Car reviews - Honda - Accord - range
Cabin is both stylish and spacious, excellent optional active safety gear, crisper styling, smooth V6 engine, less road noise than before
Room for improvement
Base four-cylinder engine is lacklustre, five-speed auto is outdated, price increases, foot-operated park brake impedes foot space, vague steering
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7 May 2013
IMAGINE you’re driving at 100km/h on a busy freeway. You get momentarily distracted, and inadvertently drift towards the edge of your lane – or worse – towards the edge of the road itself.
No sweat if its a top-spec Accord you’re driving, because it has a lane assist system that not only senses when you start to veer, but steers the car to stay within the white lines if you don’t get to it first.
Or, hypothetically, imagine you’re getting out of the right-hand lane and moving into the left.
Going a step beyond most blind-spot warning systems, the Accord projects what’s going on in the car’s passenger-side blind-spot in high-resolution on the eight-inch screen.
Ok, so neither of these features in their basic form are unique to Honda, but it’s rare we’ve seen versions so effective and affordable as here – we reckon both are outstanding.
Shell out $3000 for an option pack called ADAS on your $41,990 VTi-L, and you can have these features, as well as radar-guided cruise control. Not bad.
So, then, on first evidence, you’re Grandpa’s car of choice has had a youthful tech-savvy makeover.
But don’t go thinking this leopard has changed its spots too much. Honda may be hesitant to continue with its Commodore/Falcon/Aurion comparisons of the past, but this new Accord is still very much a comfy cruiser rather than a sporty bruiser.
The company now calls Mazda6 the main benchmark, with the Volkswagen Passat and Toyota Camry also in the mix. The new pricing is line-ball at entry with the Mazda, but does this strategy not cut the Accord Euro’s lunch?
Honda reckons the two have different buyers, with younger drivers skewing towards the Euro. We aren’t so sure that will continue, with the pair now conceptually closer than ever.
Musings aside, what has Honda changed with the new model?
Well, aside from the safety gear, the company claims to have improved noise, vibration and harshness by stiffening the body and adding more insulation. We did a back-to-back drive of new and old versions, and our finding? Top marks, Honda.
Far less road and wind noise entered the cabin than before, there were no dash or parcel shelf rattles (unlike the squeaky previous version), and engine drone only made itself obvious when under duress (and even then, only with the base four-pot).
The company also claims to have improved cabin ‘craftsmanship’. Again, check. The new fascia is clean and logical compared to the old buttonfest, there are two big screens on all bar the very base version, and more soft-touch plastics are used.
Despite the shorter wheelbase and overall length, there are also Falcon-levels of backseat space, and the pews themselves are cushy – if a little lacking in side bolstering – while higher-specified versions are trimmed in very supple leather.
Shame Honda replaced the old model’s traditional parking brake with a cumbersome foot-operated unit that gets in the way. Stick with the old, or fit a new-school electric switch, we say.
This nod of the (tweed) cap to the old school continues through to the base 129kW/225Nm 2.4-litre engine. Far from all-new, it appears to be a re-worked version of the old one, actually losing 4kW in the process in return for mild economy gains (claimed figure of 7.9 litres per 100km).
Typical of this company, the engine lacks low-end torque, but does offer some spirit under revs, and is quite refined at low speeds. However, the carryover five-speed auto lacks a ratio – all rivals have six or seven cogs – and matches its tall-ish gearing with a hesitancy to kick down.
The flagship 3.5-litre V6 is a better bet, with 206kW of power and 339Nm of torque, delivered in butter-smooth fashion.
The six-speed auto has less work to do, considering the wider spread of torque, but still feels better. Too bad the six-pot version starts at $51,990.
The regular Accord has never been a dynamic star, and this remains the case – in short, it’s no Mazda6 in the twisties, even if Honda wants it to be.
The electric steering is far too light and lacking in feedback, with an alarming amount of play from centre calling on the driver to input constant corrections even in a straight line.
The new MacPherson front suspension (the old one had double wishbones) felt more composed and less jumpy over ruts, but the circa 1700kg Accord is neither lithe or nimble like some rivals.
Not that we mind overmuch, since we suspect most buyers will not be swayed by this anyway. As a comfortable and spacious cruiser, the Accord is better than ever.
And the excellent new cabin and deft safety technology add a welcome dose of colour.
Not a bad effort, in all, and a car that builds on its traditional strengths.
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