UK CAR 
Used car review
Honda Accord 2.0 Se Executive VTEC

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Honda's Accord 5 door Executive 2001,Top model in the Accord range.

Honda engineering with style, class and expensive image?

The very first Honda I drove was a 1.3 12 Valve three door Civic. A 1976  model in bright yellow!
The Civic was very speedy accelerating like a dodgem car and handling not unlike a little skateboard.
It was also economical and reliable fitted as it was with its state of the art electronic ignition, plastic seats and radio. 


However it went to its grave after dissolving in the British climate. Ooops nice try, try again.

In the days of old Honda competed with Datsun and Toyota for the UK market. Most of the imported cars were small and cheap at least initially.

Japanese cars added extras such as cigarette lighters and heated rear windows fitted for free as opposed to cost more extras, which were an instant hit with the UK consumer.

These initial extras and the ongoing continual improvements have made these manufactures very successful household names. "Datsun now being Nissan" To the point of embargos being placed upon Japanese cars, which lead to European based factories. 

Today's Honda car range is vast with cheap commuter cars and exclusive and niche markets. Cars like the Accord are sold Worldwide with only minor changes like suspension settings and a little stretching/shrinking here and there.

The Honda Accord is in the ultra competitive mid range of the Vectra, Mondeo, Avensis etc

So what is it like?

 

The Accord has a clean lined and sleek looking body, It seems to sit quite squat to the road.


Finishing is to a very high standard, the car is fully colour coded including the mirrors, bumpers, door handles and even the side protection mouldings. Small touches perhaps but it shows real thought rather than just lobbing on a bit of black rubber or chrome trim.

Paint work finishing is also of a high standard with metallic paint at no extra cost. 
Subtly tinted windows, clear repeaters and indicators to the front and side, five spoke alloy rims and front fog lamps suggest the car is not the basic model. 

The Accord does give and impression sorry to say of a sales reps car, It doesn't have anything which jumps out at you, everything is acceptable without any subversive or incisive features.

Open the door and the inside looks very plush with a leather trim, but combined with genuine Japanese plastic walnut paneling, hopefully from a  sustainable plastic forest.

The only chrome used is on the front grill, the finishing to the screen and window trims is satin black following the current car makers trends and avoiding any retro imagery.

 

In terms of specification levels this car is simply loaded. 

The leather trim has a strange uneven crumpled finish but is very well stitched. The interior is colour coded throughout including door pads, seat belts and arm rests, which looks very tidy and integrated.

Standard fitment are climate control with air conditioning, adjustable steering wheel, height adjusting drivers seat complete with lumbar support.

The drivers headroom is still very good considering the sunroof which is electrically operated above ones noggin.

The drivers compartment will accommodate most reps small and large, well perhaps not an 18 stone rugby player. It is spacious but not grand.

Standard equipment is excellent for a car of this size electric operated windows to the front and rear, cruise control for those boring long hauls to our fab capital, electric and heated external mirrors for those rare occasions somebody knocks then out of alignment. Or if the mirrors freeze. (Probably very useful in the nose to tail around Mount Fuji)  

I suppose the demist is useful but, do we not just wipe our mirrors on those cold mornings when we clear our windows with our Barclaycard? ( surely thats a Platinum cards for Se Executive level reps :ED)

Of course Honda have heated the leather seats in the front. The heated leather provides a wonderful warm feeling when you first sit on them and later burns or gets so hot you cannot bear it. As usual Heated leather seats and wet pants are not recommended unless you a very fond of turkish baths.

Heated mirrors and seats are for very cold winter use only, perhaps we could have a heated steering wheel for when it gets that bad. ( note I now own the IP and patent for that idea)

The Executive has so many extras fitted, that just like the queen and her houses you only use some of them seasonally, how decadent .

 

2.0 VTEC "valve technology electronically controlled" goes the beloved japanese acronym for possibly the most famous variable valve drivetrain on the planet. 

Yes very nice you say but what do I care 

1997 cc 147 bhp 
0-60 in 10.6? 
A top speed of 130 mph if you wait long enough.
 
Impressive bhp and top speed on paper.

A combined mpg of nearly 33


Mouth watering stats? well almost.

Honda are the largest manufactures of engines on the planet. 
They should be the best for power smoothness and economy.
If based only on millions of internal combustion engines they have made.

BUT! I find Honda engines hard work and not driver friendly.
I have driven the Civics, Accords, Preludes etc and all of them have no grunt.
You literally have to rev them like a Honda Fireblade to get them to wake up. 
OK the engine designs are probably why they are so efficient on paper but does anybody drive this way? VTEC = Valve Train Excessively Cyclic.

I do drive hard and when requiring power do like to spin an engine up to its red line. but I also like to simply drive a car and not have to change gear to go up hills the mid range is very disappointing on this car. 

