If you've grown weary of reading reviews in which automotive journalists wax endlessly about Honda's manual gearboxes, we sympathize, but we don't apologize. Once again, the Accord, which is all-new for 2008, has one of the sweetest-shifting manual transmissions on the market.
The new Chevrolet Malibu showed up the more expensive, automatic-equipped Accord EX-L V-6 in our annual All-Stars competition, but our drive in this four-cylinder EX sedan reminds us that the Ohio-built Accord is still one of the best in the segment. Sure, we wish that Honda offered individual options instead of just trim packages - for example, you can't get heated seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, or even a leather steering wheel without bumping up to the EX-L model for $2000. You'll never mistake this car for a real sport sedan, at least when it comes to handling, and it is decidedly dowdy compared with the stunning coupe version of the car.
But for just $23,695, you can get a nicely equipped sedan with a spacious and well-executed cabin and a smooth, fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine that happily revs past 7000 rpm.
Honda's V-6 makes sense in the Accord coupe, but for this generation of Accord four-door, the less-expensive model is in many ways the most desirable. Get yourself a four-cylinder, stick-shift version of Honda's perennially popular sedan, and you, too, will bore family, friends, and neighbors with endless praise for your sweet-shifting Honda.