Mother Proof's view

Most everybody knows somebody with a Honda Accord. It’s with good reason; after all, the Accord has a reputation as a trusty, versatile car. You can see college kids commuting to school in an Accord just as easily as you could picture a new family with a baby in the backseat.

The 2012 Honda Accord remains a solid bet, but with all the other options available in the midsize sedan market these days, the Accord seems dated and less appealing than some of its competitors.

This is the final year for this generation of the Accord. While Honda hasn’t unveiled its 2013 Accord yet, it did reveal its Accord coupe concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show. The concept, which is close to being production-ready, offers clues as to the look of the 2013 Accord sedan.

What the 2012 Accord has going for it is a pleasurable driving experience. My test car had a V-6 engine; a four-cylinder engine is also available. The Accord felt “just right” on the road. Whether I was driving on the freeway, heading up the mountains on a quick weekend jaunt or going from parking lot to parking lot, it drove comfortably with a hint of pep I dare call “sporty-esque.” The easy handling and on-point responsiveness made up for its lackluster appearance.

The 2012 Honda Accord starts at $21,380, but my test car, an EX-L model with a V-6 and a navigation system, jumped to $32,600.

The 2012 Accord’s exterior looks left me scratching my head. I’m not trying to be unkind to the poor Accord, but it needs a real makeover to make it stand out against its competitors like the youthful Kia Optima, the sleek Hyundai Sonata and even the updated Toyota Camry. Fortunately, as the old saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” and the Accord really does perform much better than it looks.

For those ranking practicality over style, the Accord will be a good fit for the family. It’s easy to get in and out of, and the step-in height won’t be a problem for those mini-passengers we love. The kids should be able to open the doors on their own. The trunk will fit a shocking amount of luggage and baby gear, not to mention groceries or sports equipment.

Another great perk for families is the Accord’s gas mileage. EPA estimates for the 2012 Accord with the V-6 upgrade are 20/30 mpg city/highway, and my mileage during my test drive fell right between those estimates with my combined city and freeway driving. Delivering 271 horsepower, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired with a five-speed automatic transmission requires no frills at the pump; you can fill up on regular unleaded gasoline. This is always a welcome characteristic for my family’s budget.

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): More than fair, less than great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some

The Accord is a manageable size on the outside, while being able to transport your family comfortably on the inside. Passengers fare well in the five-seater; there is plenty of legroom, and overall, this five-seater has a roomy cabin for its size.

There are cupholders for each passenger, storage pockets in the front seatbacks and cubbies in the doors to ensure a fair amount of storage space. I just wish I could’ve gotten comfortable. Despite the 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and the many tweaks and adjustments to find the sweet spot, my driving position was awkward and uncomfortable.

While every amenity inside my test car seemed modern like the ample screen for the knob-based navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity, the Accord’s interior made the car seem dated. The faux-wood trim and gathered-leather seats looked old despite the fact I was inside of a brand-new car. What would the inside of this car look like after a busy family of five spent some significant time inside it? The displays also were antiquated, and most of the time, I wasn’t successful using the Accord’s voice-activation feature.

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

The 2012 Honda Accord received five stars out of five overall in crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s also been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To receive this top honor, a car must earn the top score of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact, rear and roof-strength crash tests.

The Accord has standard front-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. A backup camera is optional. A feature I really missed in the Accord was a blind spot warning system; this is an increasingly popular option in other vehicles within this segment, like the Toyota Camry and Mazda6. Hopefully, the 2013 Accord will offer it, too.

My rear-facing infant-safety seat fit quite well in the backseat, as did a rear-facing convertible car seat. Legroom for the front seat passenger didn’t seem too compromised due to the rear-facing seats, either. The two sets of Latch anchors in the outboard seats are buried in the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet. The seat belt buckles got in my way when trying to access them, too.

Get more safety information on the 2012 Honda Accord here.

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