Cars are like politicians – each wants your vote, and actually depends on it for survival. Each is multi-faceted, trying to remain relevant by appealing to the vast majority. There are exceptions, such as the Independent candidate who lands a seat in Congress because of his constituents’ disgust with typical party-line rantings, and the Ferrari Enzo, an ultra-rare and highly impractical ride that is beyond the financial reach of mainstream buyers. But, otherwise, the country is full of pro-choice Republicans who are both vegan and proud members of the National Rifle Association, and vehicles that feature built-in child seats and eight airbags, all while capable of taking corners at speed and hitting 60 mph in seven seconds…all while getting 25 mpg. With so many dimensions to examine, it’s easy to focus on a car or politician’s obvious strengths, yet overlook any shortcomings.
That’s exactly how our restyled 2006 Honda Accord EX-L sedan with a navigation system and a six-speed manual transmission was received by staff members. Throughout the evaluation, there was praise and disappointment regarding this four-door’s powertrain and handling, and quality and design were marked by much positive ballyhooing that effectively silenced the naysayers. Yet, in the end, the vote was unanimous to recommend the Accord for all that it does so well, much as it has done for decades. Whether it’s the comfortable and spacious interior or the potent V6 engine, Honda’s venerable family car is, more than ever, qualified and worthy of reelection.
Once a vote has been cast for the Accord sedan, there are a few choices to be made, the most important being the powertrain. The base engine is a 2.4-liter, dual overhead cam, 16-valve, i-VTEC four-cylinder pushing 166 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 160 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Mileage is rated at 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission, while the optional five-speed automatic returns 24 mpg and 34 mpg, respectively. Buyers looking for a bit more spirit will want the 3.0-liter, single overhead cam, 24-valve, VTEC V6 offering 244 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 211 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. With the six-speed manual, the Accord returns 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; a five-speed automatic transmission drops those figures to 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Regardless of what’s under the hood, the 2006 Accord rides on an independent double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link double wishbone setup in the rear, with standard front and rear stabilizer bars. Our tester rode on stylish 17-inch alloys and Michelin Pilot 215/50R17 all-season tires; four-cylinder Accords roll on 16s.
Aside from the powertrain, buyers will also need to consider which trim fits them best. From the basic Value Package (VP) models starting at $18,775 (including a $550 destination charge) to the EX V6 with leather, a navigation system and automatic transmission for $29,850, Honda has the sedan market pretty well covered. We spent a week traversing the streets, highways, and back roads of Southern California’s Orange County in an EX V6 with leather seats, the aforementioned nav system, and a six-speed manual transmission, a new feature added to the Accord sedan lineup for 2006. Also included in the $29,850 price is a 180-watt sound system with a six-disc CD changer; voice-activated controls for the navigation, radio, and climate control system; faux carbon fiber interior trim; heated, power front bucket seats; stability control and electronic brake assistance; side and side-curtain airbags; and a myriad of power features.
Of special note, we actually borrowed two Accords for this evaluation. The first, a fully-loaded EX-L with the manual transmission, was lent to us accidentally with a rough idle and a jammed front passenger door that could only be opened from the outside. To determine if these were flukes with one particular car, we requested and received an identical replacement, one free of our first tester’s maladies.