The year is 1976, and Apple Computer Company was formed, Niki Lauda narrowly escaped death in the Nurburgring, and the Boston Celtics clinched the NBA championship in triple overtime. Over in the motoring industry, Honda took the wraps off one of their most important and venerable nameplates: Accord.
While no longer the volume seller it was in the 90's in the Philippines, the Accord is still one of Honda's groundbreaking cars along with the Civic. It could be said that, without the Accord able to succeed in the vital US Market, Honda would still be an unknown brand outside of Asia.
We can perhaps attribute the success of the Accord to the Civic. Before the 70's, Honda had considered pulling out of the automotive industry to concentrate on motorcycles. The automaker took one last gamble in 1972 with the Civic, which helped Honda's automobile sales and helped Honda make its mark in the global market. With the Civic becoming a household name in America and Japan, Honda decided that they need a new car that offers everything the Civic has, but in a bigger package. The Honda Accord was born.
First Generation (SJ-SM, 1976-81)
The first Honda Accord is a far cry from what it is now. For starters, it was initially available as a 3-door hatchback with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. Park one beside a Honda Jazz and you'll be surprised just how small it was, as it only measured just over 4,100 mm. For comparison, the new Honda Jazz measures 3,995 mm long. A modern Jazz is more powerful too, as the Accord's 1.6 liter engine mustered about 80 PS. To say the Accord had humble beginnings would be quite accurate.
It was, however, launched at the right time as people worldwide were feeling the sting of the fuel crisis. Consumers soon found themselves looking for efficient cars that had decent room and maneuverability — what the Accord offered. Accord sales grew even more with the introduction of the 4-door sedan in 1979.
Second Generation (AD, 1981-85)
When the second generation model arrived in 1981, Honda had become an established player in the global motoring scene. Honda didn't want to mess with the proven formula of the previous generation model. The Accord for the 80's was slightly bigger, and for the first time ever, built in America. Still boxy and angular, the second generation Accord offered more interior room and — with the bigger, heavier platform — more powerful engine specifications. The 1.6-liter engines were still available but higher trim levels and US-spec models received a 1.8-liter engine. Power was rated at 108 PS for carburetted models while those with fuel injection (PGM-FI) put out 130 PS.
One novelty of this particular Accord was the availability of a Navigation system. While not satellite based, the Electro Gyrocator (as Honda called it) was an Inertial Navigation System which employed gyroscopes, computers and motion sensors. Another option was adjustable air suspension and was exclusive to the Japanese market. In the US, an upmarket SE-i model was offered, signaling the end of the second generation model's run and the upmarket ambitions of the Accord.
Third Generation (CA, 1985-89)
For its third generation, it could be said that Honda employed a dramatic and revolutionary redesign. From the front, one can mistake it for a sports car as it featured pop-up headlights — unusual for a sedan. More angular and wedge shaped, this model moved the Accord upmarket. It wasn't just the exterior that got a major overhaul. Most engines now came with PGM-FI. Enhancing ride and handling were double wishbones on all corners, taking a page from the automaker's F1 know-how. Another first in the Accord was a 2.0 liter engine, with its power now ranging from 98 PS to 160 PS. It was perhaps these changes that helped the third generation Accord win the 1985-1986 Japan Car of the Year.
This generation also saw the quirky Aerodeck model. The three door hatch had a shooting brake look and boasted extra practicality thanks to the folding seats. Reception in the Japanese and US markets were rather lukewarm but was a sales success in Europe, particularly in the UK. The other markets preferred the first-ever Accord Coupe which was oddly reverse imported back to Japan as it was built in Honda's Maryland Ohio plant.
Fourth Generation (CB, 1989-94)
With revolutionary changes to the third generation model, Honda dialed back on the fourth generation Accord in terms of styling. The roofline was made slightly more upright and the pop-up headlights were replaced by more traditional rectangular units. Overall, the look draws inspiration from Honda's flagship, the Legend. This generation also ushered in 16-valves and the introduction of the F-series engines with the F20 and F22. Anti-lock brakes became standard in higher-end models as well. More electronic control units were applied to the Accord from its speed-sensitive power steering to the electronic engine dampers.
For those who needed added practicality, a wagon version was also introduced for this generation. Throughout its production, Honda slowly added luxuries to their D-Segment entry such as leather, power seats, a CD-player and more.
