The Honda Accord has been a dominant member of the midsize sedan segment for decades, satisfying drivers’ insatiable cravings for things like quality, fuel efficiency and interior spaciousness. But what about fun?
|1. The Accord Sport is powered by a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with 189 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. Non-sport models make do with 185 hp.
2. Both a super slick six-speed manual transmission and a continuously variable automatic are available.
3. Fuel economy is rated at 24 MPG city, 34 MPG highway and 28 MPG combined. We achieved a 35 MPG average!
4. For $23,715 plus $790 destination, Sport models add 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, chrome exhaust finishers, fog lights, a leather steering wheel and a 10-way power driver’s seat.
Let’s face it; if you’re looking for automotive excitement you can pretty much ignore the midsize sedan segment. There are tons of great four door family cars on the market today but none of them will get true enthusiasts all hot and bothered. Trunk space and fuel economy matter, not acceleration and skid-pad performance.
But what if you’re an automobile fanatic and what if you’re tied down like a North Korean political prisoner, forced to drive one of these vehicles against your will? Well, all is not lost because you can always buy an Accord.
QUANTITY HAS A QUALITY ALL ITS OWN
Even though the company’s midsize sedan offering sells by the hundreds of thousands every year – typically coming second in the annual sales race to Toyota’s ever-popular Camry – it’s still a masterful piece of engineering. Quantity hasn’t watered down the Accord’s quality; you can see and feel that it’s built for long-term service.
Aside from its legendary reliability, the car also delivers a comfortable cabin, high fuel economy and a pleasant overall driving experience.
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But the four-door sport model’s defining feature is as plain as the shifter on its center console, because it actually is the shifter. This car can be had with an honest-to-goodness manual transmission, and a slick six-speed unit at that. This feature allows the Accord to distance itself from rivals like the Chevy Malibu, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata and, yes, the Camry too, none of which can be had with a stick.
About the only midsize sedans offered with a manual transmission are the Volkswagen Passat, Mazda6 and Ford Fusion… Not that many ‘Murican customers opt to row their own gears. That’s a rant for another day.
Back to the Accord, its shifter is light and easy through the gates, but it’s also super precise. The clutch works beautifully as well, with an appropriately weighted pedal and a broad engagement range. These attributes help make driving this car a real joy.
Of course if you must have an automatic Honda will happily sell you one with a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission. That CVT may sound like a death sentence to driving fun, but in reality it’s one of the best examples implemented by any automaker.
2 BY 4
The Sport version of Honda’s Accord sedan is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Trumping Mazda’s SkyActiv name in the ridiculousness department this powerplant is labeled “Earth Dreams.” Yep, the eco movement has officially lost its mind; common sense disappeared decades ago.
Like many of the company’s other engines this one is smooth and frisky; it’s not afraid to spin freely and always maintains its docile composure. Thanks to direct fuel injection it puts out 189 horsepower with 182 lb-ft of torque. Non-Sport versions of the car make do with just 185 ponies, though you won’t notice a difference either way.
Unlike Honda engines of years past this unit doesn’t surge ahead at the upper rev range. Its power delivery is much more linear, which is just fine for a family car.
FILL ‘ER UP
When it comes to fuel efficiency the Accord Sport is a winner. With a manual gearbox it stickers at 24 city mpg and 34 on the interstate. Its combined score clocks in at 28 mpg, though after a week of testing we beat that estimate by a wide margin.
According to the car’s digital fuel-economy readout we managed to average 35 mpg. That’s HUGE for a sizeable non-hybrid sedan like this; in fact it’s almost unbelievable.
When it comes to fulfilling the mission statement of a sedan the Accord performs very well. Its interior is comfortable and its back seat quite spacious. At 15.8 cubic feet the car’s trunk is also quite large – slightly more generous than a Nissan Altima or Toyota Camry – plus its opening is gigantic, like, large enough to fly an aircraft through.
Despite the boot’s enormous access portal the overall trunk is shaped somewhat like a funnel; it tapers significantly toward the front of the car. Upping its versatility the rear seatback folds flat, although the pass-through is laughably small. Still, it’s great for lengthy items like copper pipe or Pablo Escobar’s rap sheet.
Inconveniently the backrest is not split. Most cars with this feature offer 60/40 divided backrests, meaning part or all of it can be lowered depending on the cargo you’re carrying. However, hauling long cargo in the cabin cripples its seat capacity.
As for the rest of the Accord’s cabin, the materials quality is good but not great. It’s appropriate for a family car but that’s all. Fit and finish is pretty nice and most of the controls are as simple to use as a light switch, though some of the infotainment system’s menus can be a bit obtuse until you learn them.
As with any car there’s always a spot for the driver, front and slightly left of center. On the road the Accord Sport handles reasonably well; this car doesn’t stand out in any particular way, which is a good thing because it goes about its business without distracting or otherwise irritating its passengers.
One standout feature though is the forward visibility. We live in an era of demanding roof-crush safety standards and many vehicles these days have pillars big enough to block out the sun and cause small children cower in fear. But the Accord’s A-posts are surprisingly wispy and unobtrusive. In this regard it’s almost like driving a car from the 1990s; the visibility is outstanding and much appreciated.
WON’T BREAK THE BANK
The base price for an entry-level 2013 Accord, the LX model, is $22,745, including $790 in destination and delivery fees. The sport model is slightly more expensive, kicking off at $24,505. Out the door, our test car stickered for $24,550 including shipping and handling charges.
What do you get for that chunk of change? Well, it comes standard with nice features like dual-zone automatic climate control and a cabin air filter; it’s also equipped with a backup camera, hands-free Bluetooth connectivity and electrically controlled windows, mirrors and door locks. A tilt/telescoping steering wheel is also standard on all 2013 Accord models.
The Sport trim includes a 10-way power driver’s seat and wraps the steering wheel in leather. Outside, that trim adds 18-inch wheels, fog lights, chrome exhaust finishers and a rear spoiler.
Of course there’s more to the Accord than just the Sport model, which is admittedly pretty basic. If you want extra frills, bells and whistles you can opt for one of several other higher trim levels. As mentioned you can get CVT; a V6 engine is also offered. There’s even a coupe body style available if two doors are more appealing.
In the grand scheme of things Honda’s Accord four-door isn’t all that sporty nor is it terribly exciting. Compared to, say, an Aston Martin Vanquish you may as well walk. But coming back down to earth and focusing on what matters it fares much better.
Like a proper midsize sedan it’s got a roomy cabin, spacious trunk, smooth powertrain and stellar fuel economy. This is all-left-brain stuff, but the option of getting a six-speed manual gearbox transforms what would otherwise be another gray, boring family car into something more, and that’s the magic of this vehicle. If you have to get a midsize sedan this is one that won’t kill your soul.