Since its debut in the late-1970s, the Honda Accord has been a common choice for drivers looking for a reliable and affordable car. Since the 1980s, the Accord has been one of the best sellers In the United States, piloting hundreds of millions of Americans for hundreds of millions of miles. While most people typically don’t associate the Accord with a performance car, since the mid-2000s Honda has been putting out some decently powerful V6 and turbo-four Accords onto the market. Many of them are making just shy of 300 horsepower.
For those looking to squeeze a little more performance out of their Accords, we’re making a 5 Best Honda Accord mods guide to help you get started. We’re going to start with suspension mods and picking out optimal wheel and tire combos. Then we’ll go over how to improve horsepower and look at the best bolt-on intake, tuning, and exhaust mods available.
Keep in mind, Honda has released countless trim levels and different Accord models over the years. We have tried to make this guide as universal as possible, but not everything will apply to every model, trim, and model year combination. Make sure you always double check fitment and functionality before making any final purchases.
Honda Accord Performance History
It seems like forever ago that Honda introduced its beloved Accord model back in 1976. Buyers were immediately drawn to its affordability at the dealership and at the pump, but performance was just an afterthought. Most models made between 60-75 horsepower, and it wasn’t until the early-’80s they broke 100 horsepower. However, they also had MPG ratings in the 50s and 60s, something most American domestics couldn’t match.
By the late-1980s, the Accord was one of the top selling vehicles in the country. In 1994, Honda introduced the first V6 accord with the 2.7L C27 engine. By the mid-2010s, the V6 Accord was one of the most popular options. The most powerful V6 Accords made more than 270 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque.
Starting in 2018, Honda dropped the V6 from their Accord lineup and replaced it with a turbocharged 2.0 L inline-four engine. The new engine dropped power to 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Honda has not yet announced what the newest Honda will make, but we know it will have a 1.5 L inline-four turbo. It will probably make similar power as the outgoing 2.0L turbo, but with better fuel efficiency and less emissions.
Why Mod your Honda Accord?
When most people think about upgrading and improving their vehicles, usually a modded Honda Accord doesn’t come to their mind. While we’re guilty too of sometimes dismissing the Accord, on paper it actually has decent performance specs. The Accord is one of the few cars still available with a manual transmission. This alone gives it a leg up on many other modern cars trying to upgrade and improves the driving experience.
The ninth generation Accord V6 made 278 horsepower and could go from zero to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. Many V6 Accord owners have posted quarter mile times in the 14 second range at 100 mph. While these don’t sound like incredible numbers, for a fuel efficient economy car like the Accord it’s very good.
Performance is already decent on the Honda Accord, but for those looking to refine the handling and upgrade the horsepower even more, modding is a great choice. With just a few tasteful Honda Accord mods, you can transform the handling and put the horsepower on par with many modern performance vehicles.
Top 5 Honda Accord Mods
From the factory, Honda has to make many sacrifices for performance in the Accord so they can deliver the fuel economy, emissions, and affordable pricing longtime Honda fans are accustomed to. Luckily, you can correct a lot of these shortcuts with just a few basic Honda Accord mods.
Top 5 Honda Accord Mods:
- Suspension Mods
- Wheel and Tire Upgrades
- ECU Tuning
- Cold Air Intake
- Exhaust Mods
The first thing we would recommend upgrading on stock Honda Accords is going to be the suspension system. The stock suspension is not known for its handling, especially when the more powerful V6 and turbo-four engines are equipped. But all Accords can benefit from better traction, less body-roll, and more overall stability.
After the suspension, the next best upgrade is to get a good set of tires and wheels. Just like Honda Accord mods for suspension, getting performance wheels and tires will improve handling, traction, and most importantly response. Many people are surprised at how much a performance wheel/tire upgrade can really help the Accord feel like an almost different car.
Now that we’ve taken care of some very basic handling improvements, the next step is to look at adding more horsepower and torque. Our three suggestions for improving power on the Accord are ECU tuning, a cold air intake, and exhaust mods. We’ll be honest, the horsepower gains aren’t drastic on paper, but they are still very noticeable for the driving experience.
1) Honda Accord Suspension Mods
Benefits of Honda Accord Suspension Mods:
- Reduced body-roll
- Reduced ride height
- Improved handling
- Improved cornering
- Improved stability
- Improved ability to handle bumps
Looking at the Honda Accord stock suspension system there are a lot of areas that can be upgraded. The stock system is definitely meant for comfort over performance, and it seriously sacrifices handling. The most common Honda Accord mods for improving the suspension are in no particular order sway bars, strut bar, and coilovers or lowering springs.
From the most basic standpoint, improving the suspension will make your car handle much better everywhere. You’ll feel improvements when coming in and out of turns and when trying to keep the car straight over bumps. You’ll also notice improved stability when cornering and less jostling inside the cabin. It will really help the car feel planted to the road much more than before.
