When the maroon Honda Accord V6 arrived at my office, no one really noticed. Accords are everywhere and with Honda's habit of making subtle incremental improvements every year, it takes a sharp eye to notice. A closer look, however, shows the simple, understated exterior lines are fresh-looking.
The cut lines between panels are excellent, and all combine to state that this is a solidly built car. The interior echoes the same understated tone. The seats look like fine furniture and the aluminum door and dash accents are real aluminum instead of silver-colored plastic.
The XM Radio, navigation system, heat and air conditioning controls took a little getting used to. They were attractive, nicely laid out, but unintuitive. I had to stare at them a while to figure out how to turn up the heat.
It also took a while for me to figure out that there is no fan speed control. The navigation system shows you which road you are on and the direction in which you are going, but beyond that it would have taken reading the manual to learn about some of its useful features.
The interior engineers did a great job of effectively utilizing the space available. Head room, elbow room and knee room are quite good both front and rear. The back seats are large and could accommodate two large football players or two large child-safety seats with ease.
The XM Radio offers concert-hall sound reproduction. The leather seats have good back support, but the bottom cushion could use a bit more padding. The V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission should be benchmarked by every manufacturer - they are that smooth, silent and satisfyingly torquey.
Cruising at 70 to 80 mph in the fast moving traffic showed the five-speed automatic at its best with the tachometer hovering in the low to mid-2,000 range, which explains how a torquey, V6 powered car can still offer good gas mileage.
The ride is geared towards the comfort side. Poor road surfaces are not the Accord's forte, nor is it happy being tossed around in tight curves. But that does not mean that the car does not hold its own.
One morning I was stuck at a stop sign at a T-intersection, and no one would let us in. We spotted a substantial hole in the traffic and went for it. It was easy to modulate the gas pedal and accelerate to just below the level where I would have been giving it an overwhelming amount of fuel, chirping the tires and losing traction.
The control was perfect, and we popped into the opening very cleanly without forcing the next car in line to slow down at all. In mixed driving, slightly more highway oriented than my usual week, I got 23 miles per gallon. This matched the top numbers for a mid-size V6 sedan that I got with the Toyota Camry. Sales of the Accord reflect its strong reputation for quality, durability and long service life. The 2005 Accord is sure to draw the attention of many cost-conscious buyers.