2018 Honda Accord

Leaner, meaner and cleaner



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 05 Dec 2017

By James Park


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   Although the auto industry nowadays seems to be fueled by the ever-increasing demand for crossovers, it would probably be premature to write an obituary for the mid-size family sedan.

   For one thing, the number of competitors in this segment – from Camry to Sonata to Fusion to Passat – remains large and there are signs of the manufacturers paying not insignificant amount of coin to designers and engineers to improve their relevant products.

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   This year alone, we’ve witnessed the launch of mid-term refreshed Hyundai Sonata, followed by the all new Toyota Camry. Not to be outdone, Honda also recently pulled covers off the 2018 Accord, displaying flash new styling. These three are the segment’s leading vehicles.

   The previous Accord, while a handsome car, did not attract double-takes, to say the least. Whereas the new car dons a flamboyant new skin that grabs people’s attention and sets off debates about its beauty or the lack of it.


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   Personally speaking, this writer does not find the new Accord particularly attractive (its front end reminds me of a Pug). However, there’s no denying the new car is more noticeable.

   The tenth-generation Accord also gets interior that is more modern and cleaner in design. The touch screen sitting atop the dashboard does not look out of place and thank you Honda, for bringing back the volume knob.


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   The rest of the layout scores high marks for being elegantly simple and easy to use. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has the right amount of heft and the heated leather seats are supremely comfortable.

   Passengers get more room to stretch their legs, as well. The new car is wider by 10 mm and has 55 mm longer wheelbase. The overall length, however, has been reduced a tad by 10 mm. And the car also weighs in at a relatively svelte 1,497 kg (3,300 lb), helping tremendously with the handling.

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   Disappointing at the first glance, however, is the choice of engines. Gone are the fabulous 2.4 litre four and the tried and true 3.5 litre V6, both normal-breathing mills.

   Instead, the Civic-derived base motor is now a tiny four-cylinder with capacity of only 1,500 cc. Are they serious? I’ve owned a Honda ST 1300 motorcycle that had almost as big an engine. Thanks, however, to forced induction, the little plant develops impressive 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel the car with more than expected authority.

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   The optional engine is also a turbo-four. This 2.0 litre is actually the same one found under the hood of the fabulous Civic Type R, but detuned for more ordinary family-hauling duty. As it is, it still pumps out 252 horses and 273 lb-ft of tire-chirping twist.

   The 2.0 litre gets to play with the all new ten-speed automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the 1.5 is attached to the ‘dreaded’ CVT. However, the saving grace is that, among the Accord lineup, both the 1.5 and the 2.0 Sport models can be optioned with the six-speed manual. No wonder Honda gets so much respect from the enthusiasts.

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   Speaking of the model lineup, the 1.5 litre LX starts from reasonable $26.490, followed by the Sport ($29,790), EX-L ($32,490) and the Touring ($35,790). The 2.0 Sport is $32,790 and the top-of-the-line 2.0 Touring demands $38,790, which is still reasonable.

   The 1.5 Touring test-vehicle, overall, drives very well. It is light on its feet and for a front-wheel-drive family sedan, quite agile in its handling characteristics. The car keeps its composure through fast corners and understeers predictably at the limits. The suspension is comfortably soft but not mushy.

    
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   Less satisfying is the sound from the tiny engine, which at times conjures up an image of angry sewing machine. Also disappointing is the lack of availability of the ten-speed automatic for the smaller engine. Yes, the CVT has come a long way. It is efficient and it works well with turbo motors. But it still saps a little bit of fun out of driving.

   Of course, the upside of small engine and CVT should be better fuel economy. The Accord 1.5 gets commendable 8.2 litres per 100 km in city and 6.8 litres on highway.

   The 1.5 Touring also gets high mark for being well appointed. Standard equipments include everything from 19’ alloy wheels, Head-Up Display, two-person memory power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel to adaptive cruise control.

   Except for the underwhelming engine sound, the Accord truly feels like a luxury sedan. It is well appointed, adequately powerful, agile, roomy and very frugal with gas. As a family sedan, it hits most of the right notes. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

 

2018 Honda Accord 1.5 Touring

Price: $35,790

Engine: 1.5 litre turbo four

Power: 192 hp/192 lb-ft

Transmission: CVT

Drive: FWD

Fuel: 8.2 litres per 100km (city), 6.8 litres (highway)

Best: fuel efficiency, catchy styling

Worst: no 10 speed option for the 1.5

Competition: Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Kia Optima, Ford Fusion

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