Over the years, Honda has offered several different body styles and versions of the Accord, and often vehicles marketed under the Accord nameplate concurrently in different regions differ quite substantially. It debuted in 1976 as a compact hatchback, though this style was dropped in the 1980s, as the lineup was expanded to include a sedan, coupe, and wagon. By the Accord's sixth generation in the 1990s, it evolved into a intermediate vehicle, with one basic platform but with different bodies and proportions increase its competitiveness against its rivals in different international markets. For the current generation of Accord released for the North American market in 2008, Honda again has chosen to move the model further upscale and increase in its size. This pushed the Accord sedan from the upper limit of what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines as a mid-size car to just above the lower limit of a full-size car, with the coupe still rated as a mid-size car.
Honda chose the name Accord, reflecting "Honda's desire for accord and harmony between people, society and the automobile." The initial design was changed to a fuel efficient, low emission vehicle since it was introduced during the fuel crises of the 1970s. In the United States and Japan, a version was produced using Honda's CVCC technology, meeting emission standards of the 1970s and early 1980s without a catalytic converter.
Like the smaller Honda Civic, the Accord used front-wheel drive and a transverse engine layout.
The first generation Honda Accord was launched in 1976 as a three-door hatchback with 68hp (51kW), a 93.7-inch (2,380.0mm) wheelbase, and a weight of about 2,000pounds. It was larger than the tiny Civic at 162inches (4,115mm) long. The Accord sold well, due to its moderate size and great fuel economy. It was the first Japanese small car with features like cloth seats, a tachometer, intermittent wipers, and an AM/FM radio as standard equipment. In 1978 an LX version of the coupe was added which came with air conditioning, digital clock, and power steering. In 1979 a four-door sedan was added to the lineup, and power went to 72hp (54kW) with the introduction of the 1,751cc (106.9cuin) EK-1 engine. In 1980 the optional two-speed automatic of previous years became a three-speed automatic. Slightly redesigned bumper trim, new grilles and taillamps, and remote mirrors on the 4-door (chrome) and the LX (black plastic) models. The CVCC badges were deleted. In 1981 an SE model was added for the first time, with novio-leather seats and power windows. Base model hatchbacks received the same smaller black plastic remote mirror that the 4-door, LX, and SE 4-door received at the same time. Instrument cluster revised with mostly pictograms, instead of the worded warning lights and gauge markings. Nivorno Beige (code #Y-39) replaced with Oslo Beige (#YR-43). Dark brown was discontinued, as was the bronze metallic. Shifter redesigned to have a stronger spring to prevent unintentional engagement of reverse, instead of the spring-loaded shift knob of the 1976 through 1980 model cars.