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New 2013 Honda Accord boasts styling updates, fuel economy gains

Consumer Reports News: August 08, 2012 07:08 AM

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2013-Honda-Accord-Sedan-PR-rear.jpgAs the automaker counts down the days till its next-generation Accord goes on sale, Honda has released the first official images of the production sedan, revealing a sharp yet evolutionary new car.

Months ago at the Detroit auto show, Honda introduced its Accord coupe concept, previewing the upcoming production cars. Here, we see the real details, with a more sculpted body and available LED daytime running lights, headlamp accents, and taillights. The exterior length is said to be shortened, while the interior space is slightly increased over the outgoing model.

Visibility, according to Honda, was supposed to be a design priority. Beyond traditional driver line-of-sight, the Accord will offer several related safety technologies, such as camera-based forward-collision warning and lane departure warning systems. The Accord will include a backup camera, and it will offer "LaneWatch"—a blind-spot display. Collectively, Honda presents these technologies as providing 360-degrees of coverage.

The infotainment technology also marks a step forward with standard Bluetooth hands-free calling and text messaging. Plus, the HondaLink stereo will interface with Pandora Internet radio, Aha, and other services using voice recognition.

This Accord is also being introduced with strong fuel economy boasts. To challenge the lead position in this tough segment (remember: an all-new Ford Fusion is coming and the redesigned Nissan Altima is already out), Honda will offer improved four- and six-cylinder engines. The four-cylinder is an all-new 2.4-liter direct-injected, double-overhead cam unit producing 181 hp; the V6 is a revised 3.5-liter single-cam i-VTEC design. Automatic-transmission versions of the new four-cylinder get a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) to boost fuel economy; the V6 uses a conventional six-speed automatic. Both engines are available with a six-speed manual transmission, although only the automatic-equipped V6 includes Honda's Variable Cylinder Management technology.

There will also be a plug-in hybrid variant using two electric motors and an electronic CVT. A 120-kW electric motor will be capable of powering the car alone for 10 to 15 miles, fed by a 6-kWh lithium-ion battery. Honda says the battery can be recharged from a standard wall outlet in less than four hours, or by a 240-volt charger in an hour and a half. The electric powertrain will be teamed with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a CVT.

Thrifty engines will combine with overall weight savings to raise fuel economy. We'll find if the car makes good on the promises when we buy examples to test.

The Accord goes on sale this fall, with the plug-in hybrid following in the winter.

Our initial auto show preview video:

Jeff Bartlett

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