45 years and 10 generations later, we pick the best Honda Accord

CY Foong · Sep 12, 2021 02:00 PM

45 years and 10 generations later, we pick the best Honda Accord 01

Just like its little brother, the Honda Civic, the Honda Accord is one of the longest-running nameplates under Honda’s line-up.

With 10 generations across 45 years, the Accord has grown larger and more elegant but unlike the Civic which maintained its popularity, the Accord’s future is somewhat threatened.

45 years and 10 generations later, we pick the best Honda Accord 02

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Unfortunately, sedans are not as popular now as when the first Accord was unveiled back in 1976. Still, in the past 45 years, what has the Accord really evolve into? We take a look back at all ten generations of the D-segment sedan before choosing what we consider the best Accord of all.

Also read: Choices in Malaysia's car market: should you spring for a sedan or get a hatchback?

45 years and 10 generations later, we pick the best Honda Accord 01

Granted, we will only focus on the Accords that were sold officially in Malaysia. That means the JDM Accord Euros will not be featured here.

First-gen – An elongated Civic

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Honda cars were initially sold alongside Honda motorcycles during the company's early days

When Honda decided to expand its business into the automobile field after its success in motorcycles, their first models were mostly small cars like the N600. However, by the 1970s, the brand had quickly established itself as a trusted brand in compact, economical cars.

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But Honda didn’t want to just stay put in the small car segment, they wanted to challenge bigger rivals like Volkswagen and Toyota. As the Civic was the company’s largest car at the time, the idea was to develop their newest mid-size car on the Civic’s platform.

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Development for this new model would start with a 3-door hatchback with design influenced by the Lotus Elite. Its more recognizable three-box sedan variant would eventually show up later.

Also read: Mercedes-Benz: Sedans will die due to electrification

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The first-gen Accord would showcase some excellent performance characteristics at the time including a 5-speed manual transmission when 4-speed was the norm, a light power steering to aid handling, and radial tyres which were mostly found in sports cars.

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Despite all the performance enhancements, the Accord’s core suit was its creature comforts. It came with an integrated air cond for easier temperature adjustments and the power steering which was suggested by the founder himself, Soichiro Honda.

Also read: Mugen is founded by Mr. Honda’s only son Hirotoshi, and this is his story

During that period, air conditioning was considered an optional feature. Even if it was offered as standard, it was often attached below the dashboard or for more direct ventilation, a literal fan was used instead.

Second-gen – The OG

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The Accord was originally developed as a hatchback and the sedan was merely an afterthought as there were numerous mid-size sedans offered in Japan while Americans weren’t fancied by smaller sedans.

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The first Accord changed that perception in the latter market and as such, Honda decided to focus more on the sedan during the development of the second-gen. When the sedan variant was offered in America, it quickly outsold the hatchback and that would eventually become the main bodystyle for the Accord.

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The second-gen Accord was introduced in 1981 and it’s recognisable through the boxy shape that made it look like a sleeker Volvo. It was also very modern with Japanese models offering the Electro Gyrocator as an option.

This was considered the world’s first commercially available in-car navigation system but it didn’t use GPS satellites to guide its position. Instead, transparent maps were placed in the unit that would scroll through depending on the car’s movement.

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Forget leather, velour is the ultimate luxury

The Electro Gyrocator was an expensive option, costing nearly a quarter of the Accord’s price and was very unpopular. Other markets included not quite advanced but luxurious features at the time like cruise control, headlight washers, and soft velour upholstery.

Third-gen – To pop-up or not

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As the Accord entered its third-generation (CA5) in 1985, the eighties aesthetic had quickly influenced the design. The Accord grew sleeker thanks to its aerodynamic design and featured uber-cool pop-up headlights.

Also read: 15 coolest pop-up headlights that flipped our minds – AE86, RX-7, Ferraris, and more!

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Post-1987 Accords were called CAs in Japan which stood for Continental Accord

Interestingly enough, this feature was offered only to certain markets with some, including Malaysia, only offering conventional headlights to their respective Accords. In fact, the ones with pop-up headlights were likely to be imported from Japan albeit being pre-1987 models.

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The CA5 Accord became the first Honda vehicle to feature double wishbones on both the front and rear ends to provide better stability and handling. In Malaysia, the most common engine used for this generation was a 2.0-litre A20A2 4-cylinder engine (108 PS/159 Nm).

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This was also the final generation of the Accord to feature a 3-door hatchback variant in the form of the Accord Aerodeck but this was never sold in Malaysia officially.

Also read: The missing link – The forgotten second-gen Honda City

Fourth-gen – The luxurious one

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If there is one generation of the Accord that pretty much made the transition of the model becoming luxurious, it would be the fourth-gen Accord. Also known here as the SM4, the sedan grew larger overall but it retained the low-slung design of its predecessor.

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This generation also spawned twins in Japan with the likes of the more upscale-looking Honda Ascot as well as the sportier Honda Inspire hardtop sedan.

