– Spacious well-appointed cabin
– Good ride and safe handling
– Good power and fuel economy
– A bit on the pricey side
– Rear seat doesn’t split-fold
– Distracting multimedia setup
The Honda Accord has been going through versions quicker than Microsoft Windows lately. After the last moderate redesign in 2013, there was a switch to a Chinese version in 2015. And now, we get the American version again for 2017, complete with yet another facelift that elevates the midsizer to near-luxury car levels in terms of styling.
On the outside, the changes are limited and yet still substantial. The sharper new headlights are fully LED on the V6 Sport model, with a unique gills-like design. The fog lamps and running lights are also LED, as are the new BMW-style rear light clusters. With part-black 18-inch machine-cut alloy wheels, a new red paintjob option, subtle rear lip spoiler and dual exhaust tips, the Accord V6 Sport looks very handsome.
The cabin in our top-spec tester was very nicely done, even cleaner than the outgoing model thanks to the elimination of secondary physical controls for the touchscreen. While Honda has snuck in a bit too much hard-plastic bits on the door panels, there’s enough cushy trim in other areas, with padded leatherette extending all the way up to the window-sills on all doors, nicely-padded armrests, and a soft-touch dash top with slivers of faux carbon-fibre. Even the steering-wheel wrapping feels “Germanic” while driving. However, while we like the airy beige interior, others may prefer black in keeping with the sporty theme.
Cabin space is good enough to fit basketball players, so no issues there. The boot is big as well, with little details like grocery-bag hooks and plastic covers to hide the wiring along the goose-neck hinges. Little details like that set the Accord apart from cheaper sedans, although the rear seat only folds down in one piece rather than split-fold. The front cup-holders are uncovered but with an odd chrome ring around them. There are also cup-holders in the central rear armrest, several other covered cubbies up front, and pockets on all the doors.
That big LCD screen on the dash is standard, but the information displayed on it may vary, depending on trim level. On our fully-optioned car, it showed everything from radio stations to navigation. A colour touchscreen below the big main screen is used to control multimedia functionality, including the stereo and Bluetooth phone, but oddly enough, physical buttons and knobs have been completely removed, including the volume knob. The intuitive interface, capacitive touchscreen and big icons are useful, but some responses can be delayed at times, although the steering-wheel buttons are there for some functions at least. Only the strong dual-zone auto a/c gets its own physical buttons.
The upper screen also functions as a display for the excellent rear-view camera which has a wide-angle setting, as well as the LaneWatch system that shows the view on your right-side blindspot. The latter is a bit complicated to use, especially at night when all you see are headlights, but it can be useful in the day. Aside from ABS, ESP, hill-start assist and a full set of airbags, further safety features on the V6 also include a collision detection system that displays a panicky “BRAKE” message in the gauge cluster every time you get too close to a car in front, although it will automatically brake for you if you get any closer. The V6 also gets lane departure warning and mitigation.
Other features in our Sport included all the usual power accessories, power front seats, smart keyless entry and start, sunroof, rear a/c vents, acceptable CD/MP3 stereo with Bluetooth streaming, phone and USB/AUX ports, rear parking sensors, rear camera with guiding lines, both power-adjustable front seats, electric rear sun-blind and more. The V6 exclusively gets rear-side window shades as well, aside from the full LED headlights and adaptive cruise control.
The 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 is a refined engine that’s good for 278 hp at 6200 rpm and 342 Nm of torque at a high 4900 rpm. The motor needs high revs to really get going, but there’s still pretty good low-end torque now, good enough for a bit of wheelspin when booting it from low speeds. The engine note is slightly muted by a fancy system that actively eliminates engine noise and also seamlessly shuts down two or three cylinders to save fuel when cruising. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic that does its job smoothly and has tall gearing, but there are paddle-shifters on the Sport version that can be somewhat entertaining, if not totally quick in its responses.
We managed a 0-100 kph time of 7.5 seconds with the ESP on, in hot October weather. The Accord V6 is pretty heavy, at 1640 kg, but the engine feels decently strong in street-driving at any revs. Our fuel economy stood at a solid 12.5 litres/100 km.
The ride quality is fairly smooth even with 18-inch alloys. It rides a bit softly for a “sports” sedan, but is perfectly fine as a rapid daily-driver, with no bouncy rebounds on uneven surfaces. The cabin is kept reasonably noise-free at highway speeds, possibly better than the 2013 version, although we feel some of its rivals a bit more quieter. The Accord comes with active noise cancellation to muffle engine noise, and we can attest that it works wonderfully.
The Accord V6 Sport may not be a full-blown sports sedan, but it still handles well enough to be fun. The front-wheel-drive platform is obviously biased towards understeer, and not as nimble as the Mazda 6, but it’s still much better than anything Korean. Body roll is limited, and the 235/45 tyres wrapping the 18-inch alloys offer great grip. Understeer shows up eventually during corners, but it appears gradually so there are no surprises.
What we also liked was the responsiveness of the controls. The throttle pedal is responsive and the brake pedal is linearly weighted, unlike the disconnected mess in certain Volkswagens. The ABS-assisted brakes themselves are good enough for the daily commute and the occasional hard stop. The electric power steering is very light when trundling around town, but firms up a bit at speed, although feedback remains minimal.
The American-built Honda Accord V6 Sport is one of the more expensive choices in the midsize sedan class, cutting a bit too close to more flamboyant rivals such as the Nissan Maxima and the Dodge Charger SXT. However, unlike the aforementioned, the top Honda does not saddle you with a CVT, nor does it feel too heavy for its engine. Honda’s judicious use of quality materials, excellent space management and use of technology is also up there with the best in its class. It may be hard to justify the Accord Sport as a sports sedan, but it fits in completely fine among its peers with its own take on the V6 sedan segment.
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