Owner drive: 2013 Honda Accord V6 Sport in the UAE
It had been 6 and a bit years since I bought my Civic brand new from the showroom, when I was single. A lot of things happen in 6 years, and I found myself browsing online classifieds for another car. My weekly trip between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a growing family, and an aging car with 235,000 km on it are the main reasons for changing. SUVs were out because I’d rather not burn petrol on extra drag and weight and prefer a sedan’s stability. My other criteria included a car no more than 2 years old, a budget of Dhs 85,000 and a V6, since I wanted power and had enough of 4 cylinder engines. This left the following cars in contention – Toyota Aurion and Avalon, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Charger, Nissan Altima and Maxima, and Honda Accord.
Long story short, I found an ad for a top-spec Accord, 53000 km and 3 years unlimited mileage warranty within my budget. The previous owner maintained it immaculately with full service history from the dealer, and the only issue was a small dent behind the right passenger door by a person lacking in driving skill and courtesy. The guy repaired it before I took over possession, and all is well. There were some accessories fitted by the previous owner, all at the dealer. On the outside, the sport body kit and Vkool tint was installed. Inside, there were sill plates and a plastic trunk tray over the carpet.
The engine is Honda’s proven J35 that displaces 3,471cc and is updated with ‘Earth Dreams’ technology. This is Honda-speak to highlight their focus on making the engine more efficient compared to before. The highlight is Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). What this system does is put 3 cylinders to sleep during continuous or light loads (example, cruising on the highway). Hit the accelerator and all 6 cylinders fire up to provide acceleration. Along with efficiency improvements in the valve-train, you will find 274 hp and 250 lb.ft of torque being generated under the hood with fuel economy on the highway approaching that of a four cylinder. VCM works unobtrusively without any jerks but you can sometimes feel the VCM working when the engine hasn’t completely warmed up.
The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic that is also used in the Odyssey minivan. Shifts are quick and smooth, With low throttle, the transmission hangs on to gears and is a bit jerky, probably thanks to Earth Dreams’ efficiency/emissions programming. In keeping with the Earth Dreams philosophy, there is an Eco mode which changes the throttle response, shift points, a/c behaviour, and cruise control response. For example, if cruise control is on and you start going up a hill, the car would normally apply extra power to accelerate and then maintain the set speed. When Eco mode is on, the car will limit acceleration to get better fuel economy. The same can also be found in the 2.4-litre Accords.
This being the top-spec, there are some things in this car that aren’t in the Accord EX that Mashfique reviewed in 2013. His review summarises the differences but there are two items in this car that are found only with the V6 coupe: 18” alloys and paddle shifters (I hope you all didn’t get your expectations up). While the shifters may give the semblance of control over the car, you need to shift from D to S for manual mode to remain on and even then, the transmission will upshift automatically at the redline from 1st to 2nd gear. I have not observed this in other gears, for obvious reasons. What I do use the paddle shifters for is to upshift early to maintain smooth acceleration.
The Accord does the role of a family car pretty well, since this is what it was designed for. There is plenty of legroom and head room, even for 6 foot plus people. The cabin is nice and airy thanks to the generous glass, as compared to some of the competitors who have a high beltline and pinch towards the rear. The front seats are power adjustable but sadly don’t have a memory option. 3 people can sit comfortably in the back seat, with rear a/c vents keeping things cool. Nice touches include a power rear sunshade and window shades for the rear passengers. Adding a car seat means the middle seat is only suitable for kids not much older than 12. The trunk is big and can fit a full-size pram, a large duffle bag, a strolley and space left over for 1 week of groceries. Below the floor is a full size spare and a small toolkit. The subwoofer hangs down from the rear deck and takes up a little bit of space.
The ride is smooth, and only becomes a bit noisy at highway speeds. This is mostly due to the tyres, which are the original Michelins from the showroom will be changed before summer. Until then, full throttle launch will result in the front wheels looking for grip all through first gear and chirping into second with an induction howl playing in the background. Torque steer is minimal to non-existent. Body roll is present but managed well and the Accord doesn’t feel floppy. You cannot toss this into turns like a car half its size but smooth inputs reward good grip, even on worn tyres. The electric power steering is nicely weighted at highway speeds but light during parking. Thankfully, there is a little communication through the leather steering wheel about what the tyres are doing and during spirited maneuvers; it feels as if the Accord shrinks in size. Brakes are strong and linear but Hondas have generally been a bit weak when it comes to longevity of the pads and discs. We shall see if any improvements have been made.
The trip computer shows my best fuel economy till date is 8.3 litres/100 km, thanks to my right foot being heavier than usual. However, I am on track to beat this number as I write this article.
I spent Dhs 310 for the minor service at 55,000 km with Trading Enterprises. While this is “only” Dhs 100 more than my Civic’s minor service about 4 years ago, I do not plan to visit the dealer every other month. I told the service advisor to increase my service interval to 10k on the basis that the V6 Accords have not been updated since they started selling mine in 2013 and the 2016 models will be sold with “10k” service intervals as per the recently-passed law. The service advisor said they would switch me over to 0W-30 oil for the longer interval, as compared to 5W-30 they normally use. I’ll find out how much extra this will cost at the next service.
If there is one good thing about Trading Enterprises, their service prices are fixed and they call for your permission to do any extra work they find. Overall, it’s a good hassle-free car.