Honda took a big gamble with its wholesale overhaul of the popular Accord midsized sedan. The redesign includes the addition of new turbocharged engines, comprehensive changes to the control layout, and standard crash-avoidance features, all wrapped in an attractive, coupe-like body. The result? The new Accord is among Consumer Reports' top-rated midsized sedans.
Some of the Accord's goodness stems from its 192-hp, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) works well but, as with many CVTs, it exacerbates engine noise during high power demands, when the driver steps on it. The combination delivered ample power in our EX sedan. The Accord is one of the quickest cars in its class, yet it averages an excellent 31 mpg overall, a 1-mpg improvement over the previous Accord four-cylinder.
We also sampled the uplevel engine and were impressed with the slickness and punch of the 252-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which is combined with a 10-speed automatic. A hybrid version is also available.
The Accord strikes a happy compromise between sporty driving and family-friendly ride comfort. A hushed cabin hasn't historically been a Honda trademark, but the new car is nicely muted, other than some road noise when traveling over coarse pavement.
The controls are much more user-friendly than before, and the radio even includes two actual knobs. The infotainment system also works better, and features vivid, colorful graphics, but there is still a learning curve for more involved tasks. The configurable instrument cluster is clear and easy to use, but it bugs us that you can't display the tachometer and fuel economy information at the same time -- it's one or the other. It's also too bad that versions with the 2.0-liter engine use an unintuitive push-button gear selector for the 10-speed automatic. Luckily, the 1.5T/CVT combo, which is the car most consumers will buy, comes with a traditional gear selector.
The new Accord is lower and wider, and that hunkered-down stance requires more ducking to get in and out than it used to, though it's far from a back- (or deal) breaker. We found the front seats comfortable, helped by the four-way lumbar support that is standard on all but the base trim. Slide into the rear seat and you are greeted with plenty of legroom, though the low roof results in limited headroom for taller folks.
It may not look like it from the outside, but the trunk is more spacious than before. However, we were disappointed by the exposed wires and cheap lining material we found there.
Commendably, the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance features is standard. It includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams across the board. Unfortunately, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning are not part of Honda Sensing, although they are standard on the EX trim and above.