This unpretentious sedan might not have needed much updating, but Honda refined its flagship anyway for 2008 – as it has eight times since 1976 – giving it a sleek new profile. Quibble: Accord's tail becomes a little undefined with the high-mounted brake light migrating from trunk to rear window. Let it slide. More important: Accord wrings a respectable 190 horsepower from a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine (there's an optional V6 that shuts down as many as three cylinders under proper conditions for fuel savings).
Efficient, low-emission four-bangers are a Honda trademark, and the automaker – which just celebrated the 25th year of its Marysville, Ohio, plant – should be commended for not buying into the horsepower wars and goosing it into the 200s for marketing purposes.
Estimated m.p.g. is above 30 on the highway; we slogged all week in traffic – conditions that favor hybrids – and scored 26. Consider, too, that the tight-handling '08 Accord (base models priced down near $20,000) bumps up in classification from midsize to full-size, with generous rear-seat legroom and very satisfying ergonomics up front.
With plenty of acceleration for merges, Accord feels altogether in balance thrumming along at 60 m.p.h., quietly turning 2,000 r.p.m., a good-natured highway cruiser that will certainly shake up the sedan scene. (And just wait until you see the coupe.)