Story and photos by Jim Robinson,
Metroland Media/WheelsTalk.com -
What’s in a name can be everything, and that certainly applies to Honda’s Accord.
Now in its ninth generation, the 2013 Accord, like Civic, is a name people not only associated with Honda, but trust and the sales records over the decades prove that’s why they keep coming back again and again.
I had forgotten the Accord was the first Japanese car built in North America. Honda has a huge presence on the continent now to the point it really is a domestic maker now.
But in recent years, the Accord has started to flag against increasingly stiff competition in the mid-size market coming from all sides.
So for 2013, Honda has upgraded just about everything on the car but has retained the core values of what I call “Hondaness” meaning substantial build quality and engineering along with the best materials and technology that owners know will stand them in good stead when it is time to trade in or end a lease.
Accord will be offered in sedan and coupe formats with a choice of engines, but for this story we will stick with the sedans, the Sport model in particular.
It is based on the base LX but adds a number of extras starting with the engine.
While the LX has the same 2.4-litre, direct injection, DOHC inline four-cylinder with 185 hp and 181 lb/ft of torque, the Sport improves that slightly to 189 hp and 182 lb/ft of torque due mainly to a larger exhaust, which lessens back pressure.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard while a CVT (continuously variable transmission) is a $1,200 option and that includes steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Increasingly, CVTs are proving more frugal than manuals or automatics which is why the shift to CVTs is becoming more prevalent.
The proof is in fuel efficiency with the CVT rated at 7.8/5.5/6.7L/100 km city/highway/combined compared to 8.7/5.7/7.4L/100 km for the manual.
This is all due to Earth Dreams, Honda’s comprehensive approach to making their cars and trucks better through a number of initiatives such as technology and weight reduction of its engines and transmissions.
The engines now have reduced friction plus improved torque, while the available transmissions enhance acceleration and responsiveness through improvements such as wider ratios and sporty shift programming.
Helping the driver better appreciate what is going on is “econ + eco assist” modes and the ECON button. When the driver pushes the ECON button, it automatically adjusts the engine and other auxiliary systems from efficient to ultra- efficient.
The best part of all this was being able to call up my fuel use performance on the eight-inch centre-dash monitor that recorded my L/100 km average. This not only served as a “coach” but also a finger-wagger when I went above the 10L/100 km line.
The bonus was the readout is so big, I never had to turn my eyes off the view of the road ahead to see the numbers at a glance.
Like most of the modern CVTs I drive now, they function without the “rubber-banding” effect we used get when you tromped the pedal to pass, but the engine/CVT had to build up to speed.
While classified as a mid-size sedan, it really is a large car especially in the back seat with Honda claiming it has the largest rear passenger volume in the segment. The trunk is increased to 447 litres, up 50 litres from the 2012 model even though the 2013 is 80 mm shorter.
I mentioned an eight-inch display and it packs a lot of information into it, including allowing the driver to receive text messages and e-mails with the driver able to answer back with preset replies. This is something I personally would never do, as I think there is a driver distraction limit regardless of the technology.
What I did like, besides the fuel history, is trip range and phone information including with bilingual Bluetooth.
Styling looks a bit more edgy then previously, but it was done to reduce drag, which is another part of the Earth Dreams mantra.
The Sport has its own 17-inch alloy wheels along with fully independent suspension, which, as you’d expect, has that sporting Honda feel.
Another bonus is the inclusion of hill holder assist, a feature other brands are starting to adopt.
Lastly, I liked was the iPod-like click wheel grafted into the right spoke of the steering wheel, making it super simple to use instead of rocker switches.
On the highway, I made a lot of use of the cruise function because it was so easy to touch the separate “cancel” button. A lot of the time, in other vehicles I just leave the cruise off because I constantly find myself looking down to find the cancel switch, as I don’t like taking my eyes off the road.
The 2.4-litre is a lusty engine giving the driver the sense that most of the 182 lb/ft of torque is real, not just part of the advertising copy.
Pricing for the Sport starts at $25,490, with the optional CVT ($1,200) bringing the price to $26,690 not including the $1,640 shipping fee.
The 2013 Accord, no matter which of the nine four-cylinder or V6 models one chooses, is the distillation of almost four decades of providing the kind of sedan buyers want.
Once again, it looks like Honda has hit the right Accord with consumers.
Honda Accord Sport 2013 at a glance
BODY STYLE: four-door, five-passenger mid-size sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 2.4-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder (189 hp, 182 lb/ft)
CARGO CAPACITY: 447 litres.
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) CVT as tested 7.8/5.5/6.7L/100 km city/highway/combined; six-speed manual 8.7/5.7/7.4L/100 km
PRICE: $25,490; as tested with CVT, $26,690 not including $1,640 shipping fee
WEB SITE: www.honda.ca