2013 Honda Accord Touring HD Video Review
Honda Accord has always been a no-brainer family sedan that’s roomy, economical, reliable, even fun-to-drive. It’s made Car and Driver’s 10 Best list every year since the sky has been blue. But really? Has it been resting on its laurels for the past few years?
Yes, Accord is crazy popular but for what it’s worth, the eighth generation never worked for me. Fussy sheetmetal looked like two different design teams worked on it. The dark interior was cluttered with identical buttons. Less expensive competitors offered features that weren’t even available on Accord. Then there was the overall size that cast a big shadow, even at noon.
Generation nine takes care of most of that… emphasis on most. It’s 3.5 inches shorter on the outside and a tiny bit more spacious inside. While Honda is hoping to recapture Accord’s glory years, competitors have become very, very, good in the last three years. Especially strong these days are Altima, Fusion, Malibu, Optima, Passat, and Sonata.
What I’m Driving
Honda has dropped off a top line Touring model, going for $34,220 with destination. It only comes loaded and includes LED projector headlamps and trendy LED daytime running lights that other Accords don’t get. Exclusive radar assisted cruise control matches speeds down to 5-10 miles per hour.
Touring is only offered with Honda’s port-injected 3.5-liter V6 with 278 horsepower on tap (and 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm). It can shut half the cylinders down for better fuel efficiency. Most buyers will opt for the direct-injected 185 horse four-cylinder paired with a new continuously variable transmission but that combo is not in the press fleet yet. Only the V6 gets a new six-speed automatic transmission. Other Accords can be had with paddles shifters, Touring is denied. A sport mode tightens up shift times and holds lower ratios longer.
With more torque at lower RPMs now, there’s a healthy amount of scoot with little torque steer (the tugging of the steering wheel under hard acceleration). Standstill to 60 mph happens in around six seconds, excessive wheel spin on moist Seattle pavement keeps my figure a bit vague. Transmission shifts are crisp and decisive. The V6 fuel economy is EPA rated at 21 city, 34 highway and yes, it drinks regular gas.
A consistent gripe with Accords of the past? Road noise. That’s addressed, due in part to standard Active Noise Control that creates a sound-canceling reverse waveform pumped out from the speakers. Wind noise is nearly absent at realistic highway cruising speeds. A standard feature owners may never realize is Active Sound Control. It samples the exhaust note and using tech similar to Active Noise Reduction, eliminates the nasty sounds spewing from the tail pipe, leaving the melodious ones. It must work, I like Accord’s engine note.
Accord gets a new MacPherson strut front suspension. Don’t worry, it still handles athletically while banishing harshness. There’s fun here for those who enjoy driving but it won’t alienate the comfort crowd. Steering effort is on the light side and even with electric power steering some road feel remains. The structure- built with more high strength steel this time around- is as solid as Lindsay Lohan’s bad girl reputation.
Back to wheel slippage, Accord’s biggest handling limitation seems to be the tires. There’s higher than average wheel spin at stoplights and they loose grip under very hard cornering. Yes, this has something to do with the constant Northwest drizzle but not everything. Daily commuters on dry pavement may not notice it. I’d suggest different rubber for autocrossing enthusiasts but, uh, this is a family sedan.
Accord has lane departure and forward collision warning that gives you a friendly beep and warning light if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings (FYI, the Touring adds a radar assist to the camera-only system used by the EX-L model).
There’s also the much-advertised blind spot camera dubbed LaneWatch mounted on the passenger side mirror. Basically, when signaling right, the camera’s view comes up on the eight-inch LCD screen with markers defining the rear bumper plus one and two car lengths. The irony is that Accord’s large windows offer great visibility if drivers would simply turn and look. Also, I find it a little annoying in urban driving since the view pops up every right turn signal. FYI, It can be turned off.
