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A silver 2020 Honda Accord is shown driving to a used Honda Accord dealer.

How the Honda Accord Has Transformed Through the Years

If you quickly read that headline and thought this will be about the use of a Honda Accord in the Transformers universe, then I’m sorry to disappoint. For one thing, I’m not aware of any character that’s ever turned into an Accord (though one version of Rumble did have him change into a Honda Civic Si for some reason); and for another, that’s the only real reason, honestly. Instead, we’re going to look at some of the differences in the models you might find at your local used Honda Accord dealer and how they’ve transformed over the years.

This is largely due to just how long the Accord has been on the market. Any vehicle that’s been around since the Ford Administration is going to have gone through quite a few changes during that time. What makes this an interesting legacy to dig into is that it reveals not only how designs and concepts for the Accord itself have changed but how the auto industry has grown and transformed throughout that time. In particular, we’re going to look at how the Accord has grown and shrunk (literal physical size) over the last nearly 50 years.

Accord First Generation (1977)

Honda established itself as a big name in the motorcycle market in the 1950s and then made a splash with the small Civic in the early 1970s. They followed up this success with the desire to offer their customers something larger: the Honda Accord. In terms of size, the Accord was a compact car but larger than the Civic and featured a hatchback design that was highly functional while delivering excellent fuel efficiency. Only the hatchback version was available for the 1977 model year, but a four-door sedan followed that in 1978.

This first generation of the Accord had a 93.7-inch wheelbase: the hatchback model was 162.8 inches long, while the sedan was 175.2 inches long. By comparison, the Honda Civic that was available at that same time was a subcompact model with about a 90-inch wheelbase and an overall length of up to 161 inches for its four-door sedan version. You can see the difference in size here, particularly when the sedan version of the Accord was launched.

Accord Second Generation (1982)

For its second generation, which launched with the 1982 model year, the Honda Accord underwent a couple of important changes. First, Honda opened up a factory in Ohio, and this became the first Honda model to be built here in the US. It was redesigned for its second generation with a refreshed interior and exterior, though it remained available as both a hatchback and a sedan. The sedan version changed slightly for this new generation: it featured a wheelbase of 96.5 inches (about 3 inches longer than the previous model) and an overall length of 173.6 inches for the sedan (about 1.5 inches shorter). This shift in design altered the landscape of the interior thanks to the increased distance between the wheels.

Accord Third Generation (1986)

A refresh for 1984 updated the look of the Accord, but it didn’t launch a new generation until 1986 when it received a redesign with a bold and impressive exterior, which included retractable headlights. The third generation saw significant growth for the Accord: the wheelbase grew to 102.4 inches (nearly 6 inches longer than the second generation), while the overall length of the sedan model grew to 179.1 inches. Despite the hatchback version remaining a bit shorter, at just under 175 inches in length, this was a bigger model overall, which perfectly reflects the shift at the time among drivers toward longer sedans closer to the midsize models that remain popular today.

Accord Fourth Generation (1990)

For its fourth generation, the Accord grew once again to such a degree that it broke out of the compact category and became a midsize car. Its wheelbase was increased to more than 107 inches – at this point the wheelbase was more than a foot longer than when the Accord was first released for the 1977 model year. Coupe and sedan versions measured more than 184 inches in length in the fourth generation, growing nearly half a foot compared to the previous generation. At this point, it was almost two feet longer than the original hatchback Accord from the 1970s.

Accord Fifth Generation (1994)

When the fifth generation model launched in the mid-90s, the midsize design had proven quite popular, so Honda stuck with it. This generation had a wheelbase of just under 107 inches, slightly shorter than the previous model, and the sedan and coupe versions measured 184 inches in length, which were also a hair shorter. So while you could technically say that the fifth generation model shrank slightly, the difference was pretty negligible. Plus, a refresh for the 1996 model year extended the Accord a bit to 185.6 inches in length, making it longer than the fourth generation.

Accord Sixth Generation (1998)

For its sixth generation, the Accord was redesigned, and the hatchback version of it was discontinued; only a four-door sedan and two-door coupe remained. The wheelbase for this generation remained identical to the fifth generation, measuring 106.9 inches for the sedan version. Despite this, however, the Accord sedan actually grew in length to 188.8 inches total—more than 3 inches longer than the refreshed version from 1996. At this point, the Accord had established itself as a popular midsize model that dominated the 1990s.

Accord Seventh Generation (2003)

A strange thing happened with the seventh generation as the Accord became two vehicles: the model we still got in the US and a smaller version for Europe and Japan, which was sold here as the Acura TSX. Our version of the Accord once again grew slightly in size with a 107.9-inch wheelbase (exactly 1 inch longer than previously) and an overall length of nearly 189.5 inches for the sedan version. This wasn’t a huge amount of growth, but it still shows that Honda was focused on keeping the Accord their midsize leader.

Accord Eighth Generation (2008)

Continuing to lean into that, when the eighth generation model was released for 2008, it was even bigger than what had come before. The growth was quite significant for this year, too: on the sedan model, the wheelbase increased to 110.2 inches, and it was stretched to 194.1 inches in overall length. That’s an increase of nearly 3 inches of wheelbase and almost 5 inches overall from the previous generation, one of the biggest jumps in the Accord’s history.

Accord Ninth Generation (2013)

The ninth generation incarnation (see what I did there?) of the Accord shrunk a bit and had a 109.3-inch wheelbase while measuring 191.4 inches in total length as a sedan. This is only about an inch shorter in terms of wheelbase but nearly 3 inches shorter overall. While the Accord has remained a midsize model throughout the 2010s, it reflects how changes in the market and industry have come through in design choices on sedans.

Accord Tenth Generation (2018)

Now we find ourselves at the current generation of the Accord, which launched in the 2018 model year. For the tenth generation, the Accord has grown and has a 111.4-inch wheelbase while measuring 192.2 inches in overall length. Not a huge change, but it highlights how generations bring new designs and differences every time. It’s worth noting, however, that a facelift and refresh for the 2021 model year kept the wheelbase the same but increased the overall length to 196.1 inches. At this point, the Accord is now the longest it’s ever been—nearly 3 feet longer than the original compact hatchback version from 1977 and almost 2 feet longer than the first sedan model. With so many manufacturers abandoning the sedan market, it’s interesting to see that Honda remains committed and has transformed the Accord year after year.

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