VIDEO: The third-gen Accord was when Honda began to eat Detroit’s lunch

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the third-generation Accord here, but how was it received when new? Motorweek said that it was making Detroit, which at the time still dominated the family sedan market, nervous. There’s good reason, too. Put this thing next to a Chrysler K-Car, a hugely popular model at the time, and it might as well be a UFO. 

Motorweek tested a champagne (of course) top-of-the-line LXi sedan and had nothing but praises to sing. The styling was futuristic with snazzy pop-up headlights, the dashboard a masterclass in ergonomics, and the sound insulation luxury sedan-like.

Even with the optional 4-speed automatic, its responsive 2.0-liter, 12-valve engine earned plaudits, and its 110 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque launched the car from 0-60 mph in 9.7 seconds. Yet, it was efficient too, underrated at 23 city, 29 highway mpg (Motorweek got a combined 30 mpg in mixed-cycle testing).

Though they dinged it on body roll, that seems like a picked nit. What sedans at this price range were offering a double-wishbone suspension at all four corners?Speaking of which, the DX started a mere $8,000 while the range-topping LXi rang in at $13,700. But, as proof of the Accord’s magnificence, dealers at the time were marking them up to an eye-watering $18,000.

And yet, this was the generation that finally toppled the Big Three’s stranglehold on the sales charts. In 1989 the Honda Accord became the first import to take the title of America’s best-selling car. That year also happened to the final model year for the generation. Unfortunately for Detroit, they hadn’t seen nothin’ yet.

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4 Responses to VIDEO: The third-gen Accord was when Honda began to eat Detroit’s lunch

  1. j_c said:

    I think these are a bit neglected since they don’t have the zingy twin cam of the Prelude and Civic. That just means you can find a driver for not a lot of money.

    A couple years ago I bought a 200,000 mile 1989 LXi for a laugh and $1400. It was decently maintained and everything worked. I only got rid of it because I found a cheap LS400 that was also well maintained and has high mileage.

  2. F31Roger said:

    90-2000 Accords were my favorite. Tons of my friends had CB accords (they truly had fart can raspyness exhausts), CD accords (I briefly had a 97 CD) and the 2000s accord coupe V6 was one I really loved.

    I only knew a couple people who had the 86 pop up headlights accord. I always imagined if I got one of these, I would have to try and get the non pop ups, like getting the INXS Prelude front end.

  3. CycoPablo said:

    Bought my mum one of these in 1998. She downsized into a Mirage (Colt) hatch a few years later. That was like sitting in a wheelie-bin in comparison.
    Accord was so cossetting for an affordable car.

  4. smartalec said:

    I had an 89 Accord EX 5 speed manual. It was a great car for front seat passengers, you wouldn’t want to sit in the back though, the seats were so low your knees were up in the air. Also the sunroof leaked like a sieve, got drenched so many times used to carry around towels all the time, eventually got sick of it and just siliconed it up.

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