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Honda's accord EX. (Executive Life).

The CEOs I've known, even billionaires, have been passionate about getting value for their money. At the same time, the best ones know that every action they take is scrutinized by others in their companies. If the boss blows big bucks on a fancy car, that sends a signal.

But what if the boss drives a new Honda Accord EX coupe with a V6 engine and six-speed manual shift? Everyone would think that the guy or gal in the corner office is making something of a sacrifice in these difficult times. After all, the car's suggested retail price is only $27,900.

What they wouldn't know is that the Accord EX is an absolute screamer. Its variable valve-timing engine and its double-wishbone suspension give it the performance characteristics of a BMW 3 Series car. Maybe not a 330, but certainly a 323. Honda has taken what it has learned from its NSX race car and its S2000 sports car and poured it into creating an Accord that is very unAccordian. It is more competitive with BMW than Honda's more upscale Acura line, and it costs less.

The beauty of the Accord EX engine is that, beginning at around 5,600 revolutions per minute, its sound changes and positively begs the driver to push it closer to the red line, which is 6,800. This is what the variable valve timing does it changes the way the engine's valves open and close at a certain rpm point, giving the cylinders more air. Ergo, performance is enhanced.

The rest of the package is just as well-designed. The layout of dashboard controls feels more cockpitlike than those of other Hondas. The 17-inch wheels help the appearance, but the car still looks a lot like other Accords. The only thing that took some getting used to was the new hydraulic clutch. It has a slightly different feel than other manual shifts, but I got the hang of it within a couple of days.

Honda says it is going to make only a few thousand EX's, with the model serving as a "halo" car to burnish the Accord line. So if you like getting excellent value for your dollar and are equally interested in enjoying your wheels, take an Accord EX for a spin. Nobody needs to know what a blast you're having.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Automobile
Author:Holstein, William J.
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
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