- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

Honda continues to direct the manner in which many of us look at reliable transportation. By combining the features and luxuries buyers are demanding in their vehicles, with superior reliability this company has become a leader in the import auto industry. Honda's extremely popular midsized passenger car, the Accord, is one such vehicle. And, for 2001 the Accord adds some features while continuing to hold onto the top spot of desired cars.

Minor styling changes are united with a standard feature list that is lengthened to include more-for-your-money attributes. This is something people have come to expect from Honda.

Changing the profile of the Accord was accomplished by redesigning the front fascia and bumper, along with a more chiseled hood. Adding to the change is a redesigned trunk lid and new taillight fixtures, along with a new rear bumper.

The Accord's suspension system remains the sophisticated double-wishbone front and rear retaining the Accord's well-known comfortable ride. Honda touts about 20 engineering changes that improve handling, ride comfort and reduce noise. It is my experience that the Accord leans much more heavily toward comfort than anything else. And, while this Honda handles the twisties quite well, it is the comfortable ride that buyers seem to seek out.

Two engines are available in the Accord. The base engine is a 135-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder that performs well. But, what really shines in the Accord is the 3-liter V-6 that produces 200 horsepower taking the Accord out of the humdrums, placing it square in the fun to drive category.

I did, however, find that the power steering is a bit overboosted for my tastes. The steering is light, almost to a fault. Yet under normal driving conditions, and certainly in low-speed parking lot maneuvers, it is easy to guide the car into that hard to reach parking spot.

The interior is designed in just that Honda way that puts nearly every important switch, control and gauge in the right spot. At night most switches are lit. Even the window switches in the door are illuminated. I would like to see the switches mounted on the steering wheel receive illumination. It is difficult at best trying to figure out what is what at night cruising down the highway.

I applaud Honda for adding a three-in-one sound system. Having the choice of playing cassette tapes as well as compact discs and the AM/FM radio is a nice touch. Even though I do not have many tapes left that are in good condition, I do have a few tapes that are not available on CD, and there are plenty of other people who still listen to learning and book tapes. An added plus to the CD player in the Accord, is that it is a three-disc in-dash stacking system.

The HomeLink remote-control system for garage doors, lights or any combination of three remote-controlled devices is also available.

On the safety front Honda has added the advanced two-stage dual-threshold front passenger air bags. These new air bags monitor seat belt use and the severity of a crash, adjusting air bag deployment according to these factors.

This is not an excuse to not wear your seat belt, only an additional safety factor to help reduce injury. In addition on all V-6 and EX models side air bags are standard equipment and optional on all other models.

As with most of the midsized passenger sedans, I am finding they do not evoke the enthusiasm for driving that I, and many other drivers, search for. This isn't a criticism because good, comfortable, reliable and safe transportation is what most buyers are looking for in their everyday family vehicle. And, the Accord certainly fits. Now with the refinements found on the 2001 Accord this sedan is an even better solution for most families, and it's a Honda to boot.

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