Honda Accord Sway Bars and Strut Bar Upgrades
The purpose of improved sway bars and strut bar (also known as strut tower brace) is to reduce body-roll. The factory sway bars and strut bar are known to flex under heavy load. The purpose of upgrading to aftermarket ones is the improved strength and reduced weight, preventing flexing while shedding unnecessary pounds.
Sway bars go under the car and connect the left and right side of the suspension together. As a car turns, the weight transfers from both wheels to mainly the outside wheel. The purpose of the sway bars are to clamp down on the springs on the inside wheel, redistributing the weight from the outside wheel and keeping the car level and stopping body-roll. Sway bars are also called anti-roll bars for this reason, and there is one up front and one in the rear.
The strut bar sits in the engine bay instead of under the car. The strut bar connects the left and right struts together, which serves a similar purpose as the sway bar. The bar transfers spring pressure from one strut to the other, again minimizing body roll and improving stability. Upgraded sway bars and a strut bar will massively improve handling when coming in and out of a corner.
Accord Coilovers and Lowering Springs
That brings us to coilovers and lowering springs. Both of them accomplish the same goal, reducing ride height to lower the center of gravity. Lowering the center of gravity and ride height allows for more precise and responsive steering adjustments. Your car will see even more improvement when cornering with coilovers, and will also ride more stable when in a straight line.
Coilovers are more expensive than lowering springs, but they also perform much better. Lowering springs are the budget way of lowering your car, while coilovers are the professional way. We definitely recommend coilovers over just springs, as it’s definitely worth the extra money.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a set of coilovers or lowering springs will make the ride more harsh. Most aftermarket springs are stiffer than stock, meaning the car will be able to respond to and stay planted over bumps much better. However, that also means you will feel those bumps much more, even if they’re pretty minor.
If your Accord is your daily driver and you put a lot of city mileage on it, you might want to consider whether coilovers are worth it. Many people have added coilovers only to realize that for daily driving they are too stiff and uncomfortable. Especially if you’re not the only one riding in the car.
2) Accord Wheel and Tire Upgrades
Now let’s move on to wheel and tire upgrades for the Honda Accord. Simply put, there is almost nothing you can do to the suspension that will make as much of a difference as upgraded wheels and tires. They are however more expensive, so we recommend them second.
Benefits of Honda Accord Wheel and Tire Upgrades:
- Improved handling
- Improved acceleration
- Improved traction
- Improved braking
- Reduced wheel weight
The stock rims and tires both leave a lot to be desired from both a performance and aesthetic standpoint. Honda’s OEM rims are made from cast aluminum, which means they are porous and not the most durable. They also look incredibly simple and definitely do not heighten the appeal of the wheel look very much.
On the other hand, forged wheels offer less porous wheels that are much more durable. Forged wheels are cut and compressed from a single billet, rather than being poured into a mold. This makes them a ton stronger and more resistant to oxidation and corrosion, as well as lighter. They offer better performance than cast alloy wheels and last far longer. You can also customize their coloring, material, and pattern to whatever you want.
The benefits of upgraded wheels are in the handling, braking, and acceleration departments. The lighter mass of forged wheels causes them to be more responsive to driver adjustments, improving handling. The lighter mass also makes it easier to slow down the wheels when braking, and to move the wheels when accelerating. You won’t gain any horsepower, but you will be able to more effectively put it down to the pavement.
Accord Tire Upgrades
High performance tires are a great performance upgrade for the Accord because they offer improved performance, handling, and traction over other types of rubber. They have superior design characteristics that allow for precise and steady control in both dry and wet conditions.
High performance tires are usually summer tires, but you can also find all-weather and winter performance tires if you live in an inclement climate. For many people living in places where it snows, they have two sets of tires, one summer and one winter. This gives you the best of both worlds in terms of traction and performance, but definitely hits your wallet. For most Accord drivers, a high performance all-season tire will probably be best if you live in a place with lots of snow and rain.
Combined with lighter forged wheels, your Accord will feel completely transformed after a performance tire upgrade. You will definitely notice improvements to acceleration, braking, handling, and traction with new tires and wheels.
3) Accord ECU Tuning Upgrade
Honda Accord ECU Tuning Benefits:
- Increased horsepower/torque
- Smoother power band
- Ability to compensate for aftermarket mods
- Maximize aftermarket mod performance
Now it’s time to move on to the fun part, adding horsepower to your modded Honda Accord. One of the most effective ways to increase horsepower on your Accord is through ECU tuning. Nowadays, all modern cars are largely run using an onboard computer, commonly referred to as Engine Control Unit or ECU.
Your ECU is responsible for much of how your engine operates, including how much horsepower and torque it makes. Honda tuned their engines for the most reliability and best fuel economy, meaning they left some power on the table. By utilizing aftermarket Accord ECU tuning, you can unlock some of this extra horsepower pretty easily.
