Nearly three decades after its debut, the Honda Accord has maintained its mass appeal. Among the country’s best-selling cars, it combines good value, dependability and efficient economy of design. Driving appeal, of course, is paramount for any vehicle’s success, and the 2003 Accord continues to deliver.
With the Accord, the comfort is not unlike the driving equivalent of wearing a favorite pair of jeans. It’s comfortable and welcomed in most circumstances — just like soft denim.
The test-driven, 4-door Accord EX, the model’s seventh generation in 28 years, included a 5-speed automatic transmission and a 160-hp, 16-valve, 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine. The blue/gray exterior (its official color is “eternal blue pearl”) was nicely complemented by gray leather seats.
The look and feel of the car provided further fodder for the Accord’s omnipresent stiff competition against the Toyota Camry, Nissan Ultima and a newcomer, the Volkswagen Passat.
During one drive in my week with the vehicle, I visited friends who live in a small Sierra Nevada foothill community in Northern California. The winding country roads were good tests both on the outbound and inbound 50-mile journeys.
While not promoted as the quickest sedan in its class, the Accord’s automatic transmission shifted smoothly and the acceleration was more than adequate while both passing slower vehicles and while ascending.
Several hours later, the hour journey home included periodic stretches in a slight drizzle. With the roads slick, the front-wheel drive and steering handled well and the multi-speed windshield wipers were simple to use and efficient.
The late-afternoon trip also seemed like the perfect time to initiate a new option for the Accord — its satellite-linked navigation system. Conveniently located on the dash, the 4×4 screen allows drivers to enter a desired zip code and address. A moving map appears on the screen and the vehicle’s en route location is marked and circled.
The system’s directions were easy to follow and the female instructional voice was firm and pleasant.
Increased horsepower, power windows and doors, leather seats, alloy wheels and individually heated seats are all available in some models and are standard equipment in some 2003 Accord models.
Other offerings in some models include curtain side airbags, a 5-speed automatic transmission, a 240-horse power V6 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission — a first for Honda. The antilock braking system (ABS) is standard on all Accords beginning in 2003.
One potential problem for midsize vehicles is available leg room. The Accord is listed as a five-passenger sedan. But only four adults can sit comfortably since the leg room for rear-seat passengers is not spacious.
Drivers have ample space, however, and window placement is ideal and without blind spots. Another quickly noticed pleasant feature is the ease and visibility of console controls, particularly the odometer and speedometer. Numbers are big and self-illuminating, not unlike a glowing, large-numbered wristwatch.
Honda Accord, 2003: The Weekly Driver
Safety Features — Front side airbags are standard on V6 models and the 4-cycling EX models and are available on LX models. Curtain side airbags are exclusive to EX V6 as standard equipment. Keyless entry, trunk opener and power window control is standard in all but the DX model.
Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 3 yrs./36,000 miles, corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.
Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 24 mpg (city), 33 mpg (highway).
Base Price Range — $15,800-$27,900.