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Which Honda Accord trim level is right for you: LX or EX?

Which to Buy: Honda Accord LX vs Honda Accord EX | CarMax

So you’re considering a Honda Accord as your next car. It’s a good choice—the Accord is very highly-regarded in any of its available variants. Plus, it combines good gas mileage with lively performance and plenty of interior space. For those who enjoy the experience of driving, Accords are known for their firm ride, good handling, and responsive steering.

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Accord Overview

Honda brought the first Accord to the US in 1976, and it remains a best-seller today. Until the early 1990s it was classified as a compact car, and in 1993 Honda revamped it and moved it into the mid-sized class. It’s been a mid-sized car since, except for the 2007 to 2012 Accord, which grew just enough to count as full-sized.

While the first Accords were imported from Japan, they’ve been built in Ohio since 1982. According to Honda, total US production now exceeds 10.5 million. Here, we’ll address mainly the eighth (2007 to 2012) and ninth (2013 model year to present) generation Accords.

The 2008 Accord came in four-door sedan and two-door coupe body styles. Engine offerings included a 2.4L, four-cylinder engine and a 3.5L V6. During certain model years, Honda has also offered a gas/electric hybrid powertrain. A crossover model known as the Crosstour was offered between 2010 and 2015, and this Accord variant offered all-wheel drive as an option. A manual transmission was always standard in the Accord sedans and coupes, but since most new-car buyers chose to go with automatic shifting, these days, you might have to look harder to find a stickshift Accord.

For the 2013 model year, the Accord was offered in sedan and coupe forms, both with the same choice of engines. Likewise, the available trim levels remained largely unchanged; these ranged from the entry-level LX to the fully-loaded Touring (EX-L was the top-of-the-line coupe trim level). When searching for a used Honda Accord for sale, most of the cars you’ll find are in LX or EX trim. We’ll focus on these models here.

Powertrains

LX and EX Accords come with the economical four-cylinder engine and more often than not they’re available with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), instead of the rarer six-speed manual shifter. CVT transmissions are sometimes criticized for seeming to shift awkwardly, but Honda has worked hard to address this in the CVTs used in the Accord; theirs shift very smoothly. Fuel efficiency numbers for this combination are around 21 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Coupes drop about several mpg on the highway, and you may find slight differences in mileage between model years.

People who buy their Accords in EX-L trim may choose to have them with the V6 engine upgrade. This package came with a conventional automatic transmission (although a manual was available for the coupe), and delivered sprightly acceleration. Gas mileage drops a little with manual-equipped coupes, which see an average of 18 mpg around town and up to 28 mpg on the highway.

The Accord hybrid is only available in EX and higher trim levels, and this car gets, as you’d expect from a hybrid, more impressive mileage—an average of 50 mpg in the city and 45 on the highway (again, this varies between model years).

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Which trim level: LX or EX?

LX trim
Which to Buy: Honda Accord LX vs Honda Accord EX | CarMax

Base-level Accords are quite well-equipped. Riding on 16-inch alloy wheels, LX models come with dual-zone automatic climate control, a four-speaker audio system, and a rearview camera with an 8” screen. As with all Accords, interior materials have a high-quality feel and look like they belong in a more expensive vehicle.

EX and EX-L trim
Which to Buy: Honda Accord LX vs Honda Accord EX | CarMax

When you step up to the EX, your features include larger, 17-inch alloy wheels and additional interior equipment. A sunroof makes the already spacious cabin feel larger while a leather-wrapped steering wheel and six-speaker audio system offer the driver smooth sounds and additional comfort. Heated mirrors, a powered driver’s seat, keyless entry, and ignition and blind spot warning add to the list of useful features. Plus, the rear bench seat in recent models has a 60/40 split for folding.

Positioned a notch above the EX is the EX-L. This builds on the EX’s existing features and includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, memory settings for the driver’s seat, and a four-way power adjustment for the passenger. There’s also seven-speaker audio, a dashboard touchscreen interface to replace some buttons, and forward collision and lane departure warning systems.

Equipment and trim levels are the same in the EX coupes with only minor differences. Most notably, EX-L coupes roll on even larger 18-inch alloy wheels.

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Decision Factors

Unlike some other manufacturers, Honda tends not to offer long lists of options and upgrade packages on lower trim-level cars. That means if goodies like heated mirrors and seats are important to you (and for snow-belt residents they probably are) you’ll probably want to consider the EX and EX-L trim packages. The same applies if you want a higher-end audio system or leather trim. On the other hand, if you just want your used Honda Accord to provide economical motoring, the LX could be a very good choice.

How you feel about your vehicle’s performance could complicate your decision, however. While the Accord is no sports car, it provides a more engaging experience than some competing sedans. If that’s important to you, you might consider going with the V6 powerplant, which means stepping up to EX-L trim. Real enthusiasts might throw caution to the wind and choose the V6-engined coupe with a six-speed manual shifter.

Lastly, there’s your take on gas mileage and environmental concerns. The Accord hybrid delivers outstanding numbers, especially in stop-and-go city driving, while retaining a fun-to-drive character. Unfortunately for the budget-constrained, this requires you to go with the EX and higher trim levels.

Priorities and budget

Should you choose one as your next car, a used Honda Accord is unlikely to disappoint you. In base LX trim, it comes decently-equipped and should give you many, many miles of satisfaction. Buyers who prefer more features, plusher upholstery, and additional power should look into the EX and EX-L models. 

Alternatives

There are a lot of contenders for your money in the mid-sized sedan category. Three in particular that are worth considering are the Nissan Altima (available both as a sedan and a coupe), the Mazda 6, and the Hyundai Sonata. For a softer ride, take a look at the Toyota Camry.