An excellent suspension, peppy four-cylinder, and a slick-shifting six-speed manual help the Accord stand out in the midsize sedan market.
Next to the definition of the word “boring” in the dictionary is a picture of a midsize sedan. And the Honda accord is a midsize sedan.
At first glance, the Accord does nothing to change this definitive association. The exterior styling is subdued, the interior borders on grim, and the car lacks thrilling features. But beneath the dour exterior, the Accord has a secret: it is shockingly nice to drive.
Fun for the family
In the last few months, I have had the chance to drive most of the latest midsize sedans on the market. When it comes to driving performance, the Accord stands out in a big way.
When it comes to driving performance, the Accord stands out in a big way.
The reasons for this are not obvious. Its power figures don’t stand out from the crowd; the “Sport” model boasts an “Earth Dreams” 2.4-liter, 189-horsepower four-cylinder engine that was apparently named by Captain Planet. Yes, the engine may not stand out on power, but, when paired with the six-speed manual, it is actually a dream to drive.
Through the first four gears, the engine delivers sharp, crisp power, with surprisingly good acceleration. The Accord Sport is reportedly capable of a 0-to-60 sprint in as low as 6.6 seconds, nearly a second and a half faster than most of the competition. With the manual, this may be hard for the average driver to accomplish, but the tradeoff is worthwhile. The clutch throw may be light and a bit cheap feeling, but the slim shifter is a joy to use.
Best of all, choosing the manual means that buyers can save their money and forgo the much more expensive optional 278 hp V6. Trust me, that kind of power isn’t necessary in this application.
This generation of Accord has switched to a very modern double-wishbone suspension.
This change pays off in the corners. With the manual transmission and fancy suspension, it is easy for drivers to forget they are in a midsize sedan when they get to a twisty bit of road. Level cornering and very connected steering make driving the Accord a remarkably engaging — even joyous — experience.
This, I likely needn’t remind you, is high praise in a segment that seems built around the idea that sedan buyers hate driving.
Boring but complete
Even with all these plaudits, the Accord is still far closer to family sedan than sports sedan. However, given that the Accord Sport actually IS a family car, this is no bad thing.
The serial killer in the new Honda Fit ads may want to move up in the range.
Despite its surprising performance prowess, the Accord remains a comfortable, easy car to drive. Fuel economy is good, too, though not outstanding, at 24 city and 34 highway mpg.
As I said at the beginning of the review, the Accord is not an especially exciting car, but it does show off Honda’s packaging and build quality.
The Accord is by no means a small car, but the interior is simply massive compared to the exterior dimensions. It can easily seat five, as well as fitting at least three bodies in the trunk. The serial killer in the new Honda Fit ads may want to move up in the range.
That serial killer won’t be overwhelmed by options in the car, but even my relatively basic $24,000 press demonstrator had the bases covered. The only real absences of note were navigation and heated seats.
It is also somewhat frustrating that the Accord goes to war with a subpar infotainment system, especially when Honda has an excellent touchscreen waiting in the wings, or at least in the Honda Civic.
There are more luxurious and better-looking options than the Honda Accord, for instance the Mazda6. Yet no other car I have driven in this segment quite manages to match the Accord’s combination of quality and driving dynamics.
Looking at it might get old, but driving it won’t. And given that Honda has produced tens of millions of Accords over the last few decades, it will probably age pretty well.
In fact, my chief complaints about the Accord really come down to improving it around the edges. Better infotainment and a livelier interior could go a long way to making this car a clear segment leader.
As it stands, customers who are looking to feel a bit special may want to steer towards the Mazda. However, the Accord Sport is the clear choice for those looking only at driving performance.
- Slick-shifting manual
- Excellent suspension
- Spacious interior
- Boring interior styling
- Underwhelming infotainment
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