A Final Goodbye and Review of the Honda Accord Coupe
The Honda Accord Coupe is not long for this world, so let’s take one final ride before we pour one out for Honda’s unsung hero.
On the 7th of May 1976, the Honda Accord was released into the wild. It arrived as a three-door hatchback, but it wasn’t until the third generation the Honda Accord Coupe was born. That was 1986, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the Accord moved up a size from compact to mid-size. 31 years later, Honda is finally laying the Coupe version to rest. The next generation that is arriving in showrooms soon will only be available with four doors.
Despite 31 years of production, You don’t see many Accord Coupes on the road and on average they only account for 5% of Accord sales. But much to Honda’s credit, they kept on making a drivers version of their incredibly popular mid-size sedan. The end result is one of the most under-rated cars around, particularly in its V6 and manual transmission configuration.
Living with an Accord Coupe:
Whenever I speak to someone that owns a coupe version, two things are guaranteed. First is that, whether they are a car enthusiast or not, they love it. Second, they have been asked several times what kind of car that is.
If you haven’t owned one then I understand if you may not believe some people have to ask. After all, it is a Honda Accord. But I’ve lived that Accord Coupe life and can tell you that the struggle is real.
My ownership experience was with the 2009 model my wife and I bought as a car to share. We both have slightly different ideas of what we want from a car and certain things we need. The eighth generation Accord Coupe fit into that slot neatly. It has plenty of room up front and enough for a teenager in the back. It looks great, it’s engaging and fun to drive, comfortable and inexpensive to maintain. On top of that, it never let us down. It’s the very definition of a great all-rounder.
I’ve been curious for a while about the latest generation and how it’s moved on. Thankfully, it turned out that there was still one Accord Coupe available as a press loaner. This is a V6 with the six-speed manual, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at any configuration of the drivetrain.
Enter the 2017 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L:
The first thing to realize is that the 2017 Coupe feels like it has been refined rather than evolved through its last few generations. There’s been no need to mess with the key ingredients. Instead, the ride and the handling have been blended just so. The balance of long distance highway comfort and sharp handling is excellent.
The 2009 didn’t turn in as sharply nor hold a line as well as it could without a slightly thicker rear sway bar, but not anymore. The back is eager to come with you round the corner. Steering is direct, and understeer doesn’t come until a little after you’re expecting it.
There’s exactly the right amount of torque steer when the 3.5 liter V6 throws down its 251 lb-ft of get up and go. You have to be ready for it, but it’s not trying to put you into the nearest tree.
The 272 hp 3.5 liter V6 may be a long in the tooth now, but nobody has let it know. It’s athletic and sounds good. V6’s rarely sound great, but Honda has done a great job here. It’s meaty and visceral without forgetting it’s in a car that has to go to work on Monday morning.
Stepping inside the 2017 Honda Accord Coupe:
The Coupe is definitely the drivers Accord. As a result, there’s no overload of driving assists.There is a blind spot and reversing camera, but you’ll be doing your own lane-keeping and mitigating your own collisions. The two screen infotainment is a step for Honda on its previous generation. Honda has had a lot of criticism, mostly justified, over usability, but this system I can live with. Apple Carplay and Android Auto is the icing on that little cake.
Changing gear is everything you expect from a Honda shifter. There’s the correct amount of smooth shifting and the correct amount of mechanical feedback. It’s hard to come up with new ways to describe manually shifting a great Honda transmission, and that’s a testament to how consistently good Honda is at building them.
The end of the line:
This is the last of a generation, and the next step is big. The 2018 Accord will switch to four-cylinder turbo engines only. It’ll also come as standard with the Honda Sensing package. There’s no 2 door variant at all, but Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of American Honda’s automobile divisions promises: “We put coupe goodness in the sedan.”
The 2018 Accord does look like it’s going to be the exceptional car in its class, but I’m not sure that’s enough for people that seek out the coupe. Right now though, the 2017 Honda Accord Coupe is still available. If you want that more raw driving experience and a V6 then now is the last chance. There aren’t many left, but they are out there and there’s going to deals to be had now we are entering the end of the year.
Honda will still be making 2 door cars, and it’s worth bearing in mind the Civic has grown in size. When spending some time with the new Civic Coupe, it really reminded me of our ’09 Accord Coupe. A mixture of the Civic getting a little bigger, the roofline, and the design language in the front end gave me flashbacks. The handling isn’t up there with the current Accord Coupe though. However, the Civic Si does come as a 2 door and has the blend of performance and daily drivability.
That may work for many people, but the reality is that the Honda Accord Coupe stuck around for 31 years for a reason. It may not have been a big seller, but it was enough. It brought fun and sensible together, something that’s rarely been pulled off so well.
So, let’s pour one out for the Honda Accord Coupe. Its final iteration is also it finest, and I don’t think we could ask much more than that.
Photography by Matt Eugenio.