Friday, June 28, 2013

2007 Honda Accord - Good Car, Good Value and Great MPG

When my wife's 2006 Honda Accord was totaled in an accident (with only 2,200 miles on it), we looked at a 2007 Honda Civic LX as well as at Camry, but bought the 2007 Accord VP instead. 

This review is based on test-driving the 2007 Honda Accord LX as well as on the ownership experience of the 2007 and 2006 Honda Accord VP. There were no significant changes from the 2006 to 2007 model year as Honda was preparing to release an all-new 2008 model.

But the changes I noticed in VP from 2006 to 2007 are as follows: the price increased $450, the 2007 VP we got has mud guards, a plastic removable cover in the trunk and (seems like) much better speakers. 

I personally own two cars: the 2004 Infiniti G35 and the 2006 Honda Accord VP, which my mother drives. My understanding of the virtues of the Accord was enhanced by owning it. Before buying it, I considered the Hyundai Sonata, Camry and other models. But I am glad that I chose the Accord and seeing that the prices for 2007 model are currently very low (due to the upcoming release of the all-new 2008 model) and after test driving the 4-cylinder 2007 Accord LX and the 2007 Civic LX, I believe it is a better choice than the aforementioned cars. At least for some people. 

The Honda Civic, despite being small, is currently more expensive than either the Accord or Sonata (Accord currently sells for less and Sonata as well, making both of the Accord VP and Sonata 4-cylinder cheaper than a Civic LX. I consider A/C essential in CA and Civic DX does not have one). 

The Camry Hybrid sells for more than $25K. The Civic Hybrid is in $22K range, a bit too much, even taking into account the tax credit it comes with. Plus it is just too slow. But let’s stop comparing apples to oranges. 

The Sonata has excellent warranty, full array of airbags and dynamic stability control as well as better (larger) wheels (comparing lower-end models, as in Accord VP). But its automatic transmission has only 4 speeds, it is slower than Accord and the rear-world fuel economy seems worse and the resale value is questionable. 

The 2007 Honda Accord VP with automatic transmission can be had for less than $17K (I bought 2006 model last July for $16,200 and the 2007 model can be had for about the same price today). As a basis for comparison I can use my current car (2004 Infiniti G35) as well as my mother's previous car (2000 Mitsubishi Galant ES) and some other cars I drove recently, including 2005 Toyota Camry. 


The Honda Accord in its current form was introduced for 2003 model year and is in its last year before being replaced by an all-new model. It was mildly restyled for 2006 model year, including better-looking LED taillights, restyled front fascia and includes Maintenance Minder system. 

The 2006 Honda Accord VP (Value Package) replaced the last year's DX model and carries over to the 2007 model year unchanged. It features air conditioning, power locks and windows, remote key-less entry, panic alarm, remote window opening, 4-cylinder 166-hp engine and (in AT-equipped trim) a 5-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission-equipped cars have a 5-speed manual gearbox. 

The VP rides on 15 inch steel wheels with 195/65R15 tires (mediocre Bridgestone Turanza EL41 of last year are replaced with Michelin rubber). The VP has manual mirrors (other trims have power mirrors). All Accords have ABS, front, side and head curtain airbags. New for the 2006 model year was the Maintenance Minder system that monitors the oil life and shows it to you in percents at a push of a button. It also tells you when you need to change oil and go for other service based on driving conditions. 

The 4-cylinder Accords are rated to deliver 24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway with auto transmission, 26/34 with manual. The back seats fold to increase usable trunk space, the steering wheel tilts, telescopes. And has standard cruise control buttons. 

The car has a remote control that lets you lock and unlock doors, remotely lower all windows, activate panic alarm, open the trunk. The fuel door locks and is unlocked by a mechanical lever from the inside. The car has a locking glove box, sliding dual-compartment front armrest, a couple of storage consoles in front. 

The car has daytime running lights, dome light and vanity mirrors in both visors. The taillights are long lasting and quick-illuminating LED. And they look much better than the ones on the 2003-2005 year's models. 

The VP model has the following shortcomings compared to the LX model and above: tires are 195/65R15 vs. 205/65R15, mirrors are manual, door handles and window have black trim instead of chrome, the vanity mirrors have no light, there are no reading lights (just the dome in the middle), there is no rear anti-roll bar (only the front one), the radio/CD player has only 2 speakers vs. 6 in LX, the rear seat has no armrest. 

I test-drove the 2007 LX model and looked at the SE model as well. They are an improvement in some areas of over the VP, but the value-wise, VP is the screaming deal. 

About the Car 

The car is roomy with excellent fit and finish. The fabric seems durable and the controls are within easy reach, aside from the mechanical passenger-side mirror. The driver seat has easy to use adjustments for height, recline and front-back adjustment. The seats are comfortable: more so than the seats of the 2000 Mitsubishi Galant (one of the cars I used to have) but less so than my Infiniti G35. The driver seat has very good lateral support and is Euro-firm. But there is no lumbar support whatsoever, which causes lower back pain after driving for a couple of hours. I had to put a little pillow behind my lower back.

