Now in its 30th year on the American automotive scene, the Honda Accord maintains its original design brief, still offering good value with the right combination of advanced technology, efficiency, space, and simple drivability.
Our test car was a 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 with a six-speed manual transmission and navigation. This top trim level comes well equipped with heated, power-adjustable leather seats; steering-wheel controls for audio and cruise control; the HomeLink system; XM Satellite Radio; and with the manual transmission, imitation carbon-fiber interior accents.
The styling is conservative and unassuming inside and out, in keeping with Honda's sensible image. Our test car's Graphite Pearl paint and dark-gray leather made it even more unobtrusive. The EX V-6's main distinguishing exterior features are 17-inch alloy wheels of a five-spoke design exclusive to the six-speed EX.
Standout features include the six-speed transmission and the navigation system. Almost everything else on the car is above average but not exactly cutting edge. Our major complaint centers on the sound system. The audio quality is mediocre at best, and it won't play MP3s.
At a list price of $29,300, plus a $550 destination charge, the 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 comes in just less than the $30,000 threshold. At this price point, it melds economy, technology, and driving entertainment as well or better than the competition. It's a tough slice of the market, but the Accord has 30 years of refinement behind it.
Both front seats in the 2006 Honda Accord EX V-6 are leather trimmed and power adjustable. They offer good support that holds up over longer drives. Lesser Accord trim levels have a manually adjustable passenger seat. The EX V-6 also makes heated seats standard. Beyond the carbon-fiber interior accents, the interior is refined.
The Accord EX with navigation includes Honda's voice-recognition- and touch-screen-equipped navigation system, one of the best in the industry at any price. Entering destinations is quick whether using the map, the onscreen keyboard, or the voice prompts. Multiple route options are calculated quickly, and processing power is adequate to make zooming smooth. Rerouting is similarly quick, and the system speaks both street and city names.
The large main screen is a must-have for displaying satellite-radio song and artist information, and plenty of presets are available for quick-touch access. We also appreciated the convenience of the in-dash six-CD changer. But our praise for the audio system ended there, as the 2006 Honda Accord EX fails to deliver on a few easy points. The 180-watt stereo's sound was rather weak, especially with the beefy 350-watt subwoofer of the 2006 Honda Civic Si's system still fresh in our ears. The cheaper Civic also played MP3 and WMA discs and included a standard auxiliary audio input, neither of which was included in the Accord EX. An optional single-CD player that plays MP3s and WMAs can be added for $544. Honda also offers an iPod adapter for $214 and, strangely enough, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system for $1,859. But none of these options will improve the audio quality. The Accord EX's six speakers were mostly to blame; the rear speakers mounted on the back deck produced particularly poor sound in the backseat.