Story and Photos By Neil Moore
Metroland Media/Wheelstalk.com –
The Honda Accord was overdue for a makeover.
I loved the last-generation coupe, but the sedan, with that sharp crease that scored both door panels and bisected the fuel cover and trunk, created a two-piece look that, quite frankly, I found awkward.
In particular the back end that looked like an overgrown cookie tin.
The overall effect was stodgy and did nothing to exemplify the racing heritage that Honda claims is in its vehicle DNA. I could see why sedans like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Ford Fusion were stealing market share.
Enter the 2013 model and all has changed – for the better. I won’t say the new exterior is exceptionally bold or racy, but with its more aggressive grille, contoured sides and wide shoulders, it looks purposeful and athletic, in particular with the optional 18-inch alloys that came with the V6 Touring model, as tested.
Some of what’s new in the ninth-generation Accord is that Honda engineers have carved out more interior space from a smaller car. Length has been cut by more than 68 mm, and the wheelbase by 25 mm, yet there’s 33 mm more rear legroom in back along with more shoulder room and a larger trunk that is up 50 litres to 439.
The result is a rear passenger area that has limo-like spaciousness – I could really stretch out my legs – and the optional seat heaters (available mid-trim and up) are a nice touch. Front seats, however, are heated on all models.
What I did question was the rear seat that only drops as a single unit to expand trunk capacity. A 60/40 split with pass-through would have been more apt in this segment.
Throughout, the new model gets more soft-touch materials and less hard plastic. I found the interior, at least in top trim, a little closer to Acura standards with a nice mix of tones and textures, faux woodgrain in the dash and door inserts, accented by tasteful metallic trim. The perforated leather seating with dual stitching was both eye-catching and comfortable.
The main instruments are an attractive three-gauge layout, with the three-dimensional speedo in the centre (housing a multi-info display), tach on the left and fuel/temperature gauges on the right.
But that’s all pretty basic stuff.
What really impressed me was the Accord’s standard list of tech that includes an eight-inch display that until recently would have been unheard of in a model range that starts at $23,990 for the four-cylinder LX.
This bright, full-colour “intelligent” multi-info unit allows the driver not only to make phone calls – as you’d expect – using hands-free Bluetooth, but also receive emails and SMS text messaging. You can reply with preset messages, but this kind of distraction should be used sparingly, if at all.
The same eight-inch monitor provides such info as fuel-efficiency, distance to empty and – if you opt for higher trim – it shows navigation, rearview camera and Lanewatch blind-spot display.
The latter feature employs a small camera below the passenger side mirror to give you an 80-degree view up to 50 metres back. This is great for spotting those cyclists that like to sneak up alongside you in otherwise stop-and-go downtown traffic.
HondaLink is another cool feature, connecting you to thousands of cloud-based news, music and entertainment feeds using a compatible smartphone.
I appreciate that the system can be controlled using voice recognition, touchscreen or steering wheel controls, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road, but it most certainly takes your mind out of the game.
My $35,290 V6 Touring model came chock-a-block with additional features such as lane departure warning, and forward departure warning that lets you know when you’re closing in too quickly on the vehicle ahead.
You may have noticed quite a spread between the base LX and my top-tier tester. In between are three four-cylinder models: Sport $25,490, EX-L $29,090 and Touring $30,390.
My colleague, Jim Robinson, recently tested the Sport and found Honda’s 16-valve, 2.4-litre i-VTEC four cylinder more than up to the task. It produces 185 hp and 181 lb/ft of torque (up from 177 and 161) in three of four models, with a few more horses in the Sport due to a low-flow exhaust system.
Honda’s 24-valve i-VTEC V6, on the other hand, delivers significantly more punch. Its potent 278 hp and 252 lb/ft of torque finds its way to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Stomp on the pedal – particularly in Sport mode – and the Accord takes off like a shot. Your efforts are even rewarded by a nice, throaty exhaust note, which thankfully gets by the standard-equipped active noise cancellation.
Econ mode tones down the throttle response and delivers earlier shift points for better fuel economy. It even allows for more variance in the cruise control and climate control, so that the throttle and A/C kick in less frequently.
And with the Eco Assist feature (another eco nanny), green bars on either side of the speedo light up to let you know whether you’re being naughty or nice.
Lastly, and part of Honda’s Earth Dreams initiative, the 3.5-litre V6 gets variable cylinder management. This will shut down three of the six cylinders under low-demand conditions, such as highway cruising.
This all-new 2013 model couldn’t have come at a better time, with the once-ubiquitous Accord falling to ninth place in the intermediate segment as of July 31. Now, it’s making a brilliant recovery, ranked as the top-selling intermediate in October (with sales up 178 per cent year-over year), and up 240 per cent in November.
Will it ever regain its lofty perch when Accord and Camry virtually ruled the segment?
Probably not, with the competition building such outstanding product.
But with the 2013’s slick styling, abundance of tech, and roomy, comfortable interior, this Accord delivers a value proposition that can easily go head-to-head with the best in its class.
Honda Accord V6 Touring Sedan 2013 at a glance
- BODY STYLE: four-door, five-passenger mid-size sedan.
- DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel drive.
- ENGINE: 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 (278 hp, 252 lb/ft of torque) with a six-speed automatic.
- CARGO CAPACITY: 439 litres.
- FUEL ECONOMY: 9.7/5.7/7.9 L/100 km (city/hwy/comb)
- PRICE: Base LX sedan $23,990, Sport $25,490, EX-L $29,090, Touring $30,390, EX-L V6 $32,790, V6 Touring (as tested) $35,290