Honda redesigned the Accord for 2013, debuting the ninth generation of its popular family car amid a hotbed of competition. About seven out of 10 family cars saw redesigns for 2012 or 2013. The list includes household names: Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry.
Honda hopes to recapture some of the sales momentum with a lighter, more fuel-efficient Accord that's better equipped than its predecessor. With an automatic transmission, the four-cylinder Accord sedan gets an EPA estimated 27/36 mpg city/highway — up 3 mpg in combined figures versus its predecessor — and comes standard with features like alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera and Bluetooth.
Sedan trim levels are the LX, Sport, EX, EX-L and Touring. The Accord coupe, also redesigned for 2013, comes in LX-S, EX and EX-L trims. A V-6 is optional on the EX-L cars and standard with the Touring sedan. An Accord Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid sedan will arrive in early 2013, likely as 2014 models.
The Accord follows a transition seen in the Altima, Malibu and Camry: Though new, the sheet metal identifies with the outgoing car. Thin headlights border a familiar grille, with optional fog lights below — rectangular on the sedan, circular on the coupe. The tail sees the biggest shift, dropping clear-lens lights for white and red ones that recall those on the Hyundai Genesis sedan. The Accord coupe, meanwhile, gets vertical bumper reflectors similar to those on the Subaru Outback.
After a size increase for the prior Accord, the ninth generation shrinks a bit. The sedan loses 3.6 inches of length, while the coupe drops 2.2 inches. The smaller size combines with higher-strength steel, a lighter front suspension and other weight-saving measures to shave 57 pounds off the Accord sedan.
Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on the Accord LX, while the Sport gets 18s. Higher-level trims have 17-inch alloys. The coupe, meanwhile, starts with 17s, while EX-L V-6 coupes have 18s. LED brake lights go on EX-L models, while V-6 editions include LED daytime running lights. The Accord Touring sedan adds full LED headlights, a first for Honda.
The interior trades the last Accord's stacked dash panels for a single wraparound piece with fewer center controls. Inlayed materials run from silver in the LX sedan to a wood-like brown in the EX-L. Coupes have beige or black interiors, and sedans add gray to the range. Cabin volume decreases slightly in the sedan compared with the previous model, but trunk room moves to 15.8 cubic feet — up 1.1 cubic feet versus the last Accord. Subwoofer-equipped EX-L cars drop to 15.5 cubic feet. Cabin room increases in the Accord coupe, meanwhile, and trunk room increases to 13.7 cubic feet from last year's 11.9. The rear seat folds in a single piece, however, as opposed to the split-folding seats in most competitors.
A host of noise abatements, such as A-pillars mounted flush with the windshield, more hood and fender insulation, make the Accord "near the top of its class for quietness," Honda says. The automaker says aerodynamics have improved 7 percent with the redesign.
Honda says thinner A-pillars, reshaped mirrors and improved window positioning help improve visibility. Like in the Honda CR-V, the Accord's driver side mirror sculpts outward at its edge for extra visibility.
An 8-inch dashboard screen runs the standard audio system, which includes USB/iPod compatibility, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and an app for Pandora internet radio. Uplevel cars add a touch-screen below with Honda's HondaLink system, which can stream podcasts, audiobooks and more via your smartphone and internet radio provider Aha. Honda says it will expand HondaLink to include more apps down the road.
Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control and various power accessories. Move up the trims, and you can get a moonroof, power seats, a navigation system, keyless access with push-button start and heated leather seats. Accord coupes have bolstered front seats and red accents on the gauges and center displays, but a power passenger seat remains unavailable.
Under the Hood
The Accord marks the first of Honda's new Earth Dreams drivetrains, with a direct-injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder serving as the base engine. It makes 185 horsepower in the Accord sedan and coupe, or 189 hp in the Accord Sport sedan, thanks to a dual exhaust system. The 3.5-liter V-6, meanwhile, makes 278 hp. Gas mileage for the automatic sedan is 27/36 mpg with the four-cylinder and 21/34 mpg with the V-6. That's up 11 percent and 4 percent versus the last Accord, respectively. Coupes and stick-shift cars rate 1 to 3 mpg less overall.
The four-cylinder ditches last year's five-speed automatic for a new continuously variable automatic transmission, while the V-6 gets a six-speed automatic. A six-speed manual is available on the four-cylinder sedan and four- or six-cylinder coupe. The Sport CVT sedan and all automatic coupes get steering-wheel paddle shifters. Touring sedans have adaptive cruise control.
Major mechanical changes include new electric power steering, which replaces the outgoing Accord's hydraulic setup, and a strut front suspension replacing last year's double-wishbone.
Head-protecting side airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. So is a backup camera. Safety options include lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. The latter alerts drivers to oncoming obstacles, but it doesn't engage automatic braking, as some do. Honda's LaneWatch system, meanwhile, mounts a camera on the passenger-side rearview mirror to show two lanes of adjacent traffic. Honda says it displays a view that's about four times wider than the mirror alone.
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