Honda knocks it out of the park with the brilliant all-new Accord.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2018 Honda Accord
Base price (1.5 Touring trim): $35,790
Price as tested: $35,790
Although sales for this category continue to shrink as consumers’ tastes shift toward crossovers, manufacturers are not sitting still and every generation of mid-size sedan is a revelation in terms of upgrades, quality and refinement. The all-new 2018 Accord is no exception – as a matter of fact, it raises the bar in virtually every way. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks so – the Accord was just crowned the 2018 North American Car of the Year. Well deserved, Honda!
The Accord is no longer recognizable. A lot of people asked what this car was. And everyone thought it looked fantastic. Honda has blessed the Accord with stunning, fresh styling and the swoopy profile is a winner. I thought it looked fantastic from nearly every angle – perhaps the front is the least flattering of the bunch, but the current corporate snout from Honda still looks good. I liked the rear and rear quarter views the best – the wide stance and dual exhaust tips look aggressive.
It’s like Honda hit the Oprah Winfrey show on LED day – you get LEDs, and you get LEDs, and you get LEDs – everybody gets LEDs! There are LED headlights (which could be brighter, daytime running lights, fog lights and tail lights. Speaking of the latter, the LED tail light signature is very eye-catching. And the 19″ touring rims are beauties! The rubber is chunky – it’s wearing 235/40s all around.
The Accord’s outstanding styling continues in the cabin. The rethought design is thoroughly modern and Honda’s materials here felt very upscale – everything is soft-touch and the faux open-pore wood looks lovely and is actually very convincing.
I enjoyed the partial-digital dash that combines an analog speedometer on the right and a screen on the left, which allows you to choose between a wealth of information (audio, navigation, phone or trip computer information) or a digital tachometer. But what I enjoyed even more were the vastly improved ergonomics – kudos to Honda for the major reduction of buttons and knobs on the centre stack.
There is now a single 8-inch touchscreen that juts out of the dash instead of the weird two-screen system we saw on previous Accords. They’ve augmented it with just a few hard buttons and knobs. This simplicity, coupled with a very good user interface, a sharp responsive screen and a well laid out dash, made it a joy to use. The clean layout continues to the simple dual-zone climate control system that has just the right amount of buttons. Of note, the 10-speaker, 452-watt sound system is truly excellent.
The Accord has great front seats. Upholstered in perforated leather, they are heated and ventilated, and we found them very comfortable and well bolstered too. There was a standard-sized sunroof overhead.
In Touring trim, the Accord comes fully loaded with driver assistance technology although even the base models are well equipped in this regard. Mine had forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic monitoring, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and a freakin’ awesome heads-up display.
The back seats in the new Accord are also comfortable and roomy, with enough head room and plenty of leg room for me at 5’10”. The two outboard seats are heated. The middle straddles a tunnel and has limited head room but is actually wide enough for an adult passenger.
Rear passengers get two USB charging plugs, and the middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with cupholders.
I wasn’t disappointed in the places-to-put-my-stuff department either. The swing-up lid at the bottom of the centre stack reveals a Qi wireless charging pad as well as USB and 12V plugs. Under the wide armrest lid is a sliding organizer tray, a storage bin and two USB charging plugs.
And there’s that enormous 473L trunk, which you can make even bigger by folding the rear seats down – they split 60/40.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel-drive only Accord’s base engine is the turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder I reviewed. It makes 192 HP and 192 lb.ft of torque (the latter is available at a low 1,600 RPM) and can be ordered with a manual transmission. Mine had a CVT (continuously-variable transmission).
This combination is rated at 8.2/6.8 L/100 km for the city/highway cycles. We averaged 8.4 L/100 km which included a significant amount of slower city commuting, a few freeway drives and a couple of short highway sprints.
You can choose between three drive modes – Econ, Normal and Sport – each alters the responsiveness of the throttle and the transmission programming. Only the top trim with the bigger 2L turbo engine has adaptive suspension.
Even in Econ mode, I found the car to be very drivable. But in Sport mode, it was incredibly responsive and rewarding to drive.
This base engine has more than enough power for virtually every situation. Sure, maybe you’d want for a little more jam when passing on the highway, but even there, it more than holds its own. The pairing of this engine and the CVT is nearly perfect. It is a highly flexible powertrain and I believe this might be the best CVT I’ve ever driven with. The transmission can be “shifted” using paddles. The pre-programmed ratios aren’t gears of course, but they are actually quite well done and were fun to play with. And the CVT reacts very quickly to these inputs.
Honda has matched the drivetrain with a fantastic suspension. The handling is excellent, with sharp, responsive steering. The fact that this car only weighs 3300 pounds (1497 kg) definitely helps it feel more nimble too. None of this athleticism requires a compromise in comfort – the ride is beautifully balanced between being firm, controlled, supple and smooth.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was very high. The sedan isn’t her favourite vehicle category, but she said this one looked amazing and she thought it was very “high-end” inside, and said it drove like a much more expensive car. High praise indeed.
I found the new Accord to be a great car all around. Honda has improved it in every department. It has a bold and striking new exterior, a dynamic drivetrain, an interior that takes things to the next level and yet, the car remains easy to drive and is highly efficient.
It’s quite a package that Honda has come up with here. I found it hard to find any flaws and if the mid-size sedan is your thing, I can’t imagine not taking the Accord for a test drive. In my opinion, it’s at the top of the class.
February 15, 2018 update: AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) agrees –
the 2018 Accord just won their coveted 2018 Canadian Car of the Year award.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Honda Canada.
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