Also read: The Mercedes-Benz CLS wasn't the first 4-door coupe, but it helped revolutionise it

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The expansion of the SM4’s size was also due to the rise in popularity in global markets. Though some markets would also have the flagship Legend on sale, including in Malaysia, most buyers would rather spend less and get the Accord instead.

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Carburetted unit shown

In Malaysia, the local-spec SM4 came with either a carburetted 2.0-litre F20A motor (110 PS/115 Nm) for the EX variant or a fuel-injected 2.0-litre F20A5 unit for the EXi variant (133 PS/179 Nm).

In Japan, the SM4 Accord was offered a variant with four-wheel steering (4WS), a feature that was derived from the Prelude.

Also read: 2021 W223 Mercedes-Benz S-Class showcases rear-wheel steering

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Still, the SM4 offered buyers enough luxury that made it more than just a Legend on a budget. It has a very timeless design and is pretty massive with ample room for passengers and luggage. It’s also one of the more common generations here, but not as common as its successor.

Fifth-gen – Sharkbite

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After a generation that focused mainly on comfort, Honda returned to performance and sportiness with the fifth-gen Accord. Hardcore Honda nerds would call this the SV4 based on the code but locally, this generation of the Accord is widely known as the Accord ‘Jerung’.

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Though the SV4’s design was certainly sporty and fitting of its shark-like nickname among locals, its development went through different stages beginning in 1989, shortly after the launch of the SM4.

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Several alterations were made to the final design which was patented in the United States in 1992. The SV4 was launched in 1993 with local assembly (CKD) starting later that year at the Oriental Assemblers plant in Johor Bahru.

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Initially, two SOHC engines were offered for the SV4 in 2.0-litre (135 PS/181 Nm) and 2.2-litre (140 PS/200 Nm) forms. Both engines were paired to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. Prices started from RM 110,000 in 1994 or ~RM 205,000 today

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Later on, the SV4 was given a facelift and featured a 2.2-litre F22B1 VTEC engine which produced 145 PS and 199 Nm. This was the first Accord to be given Honda’s rev-happy engine and it matched the SV4’s sharp and sporty looks.

Also read: What's so special about VTEC?

Sixth-gen – Plain Jane

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Calling the sixth-gen Accord boring might be a bit harsh as Honda went back to the comfort route for its best-selling sedan. Just like the previous-gen, the Accord sported different designs depending on the markets.

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The European Accord spawned the only time the sedan was given a Type R badge while the Japanese Accord was given its own performance variant known as the Euro R.

Also read: The Type R few remember – Honda Accord Type R

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Meanwhile, the rest of the world had an Accord that was quite unexceptional in terms of looks. Those who can afford would import the Japanese Accord into the country but in spite of the plain looks, the Accord still sold well.

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It was also the first Accord to be assembled at Honda Malaysia’s plant in Alor Gajah, Melaka. Though the 2.0-litre DOHC VTEC engine (180 PS/196 Nm) was the most common variant sold, few units came with a 2.3-litre (148 PS/204 Nm) straight-four.

Also read: Up close with Honda Malaysia's unique 1 Million Edition models!

Seventh-gen – A sleeper hit

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Once again, comfort is another trait that Honda was focusing on with the seventh-gen Accord. By this time, its main rival was the Toyota Camry and both models have been fighting each other to get to the top of the D-segment sedan market.

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Compared to its predecessor, the seventh-gen Accord is better-looking and like every subsequent generation of the Accord, larger too. Despite adding on the pounds, it does look sleek.

Launched in Malaysia in late 2003, the seventh-gen would rack up some awards including Autocar ASEAN’s Car of the Year 2003/2004. Buyers agreed too and the Accord held the top sales position in its segment.

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V6 variants sported twin tailpipes

A facelift would be introduced here in 2006 while the engine options available for this generation included:

  • 2.0-litre K20A3 straight-4 (150 PS/186 Nm)
  • 2.4-litre K24A straight-4 (Pre-facelift: 160 PS/218 Nm; Facelift: 170 PS/218 Nm)
  • 3.0-litre J30A4 V6 (240 PS/287 Nm)

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Of the three, the V6 is especially rare in Malaysia and one that is forgotten. This was the first time the Accord was offered in Malaysia with a V6 engine but as you'll see, it won't be the last.

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Granted, performance wasn’t what you expect even in the Accord V6. All three variants came with independent double wishbones with coil spring and stabilizer on both front and rear. Comfort is what sold buyers on the Accord after all.

Eighth-gen – The big one

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Honda Malaysia would continue offering the V6 engine on the eighth-generation of the Accord. Launched in 2008, the eighth-gen Accord would also be offered with 2.0-litre (156 PS/189 Nm) and 2.4-litre (180 PS/222 Nm) variants.

Aside from the V6 variant which was imported (CBU) from Thailand, the two 4-pot variants were assembled (CKD) at Honda Malaysia's plant in Alor Gajah.