The transmission shifter could use better defined detents - it is too easy to leave it in between fixed positions (e.g. "D" and "D3") if not careful. 

The Accord has an A/C that works very well and features air filtration. There are two cup holders in front and a couple on back. There are seat-back map pockets and the carpeted floor mats are standard. The trunk has a large opening and the rear seats fold. There is no handle on the inside of the trunk however to close it without touching the exterior. 

I like the feature that lets you open the windows by just pushing and holding the "unlock" button on the remote. But to close the windows, you have to actually insert the key into the driver-side door keyhole and twist it once (to lock the doors), then twist and hold do make the windows close. 

The engine compartment is neatly organized with easy access to all fluids. The lid, when open, is held by a prop rod. The headlights work well at night and the daytime running light feature makes the car more visible on the road around the clock. 

The gauges are very legible and controls are easy to use with good tactile feel. And for some strange reason I love the fact that at any time you can press the button that switches between the trip odometers a couple of times and see the remaining oil life in percents. 

It says "100%" for the first 10% of oil life, 90% for 90-80% and so on. Once it reaches "15%", it is time to get ready to replace the oil. The speed with which it declines depends on how the car is driven, which should reduce the trips to the dealership and the oil consumption. After all, motor oil is made of mineral oil, just as the gasoline. 

The only item that is subpar is the stereo or rather its sound quality. But it is no surprise, most car stereos are pretty poor-sounding anyway. For the record, the VP has only 2 speakers, other models have more speakers and better sound quality, but it is still just mediocre. I replaced the speakers with JBL units and the sound got much better. Interestingly, unlike my Infiniti, this CD player can play CD-RW rewrutable discs, which is pretty conventient (in the absense of an aux input or a USB slot) for listening to podcasts and such.


The car is relatively quiet and the road irregularities are felt rather than heard. The tire noise from the car does not reach the cabin and on the freeway you hear other car's tire noise rather than your car's. 

The steering is well-weighted, requiring more effort than that of the Camry of Galant, which is a good thing. It is more sensitive off-center than either of the two. The brakes are easy to modulate and ABS is a welcome feature. But the standard Michelin tires felt like an improvement over the Bridgestone Turanza EL41 tires in the 2006 model. Still, the VP tires (195mm) are narrow. 

But on a positive note, the stock wheels will accept 215-mm wide tires once the OEM tires are worn (or once you get fed up with them). I am sure the Accord itself is capable of better performance once the proper tires are installed. It is still not a sporty vehicle, but much better than Sonata and Camry which I drove. 

The Accord is not only quiet, but it feels very stable at any speed (at least at any speed that does not exceed 90 mph, I have not gone faster than that yet). The 5-speed auto transmission is tuned for fuel economy and the engine turns at only slightly higher than 2000 rpm at freeway speeds, whereas my G35 is close to 3000 rpm at the same speeds. 

Accords are known, among other things, for good fuel economy. The 4-cylinder auto is rated 24/34 MPG and our 2006 and 2007 models so far produced 26-29 mpg overall, with road trips producing 33-36 MPG. 

The 2007 Accord VP produced 34 MPG on a trip to Yosemite with driving at 80-85mph with partial A/C use. And it produced 36 MPG on a trip to and from Las Vegas with speeds of 80-85 mph.

The acceleration is very good for a 4-cylinder car, significantly faster than my 2000 Galant and slightly faster than the 2005 Camry's. This is not only my impression - according to Car and Driver as well as other reports, the Accord is faster than Camry as well as 4-cylinder Hyundai Sonata. 

Subjective Feelings 

I personally drive a 2004 Infiniti G35 and still enjoy my turn at the wheel of the Accord. Might sound strange, but I like its efficiency, its clear and bright gauges, its planted feel and comfortable seat. This car feels solid. 


As of 02/2014, after almost 7 years of ownership, this 2007 Accord VP had several service stops so far (there have been no unscheduled stops or oil additions). The stops were for oil/filter changes at 5K and 10.2K miles and a brake fluid change plus tire rotation at 3-year mark. The price for each oil change was $22 and the tire rotation with a brake fluid change was $86. Subsequent oil changes happened at around 7.5K mile intervals and there was another brake fluid change at 6 years ($160). The transmission fluid drain/fill with the Honda DW-1 fluid was $100 at 73K miles.

The so the amount spent in 7 years is about $600. The oil filter needs to be changed every other oil change, so technically was not required at half of the oil changes miles (Maintenance Minder also indicates that).

Most times the oil was conventional (dino) Pennzoil 5W20, Mobil 5000 or Quaker State and the oil looked fresh/clean before the oil change.

