2006 Honda Accord Hybrid
    MSRP
    $30,990
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    2006 Honda Accord Hybrid Expert Review:New Car Test Drive

    New look, more power.

    Introduction

    The 2006 Honda Accord may be the best of the midsize sedans. The Accord simply does everything well. It may not be best in class in every single area, but we can't think of anything it does poorly. And the coupe packs the Accord's attributes into a sporty two-door. 

    For 2006, the Accord gets a freshened look inside and out. Meanwhile, Honda has fortified both engines, the standard four-cylinder and the optional V6, with more horsepower. Accord V6 models get new 17-inch tires and re-tuned suspensions for 2006. And all '06 Accords benefit from enhanced sound insulation. 

    The Accord Hybrid, launched as a 2005 model, achieves excellent fuel economy, generates very little emissions (it's AT-PZEV certified), and delivers more horsepower than the gasoline-only model. And, no, you don't have to plug it in. 

    The Accord combines high technology and high quality with everyday economy of operation and keen attention to detail. The popular LX and EX sedans are terrific cars with comfort and convenience features that make them great daily drivers. Order the leather interior, and the EX becomes an affordable luxury sedan. The four-cylinder i-VTEC engine is powerful and responsive, delivering strong acceleration performance for passing. The V6 adds another level of sporting appeal. 

    The Accord Coupe is a quick, no-hassle, high-quality, sporty two-door that's great for commuting. Add the V6 and leather and it's an executive expressmobile. 

    For these reasons and others, the Honda Accord continues to be one of the best-selling cars in the U.S. 

    Lineup

    The Honda Accord comes in nearly three dozen combinations when all the engines, body styles, transmissions and trim levels are all tallied up. But choosing one is easier than it may sound. Your first choice is to decide whether you want a two-door coupe or four-door sedan. Next decide whether you want a V6 or four-cylinder engine, and whether you want a manual or automatic transmission. Then decide whether you want cloth or leather upholstery. 

    Sedans are available in VP, LX, and EX trim. 

    The VP is new for 2006 and replaces last year's DX. It's better equipped, and comes standard with air conditioning, cruise control, daytime running lamps, power locks and keyless entry. The VP comes with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a choice of five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission ($17,995). 

    LX ($19,775) and EX ($22,200) sedans add higher levels of standard equipment. The new LX Special Edition adds 16-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel-disc brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), in-dash six-CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, body-color side sills and carbon fiber interior accents. The EX is available with leather upholstery, a DVD navigation system, and XM Satellite Radio. 

    LX V-6 ($23,950) and EX V-6 ($26,850) add not only a 3.0-liter V6 and automatic transmission, but 17-inch wheels and tires and more luxury equipment as well, including a power glass sunroof and heated side mirrors. All V6 models now come with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and brake assist. Leather is standard on the EX V6. A six-speed manual transmission is now available in EX V6 sedans as well as coupes. 

    Accord Hybrid ($30,140), combines a V6 gasoline engine and an electric motor to provide significantly more power: 253 horsepower vs. 244 for the gasoline-only V6. It also gets substantially better fuel economy: 30/37 miles per gallon City/Highway vs. 21/30 for the standard V6. It also comes with more standard equipment for '06, including a power glass sunroof, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and VSA stability control. 

    Coupes are available in LX ($19,875) and EX ($22,300) trim only and come standard with the four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. An automatic transmission is available. The LX V-6 coupe ($23,900) comes with the V6 and automatic. The EX V-6 coupe ($26,950) is a performance-oriented model, and comes with either the five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission as a no-cost option; it also has leather seating surfaces. 

    Safety is enhanced on all Accords by side-impact and curtain airbags, in addition to the required dual front airbags. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) come standard. All V6 models come with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and Brake Assist. EX V6 models are also equipped with traction control. 

    Walkaround

    Both the Honda Accord sedan and coupe have been face-lifted for 2006, with a new grille and front bumper, and a new rear bumper, deck lid, and tail lights. Wheels and exhaust finishers have also been restyled. 

    The sharpened noses of the 2006 Accord sedan and coupe are reminiscent of an Acura RSX. The corners and sides of both bodies are carefully sculpted with a combination of concave and convex surfaces, in an attempt to achieve a muscular and agile look, with subtle and unique three-dimensional window glass, also intended to reduce wind noise. The aerodynamically efficient side-view mirrors are one of the results of wind tunnel testing. The sedan's drag coefficient, or Cd (a measure of how easily it moves through the air), is 0.30, which is quite slippery. The Accord Hybrid sedan is even more aerodynamic, with a Cd of 0.29, thanks to its rear spoiler and angled antenna. 

