Honda has made much ado about this new Accord. It’s all new, inside and out.
I test-drove two new Accords briefly at AJAC’s Test Fest – one was a 4-cylinder sedan, and one was a V-6 coupe. Both impressed me, but I was excited to try this one out – because I thought this would be the model and trim I’d purchase for my family if I was in the market.
The Accord starts at CDN $23,990. I had the Touring trim, which comes with every box checked off and doesn’t have any options available other than the engine choice. I was blessed with the V-6 (the top of the line car then) and the price, as tested, is CDN $36,930.
Under the Hood
Honda’s V-6 remains a 3.5-Liter unit. There’s nothing particularly amazing about this engine – it’s not the most modern powerplant you’ll find – it’s naturally aspirated, and there are no new-fangled technologies like direct injection, etc. It has cylinder deactivation, which means it can run on 3 instead of 6 cylinders to save some fuel. Honda says they’ve applied their Earth Dreams technology here for the first time, coupling performance with efficiency – but it’s pretty nebulous as to what exactly that technology is.
But that’s not to say it’s not a great engine. We own an Odyssey van with a different 3.5-Liter V-6 from Honda and they’ve always done a good job with them.
This is a powerful lump, cranking out 278 horsepower at 6200 RPM. Torque, which means more to us North Americans than horsepower, is rated at a stout 252 lb.ft at 4900 RPM.
This is the first Honda sedan to sport a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the power ends up at the front wheels.
Fuel economy is decent – not amazing, but not bad. The car is rated at 9.7 L/100 km (24 mpg) in the city, and a respectable 5.7 L/100 km (41 mpg) on the highway. I averaged a surprisingly good 11.7 L/100 km (20 mpg) during my week with it. I was driving as I normally would – tons of slower city driving, occasional jaunts down the freeway, and the rare leadfoot sprint. I made no effort to conserve fuel or drive efficiently, other than trying the ECON mode for a short while.
The fuel tank holds 65 Liters, and the Accord’s curb weight is 3560 pounds. It’s no fly-weight, but considering how much space and amenities you’re provided with, that’s respectable.
To be honest, I haven’t been a fan of the Accord for the last couple of generations. I felt as though Honda had lost their way with this model, and something always looked a bit off to me. As if the car didn’t know what it wanted to be. I found the styling to be completely forgettable.
Of course, looks are subjective, but in my opinion, they got it right this time. At very least, it appears that the same team that styled the front and rear ends was also responsible for the sides of the car. The looks is congruent, and while it’s all new, they have made it recognizable. The lines are pulled taut, and there’s a hint of aggression.
The front end is adorned with a slightly angled row of LED driving lights,and the headlights are LED projectors. These are a nice blue-ish tinted headlight, as bright as really good halogens. They’re not as bright as HID lights, but they do a good job. The foglights are integrated well, and they even throw some honeycomb mesh into the air dam to hint that this car might have some sporting character.
There’s a significant character line – a crease – that angles up from behind the front wheel well toward the back. The wheel wells aren’t flared out much – they’re beautifully integrated into the lines.
I found the rear end bulkier than I expected from an Accord, but it looks good. The kink in the rear passenger window line gives the appearance of a very solid rear pillar, and the trunk lid is given a narrower profile to avoid the Kardashian-butt syndrome.
The LED tail lights are humungous and wrap around to quite an extent, fleeing toward the front of the car. The chrome strip that connects the left and right side of the tail classes it up without getting gaudy, and I like the seriousness of the dual tail-pipes.
Finally, the 18″ wheels on this Touring trim, shod with huge 235/45-sized rubber, are very handsome.
I said Honda got it right in terms of the design. It’s not an exciting car to look at – it’s bolder, it’s masculine, it’s substantial, it’s got presence. I think this look will age gracefully.
You’ll be surprised by the new cabin Honda has put together. I felt the last few Accords were a mess inside – this one, not so much. Honda has streamlined a ton of stuff, and made the Accord current. Actually, I’d say it’s progressive and goes beyond current.
The interior is spacious – it feels big enough to be comfortable, yet never too big. Headroom is good for my 5′ 10″ frame. The materials are lovely – there are soft-touch plastics everywhere, with fine textures and contrasting stitching. They’re complemented with splashes of metallicized brightwork and other trim in a way that really works well together.
The heated, power-adjustable leather seats (the driver’s side has a 2-position memory) are very comfortable, and offer surprisingly good bolstering for this class of car.
The dash is relatively short, and you get the impression that you’re involved in the drive from the get-go. Ahead of you sits a perfect steering wheel – great diameter, great thickness, but a bit slippery – it’s manually adjustable and includes controls for the cruise, media, phone/handsfree operations and the big screen, which I’ll talk about later.
