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Once again Honda comes out with another all-new Accord. Once again it's a winner.

Honda seems to have a penchant for this repetition. You'd think the carmaker could toss in the occasional so-so car just so industry critics would have a little something to rant about.But let's not get carried away here. The Honda Accord EX four-door used for the test drive, although it's the top version in the Accord lineup, is not perfect.

The quick-of-eye will immediately discern the new Accord is not significantly different in appearance from the old one. It's probably better-looking than last year's model, being longer, more rounded and having a more steeply raked windshield.

Even so, it might be described as just yawningly pleasant.

But its quiet styling is enhanced by a nice solid appearance. Seams are straight and evenly spaced, paint is smooth and trim pieces fit nicely.

They should, for $17,660. That's a $17,345 base price for the EX, $70 for California emissions controls and $245 destination charge.

Some Accords are imported from Japan, arriving at Long Beach, Calif., as the test car did, but most are now built in the United States at Marysville, Ohio.

Honda recently began building Accord engines at its expanded Anna, Ohio, plant, which also makes engines for the Civic car and the Gold Wing motorcycle.

The Accord is offered in two-door coupe and four-door body styles and in DX, LX and EX versions. A base DX four-door costs $12,345 with the five-speed manual transmission.

The latest Accord is the fourth generation of the car introduced in June 1976 as a hatchback. It had a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine and a 93.7-inch wheelbase. The price was $3,995. Honda sold 18,333 of them that year and sells more than 200,000 a year now.

The new Accord is referred to as a midsize model. The wheel base is 107.1 inches, up from the previous 102.4. The interior has a good open feeling, created in part by lots of glass and thin roof pillars.

The EX is loaded with standard equipment, from four-speed electronic automatic transmission and power moon roof to a good stereo cassette system and air conditioning. There are power locks, power windows, power exterior mirrors and cruise control.

The EX version also provides bigger wheels and tires and a sportier suspension that includes a rear stabilizer bar. All Accords have fully independent suspension and a front stabilizer bar.

Climb behind the wheel and you'll find one of the main reasons for its popularity: It's enjoyable to drive.

The tilt steering, comfortable, well-positioned seat and good left foot resting spot provide an excellent driving position.

The easily read analog gauges include tachometer, speedometer, fuel and temperature.

The engine is a 16-valve, four-cylinder with a single overhead cam shaft. The 2.2-liter power plant produces 130 horsepower in the version used in the EX, thanks to a freer breathing exhaust system, and 125 horses in the other Accord models.

Fuel economy is 22 mpg city and 28 highway.

It's a smooth engine, using two counter-rotating balance shafts to cancel vibrations when the engine runs in the mid- to high-rpm ranges. The low-rpm range also is pretty smooth with only a little vibration sometimes felt through the steering wheel when idling.

It's not a fast car in terms of drag-strip acceleration, taking about 10 seconds from zero to 60 mph with the automatic transmission. But it performs nicely and feels quicker than it is. It also cruises easily at expressway speeds and has the power and gearing for decent passing ability.

The ride is comfortable.

Steering is pleasantly quick, positive and generally has a good feel. The only place it comes up a bit short is in making hard turns on bumpy surfaces. The performance is there, with the wheels staying planted and the steering under control, but it felt a little loose and bouncy.

The brake pedal has to be depressed before the automatic transmission can be shifted out of park. The power brakes, discs up front and drums in the rear, handle the stopping duties adequately. But to round out the EX package it would be nice to have a good anti-lock brake system.