 2011 Accord SE sedan I recently tested combined smoothness, performance and comfort in an attractive package. And by the way, it was built in Marysville, Ohio.

The tester’s 2.4-liter in-line 4 performed with spirit and didn’t make a lot of noise doing it – not always true of a four-banger. If you want to move up among the 11 trim levels of the latest Accord, you can get the 190 horsepower version of the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder power plant.

The EX Accords can be had with 3.5-liter V-6 with 271 horsepower, but that slops over into the ridiculous territory for an Accord. Might as well go for a sporty Lexus, Acura or Infiniti if you need that much juice in your otherwise practical sedan.

Standard safety, comfort/convenience features on the Accord are plentiful, and you don’t need to cozy up with the owner’s manual for weeks to learn how to use them. Vision from the cockpit is very good. My tester was loaded and had a starter price of just under $24,500, but you can get an entry-level Accord for around $21,000 and change.

Gas mileage on the SE sedan comes in at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the open road. Those are good numbers, but my Accord was coming in at an average of 2 mpg better than the numbers on the sticker.

Throw in a max five-star government safety rating on rollover protection, and you’ve got a pretty good deal.

The one knock on the Accord from fellow auto reviewers seems to be that it isn’t sexy enough, or hasn’t changed much. Funny, 2011 Accords have new grilles, bumpers, taillights, wheels, trunklids and interior touches. Seems like a pretty liberal “freshening” to me.

As for sexy, there’s plenty of that to be found at other lots.

You want dependable, safe and affordable transportation, the Honda Accord continues to ride at the top of the look list.

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