MOTOR MATTERS AUTO REVIEW: Honda Accord: All-New for 2018
Motor Matters is a new weekly auto review feature to the News-Sentinel and will appear every Sunday on News-Sentinel.com
Like the proverbial cup that runneth over, the 2018 Honda Accord spills over in newness in practically every molecule of its mechanical being. The company touts it as “the most radical redesign of the Accord ever.”
That covers a lot of territory, given its 42 years on the American scene, during which it has sold 13 million hatchbacks, coupes, sedans and station wagons-11 million of them manufactured in the U.S.
All but the four-door sedan are now gone, so Honda is counting on this new Accord to hold up against the midsize competition, particularly its perennial nemesis, the Toyota Camry, which also has an all-new, driver-oriented entry for 2018.
Both have been nominated for the North American Car of the Year award from an independent jury of 60 automotive journalists from all over the country, including this reviewer.
The Camry has been the best-selling midsize car for 15 years, though Honda argues that the Accord does better in direct sales to consumers, without depending on fleet sales.
Whatever, it’s certain to be a dogfight, even facing the fact that both cars have been lagging against the smothering onslaught of crossover sport utility vehicles.
To catalog all of the 2018 Accord’s new features would overwhelm the space allotted to a review like this. It includes a host of improvements, including a lower center of gravity, lighter weight, stiffer structure, suspension and steering enhancements, streamlined wind-cheating bodywork, improved visibility, more comfortable and supportive seats, quieter interior, bigger passenger space and trunk, and excellent interior design and ergonomics that includes radio knobs instead of Honda’s recent infatuation with touch screens.
The Accord drives like a big car, which it is. It is marketed as a midsize but its interior volume, depending on the trim, hovers fractionally on both sides of the government’s large-car designation of a minimum of 120 cubic feet of interior room. On the tested Touring, that was divided into 103 for passengers and 17 cubic feet in the trunk.
Any car is only as good as its powerplants. For the first time, the Accord has gone all-turbo with its engines: a 192-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 192 lb.-ft. of torque and a 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 273 lb.-ft. of torque.
Last year, neither engine featured turbocharging. One was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the upgrade was a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Not long ago, Honda avoided turbo engines but since has embraced them for their computer-manipulated power and fuel economy.
Tested for this review was the fully-equipped Accord Touring with the 2.0-liter engine and either a 10-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode or a six-speed manual gearbox. There’s also a 2.0 Sport version with the same transmission choices. The manual likely will give the Accord an edge among enthusiasts who like to shift for themselves.
The stick shift also is available on the 1.5-liter Sport model, which also offers a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). With that combination, the Accord gets a city/highway/combined fuel economy rating from the EPA of 30/38/33 miles to the gallon.
Not surprisingly, the powerful tested Touring model came with a lower rating of 23/34/29 mpg. But this is package will appeal to customers who enjoy a shot of adrenaline when they accelerate from a stoplight or cruise at high speeds on deserted freeways.
The Accord handles superbly on twisting or straight roads. It is anvil steady and library quiet, although the turbo 2.0-liter engine announces itself rudely under rapid acceleration. There’s generous space for four with well-bolstered seats up front, though the center-rear seat is compromised by a hard cushion and a floor hump.
The Touring features Honda’s new gear selector. It uses pushbuttons for all functions except Reverse, which is a pull-up button. There also are selectable drive modes, one of which enhances fuel economy. But the preference here is for the Sport setting, which unleashes a stampede of the horses under the hood.
The base price for the 2018 Honda Accord is $23,570. My Touring 2.0T tester with an as-tested price of $36,675 sits at the top of the line, not a minor achievement given the fact that it is close to the current average transaction price for a new car in the U.S. Yet it is equipped as well as some luxury cars, including adaptive shock absorbers, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, navigation, memory driver’s seat, head-up display, LED headlights, wireless smart phone charging, ventilated front seats and heated back seats, and the new Honda Link driver assist system that includes Wi-Fi and remote engine starting.
2018 HONDA ACCORD TOURING 2.0T
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger large FWD sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $35,800 (as tested: $36,675)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve VTEC turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 252 at 6500 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 273 at 1500-4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 10-speed automatic
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 192.2 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 39.4 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,428 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 14.8 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway