– Spacious interior
– Perfect build quality
– Good ride and handling
– Pricey with options
– Cluttered dashboard design
– Not exactly quick
Yet again, we find ourselves behind the wheel of the current-generation Honda Accord that first debuted in 2008. We’ve already piloted various iterations of the latest Accord, but the one we are driving now is the facelifted-for-2011 version, in 2.4 EX trim. Changes were needed to keep the Accord fresh in the fiercely-competitive midsize segment.
The Honda Accord is still big and conservative, but the exterior updates are even more understated. Changes include a new chrome grille, reshaped front bumper, new wheels and some red reflector stripes on the boot lid. That’s about it really.
Inside, it is pretty much identical to the pre-facelift model. The tightly-built tan cabin in our loaded tester looked upscale, with soft-touch materials, leather lining and faux wood. Less-reachable areas were hard plastic, including the furthest reaches of the dash top. Appreciable details included covered cup-holders, various storage cubbies, pockets on all doors, and an integrated multi-purpose LCD screen. Changes for 2011 include a differently-textured soft-touch part of the dash, a cover for the storage cubby below the stereo, a USB port under the centre armrest and a new flip-style key. The clutter of buttons on the centre console is still there and takes a lot of time to get familiar with.
The upmarket Accord EX has all the expected features, such as leather upholstery, power windows, electric mirrors, sunroof, cruise control, average CD stereo with changer and steering-wheel buttons, keyless entry, front airbags, power-adjustable driver’s seat and automatic a/c with rear vents. New features include an optional navigation system with integrated rear camera and parking sensors, USB support, and a built-in Bluetooth phone with steering-wheel controls, all of which work fine, if a little convolutedly, using buttons and dials on the dash. But there are still no stand-out features like in many of its competitors, such as keyless start or a panoramic glass roof. Most annoying remains the lack of a trip computer to track fuel consumption. The CD/MP3 stereo is decent and the dual-zone a/c is excellent, but HID headlights, dual exhaust tips and side airbags are reserved for the V6 model only.
There are no complaints about interior space however. The Accord has been categorised as a full-size sedan elsewhere, based on interior space, and it’s easy to see why. The moderately-bolstered front seats are spacious, while rear passengers enjoy great headroom and legroom. The luggage trunk is massive, becoming even bigger when the rear seatback is folded down.
The carryover 2.4-litre 4-cylinder is good for 178 hp at a high 6500 rpm and 222 Nm of torque at 4300 rpm. The engine has useful kick at initial throttle tip-in from standstill, but then it simply buzzes away while speed builds up rather slowly. However, in the upper half of the rev range, power delivery improves noticeably as the iVTEC variable valve timing system linearly kicks in. Mated to a smooth-shifting but very basic 5-speed automatic, we managed a 0-100 kph time of 10 seconds flat, with electronic nannies eliminating wheelspin. Since there is no trip computer, we roughly calculated a fuel consumption figure of 12.5 litres per 100 km, not particularly impressive, but likely because we overworked an engine that doesn’t exactly offer effortless torque like a V6 would.
The Accord continues to offer a good balance between ride and handling. While it is nowhere near as sporting as real sports sedans, the Honda still does the best job of retaining some sporting ability while still being supremely comfortable, among the top three Japanese-badged midsizers. The Accord corners flatter than both the Altima and the Camry, although overall grip from the 225/50 tyres on 17-inch alloys is still similar to that of the other two cars. It offers relatively better feedback through the steering wheel and pedals while still being soft enough for the conservative crowd. The ABS-assisted disc brakes work linearly and without any jerkiness.
Day-to-day driving can be very relaxed. It is easy to steer the Accord into parking spaces with one hand, thanks to the combination of soft steering, rear sensors and the reverse camera. While wind hush and road noise are average for the class, and the engine can be a bit loud on full throttle, the ride quality is as good as it gets in the midsize class, soaking up bumps with no discernible harshness or floatiness. In contrast, the Altima feels too firm and the Camry feels too soft.
The Accord certainly rides and drives the best among the bestsellers, but it falls slightly behind in feature content for the price. The Accord may already be the premium choice in this field, but consumers still love this car, so it should hold its value well over the long run.
Current Model Introduced in:
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