The instrument bin houses Honda’s new-ish floating-needle speedometer, flanked by smaller sub-gauges. The speedometer has lit “brackets” around it – at idle, they glow white. As you start driving, they’ll glow green when you’re driving economically, and head towards white as you get on the gas. I guess it’s Honda’s way of reminding you that Mother Earth loves you and a speedometer surrounded by green is earthy. There’s a round driver information screen in the middle of the speedometer. I like it, because it offers you a good amount of information (trip meters, fuel range, fuel economy, etc), but keeps the display simple and easy to read – even while you’re driving.
And now for something completely different – the center stack. First thing you’ll notice is that there are 2 screens. TWO! At the top, set into a deeper bin, is a large screen – it handles vehicle information, car settings, navigation, media, phone and back-up camera functions. Below that sits a smaller pop-out screen. It functions as a touch-screen, and it can give you more/different information regarding what’s going on on the big screen above, and it can give you access to buttons, contextually related to what’s happening on the big screen.
The back-up camera allows you to choose three different perspectives, pending on your needs and preference – regular view, fish-eye view and a vertical look down – and it has static and trajectory markings to help guide you.
Oh and you can receive your emails and hear them, as well as answer them with pre-set responses without ever taking your hands off the wheel. I didn’t try this tech out, but it sounds pretty cool.
The non-branded stereo sounds pretty good, and feeds off AM, FM, satellite, CD, auxiliary, USB, hard-drive AND Bluetooth streaming sources. No lack of choices there.
Below the smaller screen is a dual-zone automatic climate control system and finally Honda’s somewhat confusing joysticky, rotary-knob button input – it’s another way to manipulate and navigate the big screen, along with some hard buttons for quickly accessing some of the core functions, like navigation, etc.
This all sounds confusing, and to be honest, it was at first. It takes a couple of days to adjust to the user interface, but I ended up loving that the dash was cleaned up, and that whatever buttons I needed were presented to me on the small touchscreen. A pretty cool concept in theory, and after a bit of adjusting, in practice as well. I don’t think it will be for everyone though – honestly, my retired and completely non-tech-savvy parents would probably have a stroke trying to figure it out.
The center console houses the gear selector and a traditional parking brake, as well as a nice upholstered armrest.
Everything is powered, of course. Windows, door locks, mirrors, and the tilt-slide sunroof. Entry is conveniently keyless, and the ignition is a push-start – with a confidently sporty red START button. There is a HomeLink garage door opener overhead, with the ability to program 3 doors.
There is an ECON button, which will retard the ignition and makes everything react a bit sluggishly in an attempt to save on fuel. Honda says it tunes the drivetrain and other systems “from efficient to ultra-efficient”. Whatever you say, Honda. I found it boring. I could probably do better by just buying the 4-cylinder Accord if I really cared about my fuel economy that much.
In terms of driver assistance tech, the Accord comes pretty well-equipped. You have forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems. A brand-new innovation, which I found more useful than I thought I would, is the funky LaneWatch blind-spot display. Display, you say? Yep. There’s a small camera in the passenger side-view mirror. When you signal to the right, the upper screen displays what is beside you, and augments that view with warning markings that show what vehicles are in a potentially dangerous position. It really does replace shoulder checking after a while, and I loved it! You can also manually turn on the camera if you want to. Great party trick!
Another interesting technology is the active noise cancellation which tries to keep the outside noise levels at bay.
Here you’ll find three seats, along with three headrests and three seatbelts. The two outboard seats are very comfortable (and HEATED!), and the headroom and legroom are all impressive. The center position is unsurprisingly narrow, with a harder, raised seat surface. It’s fine to relegate your kids that don’t know any better to it, but any adult forced to sit there for long will want to punch you in the neck.
There are two seatback map pockets, small door bins and the middle seatback folds down to become a nice armrest with two cupholders in it.
The doors open wide, and access is easy – that’s nice for passengers as well as parents that have to get kids back there. Speaking of kids’ seats, we had two of them back there (you get two sets of LATCH anchors) and we threw in our third kid for good measure. They thought it was roomy and spacious.
I found less storage than I wanted in the Accord but what’s there is very usable. At the bottom of the center stack, there’s a nice big open bin, as well as a 12V plug, and the USB and auxiliary connections – unfortunately the bottom is not rubberized and anything you throw in there, like a smartphone, will slide and rattle around. The under-the-armrest bin is a nice carpeted space, and you get small but decent door bins. The glove compartment, something I rarely comment on much, is a reasonable size and more useful than most, as it is a nicely angled bin that pops out.
The trunk, while providing enough volume at 379 Liters, is impacted by strange intrusions on the sides. Although the trunk remains usable, it’s less so than a nice rectangular, uninterrupted space would be. The rear seat folds down, opening up a narrow pass-through for longer items.
