Honda Accord Tourer 2004 - long-term test

Those who keep a close eye on the comings and goings of our fleet will notice our Honda Accord Tourer seems to have changed colour.

  • Smooth, quiet diesel, massive boot, sat-nav, road manners, interior comfort, economy
  • No automatic gearbox option, steering wheel is a bit large, that's about it

Those who keep a close eye on the comings and goings of our long-term fleet will notice our Honda Accord Tourer seems to have changed colour. In fact, it's a whole new car - Milano Red this time, rather than Indigo Blue Pearl. The simple reason is that the 2.4-litre model we used to run was such a hit with all who drove it that we've replaced it with a diesel version. But there's more to it than that.

At our New Car Honours 2004, in issue 817, we voted the Honda Accord our favourite family saloon and the Tourer our top estate (both for the second year in a row), while the new 2.2 i-CTDi engine won our best executive diesel category. Our new long-termer ticks all those boxes - so could it be Auto Express's ultimate test model? I think so. As chief snapper, I need a large, practical car, preferably with a torquey, frugal engine given that I cover upwards of 5,000 miles a month. As I missed out on running the last Accord Tourer, I made sure I was first in the queue for the keys for this one. And I'm glad I did, as I can't think of a more suitable photography wagon.

For starters, it looks great - much better than the Ford Focus C-MAX I ran beforehand. The square lines may divide opinion, but I like the fact this is a no-nonsense load-lugger that does exactly what it says on the tin. My only gripe is that the standard 16-inch alloys look a little small for the tall flanks. Bigger wheels are available, but I'm happy since the ride of this car is so smooth. In fact, the whole driving experience is fault-free. The steering is light and sharp, stability is good even with the boot fully loaded and the pedals are light and precise to use.

But the star of the show is Honda's astounding diesel engine. That "hate something, change something" TV ad is right - the smoothness and silence of this unit have to be experienced to be believed. Even with a bootful of photography gear, there's no discernible effect on the performance, which remains muscular all the way through the mid-range.

Nor does the extra weight hit the economy too much. I've been averaging just under 41mpg - not bad considering many of my journeys are spent on the stop-start M25 at rush hour getting from my home near Chelmsford, Essex, to the various photo locations we use to the north or west of London. I don't need to take a road atlas any more, either - the Accord's DVD-based sat-nav system is excellent, easy to programme and simple to follow.

Tourer is an apt name for this car. It relishes long trips - and so do I given the broad, comfortable seats, faultless driving position and slick controls. One of my favourite features is the superb five-speed manual gearbox. However, we hear demand is growing for an auto option. One dealer tells us he's lost six sales in the past month due to the lack of a self-shifter - and this from a quiet rural showroom, not a big city site. Then there's the vast boot. All my kit slots in and I can still pull the load cover over to hide the cases and bags from view. This may sound like gushing praise, but there's nothing I dislike about this car - except perhaps the large-diameter steering wheel. All I've got to do now is make sure I keep a firm grip on the keys.

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