Honda Accord: a lot of car for the money

When it was first introduced as a two-door in the fall of 1976, the Honda Accord was an immediate hit. It worked superbly, the doors and panels all fitted , the moldings were properly aligned, the finish (both inside and out) was high, and the detail just right.

Indeed, the Honda Accord is now the car against which the United States auto industry designs. Alhough it may not fit everybody's idea of a perfect car for the money, it comes very close to it. The Accord continues in high demand despite the added output from the assembly plant in Marysville, Ohio.

The Ohio plant, which produced just over 29,000 cars in the first three months of the year, supplies cars only for states east of the Mississippi River. This particular test car, however - a 4-door Accord LX - was built in Japan and is loaded with all kinds of standard equipment, including a high level of power controls, air conditioning, lights galore, and AM-FM stereo.

The Accord is a smooth car to drive, and the engine is quiet. Variable-assist power steering is unusually light and makes the control job a snap, yet you do not lose all contact with the road. Unlike some power-steering systems that take all the fun out of driving a car, the Accord still lets you feel that the tires are on the road and not revolving in a vacuum.

The Environmental Protection Agency figures the Accord at 32 miles per gallon , combining city and express-road driving, but you'll get a few miles less if the driving is mostly in traffic. On the turnpike you should do better.

The seats are soft and comfortable, yet provide sufficient support for the motorist.

It's hard to quibble over the price. At somewhere around $10,000, plus the destination charge, the Honda Accord LX is highly competitive in the marketplace. Because of its reputation and price, the demand remains unsatisfied.

The base Accord hatchback with manual transmission sells for $7,699, but you don't get all the goodies that are standard fare on the LX.

While the car may not fit the space requirements of some motorists, it is much more spacious than the sporty Prelude.

Visibility is excellent, including the instrument panel - with one exception. Some of the speedometer disappears behind the steering wheel.

In short, the Honda Accord is a lot of car for the money and well deserves to be the car other automakers emulate.

Charles E. Dole is the Monitor's automotive editor.

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