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First look: Honda heralds new-look Accord

Nose job: Honda's 2011 Accord gains a new front bumper, grille and other cosmetic updates.

Facelifted Accord emerges in the US as Honda eyes front-drive CR-V and ESC for Jazz

Honda logo25 Jun 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

HONDA of America has released first images and full details of its facelifted Accord sedan and coupe in the US, providing a clear indication of what to expect when a similar midlife makeover is applied to Australia’s Thailand-sourced large sedan in the first half of next year.

The 2011 Accord brings a range of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades and will join the all-new CR-Z hybrid coupe in going on sale here by mid-2011, but both models should be preceded before the end of this year by the arrival of the Insight hybrid hatch, electronic stability control for the 2011 Jazz, a cut-price front-wheel drive CR-V and the discontinuation of the British-built Civic Si five-door hatchback.

Due for release in North America in mid-August, the 2011 Accord – not to be confused with Australia’s Japanese-built Accord Euro – will hit the US with enhanced interior and exterior styling, improved fuel economy and a leather-lined SE trim level, before it arrives here within 12 months.

“There will be a cosmetic upgrade for the Accord in the first half of next year,” confirmed Honda Australia spokesman mark Higgins.

The 2011 Accord sedan is said to offer a “more upscale and powerful stance” thanks to a new front bumper, grille, bootlid and wheels, while new features for some models include steering wheel gearshift paddles, a USB Audio Interface function, rear view-camera and two-position driver’s seat memory.

All models receive new seat fabrics, an updated instrument panel, “more refined” cabin highlights and a revised centre console stack.

While four and six-cylinder sedan and coupe derivatives continue to be available in the US, the Accord will remain a sedan-only proposition in Australia, where the entry-level V6 variant ($38,490) was discontinued earlier this year, leaving the flagship V6 Luxury ($49,990) as Honda Australia’s only direct rival for Holden’s (Calais) Commodore).

Released in January, Australia’s MY10 Accord also brought side curtain airbags as standard across the three-variant range – which also includes VTi and VTi-L 2.4-litre four-cylinder models - among other minor changes.

15 center imageFor 2011, however, Honda says its larger US-oriented Accord employs optimised aerodynamics, engine friction and transmission gear ratios to reduce average fuel consumption marginally to 10.2L/100km (city) and 6.9L/100km (highway) for four-cylinder versions.

Americans continue to be offered both 133kW and 142kW versions of the Accord’s 2.4-litre 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, but only the former is available here.

Fitted with the fuel-saving Variable Cylinder Management system, the 3.5-litre 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC V6 delivers 202kW in both markets, with preliminary EPA fuel consumption in the US announced at 12.4L/100km (city) and 7.8L/100km (highway) for the automatic – the latter representing an improvement of 1mpg.

All Australian Accord come standard with a five-speed automatic transmission, but in the US five and six-speed manuals are also available, while Honda Australia has also ruled out a local release of ‘Tourer’ wagon and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel versions of the latest Accord, both which would have to come from Swindon in the UK.

While Australia’s 2011 Accord will continue to come from Thailand (as is the case for all Hondas here except the Accord Euro, Odyssey, Legend and three and five-door Civic) Honda says 95 per cent of all Accords sold in the US are produced at Honda of America Manufacturing Inc’s Marysville Auto Plant at Marysville in Ohio, which is the sole global source of the Accord Coupe, or at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama LLC at Lincoln in Alabama.

Meantime, the late 2010 release of the upgraded Jazz will answer critics by joining many of its light-sized rivals in offering electronic stability control for the first time.

“We said at the launch of the current Jazz in 2008 that electronic stability control would come in the fourth quarter of this year and that’s still on target,” said Mr Higgins, who added that the demise of the relatively expensive UK-built five-door Civic – launched here in April 2009 - is not yet confirmed“That’s not a definite yet,” he said. “We look at the competitiveness of all our models all the time and in this case we need to see if the Civic range needs to be rationalised.”

Nor is the first front-drive CR-V formally confirmed, but Nissan Motor Co Australia CEO Dan Thompson told GoAuto last week he expects Subaru’s Forester to be the only compact SUV to remain exclusively all-wheel drive in Australia in 12 months, following the release of a front-drive X-Trail this year.

Mr Thompson said he expects the compact SUV segment to undergo a sizeable shift throughout 2011 following the release of sub-$30,000 two-wheel drive versions of Toyota’s RAV4, Mazda’s CX-7, Mitsubishi’s Outlander, the X-Trail and CR-V.

But Mr Higgins said a 2WD CR-V was not yet locked in for Australia.

“A 2WD CR-V is something we’ve looked at continue to do market research on, but is not yet in the plan. There has got to be a reason to do it in terms of incremental sales and we’re keen to investigate the potential market reaction, but it’s not on the short-term horizon.”

While the Civic remains Honda's biggest selling model so far in 2010 with 4362 examples sold to May (up 4.5 per cent), Odyssey sales are also up (by 86 per cent) - as are CR-V sales, by 19.6 per cent.

Contributing to a 6.5 per cent overall sales slide for Honda Australia this year, however are the flagship Legend sedan (down 49 per cent), the light City sedan (down 33.5 per cent), the Accord (down 34.8 per cent), the Accord Euro (down 15.2 per cent) and the Jazz (down 5.2 per cent).

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