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The V6 engine saw its displacement went up to 3.5 litres which also came with a very expensive road tax. The 6-cylinder unit would be the most powerful of the three variants offered – 275 PS and 339 Nm.

When it came to fuel economy though, owners might save a few ringgits thanks to the Variable Cylinder Management which ran on three different modes depending on engine load: 6-cylinder mode for power, 4- and 3-cylinder modes for efficiency.

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This is an example of why having a screen in the middle sometimes make sense

Though many would mock the Camry for being the quintessential unclemobile, the eighth-gen Accord fits that definition to a tee especially inside. The button-filled dashboard might seem a bit too analogue by today’s standards but trust me, even at a time when the iPhone’s popularity was niche, it was outdated and messy.

Also read: Review: The Toyota Camry (XV70) is the sports sedan old minds will refuse to acknowledge

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Nevertheless, for the core buyers of the Accord, it was simple enough. The eighth-gen Accord’s centre of gravity was lower than its predecessor which gave the sedan less body roll. That level of comfort might be good enough for taikos and small business owners.

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The infamous 'Accordana'

This generation was also rebadged as the Proton Perdana which was only available for government use though you can get one today in the used car market for under RM 50,000.

Also read: Proton Perdana 'Accordana' for RM 50k; Proton price for Honda reliability?

Ninth-gen – An evolution

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With the V6 variants selling very poorly for the past two generations, Honda Malaysia stopped offering the 6-pot for the ninth-gen Accord. Launched in 2013, this generation of the Accord saw only one version available worldwide with the discontinuation of the European and Japanese narrow-bodied models.

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2.4-litre unit shown

The Malaysian-spec Accord was offered with only two engine variants – a 2.0-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine (155 PS/190 Nm) and a 2.4-litre DOHC i-VTEC Earth Dreams unit (175 PS/225 Nm). Both engines were paired to a 5-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

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A facelift would be launched in 2016 and it featured the now essential Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility and 6 airbags as standard. This generation was also the first Accord in Malaysia to come with the Honda LaneWatch blind-spot camera.

Also read: Here's why the new Honda Civic FC facelift's LaneWatch is better than blind spot monitor

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Overall, this generation of the Accord would feature the same massive interior space and boot space as its predecessor. Comfort is pretty much maintained here and if you’re looking for one that is fairly composed on B-roads while being a highway cruiser, this might be the one to look for.

Also read: Used car guide: For RM 60k, should you get the 9th Gen Honda Accord?

Tenth-gen – Last of its kind?

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The tenth-generation Honda Accord's Malaysian debut was a long time coming for local fans. It only made its local launch in 2020, three years after its international debut.

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Still, the Accord would keep its large size but the engine size is reduced to a turbocharged 1.5-litre VTEC engine that is also offered on the Civic and CR-V. Granted, the engine produces a higher output at 201 PS and 260 Nm, all while enticing buyers with the prospect of paying a lower road tax.

Also read: Malaysia’s Honda Accord makes more power than Thailand’s – 11 PS/17 Nm more, why?

Though the Accord’s future is quite uncertain given how sales of sedans have dropped worldwide, the tenth-generation certainly stands out from its predecessors. After all, it is one of the highest-rated cars in our very own WapCar Ratings with a score of 192 points out of 250.

Also read: Ratings: 2020 Honda Accord 1.5 TC-P - High score in most areas, 192/250 pts overall

It’s also one of the safest cars ever tested by ASEAN NCAP with an almost perfect score of 91.47 points out of 100. If you’re an Asian parent, you might call those results worthy of calling the tenth-gen Accord the best. Personally, I think it’s another generation that deserves the title of 'Best Accord'.

Also read: Honda Accord is ASEAN NCAP's overall safest car for 2019-2020, almost perfect score

Conclusion – Old but gold

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In my opinion, the best Honda Accord is the fifth-gen SV4. Out of all the generations of the Accord, this is the one that doesn’t much portray a typical Accord, but something that is pretty youthful.

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It is far from the most comfortable or the plushest and it’s certainly not the most powerful but the SV4 has the hallmarks of its smaller siblings, the EG/EK Civic and the fourth-gen Prelude.

They’re sporty in looks but while the prices of the Civic and Prelude are slowly climbing and most are modified, SV4s remain under RM 10,000 in the used car market.

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It’s pretty much what any old school Honda fan wants in a car and you can swap it for a more modern Honda engine if you want. But if stock is what you prefer, it’s still a classy car with a swoopy design.

Also read: Top 5 greatest Honda VTEC engines ever made

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Extra cool points if you can find a rare Accord Wagon

It might be an antithesis of modern Accords but I think that rebelliousness makes it quite a bit of a favourite nearly 30 years later. Perhaps you might prefer the other generations of the Accord? Do give a shout out in the comments!

Also read: All generations of the Honda Jazz in 20 years – Here’s our favourite

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CY Foong

Writer

Traded advertising for a career that fits his passion for cars. Enjoys spotting cars during his free time and has a soft spot for Japanese Kei cars but drives a thirsty manual sedan.

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