Thursday, August 23, 2012

Long Term Review: 2004 Honda Accord Coupe V6 6-Speed

In my ten years of driving, I have owned thirteen cars.  I've had manual transmission cars, automatic cars,  economy cars, sports cars, an SUV, V8s, V6s, I6s, and four cylinders.  Three of the cars have been Hondas.  The first Honda I owned was a 2006 Civic Si.  I was not terribly impressed with that car.  The shifter was good, but with only 30,000 miles on it, the syncros were worn out and it would grind into third.  The suspension was stiff but felt somehow loose.  It seemed to bounce over every road imperfection, and the structure reverberated those imperfections with a hollow, tinny sound.  It was like it didn't really know if it wanted to be a sports car or an economy car.
After selling the Civic (and losing a couple grand in the process,) I bought a '92 Accord LX Automatic.  It was a salvage title car, the paint was peeling horribly, the CV axles knocked, and the sway bar links were busted.  After fixing the chassis issues, and giving it a little tune up, that car was great.  It rode well, handled decently for an economy sedan and was very comfortable.
Then I saw it.  A black beauty with a little red V6 badge on the back.  Having devoured every word of every major car magazine since 2004, I knew the significance of the color of that badge: a six-speed manual.  I drove it and fell head over heels in love.  I went home with it that night, passing the '92 on to one of my friends.  It serves him well to this day.
I've had the '04 for over a year now.  It is definitely a Honda.  The interior quality is good overall, with a few minor issues.  When I bought it, the heater vent slats were all misaligned.  I forced them back into position and they have worked flawlessly since.  In typical Honda fashion,  the Chrome plastic on the vent adjusters and interior door handles is peeling.  I find it endearing.  Makes me remember that I'm driving a car that is undoubtedly related to my old '92.  The sunglass holder broke, but I replaced that for about $20.  Some of the dash lights were out too.  The volume control light fixed itself, and the seat heater lights cost a couple bucks each.  Apart from those quibbles, my perforated leather has no tears, and the heated seats work oh so well.  The 180 watt six disc changer system has good treble so my Zelda soundtrack sounds as epic as it should (jelly?) and enough bass that my Gorillaz CDs hit just hard enough to rattle the rear view mirror.  I've got dual zone climate control, power moonroof, power windows and door locks with keyless entry, steering wheel audio controls, and cruise control.  Pretty loaded for its time.
It really shines on the road though.  The ride is stiff but not bouncy like the Si.  On the highway, body motions are expertly controlled with no wallowing or unnerving jitters. It's a perfect car for cruisin' down the highway on a summer day.  Open the moonroof and put down the windows and enjoy the ride.
Now the best part.  When the urge to drive like a cat who's just eaten an entire plant of catnip strikes me, my Accord steps up to the challenge and tosses a massive ball of yarn for me to chase.  Turn in is great.  Steering effort increases progressively.  Sight lines aren't ideal, due to fat A-pillars and C-pillars and a high beltline, but the chassis provides a feeling of light confidence.
The 3.0 liter i-VTEC V6 is, in my humble opinion, simply the best V6 that was available at the time.  It makes 240 horsepower, revs to almost 7000 rpm, and I get on average 24 mpg.  Jelly?  You should be.  Hard first to second shifts result in loss of front wheel traction and tire barking.  It's not just a short chirp, the tires really squeal.  At 4800 rpm, VTEC kicks in (yo,) with a noticeable change in tone and shove.  The subdued midsize car engine note turns into a throaty trumpeting, causing the Fart Can Brigade to make a poop in their pants.
I should clarify that while the car is fun as a dump truck full of primates, it's not sports car fast.  In a straight line it will tear up the Toyobaru-Hype-Machine-Whatever-FT-FR-GT-BRZ-POS-II-86, as well as its own little brother, the Civic Si, but the current crop of V6 pony cars will still show me taillights.  V6 pony cars of the same vintage, however, made between 40 and 50 horsepower less than my Honda tower of VTEC power. 
It's not been without its issues.  The rear struts went out a couple months ago, but they were easy to replace.  The stock brakes are garbage and warp if you breathe on them.  So I replaced those with slotted and drilled rotors and factory pads. 
The closing paragraph is always the toughest in a review, so I'll leave you with this.  My car is better than yours.  Problem?


Jessie Louthan said...

LOLZ I struggled as a writer for years with the closing paragraph. You really gotta work at it.

Great review!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making this review.
I am currently looking at a used V6 accord Coupe 6 speed to purchase and was curious about potential major problems with the car, ie tranny problem in the v6 automatic accord.

Thanks !


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