– Very spacious interior
– Comfortable ride quality
– Fair V6 fuel economy
– Needs a bit more low-end grunt
– Lacks some common features
– Buttons cluttering dashboard
We’ve driven various iterations of the new-for-2008 Honda Accord way too many times already, but going on Honda-sponsored cross-country drives and press track-days didn’t reveal an awful lot about the car earlier on. So this time we finally decided to do a complete test of the V6 sedan version. We certainly gave the car a lot of coverage since we first broke news of the prototype. But finally taking one home, albeit briefly, was enough to finally close our long affair with the Accord.
The new Accord is one big car. Honda themselves boast of its near-fullsize categorisation now, but we wish it actually looked better than it does. Having lost its previously-sporty styling, the new model aims for conservative buyers who would’ve instead bought a Toyota. But it still doesn’t lose the fanboy crowd either, simply by its vague association to Honda’s Type-R cars. Dual exhaust tips and 17-inch alloys are enough to make them giddy.
The tightly-built tan cabin in our top-spec tester looked suitably upscale, with soft-touch materials, leather lining and some faux wood. Less-reachable areas were hard plastic, but they were blended in well with the rest of the theme. Appreciable details included covered cup-holders, various storage cubbies, and an integrated multi-purpose LCD screen. It’s just too bad that the big screen didn’t do anything more than show radio stations and clock settings. The clutter of buttons on the centre console takes getting used to, as we had difficulty finding the a/c controls while driving.
The Accord has all the traditional expected features, such as power windows, electric mirrors, sunroof, cruise control, CD stereo with changer and steering-wheel buttons, keyless entry, front and optional side airbags, automatic a/c with rear vents, optional HID headlights and even Bluetooth. But there are no stand-out features like in the Altima and the Aurion. There is no hands-free “intelligent” keyless entry, no starter button and no fancy gauges. Even the Bluetooth phone is an afterthought, working off only a single button with beeping sounds and no display. The instruction manual is needed to figure out that one, but we did make our phones work with it. Most annoying was the lack of a trip computer, which is essential these days to track fuel consumption. At least the stereo is decent and the dual-zone a/c is well above average.
There are no complaints about interior space however. Honda claims full-size room and we believe them. The front power-operated leather seats are moderately bolstered, while rear passengers enjoy more headroom than in the swoopy Altima. Legroom is excellent all round. And the luggage trunk is massive, becoming even bigger when the rear seatback is folded down.
The 3.5-litre V6 is probably the most refined unit among the top Japanese sedans. Producing 271 hp at 6200 rpm and 339 Nm of torque at a high 5000 rpm, it continues the Honda tradition of producing big numbers at stupidly-high revs, but in this application, the engine note is nicely muted by a fancy system that actively eliminates engine noise. Considering the high-tech engine also seamlessly shuts down two or three cylinders to save fuel when cruising, the muffled revs are a welcome relief from the usual racket associated with 3-cylinder engines. The 5-speed automatic does its job smoothly, but the shifter is basic and does not have a tiptronic function.
We clocked off a 0-to-100 kph time of 7.8 seconds with stability control off, which is almost a second slower than the V6-powered Altima and the Aurion. The big Accord is heavier than both, and the engine seems to be rev-limited to 2000 rpm on launch. But the engine feels pretty strong in street driving at mid-range revs. Considering the lack of a trip computer, we calculated the fuel economy at 13.5 litres per 100 km, which is pretty good, although we expected more magical figures since that cylinder-deactivation doohickey light kept glowing on the dashboard every time it did its thing.
Among the triumphs of the new Accord is its balance between ride and handling. While it was shown the door by the Jaguar XF that we happened to be testing at the same time, the Accord still does the best impression of a sports sedan among the top three midsizers. The sedan feels slightly softer than the Accord coupe, but it still corners flatter than the Altima or the Aurion. The ABS-assisted disc brakes work linearly and without any jerkiness. The 225/50 tyres on 17-inch alloys offer as much grip as the rubber on the Altima, and slightly less than the shoes on the Aurion, but the Accord still feels more confident than those cars around turns, while offering better feedback through the steering wheel and pedals.
But the Accord is in no way a rigid car to drive. The controls are still soft enough for tiny women to operate, and rear sensors make it easy to park. While wind hush and road noise are average for the class, the ride quality felt better than the other two A-list family-haulers, soaking up bumps with no discernible harshness or floatiness. In contrast, the Altima feels too firm and the Aurion feels too soft.
That said, the Accord would’ve become our favourite midsize sedan if Honda didn’t cut corners. It certainly rides and drives the best among the bestsellers, but it falls behind in all-out performance and feature content. Considering the asking price, the Accord is already the premium choice in this field, and consumers aren’t getting enough toys for their money. However, the extra roominess and economy may make up for it in the long run.
Current Model Introduced in:
Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
Observed Test Fuel Economy: