As Honda brings the ninth generation of the Accord to the American market, the big differences aren’t as important and keeping the spirit of the Accord the same. This is the brand’s big seller, almost its identity. The Accord is the car that introduced not only the brand, but Asian cars to many, if not most, American buyers. Now it’s the benchmark for what an American family wants in a sedan. It was also the first Japanese car to be assembled in the U.S. when the Marysville, Ohio plant began churning them out – made by American workers. Now, 30 years later that’s still happening, and even the car’s new 2.4-liter engine is produced in Ohio. But the Accord has certainly changed.
For the 2013 model the team wanted to car to be more stylish, quieter and safer. Honda says this is the quietest Accord yet and they paid attention to making the car more stylish and more sophisticated. But the noise problem had to be solved, because this had been a problem they wanted to fix.
Much of the safety, as well as the quietness, comes from the stiffness of the body. More than half – 55.8 percent – of the body made of high-strength steel, used to move impact energy away from the passengers in a crash. On part of the front subframe, a new welding process bonds aluminum directly to steel.
Mechanical features are up to date in this car, although unlike many modern cars you can still get a manual transmission. The power steering is electric and the suspension uses MacPherson struts.
Shoji Matsui leads the Accord team. Thirty years ago is first job as a young designer for the company was to design the fuel door on the Accord. He explained that Honda’s philosophy is for the styling to begin with the designer looking at the passenger space, then designing out from that.
The result in the case of the Accord that is 191.3-in long on a 109.3-in wheelbase. That’s 3.6-in. shorter on an inch shorter wheelbase. The width stays virtually the same at 72.8-in. the 57.6-in tall car has 15.5 cu. ft. of cargo space, not quite a cubic foot more than previously, but not the trunk floor is flat, making more space usable.
But the “passenger first” concept insured that the interior space remains the same size as the current generation of the Accord. The design also includes plenty of glass, because this is a family car and the whole family needs to see out, not just the driver.
It is also well laid out, attractive and very modern. Inside the center stack is dominated by an eight-in. screen, although the audio system uses both analog and touch-screen controls. The audio system sounds good and naturally Bluetooth makes hands-free communication possible. The air-conditioning and heating is automatic and standard. Active cruise control is an option. All Accords have HondaLink for intuitive connectivity.
There are three Accord powertrains, beginning with the primary engine, a 2.4-liter direct gasoline injection, four-cylinder engine producing 180 hp. and 181 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The expected EPA fuel rating is 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway for a combined rating of 30 mpg. This engine comes with either a continuously variable or a six-speed manual transmission, both of which are new for this generation.
The upgrade engine is a 3.5-liter V6 which pushes 270 hp. and 252 lb.-ft. of peak torque to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine’s mileage ratings are expected to be 21 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. The exhaust systems of both the six- and four-cylinder models use Active Sound Control to cut the level of sound in the cabin. Interestingly, Honda could get these power levels out of a four-cylinder turbo engine, but they say that people who want six-cylinders don’t just want the engines for more power, but for smoothness as well as the engine sound.
Finally there is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the Hybrid which will hit the streets in October. The Hybrid uses this newly designed Atkinson stroke engine and two electric motors to power the car. The gasoline engine generates 137 hp. and 122 lb.-ft. of peak torque while the electric motors combine to output 124 kW of energy. Combining these two power sources results in the total output for the Hybrid of 196-hp and 226 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The Plug-in Accord has a 10-15 mile range from a fully charged battery and, if accelerated gently, can run as highway speeds without the gasoline engine starting.
The Hybrid drives smoothly and has plenty of power, should you choose to floor it. Because the car is a plug-in, the disciplined owner can benefit, but even without that benefit this is by far the quietest of the Accords, creating an atmosphere inside of a club-like silence.
Both the Accord Coupe and Sedan handle well for a family sedan, staying fairly flat in cornering and braking. There isn’t really much difference in capabilities between the coupe and sedan. Mid-sized coupes fall in a small and fussy segment. But Toyota is no longer making the Solara coupe and Nissan hasn’t said when or if it’s next-generation Altima Coupe will hit the streets. So having a mid-sized, four-passenger coupe is an advantage for Honda.
Coupe owners want a two-door, it’s about style, not performance. But the Accord Coupe is sportier than the sedan, with clearly more aggressive and sophistication to its design. The mechanicals are the same, but Honda changed the exhaust note of the Coupe. It naturally loses a bit of trunk space, having 14 cu. ft. of space, a cubic foot larger than the previous coupe’s cargo space.
The Accord model lineup starts with the LX, which comes with 16-in. wheels and starts at $21,480. The EX model gets 17-in. wheels and a moonroof as a part of its additional features. The EX-L adds leather and an upgraded audio system. Finally there’s the Touring model, which adds almost every feature available. The car comes in eight colors with three interior colors while the sedan comes in seven colors and with two interiors. The hybrid only comes in three colors with one available interior.
Making a prediction on this car’s success is easy. This ninth generation will set much the same standard that the previous generation did. For people who want Honda’s – and they are a loyal crowd — you would almost need to give them a reason not to go for the Accord.