Both the Toyota and Honda mid-size sedans are built for people who aren't particularly interested in driving, but who need an easy to drive car, that is spacious, predictable, efficient and reliable. Built more for peoples’ needs than their wants, think of them as the sensible shoes of the automotive world.
Last year three of the top selling six vehicles in America were mid-size sedans with the Camry third overall and the Accord fourth (The only models above them were trucks). The mid-size sedan segment is huge and these two vehicles represented nearly three-quarters of a million vehicle sales last year in America alone. It goes without saying then that the stakes are high. So which is our pick between these two segment leaders?
All new for 2013, at first glance it may not appear that the Honda Accord has changed much since last year. With evolutionary styling not straying far from the 2012, a closer look is need to reveal subtle changes here and there. The LED daytime running lights, dual LED headlights (standard on our EX-L trimmed Accord) and LED taillights all give the Accord a little exterior flash. The rest of the vehicle lines have been sharpened up to give the Accord a fresh, modern look.[vs-comparsion-table]
COMPARE CARS: 2013 Honda Accord vs 2013 Toyota Camry
The Camry received its last significant overhaul just last year. Again, it was a case of evolving the styling cues opposed to reinventing the Camry. This is definitely the most dramatic looking Camry to date, but that is not saying much since the Camry has always been more conservative than a one piece bathing suit. The new Camry does feature some nice design cues like the sideways ‘L’ shaped taillights, chrome fog light bezels and sloping front grill. That said, the Accord looks more upscale on the outside and was voted the more stylish vehicle according to our staff.
See Also: 2013 Honda Accord Review -Video
Both of our test vehicles came equipped as fully loaded four cylinder models. The 2013 Toyota Camry XLE features a 2.5-liter engine producing 178 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. It sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission and is officially rated by the EPA at 25 MPG city and 35 MPG highway. The Accord features a similar setup by utilizing a slightly smaller 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that develops a peppier 184 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT) and it also offers an edge in the fuel economy department at 27 MPG city and 36 MPG highway.
Much has been made about the Accord switching to a CVT from a conventional automatic. The good news is, this is one of the better gear-less units on the market. It is quiet and constantly changing rpm speeds to avoid any of that dreaded CVT drone. Under hard acceleration it will simulate gear changes as well which helps break up the monotonous groaning associated with many CVTs.
Both vehicles offer a sport mode, but only the Toyota features a ‘manual’ mode that allows for driver selectable gearing. Despite a 105 lb. weight advantage, the Camry is not as fast as the Accord in a straight line; a result from slightly more power and the CVT. As well, the Accord achieved better fuel economy during our test period (during the cold winter months) by averaging 25.3 MPG compared to the Camry’s 23.5 MPG average.
Overall, the Accord is the more engaging car to drive of the two. It does excel at throttle response, steering feel and chassis dynamics, but is missing that magical something that makes the Camry feel incredibly easy to drive. The Camry’s ride felt rougher on imperfect pavement and more noise protrudes into the cabin; but that could be due to winter tire choice more than anything else. Overall, the Accord ends up feeling more refined when plodding down the road.
Inside, the Camry has the upper hand. Although the Accord features a well laid out dashboard design, it cannot match the Camry’s more premium feel. The cross-stitched multi-angled dashboard of the Camry and all the switch gear are crafted out of quality materials.
Both cars feature well thought-out center cluster designs that place all the controls where you would expect them to be. The Camry’s user interface is easier to use, but the Accord’s second infotainment screen, which is dedicated for audio use only, is a nice touch. It is refreshing not having to exit out of various menus just to change the radio station. Speaking of which, the Camry wins the audiophile competition with a nice, bassy sound system.
The Accord was rated as having the better front seats which are wide, squishy and comfortable. Both cars have nearly identical rear seat legroom, but the Accord trumps the Camry’s front seat legroom by roughly an inch with 42.5-inches total. In the trunk it is a similar story with the Accord’s 15.8 cu-ft of cargo space edging out the Camry’s 15.4 cu-ft space.
See Also: 2012 Toyota Camry SE Review
There is a major, albeit curable, downfall in the Accord; the Interface Dial Feedback. If you own a 2013 Accord, best to turn it off. Using a text to speech function it will read out every menu choice and/or radio station selection. If you’re at all quick through the controls it gets so far behind it will freeze the system for 10-15 seconds and lock out any inputs during that time. It is beyond infuriating; how could Honda design such a beautiful gauge cluster, but screw up the text to speech so much?
The base 2013 Honda Accord LX starts at a lower price of $22,470 post-delivery charges thanks to the availability of a 6-speed manual transmission. That under cuts the automatic-only base Toyota Camry L’s post-delivery charge price of $23,030. However, as tested, the Camry becomes the pricing champion with a favourable $28,520 for our loaded up XLE Camry compared to our Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation equipped Accord EX-L which topped out at $30,785.
Either of these vehicles are a great choice. If refinement, curb appeal and efficiency are important to you, pick the Accord. If a luxurious interior, ease of use and lower MSRP are your top priorities, take the Camry.
However, like with any comparison test, there can only be one winner. Just like the epic sales battle these two vanilla gladiators partake in year after year, it was a very close finish with the edge going to the Accord thanks to better exterior styling, a more comfortable interior and some trick features like the lane watch camera. The fact it's better to drive and more efficient in the real world are just an added bonus.
2013 Honda Accord
2013 Toyota Camry