There are a great number of changes that have been made to the 2008 Accord, but in this first article we'll try to focus on the key changes that actually have a direct impact on the Accord's driving experience.
Much of the Accord's reputation has been built upon its class-leading powertrains. For 2008, the Accord is again offered with two different engine families: a 2.4L 4-cylinder and a 3.5L V-6. The 4-cylinder has two distinct variants: a 177hp version found in the LX trim level of the sedan, and a 190hp version found in the EX trim levels of the sedan as well as all 4-cylinder coupe trims. The 3.5L V-6 is also offered in two distinct flavors, both carrying the same basic specs on paper, but tuned for different missions. One could be called the "hot" version, and is only found under the hood of the Accord Coupe EX-L 6MT model. Every other V6 Accord model uses a V6 that's been fitted with Honda's second generation Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system. The key difference between this system and the first generation of VCM is that the cylinder deactivation function now operates on both cylinder banks, allowing for 6-, 4-, or 3-cylinder operation and a claimed further benefit in terms of fuel economy. The "hot" version does without the VCM, but instead benefits from other enhancements which result in a wealth of midrange torque (more than 30lb-ft more than the VCM version at some points in the rev scale). There have been no major developments in the transmissions for the 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder models, and perhaps most disappointingly, there is no 6-speed manual transmission offered in any of the sedan variants. While we understand that the 7th generation 6MT Accord V6 wasn't a huge seller, we think that part of that was because it wasn't offered until the 4th year of the selling cycle - this is far too late for enthusiasts who tend to be "early adopters".
Another of the Accord's strong suits has generally been its chassis, and Honda has made efforts to further improve it for 2008. First of all, body rigidity has been increased by 20% from a torsional standpoint, 33% in terms of rear vertical rigidity, and 36% in terms of front horizontal rigidity. Up front, the suspension layout is an evolution of the previous double wishbone setup, with geometry that has been tweaked to improve anti-dive characteristics. A new Variable Gear Ratio (VGR) steering rack has been fitted to improve precision at highway speeds (small inputs) while improving response for larger steering inputs. The rear multilink suspension has been completely redesigned - a new compact "in-wheel" 4-link suspension has been fitted. It utilizes a design that's said to have been heavily influenced by the suspension that's found in the current Acura RL. These changes (along with a reduction in the engines' center of mass) have combined to lower the 2008 Accord's overall center of gravity by around 10mm, while the car's roll center have been raised slightly. The effects of these improvements include a reduction in body roll and a claimed increase in passenger comfort.
At first glance, it might seem like the 190hp version of the Accord's 2.4L 4-cylinder motor is simply a detuned version of the 205hp K24 motor found in the current Acura TSX, but this isn't actually the case. It is in fact a distinct flavor of the K24 that has not yet been offered in the US market. The key differences between the 2008 Accord K24, the 2008 TSX K24, and the 2007 Accord K24 reside at the cylinder head, and can be summed up as follows:
- All 3 versions of the K24 have continuously variable valve timing (phasing) on the intake camshaft.
- The K24 found in the 7th generation Accords used a VTEC mechanism on the intake camshaft simply to activate/deactivate one of the intake valves, in order to promote swirl at lower and midrange rpms.
- The exhaust camshaft on the 7th generation and (non-PZEV) 8th generation Accords has no VTEC mechanism, so there is only one lift profile on the exhaust camshaft.
- Interestingly, on PZEV K24 8th generation Accords, the exhaust camshaft actually uses a VTEC mechanism to activate/deactivate one of the exhaust valves, in order to improve emissions at certain rpm ranges.
- On all 8th generation Accord K24s and the TSX's K24, the VTEC mechanism is employed to provide two distinct cam lift profiles (hi/lo) on the intake camshaft.
- The main distinction of the TSX's K24 is that it also employs two lift profiles on the exhaust camshaft as well.
With the high-lift profile on the new Accord's motor, it is now able to breathe much better at higher rpm ranges, maintaining its peak torque at higher rpms, and thus producing more horsepower. Additionally, compression has been raised from 9.7:1 to 10.5:1 on all 2008 Accord 4-cylinder motors. Honda claims that the key difference between the 177hp and 190hp motors is a "special exhaust system" that nets a 31% increase in flow relative to the 7th generation 4-cylinder exhaust system. This decrease in restriction means that more of the exhaust note is heard, so 4-cylinder Accords with the 190hp motor are equipped with an Active Noise Control (ANC) system. The ANC system uses two microphones mounted in the headliner to counteract low frequency (below 100Hz) in the cabin of the vehicle. Honda claims up to 10dB of attenuation of these low frequency sounds.