The Legend of Practicality and Efficiency: Meet the Honda Accord

August 12th, 2022 by

A grey 2015 Honda Accord is shown driving down the road after leaving a used Honda Accord dealer.

What inspired your search for a used Honda Accord dealer? Do you like that the Accord is one of the best-known sedans in America, or do you appreciate its long history in the Honda lineup? Perhaps you’re simply looking for an efficient sedan at an affordable price to commute around Atlanta. Either way, your search just got remarkably better.

You’re on an incredible journey to discover what makes the Accord unique. Since its introduction in 1976, the Accord has played a significant role in defining the American automotive landscape. It blends practicality and comfort with efficiency and proves that it only gets better with age. So, how has the Accord managed to stay at the head of the pack for nearly 50 years? It’s time to find out.

Blending Practicality with Luxury: First Generation

The Civic was responsible for Honda’s early success in America throughout the 1970s; however, the sedan was still smaller than most rivals. This flaw sent Honda back to the drawing board to design a larger sedan that would readily satisfy the needs of American drivers without consuming excessive amounts of fuel. After all, the fuel crisis of the 1970s made efficiency a top priority for every automaker at the time.

Honda’s answer came in 1976 with the Accord, a premium model slated above the Civic. The two-door hatchback immediately impressed with its 1.6L engine proving exceptionally efficient. Along with this efficiency, the Accord immediately struck a chord with American drivers because it offered innovative features and luxuries like dashboard warning lights, service-interval reminders, air conditioning, power windows, and power steering.

Built by Americans for Americans: Second Generation

The success of the first-generation Accord paved the way for several notable improvements for the second-generation model. The hatchback grew in size, replacing its modest design with a sportier aesthetic and a refined and roomier interior. It also marked the first time a Japanese car was built in America, as Honda opened the doors of its manufacturing plant in Marysville, Ohio.

With the Accord built on American soil, the sedan saw ongoing improvements to its design and powertrain and earned a coveted place on Car and Driver’s first-ever 10Best cars list in 1983––a feat that would be repeated 36 times over the years, more often than any other car.[a] A year later, the sedan received even more praise when Honda replaced its meek engine with an 86-horsepower 1.8L. Changes continued the following year with the addition of the 101-horsepower 1.8L to the Accord SE-i, which gave drivers a new taste of speed and capability from the efficient sedan.

Ongoing Growth: Third, Fourth, and Fifth Generations

The Accord’s ongoing popularity was a direct result of Honda’s frequent redesigns and updates. We see this firsthand in the third, fourth, and fifth-generation updates as the Accord grew in size and capability. For example, the 98-horsepower engine that ushered in the third generation was eventually replaced by the more powerful 2.2L four-cylinder and 2.7L V6 engines of the fifth generation.

Along with vast improvements to its powertrains, the Accord’s design continued to evolve. The third generation introduced the sedan with bolder lines and a four-corner double-wishbone suspension that delivered sport-like handling that made the Accord not only practical but fun to drive. By the early 1990s, these bold lines were replaced by a lower beltline and a smoother profile, adding to the sedan’s sophisticated appearance and earning it a place in the midsize segment.

A blue 2017 Honda Accord is shown from the front at an angle while driving down the highway.

A New Beginning: Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Generations

The hatchback design that introduced Americans to the Accord bid a fond farewell in the sedan’s sixth generation, replaced by Honda’s all-new Comfortable Runabout Vehicle or CR-V. Leaving only the coupe and sedan in the lineup, the Accord settled in nicely as Honda focused on delivering more power to the best-selling sedan. Accomplishing this feat started with updating the Accord’s powertrain, adding a 2.3L I-4 with 150 hp and a 3.0L V6 with 200 hp.

The trend for greater power and an engaging driving dynamic continued throughout the sedan’s seventh and eighth generations. In the seventh generation, the base engine climbed to 160 hp, while the Accord coupe gave drivers the option of a six-speed manual transmission for the first time in Accord history. Just as impressive, Honda introduced the Accord Hybrid, powered by a 253-horsepower 3.0L V6 engine and an electric motor that delivered the most power in the sedan’s history.

By its eighth generation, the Accord lineup shrunk again with the hybrid’s discontinuation as it fought against rivals like the Toyota Prius. This time, Honda focused on revamping the Accord coupe, giving it an aggressive fastback design and updating the V6 powerplant to deliver 268 hp. Interestingly enough, the Accord grew in size once more without dramatically reducing its fuel economy. This feat earned the sedan high praise across the board.

Returning to Its Roots: Ninth and Tenth Generations

Although the eighth-generation Accord turned heads with its larger size and efficiency, Honda returned the sedan to its midsize roots, and drivers responded in kind. This transition also brought another notable update as Honda replaced the double-wishbone suspension that defined the Accord for generations with a MacPherson strut front suspension. However, the car did not lose its sporty handling, especially on models like the Accord Sport with its large wheels, six-speed manual transmission, and dual-exhaust outlets. Of course, it also helped that Honda boosted the Accord’s powerplants, with the 2.4L delivering 185 hp and the 3.5L churning out 278 horses.

In 2018, Honda introduced the Accord’s tenth generation and turned heads when it eliminated the coupe and the powerful V6 engine from the lineup. Offered only as a sedan, the Accord made up for the absence of the V6 with two turbocharged four-cylinder engines––a 1.5L and a 2.0L––delivering 192 to 252 hp. This turbo boost and the Accord’s retuned chassis kept the sedan true to its roots, making it the best-driving Accord in several generations.

A white 2020 Honda Accord is shown from the front at an angle while driving through a city.

Finding the Perfect Accord

With the Accord spanning ten generations, finding the perfect Accord for your driving needs is a matter of choice and starts by narrowing your options. For nearly 50 years, the Accord has evolved to meet the growing needs of drivers, constantly improving its capability and efficiency. We see this firsthand when comparing the first-generation hatchback to a tenth-generation model with its turbocharged engine that blends performance with efficiency.

So, how do you choose the best Accord? First, make a list of your must-haves in a sedan, then set your budget. Because of the Accord’s long history in the American automotive industry, finding a used Accord is an easy feat. You can find an older model Accord at a great price, which keeps more money in your wallet without sacrificing the practicality, performance, and reliability of the Honda name. Or, if you prioritize cutting-edge technology and the latest luxuries, you can easily find a newer Accord on our used lot that checks all the boxes on your must-have list.

Whatever you find, shopping for a used Accord is an exciting endeavor. Why? Because you know what you’re getting with the Honda name and that you’re investing in a sedan that has been part of the automotive world for nearly 50 years. That’s an investment that’s easy to make and is one that yields high returns.

[a]1983 Honda Accord won the 1983 Car and Driver 10Best. For more information, visit Car and Driver at Car and Driver is a registered trademark of Hearst Autos, Inc.