Car reviews - Honda - Accord - range
Classy look to interior, silky smooth V6, hushed cabin, unique Lane Assist blind spot camera, huge boot.
Room for improvement
Price hike with new model, foot-operated park brake, optional safety technology beeps all the time, heavy on fuel.
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17 Nov 2014
By BARRY PARK
Price and equipment
Shopping at the top of the four-model Accord range to buy Honda’s only V6-equipped mid-size car will cost you from $51,990 before on-road costs.
If you reckon that’s a bit rich in a segment that kicks off from around the $30,000 mark, you’re right – the front-driving Accord V6 shares its pricing only with premium four-cylinder Peugeot sedans and wagons, a range-topping Mazda6 four-cylinder diesel, Volkswagen’s performance-honed 3.6-litre V6 Passat sedan and wagon that send drive to all four wheels, and Subaru’s all-paw six-cylinder 3.6-litre boxer-engined Liberty sedan.
The mid-size segment is still fiercely competitive despite its smaller sales volume, and Honda is not skimping on equipment.
Even in $31,490 base-level VTi specification, with a four-cylinder engine mated to an off-the-boil five-speed automatic transmission (the V6 has six ratios), the Accord includes a reversing camera that can give a full 180-degree view behind the car, a slick-looking multimedia screen mounted high on the dash, and outside there are LED – not hot-burning, energy sapping incandescent – daytime running lights and 16-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare under the boot floor.
The V6-engined model steps up to 18-inch alloys, heated and electric adjust front seats with a memory function and lumbar support for the driver’s side, a powered rear-window sunshade and a pair of manual ones for the rear doors, dusk-sensing headlights that peer around corners and rain-sensing wipers, push-button start, dual-zone climate control with air vents for the rear seats, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connection with audio streaming, a sunroof, and more.
As the Accord flagship, there’s a fair bit on the safety front, with the car close to self-driving in its most interventionist mode. Technology includes active cruise control, lane diversion warnings that chime in if you start to stray out of your lane with a nudge on the steering wheel, and collision mitigation technology that can automatically jump on the brakes at low speeds to try and avoid a crash.
As before, too, the Accord comes with active noise cancelling that uses the car’s seven-speaker stereo system (a woofer sits in the boot) to make the cabin more serene, and cylinder shut-down technology that turns the big 3.5-litre V6 into a tiddling 1.75-litre three-cylinder under light engine loads to save fuel.
Even in this era of the cigarette-smoking pariah, the Accord comes equipped with one ashtray in the front and two in the rear seats. Most other car-makers shift such items to the options list.
Honda has attempted to bestow the Accord with a touch of class, and as well as a few hits, there’s a few misses.
Soft-touch plastics adorn most areas where the fingers fall, and the dash is dressed up with slabs of wood trim and satin chrome-look plastic highlights.
The middle of the dash is set with a deep recess that houses the LCD multimedia screen that doubles as the display for the satellite navigation system and the reversing/lane merging camera – keep an eye out for that in the safety wrap-up.
Beneath it sits another LCD display that somewhat doubles up on the information shown on the screen above it.
Under that sits a strip of climate control buttons, and below that – a long way from the driver’s eye – are the controllers for the multimedia interface, including a BMW iDrive-style dial for navigating menus.
Given all the fuss, the disappointment is the steering wheel. It’s leather-wrapped, but its plain-looking, has oversized buttons and rings for controlling audio and cruise control functions and looks as though it belongs on a much cheaper car than the highest ranking Accord. Another blight is the foot-operated park brake that is as kludgy to use as it is hard to find.
The V6L’s leather seats are big and roomy, lacking a little support, while in the back seat space is as good as any car a class bigger.
One of the benefits of the Accord is its big 457-litre boot, which is huge by mid-size car standards. It’s a fairly low and wide opening, though, and includes a woofer for the seven-speaker audio system. There’s no split-fold rear seat, either, just a ski port hidden behind the centre armrest to poke long things through.
Engine and transmission
The new Accord keeps the V6 from the previous-generation Accord, but unlike four-cylinder versions paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, the bigger powerplant gains a six-speed automatic.
It’s a sweet unit, producing a large car-rivalling 206kW of power and 339Nm of torque, although both arrive fairly high in the rev range. From low revs, the Accord pulls strongly and confidently, with a muted metallic rasp from the twin chrome-tipped exhausts poking out of the rear diffuser.
