- What’s Good: Quality and materials to match luxury brands.
- What’s Bad: Lack of all-wheel drive will push many buyers into SUVs – or the competition.
Once a car is ten generations into its life, it seems apt to start pulling out terms like Old Faithful.
The Honda Accord has graced hundreds of thousands of Canadian driveways in the more than four decades it’s been sold in this country, and buyers keep going back to it for its build quality and reliability.
This latest generation saw a couple of important changes, including an entirely turbocharged engine line-up and standard safety technologies. And it’s a beautifully designed car with some premium interior touches that are unusual to find at this price point.
As good a car as it is, though, the new Accord could find itself coming up against some headwinds.
(To note: the test car that’s reviewed here is from the 2018 model year. However, due to the redesign, every trim carries through to 2019 with no changes, which means the Accord’s specifications are identical for the current model year.)
The key differentiating factor on the latest Accord is that every engine available comes with a turbocharger.
As standard equipment you’ll find the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine, which comes with a continuously variable transmission – unless you opt for the sport model, in which case you get a six-speed manual. (All hail a stick-shift that isn’t a bargain-basement loss leader.)
In this configuration, you get 192 hp and 192 lb.-ft. of torque. These are better numbers outright than the Nissan Altima and its 2.5-litre four-cylinder, but the Toyota Camry, which also starts with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder produces 203 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. However, the latter two are naturally aspirated engines, while the Accord’s turbocharger makes its torque fully available from 1,600 to 5,000 rpm for a pleasantly powerful feel in everyday driving. (On the other hand, the Camry’s hybrid models likely take care of that issue nicely, albeit at higher price points.)
I bring up the Altima for an important reason, though: the newest version comes with standard all-wheel drive, which isn’t offered at all on either the Accord or the Camry. This is one feature that might keep those Canadians in the segment who truly prefer sedans but feel as though they need that extra capability.
The 1.5T’s fuel use is essentially on par with its gas-powered competitors at 8.2 L/100 km in the city, 6.8 on the highway, and 7.6 combined. My usage over a week, which leaned a little more toward urban routes, was a touch higher at 8.5.
This engine is the same one that’s available on the Honda CR-V and Civic that had turned out to have some issues with unused gasoline mixing with oil, albeit with some differences in tuning. A free-of-charge fix and partial warranty extension is being implemented by Honda Canada on those models that were affected, so this issue appears to have been resolved.
That said, both the Sport and Touring trims are available with the larger 2.0-litre engine. I don’t feel that its added power of 252 hp and 273 lb.-ft. is strictly necessary or that the CVT is particularly hard to live with, but some buyers might opt for it if the 1.5-litre engine’s issues still make them nervous, or to access its available 10-speed automatic transmission.
Steady as She Goes
What the Accord can boast about is its road manners. It drives precisely as a mid-size sedan should: comfortably, smoothly, and with handling that doesn’t draw much attention to itself. The Touring 2.0 comes equipped with adaptive dampers, which might make the ride quality even better, but I don’t find it to be a compromise as is.
It’s tough to make a mid-size sedan very exciting to look at, but there are some nicely considered details here such as the elongated LED headlamps, the subtle trailing curve below the LED fog lights, and the angular stamping in the door panels.
The inside is a different story. On this Touring trim, the leather seating and real wood inserts make the Accord come across as a more expensive car than it is. The interior is spacious and packed with features like standard heated front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel from the EX-L trim up, and ventilated seats on Touring. Only one gripe stands out: the cabin isn’t as quiet as it could be in highway driving.
Another spacious aspect of the Accord is its cargo capacity, which sits at 473 litres, well above both the Toyota Camry (427 litres) and Nissan Altima (436 litres), though it is a bit awkwardly shaped in the inside corners.
A full suite of safety and assistance systems is standard equipment, including forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and road departure mitigation, active cruise control, automatic high beams, and the infotainment system’s ability to automatically dial emergency services when a collision is detected and a phone is paired. The only major ones missing are blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which are equipped on Touring models but are not available at a lower price.
Less Steady Infotainment
There are some nice aspects to the Accord’s technology setup: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard equipment, as is on-board text messaging and email functionality, plus there’s an NFC connection built into the dashboard for quick and easy phone pairing. The screen is easy to use and the resolution is nicely crisp – and yes, there’s a volume knob.
The downsides of the new software that’s included here are that the tiling layout doesn’t feel all that natural to use, though that may come with time, and the system crashed several times during the week that I used it, which didn’t take long to drive me up the wall.
There’s a solid quality and value proposition to be found here for confirmed sedan buyers, provided they don’t mind living with potential technical quirks. However, the Accord’s potential hitch is that it doesn’t make much of a case on its own for stemming the market’s tidal shift from sedans into SUVs. A good set of winter tires will get most Canadians where they need to go, but more and more of us are convinced that we can’t live without all-wheel drive, and it can be had these days – in this segment, too, which wasn’t always the case – and with less of a fuel economy penalty than it’s historically required. Plus, when you’re spending this much on a vehicle, it’s a widely available feature. The Accord’s potential buyers have plenty of options and may therefore decide to look elsewhere.