Fifth Generation (CD, 1994-98)
We now arrive at the fifth-generation model, the first Accord to be sold and built in the Philippines. This particular model was yet another significant departure from the previous model, now lower and wider with an emphasis on hip and shoulder room. The overall shape took off from the Civic being sold at the time, the EG, with its low hood and high rear deck. VTEC mades its first appearance in the Accord lineup as well.
In the Philippines, it went head to head with the likes of the Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima and Toyota Corona. For its slice of the then hotly-contested segment, it went into battle with a 2.2 liter engine with 140 PS and 193 Nm of torque. It received VTEC in its minor model change and the addition of the more luxurious VTI-S model with leather power seats and a more advanced head unit. In the US meanwhile, it got the 2.7 liter V6 from the previous generation Legend. This model won several accolades such as the 1993-1994 Japan Car of the Year and the 1994 Motor Trend Import Car of the Year.
Sixth Generation (CG, 1998-2003)
By the late 90's, D-Segment had grown significantly in terms of dimensions. In the Philippines and other parts of the ASEAN region, Toyota had replaced the Corona with the Camry. In response, Honda introduced a longer and wider Accord for our market and the US. This Accord also holds the distinction of having three body styles: one for the European, US/ASEAN and Japanese market each. For the first time ever, the Accord was available in two engine options in the Philippines. VTI models were powered by a 2.0 liter F20 engine while the plusher VTI-L meanwhile came with a 2.3 liter F23 mill and both came with VTEC.
Later in its production, the local engine lineup was simplified to just one: the 2.0 liter. It was still available in the aforementioned VTI and VTI-L variants and the manual transmission was dropped for the Philippine market. Outside the Philippines, there was also a 3.0 liter V6 model available.
Seventh Generation (CM, 2003-07)
For the seventh generation Accord, more electronic control systems were added along with a significant redesign of the chassis. The seventh generation Accord's exterior was bigger and wider, incorporating Honda's design language at the time with aggressive lines and rather unique rear end treatment. Its interior was unlike any Accord at the time, with a swooping center console and, for the first time in the Philippines, audio controls on the steering wheel. With upmarket features, the Accord moved from simply being a mid-sized sedan to an executive sedan. Another first for this Accord in the Philippines was the introduction of the 3.0 liter V6 that put out 240 PS and 286 Nm of torque. That variant was sold alongside the 2.0 liter and 2.4 liter models.
The 2.0 was eventually dropped from the Philippine lineup, leaving the 2.4 and 3.0 V6. It was later given a redesign, particularly in the rear end. It was given a totally new trunklid and tail lights plus a mildly tweaked front fascia and new wheels.
Eighth Generation (CP, 2007-13)
Another dramatic change for the Accord, this time, in terms of size. Almost reaching five meters long, this Accord had the US market in mind and was classified as a large car there. It was also big on technology too as V6 models, now at 3.5 liters, came with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which helped reduce fuel consumption by switching off 2-3 cylinders while cruising. Power output also went up significantly, now rated at 272 PS and 336 Nm of torque. It also received an array of standard safety features such as traction control and stability control.
The generous exterior dimensions also gave way to a cavernous interior with more than enough room for five and easily taking in a weekend's worth of luggage. Despite its heft, contemporary road testers noted that it was still a relatively good steer.
Ninth Generation (CR, 2014-Current)
A new decade meant a new Accord and we now arrive at the current model. The ninth generation Accord was downsized but, according to Honda engineers, interior space was maintained and so was cargo area. With reductions made to its length, the current Accord is also lighter than its predecessor and sees gains in performance and fuel economy. Earth Dreams technology also makes its way to the current Accord for both the 2.4S and 3.5SV models. VCM is also used in the V6 Accords and the lineup gets a whole host of safety features such as traction and stability control, hill hold assist, and six airbags.
Regardless of what model you get, the ninth generation Accord is equipped with Honda's i-MID system, which includes Bluetooth and USB, bringing its infotainment system well into this decade. This year, Honda has updated the Accord, just in time for its 40th birthday.
Through the decades, the Honda Accord has had significant evolutions. In the span of 40 years, the Accord has moved up two size classes, gained almost 200 horsepower, and a wave of technologies and safety assists. What will the Accord be like on its 50th birthday? Nobody knows, but do expect that it continues to be one of Honda's highly regarded nameplates in the next decade.