What is the best Honda of the 21st century? This is a question based on a company that long had a following of fun and performance for a cheap price, and has a reputation for the import crowd—both good and bad. For example, say “Honda Civic” and chances are you’ll either picture a JDM-clean Civic coupe, or a badly done project with a crooked spoiler and a body kit more befitting for a lawn mower.
Regardless, Honda has put some good vehicles out over the years for enthusiasts, even though they’ve been declining for the style and excitement they once had. Such eye-opening examples of great Honda’s of recent years could include the Ayrton Senna-tuned NSX, or the S2000—both of which were sold in the 2000’s. However, they were engineered in the 1990’s, thus blocking them from being the best Honda’s of the 21st century thus far.
The 2006 Honda Civic Si coupe is still a good (if buzzy) machine if you’re young and willing to still have the boy-racer stigma, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for the more mature driver—say, one who would have an Acura, but can’t quite find one at the right price or equipment level—there’s a commonly overlooked and rare option: the Accord.
The Accord? That old, boring family car? Why yes. Specifically of the 2005-2006 era, equipped with the V6, four doors, and a six-speed manual transmission. This oft forgotten gem is a bridge between the well-aged 2004-2008 Acura TL, and the old ’99-2003 TL. It offers a 244hp V6 which again straddles the two cars in power (225 for the old, 258 in the new), and offers a six speed manual that the older TL’s were never graced with.
Armed with nothing more than a “V6” badge in red as opposed to black surrounded by a chrome square, the Accord 6-6 (as owners call them, for the V6/six-speed combo) becomes a better sleeper than the TL counterparts, Camry SE’s, and Altima SE-R’s (the latter two taking more “aggressive” styling). There’s nothing loud about the styling of the Accord 6-6. It even borrows the 2003 TL Type-S alloy wheels.
The 6-6 may not be the screaming track machine the S2000 was, or the ‘80’s Kid poster child from Gran Turismo stardom, or even the quick-selling Civic Si, but the Accord 6-6 sedan showed the world that Honda could still offer something most other manufacturers at the time wouldn’t, and did so in a practical, comfortable, and still-fun way.
*As a side note, this was originally written before the 2013 Honda Accord had really been seen in anything but spy-shots. As it turns out, the new four-cylinder Accord Sport also offers a six-speed manual transmission in the sedan. It also turns out to be quite a rocket, with a 0-60 in around 6.7 seconds. That’s in tune with turbo-charged cars in the midsized class it competes in, and the Accord lacks the turbo doing so. What’s more, one can still opt for a V6 (albeit only as an automatic) that will lop even more time off in acceleration. I’ve personally driven the new Accord four-cylinder, and can say that compared to the 2013 models of Camry, Sonata, and Altima among it in the same base trim, the Accord came across as the best driver. The new Accord also has me smitten every time I see one pass by on the road—I can’t help but like it, regardless of the unanimous-among-friends agreement that the tail is a Hyundai Genesis copy. It’s a cleanly styled, if conservative midsizer that holds its own quite well. I’d still have the old Accord 6-6 for quirk value, though.
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