The brand-new 2018 Honda Accord will probably be the best midsize sedan around when it goes on sale next month.
Engine: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder
Output: 252 hp, 273 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 23 city, 34 hwy (est)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): Not yet rated
US Pricing: Starts at $24,445/$36,675 as tested (includes delivery fees)
CAN Price: Not yet available
If that’s all you wanted to know about this comprehensively overhauled family four-door, you can stop reading right here; the single juiciest detail is right in sentence one.
Describing the new 10th-generation Accord as best-in-class is not something I take lightly since we haven’t had a chance to send it through the wringer in an AutoGuide.com comparison test. But after spending better than half a day driving, poking, and prodding this fresh-faced mid-sizer, hustling over the mountain roads of northern New Hampshire, I was slack-jawed with how well it performed and by the features it’s equipped with.
Not only is Honda’s latest and greatest a treat to drive, it also brings a huge trunk, powerful and economical drivetrains, luxury-car trimmings and a ton of standard technology to bear in an increasingly competitive segment. The new Accord is also devilishly good looking from just about every angle, which doesn’t hurt its prospects, either. Seriously, check this car out in person, and I bet you’ll be impressed by the design, even if the front end does bring to mind a Dodge Charger.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Providing a sturdy foundation for all this goodness is a brand-new architecture. If customer-facing amenities are the fleshy bits, a vehicle’s underlying structure is the skeleton, and this new Accord’s been going overboard on calcium supplements.
Comprised of some 54 percent high- and ultra-high-strength steel, its platform has 32 percent greater torsional rigidity than before, yet overall vehicle weight has been reduced by up to 187 pounds. It also provides a larger trunk, lower center of gravity, trimmer exterior dimensions and more passenger volume. Additionally, the A-pillars are 20 percent smaller and the cowl lower for improved forward visibility. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.
Compared to the outgoing Accord, Honda’s 2018 offering is fractions of an inch shorter and lower, however, its wheelbase has been stretched slightly, which allowed engineers to increase rear-seat legroom by about two inches. It’s huge back there, and so is the trunk, which has grown by about one cubic foot, clocking in at nearly 17 overall.
Also brand new for 2018 is the chassis. Up front are L-shaped control arms with fluid-filled bushings that help reduce the transmission of noise and vibration to the cabin. Turning the front wheels is a new dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power-steering system that’s supposedly more precise. Adjustable dampers are standard on top-end Touring models.
ALSO SEE: 2018 Toyota Camry Review
The Power of 10
Ahead of the passenger compartment, three different powertrains will be offered in this 10th-generation car: two turbocharged four-cylinder engines and an economical hybrid, which, regrettably, I did not get a chance to test.
Serving base duty is a 1.5-liter unit that may sound overmatched in a large sedan such as this, but it’s actually the most powerful entry-level engine ever offered in an Accord. Rated at 192 horses and 192 pound-feet of torque, it will propel the overwhelming majority of these cars sold. It can be had in five different trim levels: LX, Sport, EX, EX-L and Touring.
For customers who want more, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder is also available (in Sport, EX-L and Touring models). Sharing select components with the vaunted Civic Type R, this engine delivers 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. If you’re keeping track, that’s another superlative: the most twist ever offered in one of these cars.
ALSO SEE: Honda Civic Type R Review
As for transmissions, Honda hasn’t forgotten about us enthusiasts. For those that prefer rowing their own gears, a six-speed manual can be had with either engine, which, these days, is absolutely astounding given how few are sold in North America. If you prefer an automatic, don’t worry; the 1.5-liter engine can be paired with an agreeable CVT, while its big brother gets to dance with a new 10-speed gearbox.
Accords featuring the 2.0-liter powertrain are estimated to return 23 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 on the highway, though official EPA figures have not been released yet, ditto for Canada. If bigger numbers float your boat, the most efficient non-hybrid version of this car features the one-five and CVT, delivering 30 mpg city, 38 highway and 33 combined.
Big Lux, Few Bucks
Standing out from rivals, the new Accord’s cabin is exceptionally rich for this vehicle segment, even if its overall theme seems to draw inspiration from the Mazda6.
