Muscle cars are known for their ability to look cool, drive comfortably and be generally liveable sports coupes. They’re also known for being big, fat and inefficient. With the latest generation Accord Coupe, has Honda made the switch from a focus on conservative reliability and decided to join the fray of muscle cars? Not quite, but looking at the stable of ponies out there, the Accord Coupe is a pretty interesting take on how Honda will compete with other big V6 equipped two-doors.
|1. Two engines available: a direct injection four-cylinder with 185 hp, or a 3.5L V6 rated at 278 hp.
2. Four-cylinder models get a CVT automatic, while the V6 uses a six-speed auto. Both engines come with a 6-speed manual standard.
3. Fuel ranges from a best of 26/35 mpg (city/hwy) for CVT equipped four-cylinder models to 18/28 mpg for a manual V6.
4. Accord Coupe models start at $24,140 with V6 versions from $31,140 including a $790 destination fee.
With the new 2013 Accord Sedan, Honda turned its usually understated car into something that is competitive with staples like the Toyota Camry, as well as more dramatic new machines like the Ford Fusion. Pairing traits consumers want with legendary reliability, it’s a home run.
The coupe follows the same path and gets many of the tweaks that the sedan gets, but when compared to other vehicles in its price-point and market segment, the impact is much different.
Let’s start with the price of the Accord Coupe. At $24,140 including destination, the base Accord LX-S is right around the V6 Camaro or Mustang, and while powered with a much less potent 4-cylinder engine with 185 hp, it is generously equipped.
Available with a six-speed manual transmission or CVT, even the base Accord looks slick with its 17-inch alloys and chrome accents on the door handles and exhaust tips. Inside this Accord you’ll find many modern touches like Bluetooth phone pairing and streaming, as well as Honda’s 8-inch i-MID multimedia system, which also supports hands free SMS texting and Pandora internet radio. Drivers will appreciate the convenience touches like auto on-off headlights, hill-start assist (on manual transmissions equipped models) and a rear-view camera (a feature that’s practically necessary in big coupes.) Essentially, just about every important and desirable feature is packed into the most affordable Accord Coupe, something that can’t be said about the V6 pony cars.
Move up through the trim models and you’ll find the $25,815 EX model which has a sunroof, fog-lights, keyless entry and touch-screen for audio controls. The EX also gets a better rear-view camera with more viewing angles. The $28,860 EX-L gets a few more features, like paddle-shifters on the CVT equipped car, leather upholstery with heated seats and a better sound system. EX-L models also get a few more safety features like Honda’s LaneWatch which has a camera on the passenger side mirror to peer into your blind-spot. There’s also a lane-departure warning and forward collision warning system. For $2,000 EX-L buyers can also get GPS navigation.
Finally, you can opt for the model we’re testing, the EX-L V6, which sports a 278 hp V6 engine, 18-inch rims, LED daytime running lights and a dual exhaust system. This vehicle comes in at $31,140, and buyers can tack on $2,000 for the GPS navigation. It might seem like a lot for an Accord, and even more when you realize that other coupes offer V8 power around this price point. Still, in the Honda you’re getting higher-grade material and tech. It’s also worth mentioning that a fully loaded V6 Camaro, or Mustang, can easily reach the price point of this V6 Accord and still doesn’t offer the creature comforts that the Honda can.
Style wise, the Accord can’t compete with the loud and outspoken muscle cars, but truthfully, it doesn’t have to. Instead of a weekend toy with hood-bulges, fender-flares and colored calipers, the Accord’s strong body lines make it look like it’s wearing a tailored suit. A blacked out honeycomb grille adds a little aggression, while with chrome accenting and LED headlights, and at first glimpse the Accord looks like a Lexus.
Anyone laughing at comparing this coup-ified family sedan to a muscle car needs to take a look at how quick it can reach highway speeds, despite being down at least 30 or so horsepower. The Accord can hit 60 mph in just over 5 seconds, though seems to actively avoid any hint it can do so.
The engine noise is also wonderfully refined and polished, and while it might not rock the road the way that an American machine would, it can still warm the heart of the driver when the pedal is pressed. Even with Honda’s active noise cancellation, the Accord’s engine frolics happily throughout the cabin at full throttle.
Without fail, the V6 in the Accord is a free-breathing, rev-happy engine that is surprisingly responsive. It’s incredibly easy to get carried away in this car, a character trait that’s not exactly common to modern Hondas, let alone an Accord. However, something that is common to Honda is the company’s great FWD manual transmission. Shifts are intuitive and smooth, and the transmission responds well to rushed shifts or lazier ones.
Trying to hustle around town isn’t the Accord Coupe’s strength. Like many other big coupes, it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in close quarters. For city drivers, there are a few items that work out in the Accords favor though. The multi-angle rear-view camera is a nice touch, including a useful birds-eye-view mode, which is a huge help in tighter parking spots. Furthermore, the LaneWatch feature helps drivers get an unobstructed view of what’s going on beside the vehicle, which may be a handy feature for those not used to the size of the Accord and its ‘blind spots.’
Steering feel is light and a tad vague. It just doesn’t translate the feeling of 278 hp into your hands, particularly at speed. Combine this with the soft suspension and it’s easy to miss the sportiness that some of the other big coupes bring to the table. Instead of being track focused, the Accord combines on road manners with in-car comforts to make for something more akin to a Grand Tourer.
The EX-L model with its leather upholstery screams “luxury-car” and seems lifted from a more premium Acura vehicle. This same thought applies to the overall interior design, with buttons and knobs being placed intuitively, meaning you won’t reach too far, or get wandering hand syndrome when it comes to car controls.
Rear seat leg and headroom are actually decent, something you won’t get in a muscle car. It’s practically impossible to feel claustrophobic in the Accord.
The tech features on the fully-loaded EX-L are easy to use and innovative. The LaneWatch feature uses a high-resolution camera to check your blind-spots for you, and while it won’t always beat out shoulder-checking, it does help for quick lane changes. The i-MID system is also appreciated and is controllable via voice commands, or the knob below the screen. The system can even read out text messages, incoming callers or your phonebook, so the driver can focus on the road. A new feature is the touch-screen radio controls, which is the only low point in the car’s tech offerings. It’s not bad at all, but seems a little tacked-on, and unnecessary. Honda’s traditional radio controls would have worked just fine here.
The Accord Coupe fits right in with its V6 competition in terms of fuel efficiency, but features an extra addition that you definitely won’t find in a Mustang or Camaro: an eco-button. The Accord’s ECON mode helps to smooth out throttle response and encourage fuel-friendly driving practices. Our tester achieved a decent 21 miles per gallon in combined driving situations, which is better than the muscle car competition and the EPA fuel ratings. If anything, with the ECON mode active, the Accord drives smoothly and leisurely.
The Accord nameplate might not make you wide-eyed in anticipation of drag-racing and road ripping performance, but that doesn’t make it any less potent. It’s sure to be more reliable than a traditional muscle-car, and doesn’t make you look like you’re compensating for something.
While those cars are designed to be cool, fast and affordable, with luxuries and comfort being the last priority, the Accord is the complete opposite, which is great for people who can’t stand the current selection of big coupes.
With no more Solara or V6 Altima Coupe, if you’re looking for a comfortable 2-door cruiser, with some speed, the Accord Coupe is pretty much the sole option. And while not as emotional a purchase as a muscle car, it’s the smart choice. It is, after all, still a Honda Accord.