First things first – this car can be quite a hot-rod! The V-6 is smooth like Molson Golden – you have to be old and Canadian to get that joke. It’s puts plenty of power down and there’s no hesitation off the line. The Accord jumps ahead from a stop, and when you need it, the push is on tap. I liked that I didn’t have to rev the engine to stratospheric heights to access the torque. It’s a tremendous powertrain for this car and Honda definitely got it right.
The transmission is very smooth as well, doing its job quietly and competently. It’s a bit luxurious, if you will, and takes a second to kick down when you step on it. Everything feels tuned a bit toward comfort, and that’s just fine. You’re welcome to pull the lever back one more notch, and put it into Sport mode. That will sharpen the car’s responses and hang on to higher RPMs as well. Perfect for playing a little “dodge the semis” on the freeway. Interestingly, Honda has provided neither a manual stick mode nor flappy paddles on this trim level – to be clear, they weren’t missed. I tend to leave a good transmission to its own devices, and that’s just what I had here.
The Accord’s ride is firm – I’d call it luxurious sporty firm. It’s always very comfortable, never harsh, never too much, and it always remained controlled and planted in every situation. I love it! But I’m guessing not everyone will. It’s certainly firmer than the Lexus ES’s and Toyota Camrys I’ve tested.
As a result of the well-tuned suspension, the handling is outstanding for this class of car. I never thought the weight of the car intruded on the cornering – it felt neutral and very competent and stayed reasonably flat too. Sure there’s some body lean, but nothing major. I never thought the Accord felt light on its feet, but it certainly felt fleet enough to react the right way every time I wanted it to – it was what I expect out of a sporty front-wheel drive sedan. All in all, this is a very well done suspension set-up.
The electronic steering is OK. For the most part, I thought I got an acceptable amount of feedback, and inputs were respected and dealt with quickly by the Accord. Personally, I’d prefer a little more feel and a little more directness but for this class of car, I understand why it is the way it is.
Brakes are excellent – they are easy to modulate and to use during bumper-to-bumper commuting, but felt very powerful when I needed them to be.
Things stay pretty quiet in the Accord – road noise is filtered out (perhaps some electronically by the active noise cancellation?) pretty well, and engine noise is kept to a minimum unless you step on it – at which point it offers you a nice V-6 growl. Wind noise never became an issue when I hit the highway, and everything stayed very civil.
Visibility out of the car is great from all angles, including shoulder checking.
Those aren’t just cupholders on the console, people. They are square cupholders. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then we can’t be friends. If it caught your attention, I raise my square chocolate milk container to your health, friend. Best cupholders ever.
The driver’s side-view mirror’s outside edge includes a small convex area, allowing you to see that much more of what’s beside you. Nice.
Honda has given us a great dead pedal in the Accord, which I really appreciate.
Yes, the rear seat folds down. No, Honda STILL does not trust us with a splitting rear seat in the Accord. Seriously, it only folds down as one piece, which is silly. Give us a 60/40 split, and make this car more flexible please!
I found the convenience factor in the rear seats strangely unbalanced. They saw fit to provide heated rear seats (which is still a rarity and pretty awesome), yet chose to forgo the almost invariably included 12V plug. Weird omission.
Well, I was very interested to see what Honda had done with this new Accord. Honda has made a pretty big deal about it, and in my opinion, it’s warranted.
I give the new Accord a solid 8.5 out of 10.
For the money, this car offers you a lot. You can get into it for significantly less, but by today’s standards, this fully-loaded V6 touring model isn’t priced out of the world. Considering the amount of luxury, cabin and driver assistance technology and performance you’re getting, I feel that it’s very competitive.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was very high. She loved the styling and she loved the interior. She appreciated everything about how it drove, and how “smooth” everything felt. She did find the dual screens a bit confusing, and she also commented on the slippery steering wheel.
This car is highly relevant for Honda – it’s important because it showcases what they can do and it shows us that their design teams haven’t lost their way. Some of these goodies will trickle down to other models eventually, but if you want them all, and you want them now – the Accord is a great place to get them.
By the way, the new Accord is one of the Top 3 finalists for AJAC’s 2013 Car of the Year award.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the new Accord. It offers plenty – under the hood, in the styling department, inside the cabin and on the road. Reliability is likely to be high, and resale value will hold strong. As awesome as this V-6 Touring is, I think that, after spending a week with it, I’d be satisfied with the 4-cylinder model as well, which would bring about some savings in terms of up-front costs and at the fuel pump. But either would be a fantastic choice.
The Honda Accord is, once again, a serious contender. Maybe that’s an understatement. I actually think the Accord has set the bar. I want one.
Blog provided with permission from Tom Sedens, a local automotive blogger in Edmonton, Alberta, and member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For more vehicle reviews, visit wildsau.ca.