2018 Honda Accord: The sedan according to Honda
By Chris Chase
December 26th 2017
An all-new Honda Accord is always a big deal, but a redesigned version of this venerable family sedan takes on even more importance when it’s the follow-up to the 2013 model, the first in nearly a decade that was truly worthy of the Accord badge. Honda clearly wanted to maintain that momentum by bringing another completely new Accord to market after a quick five-year turnaround.
Pros & Cons
- + Good fuel efficiency
- + Generous low-end torque
- + Usable technology
- - Visibility
- - Headroom
- - Automatic transmission
With big sedans continuing to lose market share to crossovers like Honda’s own CR-V and Pilot, any redesign has to be memorable, and at first glance this one fits that bill, with a bold face and a body that evokes the look of a fastback in profile.
Don’t get too excited though, because this remains a traditional sedan. Notably, though, Honda has hewed closer to market trends by replacing the old Accord’s engines with a pair of turbo motors, a familiar 1.5L borrowed from the Civic and CR-V and a 2.0L that’s new to the Honda lineup.
Honda didn’t get as creative with this car as it did with the latest versions of the Civic and CR-V, which is probably a good idea, as we’d bet on family sedan buyers being a bit older and perhaps more conservative in their tastes.
While those other two recent designs get fully digital gauge clusters, the Accord parks an analog speedometer alongside an LCD panel that can be toggled to show a tachometer or a variety of other information, like fuel economy and navigation system directions. It’s a nice way to bring this car up to date without fear of alienating buyers who like a more traditional primary display.
There’s a vast amount of space in this cabin, with enough legroom front and rear to let a pair of tall people ride in tandem without complaint. The high belt line is a negative for me because I don’t like the feeling of being enveloped in a car; I prefer to sit up high for a better view out over the hood, but that was challenging here as it put me up closer to the headliner. If you’re okay with a lower seating position, you’ll find plenty of headroom, even with the sunroof that’s standard in all versions of the Accord except for the most basic LX.
Behind the rear seat is a big trunk, but while the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split, they don’t create a flat load surface with the trunk floor.
Also of note: in 1.5L cars with the CVT (a six-speed stick is standard), the transmission is controlled via a traditional shift lever, while 2.0L cars get push-button controls for the 10-speed automatic paired with that larger engine.
Every Accord comes with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration platforms, a truly useful bit of tech that lets you project your device onto the car’s touchscreen, perched atop the dash as has become the industry norm. While the Apple and Android setups let you use your phone’s data when you need navigation help, Touring trim includes a built-in Garmin navigation system with lovely, sharp graphics. As we mentioned above, you can view directional instructions either in the gauge cluster or the head-up display that also comes with the Touring package.
Every Accord also comes standard with Honda’s full suite of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning and mitigation, road-departure mitigation and traffic sign recognition. We like Honda’s lane-departure and collision warning systems, which use visual alerts instead of audible ones. The lane-departure setup also wiggles the steering wheel in your hands as it steers the car toward the middle of the lane.
Honda’s little 1.5-litre engine shows the flexibility that turbocharging allows when the same motor is plugged into different cars. In the Accord, this mill makes more power than in either the CR-V or Civic, at 192 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the Accord particularly quick. Good low-end torque makes it feel lively in city driving, but it runs out of steam on the highway, and a heavy right foot brings out the worst in the CVT, which allows the engine to drone until the car gets up to speed. We prefer the way this transmission behaves in the Civic, where it does a better job at mimicking a regular automatic; that’s the way the old four-cylinder Accord worked too, and we miss that here. If you want more immediate responses, toggle the car into sport mode to command quicker throttle response and keep the engine spinning a little faster.
However, this remains an entertaining car to drive if you’re so inclined, with sharp handling and a firm ride that’s just on the good side of comfortable. Get the Accord out on the highway and you’re treated to a smooth ride; our test car wasn’t particularly quiet, but some of that is down to the winter tires on our tester’s 19-inch wheels.
Against fuel consumption estimates of 8.2/6.8 L/100 km (city/highway), our test car averaged 8.0 L/100 km in mixed driving.
This new design comes with a big price increase: our 1.5L Touring test car’s $35,790 price tag was a significant $2,300 bump over last year’s car. A Toyota Camry XLE is the equivalent model in that model’s range, another totally redesigned car that comes with similar convenience and safety features for $900 less. It also pairs a 2.5L non-turbo four-cylinder with an eight-speed transmission that offers a more traditional performance experience than the Honda’s CVT does. A Hyundai Sonata Limited is even more attractive, again boasting similar features but coming in at $34,700.
This latest Accord is further proof that Honda is back on its game after a brand-wide turnaround that began with the previous version of this family sedan. While we don’t love the brand’s latest CVT, the rest of this car is a very nice piece of work that puts the Accord back where it’s used to being: at the top of the family sedan class.