Most Honda tuners are handheld programmers that you can plug into the OBD II port below your dashboard. They come preloaded with “maps” or “tunes” that you can program into your car through the supplied tuner. These tunes optimize parameters surrounding things like ignition timing, camshaft timing, boost pressure, and air-to-fuel ratios in order to achieve maximum horsepower.
You can also go through a custom tuner instead of using a preloaded tune. While custom tuners are more expensive, the benefit is the increased attention to your specific car. Instead of a generic tune meant for your specific make, model, and mods, a custom tune takes into account how your specific car reacts to the mods to make them work the best. Not all mods work perfectly on all cars, and custom tuning can help work out any kinks.
ECU tuning is a top mod for completely stock and modified engines. You can expect a 10-20% power bump and better drivability.
4) Accord Cold Air Intakes
Accord Cold Air Intake Benefits:
- Improved horsepower/torque
- Improved throttle response
- Improved fuel economy
- Increased power band
- Increased engine noise
- Aesthetically improves engine bay
Our first bolt-on recommendation for the Honda Accord to make more power is a cold air intake. There are two kinds of intakes for the Honda Accord, cold air intakes and short ram intakes. Both of them are similar, but short ram intakes have less piping and locate the air filter as close to the intake as possible. On the other hand, cold air intakes relocate the filter as far away from the engine bay as possible to grab cooler air.
We recommend a CAI because the colder air will aid performance much better. Colder air has more oxygen than hot air, which means the car can make more power when it combusts. In addition, cold air intakes have much less restrictive piping and air boxes than the stock intake, allowing them to increase flow volume and velocity. All of this adds up to increased horsepower, a more responsive throttle, and a larger power band.
Though it’s very minimal, you can also see an improvement to gas mileage from installing a cold air intake. The idea is that colder air requires less fuel, so your engine will burn less gas with a cold air intake. While in theory it’s true, in reality it only corresponds to about 0.5-1 MPG increases. It’s still better than nothing, but isn’t exactly drastic.
5) Accord Exhaust Mods
Our final Honda Accord bolt-on recommendation is for the exhaust. Depending on the size, configuration, and natural aspiration of your engine, there’s different pieces you can upgrade. We’ll start with naturally aspirated Accords and work our way up to the turbocharged ones.
Top Benefits of Honda Accord Exhaust Mods:
- Increased horsepower/torque
- Increased power band
- Improved exhaust flow/scavenging
- Increased exhaust noise
Naturally Aspirated Accord Exhaust Mods
For naturally aspirated Honda Accords, you will be looking at upgrading the header(s) and cat-back exhaust. The header(s) connect directly to the engine and are the most forward part of the exhaust. Accords with an inline-four or six configuration will have a single header, while V6 Accords have two headers (one per cylinder bank).
Upgrading the Accord header will improve exhaust flow and scavenging and reduce exhaust reversion. Without getting too complicated, basically it’ll help you expel hot and dirty exhaust gasses so they can be replaced in the engine by cool and clean air. This means more horsepower and torque and a larger and smoother power band.
There are two kinds of Accords headers, race and shorty/street. Shorty or street headers will keep the factory catalytic converter in place, whereas race headers either remove the cats entirely or replace them with high flow versions. Catless and high flow catted race headers will make the most power, but they are not legal in many states.
The other part of the exhaust to upgrade on naturally aspirated vehicles is the cat-back. As you might guess, this is the portion of the exhaust from the catalytic converter back to the mufflers. You won’t see the same power increase with a cat-back as with headers, but the exhaust’s volume will increase more. A good cat-back will bring out the good sounds of your Accord engine utilizing performance mufflers and possibly a resonator, while eliminating as much rasp and drone as possible.
Turbocharged Accord Exhaust Mods
If you have a turbocharged Accord your exhaust mods are a little different, though many people will still do a cat-back. For the most part, upgrading turbo headers doesn’t produce a ton of horsepower. However, upgrading the downpipe will net some pretty good gains.
On a turbocharged Accord setup, the exhaust manifold connects to one side of the turbo and the downpipe leading to the rest of the exhaust and muffler connects to another. Turbochargers use the exhaust gasses from the engine to produce boost, and the excess exhaust is routed through the downpipe.
The purpose of an upgraded downpipe is to decrease restriction and improve exhaust flow. Downpipes add significant horsepower and torque (+10-25 hp) to your engine and are very popular and powerful Accord mods. Like race headers, you will be messing with removing the catalytic converter in the exhaust, which isn’t legal in all states. Most states are okay with a high flow cat, but make sure you check your local regulations to see how it is where you live.
5 Best Honda Accord Mods Summary
There you have the top five mods for upgrading the Honda Accord. While it certainly won’t make your Accord into a drag strip king, it’ll absolutely make for a more enjoyable driving experience and increase your “smiles per gallon.”
We’d start by first upgrading the suspension, then looking into improving the wheel and tire combination, before finally looking into squeezing out some more horsepower and torque. In the end, you should have a moderate performance car that will outclass even some Audis and BMWs.
Let us know about your Accord build plans in the comments below!