Generation nine gets its design mojo back. Conservatively handsome in the sober way Accord used to be, the front and rear now seem to be designed by the same team as the side. Glad that concept has been grasped. It’s not as daring as Sonata, Optima, or Fusion but not all buyers are extroverts. The cut line that runs through the door handles no longer looks like an upside-down wing surface. It’s cleaner, trimmer, and more purposeful but retains a similar presence to the outgoing model. Not a single person recognized it as the new Accord in my week with it.
Honda has listened to the complaints of owners and auto writers about the hundreds of identical buttons… okay, more like dozens. In short, they’ve cleaned up the instrument panel and it looks pretty good. Now there are two screens. A six-inch touch unit takes care of the sound system operation and switches to a keyboard to program the navi unit. An eight-inch panel displays the back-up camera (with three selectable views) and a blizzard of other info like maps, phone info, and trip computer. Yes, the familiar Honda navi knob can be turned, nudged and tapped to input addresses, but it’s tedious (and Honda’s voice recognition works poorly, at least with my golden tones). It’s much easier to use the touchpad. Some will like this set up, others won’t. Like any user interface, spend time before buying so you understand what you’ll be living with.
Use a smart phone’s data plan and get Pandora streaming audio. Incoming text messages can be read aloud by the system or displayed when stopped at a light. Drivers can respond with six pre-programmed messages such as “I’m driving, and you know it would be insane for me to text you back while I’m operating 3,300 pounds of lethal steel, glass and plastic”. Okay, that’s not one of them but my point has been made.
Huzzah! Honda finally offers keyless ignition! Wide seats are nicely bolstered though skinny folks will rattle around some. Soft touch materials on the dash look good. Silver trim all around improves the overall ambience, the faux brushed aluminum will fool no one. The big miss is sparkly black plastic that surrounds the touch screen which looks like something my teen daughter would have brought home from Claire’s. There are lots of storage nooks to stash things and if you like chocolate milk as much as me, a square carton fits very nicely in the cup holders.
Gripes? I prefer the radio’s power button on the volume knob instead of up above it. Accord still doesn’t offer cooled seats up front, heated seats for the back, or a panoramic sunroof. It does offer great protection though. Advanced airbags and a top score in the IIHS’s new “narrow offset” or “small overlap” crash test will help keep your family safe. The latter is something Camry did poorly on if protection is a primary concern.
Passengers and Cargo
Moving to the back seat, there’s plenty of room for three average sized adults. A flat floor helps a lot. There’s storage in the door panels, an adjustable air vent, pockets on both seats, and a folding armrest with cupholders. Unfortunately friends (and more importantly, cranky iPad deprived kids) can’t charge electronics since there’s no power port.
The cargo hold is equally large. In the famous TP trunk test Accord swallows up seven packs of the suitcase-sized bundles. Pretty respectable. The space is well trimmed, even the lid that gets a grab handle. A space saver spare is nice to have, same with bag hooks. Just watch the hinge arms, they can scrunch stuff when closing the lid. The seat back folds flat but I’m dinging it because it doesn’t split. Buy something long at IKEA and a third person is taking the bus home. Not cool.
In The End
The competition, especially Optima and Sonata can be less expensive than Accord but then you start weighing in on grey areas like different equipment each car does and doesn’t offer. A base Accord with a six-speed manual transmission start at around $22,500 with standard Bluetooth, iPod integration back up cam, and alloy wheels.
Once again, Accord returns as one of the most formidable players in the family sedan segment. In someways, Honda has gone back to the future to make Accord appealing again. Just remember, all the players in the family sedan market are very, very good these days. In many cases personal preference and brand loyalty will be the deciding factor. You could just snap up an Accord and feel good about your purchase, but I strongly advise buyers to roll up their sleeves and do a lot of research and comparison. Just make sure the 2013 Honda Accord is on the test drive list.
FULL GALLERY BELOW. BLUE CAR IS A TOURING MODEL, THE RED ONE AND INTERIOR SHOTS ARE AN EX-L MODEL. ALL STILL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY HONDA.