Where should buyers start when trying to figure out which model year of a used car to buy? Looking at reliability ratings and owner complaints from sites like Consumer Reports and CarComplaints.com can help narrow it down. Here’s a look at which Honda Accord model years those two sites recommend.
The history of the Honda Accord
The Honda Accord has been around since 1976 and has gone through ten generations so far. It’s a dependable car that has appeared over the years as a coupe, hatchback, wagon, and sedan. It’s occasionally been the best-selling car in the U.S., so there are plenty of used Accords out there to pick from. In recent years, new generations have rolled out in 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2018, often growing larger, more powerful, and more luxurious with each redesign.
How reliability is measured
Two places where consumers can look to check the Honda Accord’s reliability are Consumer Reports and CarComplaints.com. Consumer Reports collects survey responses from members, which give information on problems owners have dealt with across 17 categories over the past 12 months. CarComplaints.com lets owners submit complaints, and the site displays the information in graphic formats. They also hand out their “Seal of Awesome” for older vehicles.
Consumer Reports’ reliability and owner satisfaction ratings
Consumer Reports looked at the Honda Accord models dating back to 2000, rating each model year on reliability and owner satisfaction on a five-point scale. The Accord earned five out of five for reliability in 2011 through 2013 plus 2015. While it didn’t have any fives for owner satisfaction, it did have fours for 2000 through 2007, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2020. The year with the highest reliability and owner satisfaction was 2013.
Of the Accord’s numerous redesigns, the 2003 and 2008 changes seemed to introduce new problems. It was given a mediocre three out of five for its reliability verdict for model years 2000 through 2003, 2008, and 2018 through 2020. Owner satisfaction was a three for model years 2008 through 2012 as well as 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.
Car Complaints’ recommendations
Car Complaints has data on the Honda Accord going all the way back to 1979. Submitted complaints stay below 100 until 1998, when the number jumps up to 435. In the years since then, only five have had fewer than 200 complaints: 2006, 2011, 2015, 2017, and 2018. While 2017 and 2018 may still be too new to have extensive problems, 2006, 2011, and 2015 stand out as reliable model years.
Car Complaints has created a new list of best vehicles, which they give their “Seal of Awesome.” Unfortunately, none of the Accord model years makes the list. There are years, though, that are given the “Seal of Pretty Good.” These stand out from the other model years, which received the “Beware of the Clunker” and the “Avoid Like the Plague” seals. Receiving the “Seal of Pretty Good” are the model years 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2015.
The years to “Avoid Like the Plague” are 1998 through 2004 and 2008. Car Complaints calls out 2003 as the worst model year due to its transmission problems. The site also notes that 2008 had the most submitted complaints.
Safety features on the best model years
Variations in features over the years make it important to look at what’s included with each particular used car. Used Honda Accords from the best recent model years all come with side curtain airbags and front side-impact airbags, which were introduced in 2005. Honda introduced advanced safety features with the 2013 Accord, and the Honda Sensing package of advanced safety and driver assistance features became available on all trims in 2016.
Between Consumer Reports and Car Complaints, the top used Honda Accords to consider are from model years 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015.