    Those in the know can spot the Hybrid by its unique front and rear spoilers and (new for '06) distinctive tail lights. 

    The two-door coupe is a different beast from the four-door sedan, sharing a family resemblance in its face but no actual sheet metal. Its flanks and rear deck are more shapely, flowing naturally and gracefully from the roofline. It yields an aerodynamic Cd of 0.29, which is quite slippery. 

    The Accord's doors are built using a unique method that makes them light and strong. You can clearly hear the quality in the sound when you close them. You feel quality, also, in the light touch required to open the trunk. 

    All Accord models achieved five-star safety ratings for driver and front-seat passenger in the federal government's frontal crash test. Additionally, the coupe earned a five-star rating for front- and rear-seat passengers in the side-impact test. 

    All Accord coupes and most of the sedans are assembled in Marysville, Ohio. Some sedans are assembled in Japan and Mexico. 

    Interior

    New interior styling freshens the cabin of the 2006 Honda Accord. A new instrument panel, a new steering wheel, new fabrics for the seats, new satin chrome accents around the vents highlight the changes for 2006. 

    The seats are great, generously wide and tall in the sedan, with springs and urethane padding designed to reduce vibration. The driver's seat provides a one-with-the-car feel thanks to good side support. It features a manual height adjustment (power on premium models) that jacks up plenty high for even the shortest drivers, and yet drops low enough to provide good headroom for taller folks. Front legroom is generous. A tilt-and-telescope steering wheel is standard. 

    The seats in the coupe seem a bit different and feel even better than those in the sedan. You sit lower in the coupe. The side bolsters are more aggressive, providing a more secure fit at the torso. The leather is nicer than the cloth. 

    The sedan's rear bench seat is roomy and comfortable, especially for two people with the center armrest flipped out. It offers decent support, though it's fairly flat. Rear-seat legroom is slightly better than in the Nissan Altima, but the Toyota Camry provides an inch more. 

    The Accord's trunk is smaller than that of other mid-size sedans, but the flat trunk floor makes loading easy. The Accord's trunk measures 14 cubic feet (11.2 for the Hybrid version because of its extra computer and battery pack), compared with the 2006 Camry's nearly 17 cubic feet and the 2006 Altima's 15.6. The Accord coupe's trunk is slightly smaller than the sedan's, holding less than 13 cubic feet. 

    The instrumentation is excellent, comprising large, clear analog faces with LED illumination, the latter a feature associated with higher-priced luxury cars. A big speedometer in the center dominates the instrument panel. The switchgear, primarily three big dials located in the center of the dash, is simple, if not particularly attractive. Automatic dual-zone climate control is available on EX models. 

    Interior space is used efficiently, with the audio, climate and optional navigation system controls integrated into a single unit. This frees up space for exceptional cabin storage, including a good-sized glovebox, a big center console, a bin under the audio system that will hold 12 CDs, and door pockets deep and wide enough for a purse. 

    Honda's interior fit and finish is good. Attention to detail is seen everywhere: coinholders, cellphone cord hooks, grab handles over every door, console lights, power outlets, sunglasses holders, adjustable armrests, convenient and versatile access to the trunk from the rear seat. By holding down the Unlock or Lock buttons, all four windows on LX and EX models can be raised or lowered. Up to eight cupholders are provided; a couple of them are big enough to hold a liter-sized water bottle yet feature spring-loaded prongs that can grip a paper coffee cup. If you wanted to distill this attention to detail down to one example, it might be the solid, pleasurable sound of the turn-signal click. 

    Three sound systems are available for the Accord. LX V-6 models and above come with a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a 180-watt amplifier, and four twin-neodymium speakers with polypropylene cone woofers and soft dome tweeters. But here's the real-world test: We took the V-6 coupe six-speed on a flat-out blast through the Malibu hills, engine revving to redline, windows wide open, CD celebrating Bob Marley, and even with all that exterior noise, max volume on the sound system wasn't necessary for the full effect. 

    The available XM Satellite Radio is a great feature to have when traveling, because the stations don't change as you drive across the country. You still get ads, but fewer and less obnoxious ads than you would hear on FM. XM Satellite Radio is nice to have around town, also, for listening to the 24-hour news and sports broadcasts, or for staying tuned int. 

