The Accord has been the benchmark for family sedans since the mid-70's. Through the Eighties, each succeeding Accord generation set new standards in quality and value. Keeping with the expectations of customers, the Accord grew larger with each iteration. In the shadow of its sedan sibling, many potential customers have overlooked the Accord coupe lately. This wasn't always the case. In the late '70's and early '80's, the coupe was quite popular with buyers. Honda plans to increase the visibility and sales of the new Accord coupe, the bold styling and aggressive pricing are sure to surprise many.
The new coupe shares no exterior panels with the sedan, which is rather bland in comparison. The interiors of both vehicles are similar, though the coupe has sportier looking cloth seats. An automatic equipped 4-cylinder Accord LX coupe lists at $19,485. The tested vehicle included the standard power windows, locks, and mirrors. Air conditioning, cruise control, and a tilt steering wheel round out the comprehensive equipment list. All Accords come standard with dual airbags. One surprising omission is the lack of available ABS on the disc/drum brake equipped base LX. In contrast, 4-wheel disc brakes and ABS are standard on all other coupe models.
Both the 4-cylinder and V-6 models come in LX and EX trim levels. The V-6 coupes are equipped only with the 4-speed automatic. A 5-speed manual is standard on the 4-cylinder models, with the automatic optional. The new 2.3L VTEC 4-cylinder produces 150 bhp, and 152 lb.-ft. of torque. The optional 3.0L VTEC V-6 puts out 200 bhp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. This is the first time that the V-6 has been available on the coupe.
The 1998 Accord carries on Honda's well deserved reputation for quality materials, finished impeccably. The dash is covered with expensive looking, low gloss plastics that are a class above most competitors. The comfortable seats are well bolstered and come upholstered in a sporty cloth fabric. Leather trim is available on the EX 4-cylinder and standard on the EX V-6.
The interior is significantly roomier than that of its predecessor. Rear seat room should be ample for most people. In a nod to safety, the rear center seat is now equipped with a 3-point seatbelt.
As expected from Honda, the ergonomics are first rate. All controls are easily within grasp and clearly marked. The use of large knobs for the climate control and audio system should be applauded. The V-6 EX comes with steering wheel mounted audio controls. The speedometer is flanked by a smaller tachometer and other gauges which nicely backlit at night.
In a break from its bland predecessor, which looked like the sedan, the 1998 Accord coupe is styled to make an impression. Since Honda USA developed the Accord the stylists were given more freedom to make a distinctive coupe. The result is a coupe that is somewhat reminiscent of the Acura NSX in the rear. The side profile is clean and angular with a chiseled look that is very attractive. Only the front gives away the family resemblance to the sedan. Even so, the coupe shares no exterior panels with the sedan.
Not surprisingly, exterior fit-and-finish is excellent. The body panels have small, uniform gaps. Paint quality is superb. Color choices are from a subdued palette that complements the styling. The coupe looks especially good in darker colors such as Flamenco Black Pearl and Black Currant Pearl.
The 4-cylinder coupes come standard with P195/65 R15 tires. The V-6 LX has P205/65 R15 tires and the EX V-6 is equipped with P205/60 R16 tires. All LX models have steel wheels and full wheel covers. EX models have alloy wheels.
Chassis and Suspension
Honda, unlike most competitors does not use MacPherson struts for suspension components. Instead, it relies on the more sophisticated independent double wishbone suspension for the front. The rear suspension is a 5-link system for better ride control and handling. Coil springs, dampers, and stabilizer bars all around are also standard.
The body is the typical unit-body with a front subframe for the engine and suspension. A subframe carries the rear suspension. The 4-cylinder cars have the subframe mounted directly to the body; V-6 models offer more isolation through the use of rubber bushings to further isolate the body.
The Accord coupe is surprisingly lively to drive. The tested LX was equipped with the 2.3L 150 bhp 4-cylinder and automatic transmission. The VTEC engine is smooth and offers good torque at lower engine speeds. In fact, it never feels strained even with the automatic. The automatic mates well with engine and takes advantage of its top-end power. The 5-speed manual obviously would be the enthusiast's choice. Unfortunately, the VTEC V-6 is not offered with the manual. Perhaps Honda does not want the Accord coupe to compete directly with the Prelude.
At highway speeds the Accord is very quiet and composed. Normal conversation at well over legal speeds is no problem. In fact, it is easy to hit 80 to 90 mph and not notice unless one looks at the speedometer. The suspension tuning carefully balances firm damping with a comfortable ride. Potholes and road irregularities are absorbed easily without compromising control. Yet the suspension never exhibits any trace of harshness that would upset occupants.
1998 Honda Accord LX Coupe
Front engine/Front-wheel drive
Price Range: $18,000-25,000 (est.)
Price as tested: $19,485
Measurements & Capacities
Curb Weight: 3009 lb.
Width: 70.3 in.
Height: 55.1 in.
Track F/R: 61.1/60.4 in.
Overall Length: 186.8 in.
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Fuel Capacity: 17.1 gal.
Inline-4, liquid cooled, aluminum block and heads
Valvetrain: SOHC, 24-valve, hydraulic lifters
Fuel Delivery: Sequential multipoint fuel injection
Displacement: 2.254 L
Bore X Stroke: 86.0 X 97.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.3:1
Power (SAE net): 150 bhp @ 5,700 rpm
Torque: 152 lb.-ft. @ 4,900 rpm
Max. Engine Speed: 6,300 rpm
Fuel: Unleaded Regular, 87 octane (R+M)/2
Oil Capacity: N/A
Coolant Capacity: N/A
Emission Controls: N/A
4-speed automatic with lockup converter
Final Drive: 4.466:1
Front: Independent, double wishbone, coil springs, shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Rear: Independent, 2 diagonal links, 3 lateral links per side, coil springs, shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Variable Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Steering ratio: N/A
Steering Turns (lock-to-lock): N/A
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.
Front: 10.2" X 0.91" vented disc, vacuum-assist
Rear: 8.6" X 1.38" drum, vacuum-assist
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 15" X 6.5" steel
Tires: P195/65 R15 89H All-season
Highway: 30 mpg
City: 23 mpg
Head Room (Front/Rear): 39.7/36.5 in.
Leg Room (Front/Rear): 42.6/32.4 in.
Hip Room (Front/Rear): 52.1/46.1 in.
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear): 56.0/55.4 in.
Interior Volume: 92.7 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume: 13.6 cu. ft.
Front: Driver and passenger airbags, 3-point belts
Rear: 3-point belts
Honda has taken the Accord and improved what was widely regarded as a benchmark in its class. Obviously, a lot of Americans agree, because the Accord was the second best selling car in the USA after the Toyota Camry. 1998 promises to be a tough year for the Toyota Camry. The Accord is expected to regain the sales crown, which it narrowly lost.
The Accord coupe should stake out new ground for Honda and pose a tough challenge for the Avenger/Sebring twins from Chrysler, and the new Mercury Cougar. Honda probably also realizes that the excellence of the new coupe will probably take a serious bite out of Acura CL sales. Then again, what can you do when your best competition is yourself?
At a Glance
A sleek, roomy coupe that looks and drives like more expensive competitors.
Styling that hints of the Acura NSX. Smooth, quiet powertrain. Ergonomics second to none.
Hmm… we'll get back to you.
Finally, an Accord coupe that's not anonymous.