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 Car Complaints 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
According to Autotrader, the Honda Accord has been around since 1976 and has gone through 10 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 1981, 1985, 1989, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2018, often growing larger, more powerful, and more luxurious with each redesign.
How car reliability is measured
Two places where consumers can look to check the Honda Accord’s reliability in terms of performance and maintenance issues are Consumer Reports and Car Complaints. Consumer Reports collects survey responses from members, which give information on problems owners have dealt with across 17 categories over the past 12 months. Car Complaints lets owners submit complaints, and the site displays the information in graphic formats. It also hands out its “Seal of Awesome” for older vehicles with reliable reputations.
Consumer Reports ratings of Honda Accord model years
Consumer Reports looked at the Honda Accord models dating back to 2000, rating each model year on reliability and owner satisfaction. The Accord earned a perfect reliability score in the 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2020 model years. While the model earned no perfect scores for owner satisfaction, it did receive high marks for the 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2020 through 2022 model years. The year with the highest reliability and owner satisfaction was the 2020 Honda Accord.
Of the Accord’s numerous generation redesigns, the 2003 and 2008 model year changes seemed to introduce new problems. Average reliability scores were given to the 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2018 model years. Additionally, owner satisfaction scores were also average for the 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2008 through 2019 model years.
Accord models recommended by Car Complaints
Car Complaints has data on the Honda Accord going back to the 1979 model. Submitted complaints stay below 100 until 1998 when the number jumps to 438. In the years since then, only six have had fewer than 200 complaints: 2006, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2021. While the 2019 through 2021 Honda Accord models may still be too new to have extensive problems, the 2006 and 2015 entries 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 the 1998 through 2004 and 2008 model years. Car Complaints calls out 2003 as the worst model year due to its transmission problems, also cited by CARFAX. The site also notes that 2008 had the most submitted complaints.
Safety features on the best Honda Accord models
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 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.