    Driving Impression

    From a driving standpoint, you're getting an outstanding automobile whether you choose a cloth-upholstered Accord sedan with a four-cylinder and automatic, a sporty V6 coupe, or anything in between. 

    We think the four-cylinder Accord sedan is the best car in its price class. It strikes a perfect balance between ride and handling. The Accord rides more smoothly and more comfortably than the Nissan Altima. Yet its handling is controlled. The Accord handles better than the Toyota Camry yet it rides well. Its suspension smooths out bumps and ripples in the road, but isn't so mushy that your back-seat passengers get motion sickness. When pushed hard, it's balanced and fun to drive. We found it stable at high speeds with crisp handling on winding roads. It's smooth, poised and supremely stable. 

    The 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine is smooth and powerful, with a high-quality, mature feel. It's strongest at higher rpm, but never gets buzzy. With new drive-by-wire throttle control and revised valve timing, the 2006 version delivers 166 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 160 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. (Torque is that force that propels you away from intersections and up hills.) That's 6 more horsepower than 2005 models had, and about the same torque delivered 500 rpm sooner; those new power figures would be more impressive if they weren't adjusted to meet new test procedures instituted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Honda says the actual improvement is closer to 10 horsepower. Additionally, Accord's four-cylinder engine is equipped with Honda's i-VTEC valvetrain, which means the valve timing is continually adjusted according to conditions for strong torque over the entire rpm range. So it's responsive at all engine speeds. Yet it delivers excellent fuel mileage: 24/34 mpg City/Highway with the automatic. It gets even better mileage around town when equipped with the manual, earning an EPA-estimated 26/34 mpg. 

    The five-speed automatic transmission is incredibly smooth. The drive-by-wire throttle is programmed to cut the gas during upshifts, and its timing is perfect. It's not often that the performance of an automatic transmission is so tight that it stands out. 

    The five-speed manual gearbox is especially wonderful. The gear ratios are perfect and the shifting is buttery smooth. It seems to love aggressive downshifts. With the manual transmission, acceleration was strong. 

    The 3.0-liter V6 is light and powerful, now rated 244 horsepower and 211 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with VTEC, its broad torque range begins at relatively low rpm. The V6 gets excellent fuel economy: 21/30 mpg with the automatic transmission. 

    The Accord is a carefree car. Both engines run on regular gas, and there's no scheduled maintenance for at least 105,000 miles, except for oil changes, and even those are required only every 10,000 miles. In terms of emissions, the Accord is a clean car. Models with four-cylinder engines qualify as LEV-2 Low Emissions Vehicles; PZEV-rated LX and EX four-cylinder automatic sedans are sold in California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle means almost no evaporative emissions.)

    The Accord Hybrid combines exceptional fuel economy with even better performance. With 253 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque, the Hybird beats the regular V6 sedan from 0 to 60 miles per hour by half a second, and gets much better gas mileage. With a calculated range of 633 miles, the Hybrid can go 120 miles more between fill-ups than the standard Accord V6 models. 

    Though revised for 2006, the Accord Hybrid still doesn't shout its environmentally friendliness, whether viewing it from outside or inside the car. Unique spoilers and tail lights, plus a small HYBRID badge on the trunk lid barely hint that this car has a different powertrain. Inside, the only changes are a badge on the dashboard and a bar graph below th. 

    Summary

    The 2006 Honda Accord delivers high levels of quality and performance and ranks at the top of its class among mid-size, medium-priced cars. The four-cylinder models are a benchmark for the class. Accord V6 models deliver sporty performance. The Accord Hybrid combines the sporty V6 engine with the fuel efficiency of an electric motor. 

    New Car Test Drive correspondent Sam Moses reported from Hollywood, Mitch McCullough from Los Angeles, and Larry Edsall from San Diego. 

    Model Lineup

    Honda Accord VP automatic ($17,995); LX Sedan ($19,775); EX Sedan ($22,200); LX V6 Sedan ($23,950); EX V6 Sedan ($26,850); Hybrid sedan ($30,140); LX Coupe ($19,875); EX Coupe ($22,300); LX Coupe V6 ($23,900); EX Coupe V6 ($26,950). 

    Assembled In

    Marysville, Ohio; Sayama, Tokyo, Japan; El Salto, Mexico. 

    Options As Tested

    none. 

    Model Tested

    Honda Accord LX sedan automatic ($20,575). 

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