Plastics are luxury-car grade, especially the soft stuff, which is liberally used throughout. The freestanding infotainment display is colorful and snappy, offering support for both Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto on EX and higher models. Thankfully, volume and tuning knobs make a comeback for 2018, greatly reducing our frustration.
Adding a little indulgence to the cabin, cooled seats, Qi wireless charging, adaptive suspension dampers, LED exterior lamps and a head-up display are all available in the new Accord. But perhaps its most valuable asset is Honda Sensing.
This suite of advanced driver aids is standard across the board. Increasing safety and reducing motorist fatigue, this bundle of technologies includes things like adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, and automatic emergency braking. Traffic-sign recognition is also part of the package, keeping you abreast of changing speed limits. Automatic high beams, a multi-angle back-up camera, and straight-driving assist are also included at no extra charge.
For additional safety, a host of other such features is available. Higher-end models gain blind-spot monitoring as well as front and rear parking sensors.
Equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and 10-speed automatic, the new Accord is fast! It’ll squawk the tires from a standstill if you bury the accelerator, yet, amazingly, these juvenile antics do not result in any torque steer. Power comes on strong starting at about 3,000 rpm and sticks around to redline when the transmission grabs the next gear. It even felt appreciably faster than a V6-powered 2018 Camry, which has a near-50 horsepower advantage. Toyota’s freshest four-door was one of several competitive vehicles Honda had on hand for back-to-back drives.
The Accord’s new 10-speed transmission can shift in the blink of an eye when you’re in a rush, though it’s not quite as refined as the Camry’s eight-speed gearbox, which is seemingly unperturbable at any speed or load. I experienced more than a couple less-than-stellar shifts while driving the Accord as it clunked from one ratio to the next. This is a minor complaint, but worth noting.
Steering is another area that could use a little fine tuning. I preferred the setups found in several rival cars, particularly the rack found in Ford’s Fusion. Despite being featuring a beefy, well-sculpted tiller, steering in the Accord is devoid and any feel and at times it seems to require a lot of small corrections to keep going straight ahead. This is a rather minor gripe because you can just enable steering assist, which part of Honda Sensing. When engaged, the car practically drives itself, staying safely within the desired lane of travel.
ALSO SEE: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Review
Aside from outright speed, putting the Touring model in sport mode sharpens the throttle response and transmission performance while increasing the dampers’ starchiness, all of which makes this humble family vehicle seem much more eager to play, though there is a tradeoff for all this engagement. Ride quality take a hit, getting borderline harsh. This is a family car, not a spec-series racer.
The focus of this review is on the 2.0-liter model, but I also got some seat time in an Accord with the 1.5-liter engine and CVT. Despite feeling significantly less vigorous than its sibling, this version of the car is still perfectly fine for customers that don’t need tire-squealing speed. In fact, it was noticeable fleeter than a comparable Fusion equipped with a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine. This is no surprise since Ford’s sedan offering is several hundred pounds heavier and a bit less powerful.
The Verdict: 2018 Honda Accord Review
With ample supporting evidence, you can now start to understand why the new Accord is such a strong offering in the midsize-sedan segment. It checks all the right boxes, offering tons of backseat and trunk space, helpful standard technology, newfound style, a premium cabin and muscular drivetrains.
But as with most good things in life, this car will cost you. Prices have crept up a bit for 2018, but luckily not as much as my boxer shorts after a long-haul flight. An entry-level LX version starts at about $24,500, $315 more than a 2017 model. Opt instead for a range-topping Touring example with the 2.0-liter engine and expect to shell out nearly $37,000, an increase of $870 (both advertised prices include $875 in destination charges). Fortunately, these figures are offset by increased standard equipment.
The all-new Honda Accord is slated to go on sale in just a couple weeks, with 1.5-liter examples arriving at dealers first. Versions with the 2.0-liter engine will follow in late November, while the hybrid is scheduled to launch early next year.
Discuss this story on our Honda Accord Forum