CARS.COM — The redesigned 2018 Honda Accord has a long list of notable improvements, but most are upgrades in areas where the last generation already was a very good car. Even better, the 2018 Accord nails an everyday aggravation in the outgoing model: the weak, hard-to-use multimedia system.
Sure, the 2018 is a real looker, and the 2.0-liter top engine is more fun than the old optional V-6 when you have room to drive it like you stole it. But the vehicle misses with smaller things you use all the time can loom as large over time in overall satisfaction — all the more so if they mar the experience in a car you otherwise find really good.
A Dent in the Old Accord's Appeal
That was the case for me in the outgoing Accord, a comfortable mid-size sedan that only got more comfortable over many miles of testing, including an extended mileage run in the 2017 Accord Hybrid. That was a high point given the impressive mileage delivered by high-tech electrification in a roomy, upscale sedan.
But the ever-present low point was the media and navigation system, a confusing two-screen arrangement with an absurd overabundance of menus. Most annoying was the centerpiece of the system, the shiny touchscreen with no physical controls — only tiny touch-sensitive icons that took your eyes off the roadway too long for simple things, such as adjusting the audio volume. These virtual buttons provided no tactile feel to find them and no feedback in use. And even if you managed to hit the little icons when the car was moving, the response was imprecise.
Cars.com editors have complained about versions of Honda's Display Audio system going back to the 2014 Civic. Later models, such as in the current CR-V, brought back at least a volume knob — welcome, but a Band-Aid on a system that was back of the pack among mainstream brands.
Honda 'Got the Memo'
Not so with the 2018 Accord. Honda not only fixed what we most hated, it also created in the Accord a new media system that is among the best out there. The system is fast, with much more intuitive menus and a sharp new 8-inch touchscreen brought up to eye level. It pitches and zooms easily and offers big, customizable tiles to press. You also can drag most-used tiles to a favorites bar: things like radio or navigation or audio system specs. Smartphone and Bluetooth integration is also seamless (I had some hiccups with the 2017) and slick near-field communications phone pairing is available.
But best of all on the new Accord is the low-tech improvement: Accompanying the stand-up screen are properly sized and premium-feeling physical knobs for volume/power and tuning/list scrolling. Not stopping there, Honda put eight shortcut buttons for common functions on either side of the screen: home, back, display brightness and track forward/back on your left, and map, phone, audio and source on your right. They stand up from the surface so you can find them, and they provide tactile feedback, moving when used. The result: little need to look away from the road, maximum safety and ease of use.
Props to Honda for taking action on the criticism. "We got the memo," said spokesman Chris Naughton.
Can we expect similar upgrades as other models are redone? He would only say that positive response "has encouraged us to consider other models." We can hope.
No one is suggesting a return to cluttered dashboards from the days of console-mounted car phones, but a few physical controls to safely access the most common functions, like the navigation system, is not a step backward. It's just realistic until truly seamless voice control comes down the pike.
2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Touring as Tested
- Powertrain: 252-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 10-speed automatic transmission with driving modes and paddle shifters
- Fuel economy: EPA ratings are not final; Honda anticipates 22/32 mpg city/highway for the 2.0T Touring model.
- Key features: Redesigned five-seat mid-size sedan, adaptive suspension, upgraded multimedia system with navigation, HondaLink with smartphone integration and Wi-Fi hot spot (with subscription), head-up display, and the Honda Sensing safety technology (standard on all trim levels), which includes a front collision system with automatic braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, parking sensors, driver attention monitor and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow
- Price: $36,675 (including a destination charge)
More 2018 Honda Accord Coverage
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- 2018 Honda Accord Review: First Drive
- 2018 Honda Accord: How Much Does It Cost
- Which 2018 Honda Accord Trim Level Should I Buy: LX, Sport, EX, EX-L or Touring?
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