This is a design choice made by Honda years ago when they discovered that revs were free in wring its neck racing terms as long as the engine was mechanically strong enough to take it. When dribbled down to the road range its not always quite so straight forward.

I also view this generation of VTEC engines very rough and noisy. You clearly know the engine is working hard.


When driven hard you get both cam noise engine noise induction noise and exhaust noise. More suppression and smoothness required here.  This is a little surprising as Hondas are normally quite smooth with a demon kick when the Vtec cuts in.

The engine does give the gearbox enough power for it to modestly complain through its bearings. Japanese Gearboxes like the engines get great gains from perfectly minimal safety tolerances with each part having just enough strength for its job and no more, this gear box sounds like its cutting it just a little fine.   


Tyre noise and bearing noises from the wheels could all be better too.

Handling in the Accord is quite hard.

Hard riding rather than hard to handle that is.


The suspension is independent front and rear with coil springs and shock absorbers, dated, very Honda, but quite  effective. 


Honda have also used progressive power assisted steering to give feed back from its front wheel drive when driving at speed and making steering very light and easy at parking speeds. Its still just a touch over-assisted when moving mind.


The Accords braking is very efficient with discs being fitted to the front and rear supplemented with a strong servo to lighten the apparent pressure.


Being hard the suspension does create a sporty feeling to the ride coupled with a low centre of gravity. Making the drive similar to a sports coupe.

It is also surefooted encouraging speedy cornering and open road driving.
The chassis is sturdy and capable of much more power than this engine can produce.

Weighing in at 1400+ Kilos it is also quite a heavy weight for a front wheel drive of this class some  200 Kilos more than a 2.0 Vauxhall Vectra. The Accord is also 7cm longer than the Vauxhall Vectra.

Deceptive in length it is but this does make the rear leg room and boot compartment reasonably useable.

 

Seatbelts are fitted by way of three 3 point in the rear and pre tensioned in the front. Adding to the belts are a number of airbags, they are in front of and beside you, if you do have an impact they are also intelligent only setting off the ones which feel the directional impact.

The Accords doors also have impact protection by means of strengthening bars running front to rear to help stop intrusion to the cargo area in the event of a side knock.

Drivers air bag is situated in the lower half of the steering wheel.

Great if you drive properly with your hands ten too and ten past the hour.

The steering wheel also houses the cruise control.

The cruise power switch however is on the dash to the right, seems a little strange not to put them together.

Ignition keys on all Honda cars now have transponder coded keys.

This type of key is a revolution in the motor trade which nearly all makers are now using.

Basically the car will not start unless the correct key is used.

One down side is the car thieves are now being very aggressive in their efforts to take your beloved. They now simply car jack you, or break into your home. 

Crime prevention does change.

And so do the criminals who figure out a way to overcome new technical obstructions. 

We must give credit to the developments by the car engineers by almost completely stopping car theft. 

All that's left to do now is to give notice to our bewildered Police forces. And encourage them more in catching the criminals who simply break more laws to overcome the transponder immobiliser.

Good news though is they are likely to be caught on a speed camera somewhere if they drive your stolen car too fast. 

Ahhhh but you will still get the ticket and have to prove you were not the driver. Must stop there enough of our delightfully efficient Police forces. mmmmmmm

ABS is standard on the Accord executive to the front and rear wheels. computer controlled, it does effectively control skidding to all wheels independently. ABS however makes stopping distance longer on snow ice sand etc. 


"Wouldn't it be nice if everything just worked!" Is the current slogan from the marketing shogun, Its a Honda and most things work pretty well and stay that way.

Honda is renowned worldwide for its products, It is at the forefront of motor car technology and has a massive R&D funding.

This considered, this model of Accord is in my opinion just a little over average.


The Executive Accord does not shine above many other makers models which are indeed less damaging to your pocket.

The looks are average no chances taken there by the designers.
The "donkey" sorry engine is average and nothing to really boast about and easily matched by renowned engine builders like ermm "Vauxhall".
Clutch is light and easy so is the gear change, to the point of thoughtlessness.

Once you have driven this Honda you would be forgiven to forget it. Even if it is the following day.

On the upside the car tested had covered in excess of 89,000 miles. It was still in excellent condition internally and with very few exterior chippings.

The general running gear suspension was still serviceable and defect free, indeed like all modern fleet class cars should be capable of hundreds of thousands of miles before major costly defects set in. 

Unlike the Civic in yellow from years back this Honda has been embalmed or preserved to resist rain water dissolving it.

This one though did cost 18,495 when new the price of a cheap terraced house in a poor area. Which would you have? ( I will take the Honda at least I can sell that :ED)

The sound system in the Executive is up-rated to a Bose system with bass in the boot and a myriad speakers inside. 

Yet I found even the sound of this average as the stereo system was indeed quite poor.

Eight bags of shopping, or three sets of golf clubs, useable boot space 450L. 

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