The Honda Accord is a nameplate that needs no introduction. Honda’s family sedan has been on sale in the U.S. since the days of 8-track tapes more than 41 years ago, and dealers sell an average of one Accord about every two minutes. The question now is whether the Accord can hang on to its status as one of the two most popular and sensible choices in the world of family sedans, the other being the Toyota Camry, at a time when compact crossovers are rapidly becoming the bread-and-butter “family sedans” of the 2010s.
If our time in the 2018 Accord is any indication Honda has no reason to worry.
What’s new in the tenth-generation Accord? When it comes to engines there are three main flavors to choose from: The range kicks off with a 1.5-liter DOHC direct-injected turbo four-cylinder pumping out an even 192 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, paired with a choice of a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That’s a boost of 7 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Above that sits the new 2.0-liter direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder, good for 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. This engine is a close sibling of the firecracker found under the hood of the 2017 Civic Type R, and it’s paired with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission (a different one than in the 1.5-liter, we should note) or a new ten-speed automatic. That’s right; ten-speed is the new six-speed, but it’s actually 22 pounds lighter than the outgoing six-speed automatic.
The third option is a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine paired with two electric motors producing 143 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque in the new Accord Hybrid. One engine you won’t find on the menu any more is a V6; the new 2.0-liter turbo is close enough to the departed 3.5-liter’s output to not be worth the weight and fuel-economy hit.
The Accord has grown on the inside, thanks to a stretch of the wheelbase and a more rakish rear window and C-pillars.
The all-new sedan, contrary to industry trends, is actually just a bit shorter in length than the model it replaces, but offers a longer wheelbase, a wider stance and a shorter height. The most noticeable change on the outside is the near-fastback bodystyle; Honda stretched out the greenhouse to buy an extra 2.5 cubic feet of interior room, with the 2.16-inch stretch of the wheelbase benefitting rear seat legroom and headroom. Honda also moved the seats inward for more hip and elbow room while angling the profile of the side windows more sharply from the window sills to the roof. The redesigned front fascia now sports a more aggressive look with a larger grille that stretches almost all the way down to the front spoiler, giving the front fascia a V-shaped outline. Out back, Honda opted for horseshoe-shaped taillights, similar to the ones now worn by the Civic — which also morphed into a fastback with its latest redesign.
High-strength steel makes up 54.9 percent of the new Accord’s body, and Honda uses structural adhesives to increase structure rigidity and shave a few pounds off its weight. In fact, depending on trim level, the new sedan is 110 to 176 pounds lighter than the outgoing models, while being 32 percent stiffer in terms of torsional rigidity. The chassis itself is 6 percent lighter compared to the outgoing model, in addition to benefitting from a new MacPherson strut front suspension and a new and more compact multi-link rear suspension.
On the inside, the Accord offers an available eight-inch touchscreen, in addition an six-inch head-up display standard on the Touring trim, which also offers wireless device charging and Bluetooth nearfield phone pairing tech. All Accords also get the new Honda Sensing Suite of safety and driver assistance systems for 2018, which includes collision mitigation braking, lane depature warning, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and even traffic sign recognition.
We went to the northern half of New Hampshire to try out the new Accord, putting it through its paces along paved and unpaved mountain roads in a part of the country that serves up plenty of both without too much traffic. Both manual and automatic versions of the 2.0-liter Turbo showed off their abilities with poise, providing a quiet and capable ride with a dash of sport — something that would have been unheard of just a couple of Accord generations ago.
Paired with its six-speed manual the new 2.0-liter Accord is a smooth operator; this gearbox is obviously designed to be friendly to manual-transmission novices, offering a long and mushy clutch along with short, well-spaced throws. This is easily one of the most chill (to use a technical term) transmissions I’ve used, and the engine plays well here in all gears, never straining or asking for downshifts — there are plenty of horses on tap. The ten-speed automatic is an even more relaxed gearbox and it goes about its business largely without me noticing — easily one of the least conspicuous transmissions I’ve sampled in this segment — but it’s always ready to go into European Action Flick Car Chase Mode and make the 252 horses hustle.
Accord handling still errs on the side of comfort, working to mute the imperfections in the road surface, but it does so without drifting into a sensory deprivation experience. Along twisty mountain roads the chassis serves up plenty of confidence with minor body roll and an impressively quiet cabin that permits just a bit of wind noise from the side mirrors. The steering is not as sharp as it could be, but knowing the point-A-to-point-B slogs Accords will be performing daily it doesn’t need to be sharper to impress car journalists or take aim at the Germans.
The cabin is a study in quiet design and a quiet interior; Honda spent extra time eliminating sources of road noise, yielding a more Lexus-like mute button for the outside world than previous generations of the car. The logically laid-out dash is a study in ergonomics, even if it follows Honda’s penchant for avoiding adventurously-designed interiors. The high-mounted infotainment screen is now bookended by two rotary knobs and real-life buttons (after some unfortunate experiments in taking them away), offering ease of use from the get go, with steering-mounted buttons helping to keep eyes on the road and not on the center stack.
A C-pilar that stretches further back ultimately means the rear seats can be placed further back as well, buying extra inches for rear legroom; in the Accord the rear seat accomodations practically invite the sit-behind-yourself test, where shoppers will find an impressive level of room for something the size of, well, an Accord that’s smaller on the outside than the outgoing model.
A stretch of the wheelbase has bought rear seat passengers extra headroom and extra legroom.
2018 Honda Accord: 8 things you need to know
The 10th-generation Honda Accord is almost here with new looks and plenty of fresh tech, along with a revamped powertrain lineup. The 2018 model will sport some aggressive new styling and a fastback …
As it enters its tenth generation the Accord is closer to a religion than a consumer good. For households that simply upgrade from one Accord to the next once every one or two generations — and there are plenty that do just that — the question is not if they should buy an Accord but which one to buy in what exterior color.
The new Accord makes an excellent case for itself; the 2.0-liter Turbo models offer a spacious and civilized (if not particularly exciting) cabin, excellent road manners, and just enough power to make things interesting running flat out or managing some reasonably tight corners. Now Honda just has to convince buyers they’d rather have a sedan than an SUV.
On Sale: Fall 2017
Base Price: $24,445
As Tested Price: $34,000 est.
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged I4, FWD, 6-speed manual transmission
Output: 252 hp @ 6500 rpm, 273 lb-ft @ 1500 to 4000 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,298 lb.
0-60 MPH: N/A
Fuel Economy: 23/34/28 Mfr Estimate(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Observed Fuel Economy: 27
Pros: Ergonomics, quiet interior, good lineup of standard features, ample cabin space
Cons: Slightly numb steering, 6-speed manual not very sporty