From Aug 07

Rating ***

The Honda Accord Tourer treads a fine line. It costs more than such sales rep-mobile estates as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra. But the Honda badge lacks the cachet of an Audi A4 Avant or BMW 3 Series Touring, which won’t be much more expensive.

So, is the Accord a cut above or does it have ideas that are way beyond its station?
Towing ability
We’ve been towing with this Honda, our long-term test car, for six months and have rarely had cause to complain. On all types of roads and in any weather, it has been stable and reliable.

However, you need to work the 2.2-litre diesel harder with a caravan behind you than you might expect. Maximum torque is a healthy 251lb/ft at 2000rpm, but you’ll need to rev the engine well beyond this to make decent progress. Fortunately, that’s no great hardship with an engine as quiet and refined as this one. But note: sixth gear is of little use when towing; the Accord will hold 60mph more happily in fifth.

The weakest point is on steep hill starts, as we discovered in this month’s Towcar Awards (see our special supplement). On a 1-in-6 slope, we found the handbrake would just hold an 85% match. Pulling away resulted in some wheelspin and produced a nasty smell from the clutch.

Over our 12,000-mile test, we’ve also discovered that fuel consumption when towing is unexceptional. Expect 26-27mpg.

Driving Solo

Unhitch the van and point the Accord down a twisting road, and it’s in its element. For such a big estate it’s a superb drive, with precise, well-weighted steering and fine body control.

The main problem is the firm suspension, which gives such accurate control at speed, is too stiff when you’d rather dawdle. Broken road surfaces are felt with a thump, especially with the rear tyres pumped up to towing pressures.

At motorway speeds, there’s no more than a murmur from the engine, although wind noise can be intrusive. Acceleration is deceptively swift. The quiet engine and undramatic power delivery combine to disguise how quickly the car is gathering speed.

In the Cabin
There are few faults inside – narrow front seats and a front passenger seat that doesn’t adjust for height – but that’s it. The driving position is comfortable and there’s enough leg and headroom for six-footers. Rear-seat passengers should be happy, too. Honda has put an extra 5cm into the wheelbase of the Tourer over the Accord saloon, which gives more legroom in the back and plenty of headroom.

The huge luggage area is really impressive. Even with the seats and luggage cover in place, you get 626 litres to play with. Fold the seats down and load to the roof to squeeze in 1707 litres of kit. This is where the Honda scores over the upmarket estates from Audi and BMW.

In most estate cars you have to tip the seat bases forward separately before folding the backs down. In the Accord this happens in one smooth motion.
If accessing the boot is too much hassle, the power tailgate opens and closes at the touch of a button.

Buying & Owning
This car is not cheap; the EX version tested here is the more pricey of the two diesel models, but even the cheaper Sport breaches the £20,000 mark. Bully the salesman, says our sister magazine What Car?, and you should get the EX down to around £21,222.

There are similarly spacious diesel estates for a lot less. The Vauxhall Vectra 1.9 CDTi (150ps) estate starts from £17,825, and determined haggling should bag it for £15,700.

The Honda is better equipped, however, and comes with Vehicle Stability Assist, cruise control, front foglights, climate control, a CD player and front, side and curtain airbags. It should also hold its value far better than the Vauxhall (44% after three years rather than 37%).

Expect your time with the Honda to be largely trouble-free; it placed sixth out of 113 cars in the 2007 JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. The Vectra finished at 93rd.

As a load carrier, the Accord Tourer is in the front rank. It’s classier than a Vectra and more practical than a comparable Audi or BMW. The massive boot and the easily folding seats show how much thought has gone into the design. The refined engine and sharp drive add to this impressive package.

However, the stiff ride is irritating, and hill starts are a struggle when towing. This is a great estate, then, but it’s only OK as a towcar.

Price £22,367 
Engine capacity 2204cc
Max power 138bhp @ 4000rpm
Max torque 251lb/ft @ 2000rpm  
Kerbweight 1602kg
Max tow weight 1500kg
Cost of towbar fitting £800
Official combined economy 47.9mpg
0-62mph 9.3sec
Max speed 122mph
CO2 emissions 155g/km
Luggage capacity 626-1707 litres
Insurance group 12

Overall length 475cm
Width (incl mirrors) 201cm
Height 149.5cm

Max noseweight 75kg

Front seats: headroom 95cm, legroom 108cm
Rear seats: headroom 94cm, legroom 70cm