The 2018 Honda Accord arguably the best Accord ever. Not to say it’s perfect – though the available active dampers are amazing – but it takes hold of the car’s natural advantages to offer a alluring alternative to the crossover SUV.
Pricing and Features
Checking in at nearly $35,000, the Touring 2.0-liter is the top tier Accord. It includes a long notable feature list and there are few signs of cost-savings – even the indicators on the paddle-shifters are lighted.
The LED headlights, LED fog lights, 19-inch wheels, body-colored heated mirrors with integrated turn-signals, and LED taillights are as modern as it gets. Inside, the leather seats are heated and ventilated in the front row and heated in the rear. A leather wrapped steering wheel is a great shape and has buttons that are easily located without looking and have a positive selection confirmation indent. The only knock against it is that it lacks heating. The speedometer is the only analog dial in the gauge cluster as the rest of the information is displayed through a digital indicator or large 7-inch display. A color head-up display augments the key information just below the line of sight and both convey key information in a simple and clear format. If either system becomes annoying, it can easy be turned off or switched back to normal. The interior is decked out with padded surfaces and smooth wood trim that are on display even at night via interior ambient lighting. The uprated 450 watt and 10-speaker premium audio system is as capable as others in the segment but lacks the punch and clarity to deliver an encompassing sound. Also, the rear shelf rattles – just as with the Camry and other sedans. The 8-inch touchscreen sits atop the low dashboard and features hard buttons along with large and easy to use knobs. Common tasks such as using navigation (standard on Touring trim), changing between numerous audio sources, and sub-menu customization levels are easy to use and quick to master. There’s even a little ledge to stabilize a hand if one needs to improve the accuracy of their pokes at the screen. The display also projects the review camera image though the lack of an all-around view camera system is a feature notable omission.
For $28,515, the EX trim brings loads of value and style. Featuring the base turbocharged engine, proximity entry, active safety, heated seats, an 8-speaker audio system, and the latest in infotainment with SiriusXM, HD radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the popular trim is also set to impress.
Honda equips every trim with automatic emergency braking, active cruise control, and lane keep assist. Blind spot monitoring is on the EX trim and up. Automatic headlights, auto-wipers, a multi-angle rear view camera, and parking sensors are also included.
On the road the Honda’s LED headlights present a bright cast of light though IIHS says that they glare oncoming traffic and and their lack of curve-adaptability cause the Accord to earn a Marginal rating. It’s a legitimate knock against Honda for not having a plan to keep pace with the agency’s ratings and competitors such as the Toyota Camry and Mazda 6.
The head-up display system is expensive as it requires a special reflective surface in the windshield and a projection system in the dashboard and thus the reason it is only on the Touring trim. It’s advantages are obvious though as key information such as navigation, speed, and last read speed limit sign is presented slightly below the driver’s line of site.
Style and Size
The relatively flat hood connects with the A-pillar far aft of the front axle while the windshield angle is fairly traditional. After the B-pillar, the roof takes a dramatic sweeping curve and the rear quarter class cuts upward for more visual action. The upper styling curve, just below the windows, maintains a nearly horizontal path until after the rear wheel where dips to continue the sloping roof curve.
A gloss-black painted grille breaks up the front bumper and large 19-inch wheels are pushed out to the body edges to emphasize the planted stance. The lower character line angles upward at the rear door and visually picks up the rear end. The taillights demonstrate a new level of detailed design for Honda while the exhaust outlets are chrome finished and fitted to the bumper.
The interior receives the same attention to detail in terms of styling and attention to detail. A matte-surface wood trim looks high end and the HVAC buttons also delight with their metallic feel, crisp click sound, and a quick glow of blue or red depending on the temperature change.
The front passengers have plenty of space for a 6-foot person to be comfortable though it feels cozy enough as most controls are with an arm’s reach. Sitting behind my front seat position, there was ample room in the rear seat and hits the spec sheet with two inches of additional of legroom over the Camry. Trunk space is also at the top-end of the class.
Power and Efficiency
The uprated engine for the Accord is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharger engine that replaces the 3.5-liter V6. It generates more torque than the larger engine though the wait time for the turbo to generate boost is noticeable but at least the power comes on gradually. It also lacks the free-breathing sound of the V6 but the low end power and the turbo system’s intake and pressure blow-off noises are entertaining. Acceleration is very strong as Honda’s own 10-speed automatic performs rapid upshifts from one closely spaced gear ratio to the next. A 6-speed manual transmission is available with the larger engine in Sport trim though the standard 10-speed can be manually shifted via steering wheel paddle-shifter. Front-wheel drive is the only configuration offered and when fitted with the larger engine and automatic, it returns EPA estimates of 23 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 combined. During a week of highway cruising, stop and go commuting, and mountain road carving, the Accord consistently returned an impressive 30 mpg.
Ride and Drive
The Accord’s sporty appearance is backed up by a strong and sporty turned chassis. In the Touring trim, adaptive dampers are fitted to each corner and enhance both the comfort level and athleticism. In he Sport mode, the dampers stiffen for additional body control, the steering’s effort is increased and is good at communicating the road’s surface. It was preferred during mountain road carving as it felt better at inputting minute changes in a turn. The shift points are heightened through the engine’s wide range of torque but wringing out the engine is rarely necessary. The steering wheel paddle-shifters can hold any reasonable gear, even with the pedal floored, and thus prevents any unwanted shifting by the transmission. Behind the scenes, the stability control and curve control systems are also adjusted for heightened dynamic limits. The Normal chassis settings calm down the powertrain and chassis settings while the active noise cancellation system dials back the engine noise for more suitable for daily commuting duties. In this softer mode, the Accord handles offset bridge gaps and rough roads with better small bump isolation. The Camry is smoother but lacks the athleticism of the Accord. There is an Eco mode too that encourages early upshifts and dials back the operational load of the HVAC system.
The Honda Accord is a proven styling and engineering success with multiple industry awards. The sporty nature of the Accord is entertaining in the twisties and confidence inspiring on the highway. As long as the front-wheel-drive only drivetrain and lower seating position aren’t deal breaker, the Accord is an amazingly good car.