Review and road test of the Honda Accord (1989 - 1998)
BY JONATHAN CROUCH
There can't be too many car model ranges available in Britain sourced from three different countries, but that is the case with the Honda Accord. Until 1991, all versions were made in Japan but, beginning in 1991, new estate and coupe variants were imported from Honda's huge American factory. Saloon production began at Honda's UK plant in Swindon in 1993.
The Accord has enjoyed considerable success in its three most recent versions dating from 1989. The first of these was conservative in appearance and often bought by older buyers. There are still many of these cars about and the majority have been well cared-for, mostly by private rather than company owners.
The successor, released late in 1993 and revised in 1996, featured more adventurously styled US-made Coupe and Aerodeck estate models and a saloon which, thanks to Honda's new Swindon assembly plant, could proudly boast a built-in-Britain heritage. An all-new Accord was introduced in 1998.
Third generation Sep 1989 - Oct 1993: 2.0 Saloon [base, i] / Coupe [i] 2.2 Saloon [4ws] / 2.2 Aerodeck Estate [base, SE]Fourth generation Oct 1993 - Oct 1998: 1.8 SALOON / 2.0 SALOON [base, S, LS, ES] / 2.0 COUPE [LS] /2.2 SALOON [VTEC] / 2.2 COUPE [ES] / 2.3 SALOON [SR] / 2.0 diesel SALOON [TDi] / 2.0 AERODECK ESTATE [LS, ES] / 2.2 AERODECK ESTATE [ES]
The cars introduced in September 1989 sold well on Honda's reputation for quality, innovative engineering and legendary reliability. The 2.0-litre engines all had 16 valves and fuel injection, unlike many rivals, and standard equipment was generous. The 2.2i saloon, launched at the same time, even had four-wheel steering, which improved the handling and made parking easier.
The American-built Aerodeck estate joined the range in April 1991 and the Coupe followed in March 1992. Neither car was a very big seller, but a loyal customer base built up nevertheless.
Honda decided to completely rethink the Accord when it was creating the 1993-1998 design (which under the skin is identical to a Rover 600 - the penultimate joint project between the two companies). The Japanese created two different saloons that shared the same chassis. European saloons look completely different to their American and Japanese-built counterparts. The USA remained the sole source of Coupe and Aerodeck production though, so British market estates and two-doors had styling that was very different to 'our' saloons.
The new 2.0-litre saloons first rolled out of the Swindon factory towards the end of 1993. A 2.3-litre version was also offered, the same engine Rover used in their 623i. There was a mild restyle in March 1996 when the saloons gained a new grille and equipment levels were upgraded. Three new engines also joined the range - an entry-level 1.8, a 2.0-litre turbo diesel (sourced from Rover) and a flagship 2.2-litre VTEC unit. A few months later, the Aerodeck and Coupe also received a mild makeover to make them resemble the saloon slightly more - look for a chrome grille.
The Aerodeck and Coupe models were gradually phased out in the first half of 1997. In Summer 1998, the Coupe was replaced by an all-new US-built model with 2.0-litre four cylinder and V6 powerplants. The saloon range meanwhile, was replaced by an all-new Swindon-built model line-up in October 1998.
What You Get
A quality car, through and through. The 1993-1998 Accord was a twin with the more expensive Rover 600, though the Rover used more of its own engines. You'll be getting a car that's beautifully put together and one in which everything is likely to work well for years to come.
The 1989-1993 shape cars tend to be in the hands of private sellers and will generally be very well looked after. The best thing about an Accord is the ease of driving. Controls are light and precise and they make very relaxed cruising cars.
What to Look For
With Hondas, this is where you find out why those resale values are high and cars scarce. The Accord has no major areas of concern. Corrosion can take hold on early cars, as they're no longer young examples. Look for rust in the bootlid and the along the bottoms of the doors.
(approx. based on a 1992 Accord 2.0i - ex Vat) A clutch assembly is around £140 and an exhaust system about £340. Allow a budget of around £50 respectively for front brake pads and £45 for the rear. A front headlamp should be around £180.
A radiator is about £190, an alternator about £365 and a starter motor around £250.
On the Road
Being a more recent design, the post-`93 Accord is of course a much better handler and holds the road more consistently than its older brother. That's not to say that the first cars were bad. On the contrary, thought the ride and handling were set up for comfort and safety, you can still have fun in these cars, particularly the four-wheel steer versions. The post-98 version has also drawn praise for being an excellent all-round package just as well made as its predecessors.
Sensible, but also one for the driver in you as well, should you be a family buyer who enjoys the occasional burst of entertaining road. An Accord will last well, too, so chances are you'll be enjoying the experience for quite a while.
Honda Accord (1989 - 1998) review by JONATHAN CROUCH