Honda signs on a better Accord
"There’s a new design, new engines, new suspension, new chassis, new technology and new features."
SANTA BARBARA—Cool, contemporary, connected are three words that aptly describe the 2013 Honda Accord, the ninth generation of the popular Japanese nameplate, which Honda Canada’s VP of sales and marketing, Dave Gardner says raises the bar in the segment.
“Some competitors emphasize styling, others emphasize economy,” he says. “Many excel at one or two levels, but Accord is one of the few that excel at all levels.”
After blasting around the delightfully curvy California mountain roads, I think that if Accord hasn’t raised the bar, it has certainly rattled it. There’s a new design, new engines, new suspension, new chassis, new technology and new features.
Accord comes in two body styles, sedan and coupe with either four-cylinder or V6 power. There’s a plug-in hybrid sedan soon and a full hybrid in the near future. The sedan goes on sale Sept. 24, 2012 with the coupe hitting showrooms Nov. 1.
The sedan is 90 mm shorter, but there’s still plenty of room for four adults in the cabin and the trunk capacity is up by 50 litres. The rear seatback folds down in one piece to boost cargo area.
A rear backup camera is standard on all models, as are heated seats, power driver seat, Bluetooth and eight-inch screen.
All-new Earth Dreams powertrains include Honda’s first North American application of its 184-horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, which can be hooked to either a CVT automatic transmission or six-speed manual.
Engine torque comes in early, providing lots of off-the-line power and good highway passing. The six-speed manual is quick and positive. As for the CVT, it’s better than most other CVTs I’ve driven but it still reminds me of heading out in a motorboat. Velocity improves, but it’s still a noisy operator. My notes indicate that the level of conversation is directly proportional to throttle input.
The V6 trim hooks 278 horses to your choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Shifting is smooth and linear with either method of gear changing.
With either engine, the Accord is as quiet as most luxury vehicles on the highway – except for the CVT.
The new front suspension, a MacPherson strut setup rather than a double wishbone arrangement, contributes to better sound isolation while producing much flatter cornering. This is one well sorted-out vehicle.
New electronic power steering responds quickly to my requests, but it does isolate me from the road somewhat. I think it’s a good trade-off though as the fun seems to be back in driving a Honda.
I spend a bit of time in both the coupe and hybrid. I love the coupe – its looks, its comfort and its technical prowess. The hybrid is a peppy petrol saver and, when it makes the market, should turn a few heads. Currently, it’s undergoing testing.
One of Accords coolest innovations in terms of safety is a first-of-its-kind camera mounted in the passenger side mirror which looks into adjoining lanes, eliminating right side blind spots.
Other electronic aids include forward-looking crash warning and lane departure warning systems.
Techies are gonna just love HondaLink which includes the first OEM application of the aha cloud application in North America. Aha is a free service which allows highly-flexible personalization and brings connected information into the car.
The engineers say it won’t contribute to driver distraction, but it’s a lot of data so I’ll wait to see how it all comes together while I keep my eyes – and mind – on the road.
So, whether you’re older (the demographic actually includes 70-year-olds), a techie, or a driver who likes the sporty side, you can do it all on your own Accord.
2013 Honda Accord
Models: Sedan; coupe; plug-in hybrid
Trim levels; LX, Sport, EX-L, EX-L Touring (sedan); EX, EX-L-Navi, EX-L V6 Navi (coupe)
MSRP range: Est. $24,000-$35,000 (estimated)
Notable options: Navigation system; HondaLink connectivity; lane departure warning
Configuration: front engine/ front wheel drive
Available engines: 2.4L 4 cyl. (189 hp/ 182 lb.-ft.); 3.5L V6 (278/252); 2.0L 4 cyl. with electric motor (Net 196/226)
Available transmissions: 6-spd manual, 6-spd auto.; CVT
Fuel economy ratings (L/100km):7.8 city/ 5.5 hwy (4 cyl.); 9.7/5.7 (V6)
Warranties: Exp. 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain); 8 years/ 160,000 km (hybrid components).
Competitors: Chevrolet Malibu; Ford Fusion; Hyundai Sonata; Kia Optima; Mazda6; Nissan Altima; Toyota Camry.
Strengths: Space; safety; powertrains
Weaknesses: CVT noisy under load; lack of stand-alone options