1998 HONDA ACCORD LX SEDAN
Used Car - 1998 Honda Accord LX sedan in Fairfield, Oh
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1998 Honda Accord ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
This may be the best mid-size car in America.
Almost every time Honda redesigns a car it steps to the head of the line in automotive greatness-at least for awhile. We think this is true of the all-new Honda Accord. Completely redesigned for 1998, this is the sixth generation of this popular car and it appears to have established a new benchmark for midsize sedans-a post most recently occupied by its arch-rival, the Toyota Camry. Honda says it has made more changes to this new Accord than any other model in its 22-year history.
Like the previous model, the Accord does everything well. Even more impressive, it's a much better car than the previous model. The interior is roomy and comfortable, the suspension is responsive and well damped, the brakes are excellent, and both brand-new VTEC engines-a 3.0-liter V6 and a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder-are incredibly smooth.
This is a car that a family can buy, then quickly turn their attention to other concerns. Reliability should not be an issue. It is, after all, a Honda. And it's Honda's most important car. It's easy to drive and every aspect of it is user friendly. Obviously, those brilliant Honda engineers have once again done their homework.
The body of the 1998 Accord is completely new. Sharp edges and rounded corners lend an understated, refined look, while an aggressive stance gives it the air of a European sedan. The nose is short, the hood and cowl are low, which complement the glassy cabin to provide excellent visibility from inside.
Two body styles are available, a four-door sedan and a sporty new coupe. The Accord Coupe shares all the wonderfulness of the new sedan, but boasts unique styling and some performance tweaks designed to make it more fun to drive. While the previous Accord Coupe looked like a two-door version of the Sedan, Honda designed the 1998 model to have its own identity. Only the headlights and door handles are shared with the Sedan. Indeed, the Coupe is a handsome car, and a good choice for busy executives who want something practical and sporty.
But we're here to talk about the Accord Sedan, which comes in five models. The DX, LX and EX come equipped with 4-cylinder engines, while the LX V-6 and EX V-6 models are powered by a new 200-horsepower, aluminum alloy, 3.0-liter V6. The 3.0-liter engine replaces the previous 2.7-liter powerplant. Equipped with Honda's Variable valve Timing and valve lift Electronic Control, or VTEC, system, the 60-degree V6 is tuned to deliver optimum torque over a broad rpm range. It's so smooth and so quiet that sometimes a glance at the tachometer is required to confirm that it's running. It provides lots of power for merging into traffic or entertaining its driver.
Lest anyone fear an inferiority complex, the 2.3-liter VTEC inline-4 is a complete redesign as well. It produces more power, less vibration and better fuel efficiency than its predecessor. It's so clean that the Accord EX with an automatic transmission meets California's demanding ultra-low emission vehicle, or ULEV, standards. Generating 150 hp at 5700 rpm, an Accord equipped with this engine is by no means a penalty box. An Accord equipped with one of these 4-cylinder engines is a great package that deserves consideration by anyone shopping for a roomy mid-size car that excels in quality, durability, reliability, smoothness, ride quality, practicality and fuel efficiency. Did we leave anything out?
A fantastic new chassis comes with a new five-link double-wishbone rear suspension and a redesigned double-wishbone front suspension. Structural rigidity is significantly improved over the previous model for better handling and ride.
Honda used airline business-class seating as a model for the Accord interior and it's a marvel of space efficiency. Amazingly, the new interior is substantially roomier than last year's edition, but the exterior is just slightly larger. The front seats are wider and more comfortable than before, but the big news is in back where there's substantially more room for rear seat passengers. This makes the new Accord a true midsize sedan, whereas before it was considered a big compact.
Bigger front and rear door openings make it easier to get in and out of the car. It's also easier to load cargo because the trunk opening is bigger. The trunk itself is four inches wider for increased cargo capacity.
Everything inside the car has been redesigned. A new instrument panel features a two-tone finish with big gauges that are easy to read. Gone finally are the little silver metal switches that have locked doors for millions of Honda products, replaced with more aesthetically appealing plastic ones that match the interior.
Features associated with luxury cars abound, particularly on the high-level models. Sun visors offer sliding extensions, a HomeLink remote control system can be programmed to open garage doors, turn on house lights and turn off security systems. The air conditioning system, redesigned to reduce cool-down times by 30 percent, uses an air filtration system to keep pollen out and reduce diesel fumes from buses and trucks.
We spent a day driving the various trim levels of both the Accord Sedan and the new Coupe through Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley and came away impressed with all of them. At one point, we staged an informal back-to-back test of the Accord EX V-6, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Taurus. Blasting up and down a rough, knarly little backroad, we explored the limits of handling, power and braking. The Camry offered superb damping over the ripply pavement and the Malibu surprised us with its handling prowess. By comparison, the Taurus seemed out of its element, heavy and ponderous. The Accord provided the sharpest transient response when turning left, then right, then left again, and it had the best brakes. The overriding impression was that the Accord seemed lighter on its feet and inspired more confidence than the other cars.
Two months later, we spent a week driving an Accord EX V-6 in Maryland. The more time we spent with this car, the more we were impressed with its competence. Ripples and potholes are smoothed out by the well-damped suspension, yet corners can be taken with confidence without any of the yawing and pitching that can shake confidence at higher speeds.
In cruise city, the V6 engine just purrs along, barely audible. Stomp on the throttle and the VTEC cam setup growls with authority and quickly rockets the car into scofflaw county. We like both of those places and the Accord is a great car for traveling between them.
Honda's new Accord sets the new standard for mid-size sedans. It's at or near the top of its class in every measure of a great family sedan. It offers a smooth, quiet ride quality, handling that inspires confidence, and an attractive interior with front and back seats that are roomy and comfortable. To those ingredients are added Honda's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.
Not surprisingly, the new Accord is already popular and Honda's sales increased substantially after it was introduced. Don't look for exclusivity here, because Honda sells more than 375,000 Accords a year in the U.S. And don't expect bargain prices because this vote of confidence puts dealers in the driver's seat.
Even so, those who buy the 1998 Honda Accord should enjoy many years of pleasant, trouble-free motoring. And those are important qualities for great family sedans.
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