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2004 Sedan Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

Honda Accord
Honda Accord sedan

After seven generations, perhaps Accord should win a lifetime achievement award. Honda's staple midsize sedan has become such a fixture in American driveways it has claimed a nearly impenetrable top spot for its smooth ride and ultimate usability for several years.

For 2004, Accord continues the same tradition, sporting the expanded interior room, trendier, crisper exterior lines and performance enhancing shorter wheelbase it brought to market a year ago. New stuff among expected amenities for '04 are heaped mostly on the top EX models, that also bear the heftiest pricetags. Among additions on most of those are a tantalizing XM Satellite radio system to assure uninterrupted listening on long, comfy trips. Side curtain airbags are available on the EX and standard on EX V-6 and EX with leather.

Unlike some auto makers that have decided most drivers really don't know how to use them, Honda has left its antilock brake systems intact as standard on all models. But it makes air conditioning an accessory on the base DX. Two high tech Honda VTEC powerplants (using unleaded regular) drive this enhanced '04 Accord, with Honda's lowest emissions I-4 available for the Northeast. The Inline 4 generates 160 horsepower and 161 pound feet of torque. Numbers for the spunkier V-6 are 240 horsepower and 212 for torque.

Prices on the five sedan designations run the gamut from a base about $16,350 to just under $29,000 for the top EX model complete with navigation system with sun sensor and dual climate control systems. Honda seems to prefer offering a dizzying array of models, with few or no options, rather than available optional packages as offered by many other auto makers.