At 15.7K, I changed the oil (but not the filter, since the filter change wasn't required) myself, using the oil extractor, pulling the oil out through the dipstick tube. Time: 30 mins, cost: $7 for synthetic Pennzoil Platinum (after rebate). It would have taken 10 miles of driving and at least 1 hour of waiting at the dealer.

The tires were rotated at 17K partly because I dislike them and cannot wait for them to wear out so i can replace them with better rubber (e.g. Yokohama YK520). They seem to squeal less in turns now though, but still, they are nowhere near the best tires. They were again rotated at 66K miles and I currently still have 6/32" in front and 5/32" in the back remaining.

The brake fluid was changed at the 3-year mark and again at 6 years (needs to be changed every 3 years). The cabin air filter is easy to replace and needs to be replaced at the same time as the engine air filter, at about 30K miles, but I replaced it at about 15K miles. I waited for MM to tell me to change the engine air filter, which happened at 29K and again at 58K.

Some other service items last a long time before requiring replacement. The 4-cylinder engine uses a timing chain rather than a belt, so it does not require a replacement. The spark plugs are good for over 100,000 miles. Coolant life and transmission fluid change intervals are determined by MM and should be very long. At 60K miles, the MM still didn't ask me to replace them. And the LED-based tail lights should last almost forever.

Similarly, my 2006 Accord VP had its first oil change at 5.1K miles, second at one year mark from the first and the third one at total of 12.9K miles on the car. The subsequent oil change I also did myself. I am very happy with it as well.

I had to replace the power steering fluid in both Accords at around 6.5-year mark. The fluid got pretty dark and, more importantly, the pump was slightly squealing periodically. The squeal is now gone. I did the change myself using a turkey baster and consuming 4 12-oz containers of Honda PS fluid each time.

DIY (Do It Yourself)

The maintenance tends to be easy and most do-it-yourself items are easy as well with one  exception. Unless you know how to do it, the air filter check and replacement on the 4-cylinder 2003-2007 Accord is a nightmare.

Whereas in most older cars (e.g. 2000 Mitsubishi Galant or Volvo 740) the air filter replacement takes at most 2 minutes and requires no tools, the same operation on this Accord took me almost an hour, required the use of my toolbox, application of force and constant cursing. But that was the first time. Later, I figure out how to do it in 10 mins.

The airbox lid is held with four bolts and the air intake hose is short and inflexible. Even after removing the bolts and the undoing the clamp on the hose, the hose flexibility did not allow me to move the filter housing out of the way. I ended up removing the battery brace, disconnecting the MAF and even then was barely able to remove the airbox cover and replace the filter. Later I figured out that if you use enough force, you can push on and bend the hose.

Most other tasks are easy though. A/C (cabin) air filter can be replaced with no tools in 2 minutes. The oil is easy to check so is the transmission fluid. And the Maintenance Minder system tells you what services to perform and when based on the way you drive.

Also reassuring is the oil color. It seems to stay "fresh"-looking (light) for a long time. Whereas my G35 tends to make the oil very dark after 2K miles, the Accord's oil stays light after 5K miles, when the MM tells me to change it.

Note: you can always see the remaining oil life in percentage points and it seems pretty conservative. I needed to change the oil about every 5.1K miles with mostly city driving and now I am driving mostly highway, which driving results in intervals of about 7.7K miles.

I can easily change the oil without lifting the car. I use an oil extractor that sucks the oil out through the oil dipstick tube. The oil filter (which only requires replacement every other oil change) can also be reached and replaced without lifting the car, from the top.

The brake fluid needs to be changed once every three years however, which is something I am not used to. Neither my 2000 Mitsubishi Galant nor the 2004 Infiniti G35 required that. But I am sure with regular service, the Accord will last longer and should be more trouble-free than those.

The tires grew on me a little. They still aren't best, but at least they lasted 73K so far and should last over 100K.

A Brighter Light

I replaced the low beam light bulbs with Philips HIR2 9012 (after trimming the tab on the bulb), which resulted in much better visibility at night, while still being DOT-compliant and not blinding oncoming traffic.

Update 04/2014

As I was driving on the 405 freeway in late February, another car was allegedly cut off by someone changing lanes, swerved and hit mine from behind, in the corner. My car slid forward and sideways and was t-boned by a new Mercedes C-class. The Accord was totaled, but fortunately all the airbags worked well. The side (torso) and head curtain airbags saved me. This is the second Accord (the first was 2006 Accord) that was totaled while protecting our family. 

The impact was so strong, the passenger door was dented in and would not open, the side and rear glass shattered and the tire was ripped off its rim as the car's front corner  was thrown on top of the freeway's center divider.

We bought another Accord, a 2014 Accord EX-L, which already has 2K miles. I consider Accord to be one of the safest cars based on crash test results as well on personal experience. My mother still has the 2006 Accord with 43K miles and I feel confident in its ability to protect her if needed.

Bottom Line

I like the Honda Accord and recommend it to anyone. It is comfortable, practical and performs well. It is also very safe. But if you need a sporty ride, look elsewhere.

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