The six-speed automatic is a bit old-school in an age of eight, and even nine speeds in more premium brands, but works well alongside the free-revving nature of the V6 and the paddle shifts. If it’s the way you roll, the Accord includes an economy button that dulls the throttle and holds gears longer than normal on hills, blunting performance.
Gear selection is intuitive, kicking down a couple of gears immediately when an extra burst of speed is needed, and downshifting a single cog only on long hills as the speed starts to trail off.
The Accord V6 includes an active cylinder management system that is able to shut down up to three of the V6 pots under light engine loads to help with fuel economy. You’ll never be able to pick when it shifts between three-cylinder, four-pot and V6 modes, it is so smooth and unobtrusive.
On paper, the V6 will officially chew through 9.6 litres of regular unleaded fuel for every 100 kilometres it travels, which is pretty high for the class considering the Camry Hybrid, with its V6-rivalling performance, will officially only use about 5.6L/100km on paper.
We missed the mark on the Accord’s fuel use after a week of mixed driving, posting a figure well into the 11s.
Ride and handling
Honda has made the Accord a comfortable cruiser. The middle-of-the-road setting for the suspension means it handles much of what the road throws up at it without fuss, but coming at the expense of outright handling.
At smooth speeds around town, there’s a little bit of jiggling that could be the result of the low-profile Michelin rubber it wears, but otherwise there is nothing really to upset the comfort of driver and passengers.
Push a little harder, and the Accord will start to lean into corners quite readily, with the electronic stability control stepping in very early to quell any tyre spin as the inside front wheel unloads.
Safety and servicing
Honda’s new Accord adds a unique piece of safety gear to the mix. When you turn on the left indicator to merge lanes, a camera mounted under the left-hand wing mirror fills the centre-mounted LCD screen with an image of what is, or isn’t, in your blind spot.
The LaneAssist system, as it is known, works well, and is particularly handy when reversing into a kerbside parking space.
The V6 Accord also introduces active cruise control as standard, allowing the Accord to keep a set distance from the car in front at freeway speeds, and a collision avoidance system that helps to minimise or avoid the risk of running into the car in front, but annoyingly beeps every time it senses a car in front, even when it is a safe distance ahead. In fact, there’s a lot of beeping that, especially on a long freeway run, becomes annoying.
The ninth-generation car comes with six airbags and a host of electronic safety aids. This has helped the car achieve a top five-star crash test rating for both the V6 and four-cylinder models.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program that tests vehicles for crash safety doesn’t yet have a way of scoring self-braking systems. Until it does, we have to take Honda’s word that it could help to prevent one.
The warranty covers three years or 100,000km, whichever comes first.
Honda now includes capped-price servicing, which for the Accord runs between $258 for a minor tweak up to $666 for a five-year major workover.
To stand out in the crowded mid-size car class, you need something different, and in an era of downsizing the big-engined Accord V6L has that, at least.
It drives well, but never excitingly, is comfortable without quite having that luxury feel, is practical enough without having the full suite of functionality, and safe enough even if it has to keep reminding you all the time – it’s very middle of the road, come to think of it.
Some people like vanilla ice-cream. Likewise, some buyers will warm to the Accord for the very same reason.
Mazda6 Atenza (From $49,660 before on-roads).
Powerful, long-legged diesel driving the front wheels via a six-speed auto.
Huge weight loss program and complete makeover have produced something special in the now year-old mid-sizer. Swooping roofline makes it a bit cramped in the rear seat, though.
Subaru Liberty 3.5X (From $55,990 before on-roads).
Rorty flat six sends drive to all four wheels via a five-speed auto. High ride height, genuinely roomy interior and equipped like a European car, but harsh interior and engine’s low-down torque hole leave a bit to be desired.
Volkswagen Passat V6 FSI Highline (From $56.490 before on-roads).
Huge power from 226kW V6 sent to all four wheels via a sporty seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Expensive, but with genuine Euro chic wrapped in a somewhat bland exterior, and decent interior comfort.
MAKE/MODEL: Honda Accord V6L
ENGINE: 3.5-litre V6
LAYOUT: Front-engined, front-wheel-drive
TRANSMISSION: 6-Speed auto
TOP SPEED: N/A
EMISSIONS: 217g/km CO2
SUSPENSION: Macpherson (f)/Multi-link (r)
STEERING: Electrically-assisted rack and pinion
BRAKES: Disc (f)/disc (r)
PRICE: From $51,990 before on-roads
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