2013 HONDA ACCORD REVIEW
What's Hot: Creamy V6, premium cabin, safety tech
What's Not: The V6L carries premium pricing, four-cylinder struggles with 5-speed auto
X-Factor: Far from your grandpa’s Accord, the 2013 model takes affordable comfort, convenience and luxury to a new level.
- Vehicle style: Medium sedan
- Engine/trans: 129kW/225Nm 2.4 litre petrol inline-four/5-speed auto, 206kW/339Nm 3.5 litre petrol V6/6-speed auto
- Price: $31,490 (Accord VTi) - $51,990 (Accord V6L) - plus on road costs and charges
- Fuel consumption listed: 5.8 l/100km (four-cylinder), 6.4 l/100km (V6)
With buyer interest in large cars waning, Honda has purposefully distanced itself from Australia’s fastest-shrinking automotive segment.
It’s a strange arrangement, but Honda Australia says having both the Accord and the Accord Euro sold side-by-side is workable.
Honda's view is that the new Accord’s emphasis on luxury and comfort will offer something very different to the sportier Accord Euro. (But Honda will no doubt hold a watching brief on that.)
The new car won’t go on sale locally until July, but Australian media were given a sneak peek at Honda's all-new Accord in New Zealand this week.
On our first taste, it impressed. Right now, we'd place it near the top of any mid/large sedan buyer’s shopping list - but it’s not without its faults.
The new Accord interior boasts improved textures, more soft-touch surfaces and greatly improved leather upholstery.
Cabin comfort has been enhanced through reshaped front seats, and although the on-road footprint has shrunk slightly, cabin space is equal to the outgoing model - and, in some dimensions, better.
Boot space is unchanged at 461 litres for the VTi and 457 litres for all other models, and alterations to the rear floorpan have resulted in a boot floor that is nearly flat. The floor is a little high, but the trade-off is a full-size alloy spare as standard.
The centre-stack layout has been thoroughly revised, with high-grade models gaining a double-decker screen layout with the primary infotainment display at the top and a touch-screen display in the middle.
Visibility of both screens is great, and the sensitivity and responsiveness of the touch-screen is excellent.
However, with Honda’s scroll wheel/joystick interface being used for some commands and the touch-screen for others, figuring out which method to use can take some head-scratching.
But on the whole, buttons are clearly labelled and well laid-out. Cabin ergonomics are good, and you never need to stretch too far to hit a button.
ON THE ROAD
We started our drive in the range-topping V6L. It might be on the wrong side of $50k, but that 3.5 litre V6 is a wonderful motor.
There’s 206kW and 339Nm on tap, and power delivery is nice and linear. It gets the Accord V6L off the line sharply and throttle response is good across the rev range.
It sounds great as well, with a throaty growl in the middle of the rev range. Settle down to a cruise though, and it’s whisper-quiet.
Speaking of which, it’s worth mentioning that all Accord variants get Active Noise Control (ANC) that pipes opposite-phase sound through the speakers to help cancel-out road and engine noise, and other ambient noise from outside the car.
Honda says ANC is good for a 10db reduction in in-cabin sound levels, and we found the new Accord to be blissfully quiet on the road.
The four-cylinder VTi-L (no lesser grades were available at the launch) is similarly refined.
The 129kW/225Nm 2.4 litre is smooth throughout its rev range, and although it’s not terribly strong when hauling the VTi-L’s 1572kg mass, it’s doesn’t feel overly weak.
Unfortunately, the four-cylinder’s five-speed automatic isn’t quite so impressive. It’s not as quick through the gears as the six-speed in the V6, and the wider gaps between ratios dulls performance.
Why Honda elected to equip four-cylinder models with a five-speed instead of a six-speed is a mystery.
The ultra-light steering is another issue. There’s no feel or feedback through the wheel, and it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on under the front wheels when in a corner.
But is that good or bad?
If you enjoy driving hard, then the Accord’s feather-light steering won't be to your liking. If you spend most of your time in congested traffic and navigating shopping centre carparks, it’s ideal.
But that’s not to say that the Accord isn’t a capable handler. On the twisting roads around Auckland the Accord surprised us with its grip in corners and the general composure and compliance of its chassis.
Honda has ditched the current Accord’s double-wishbone front suspension in favour for a simpler and cheaper MacPherson strut arrangement, but thankfully that’s not been to the detriment of handling.
Ultimately though, the Accord is a cruiser. It rides comfortably and quietly on the highway, and in V6L trim it effortlessly eats up the kilometres.
What really impressed us about the 2013 Accord, though, was the level of driver aids available.
Standard on every car from the VTi-S upward is Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot monitoring system which uses a camera mounted in the left wing-mirror to display what’s hiding next to the car.
It activates automatically when indicating left, and can be manually called up by pushing a button on the tip of the indicator stalk. It is, in a word, brilliant.
So too the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS), which bundles active cruise control, lane-keep assist, auto-tensioning front seatbelts and an auto-braking collision mitigation system.
It’s available as an option on the VTi-L and standard on the V6L.
Unlike most lane-keep systems which intervene when you’re on top of the painted line, Honda’s actively steers the car to keep it roughly in the centre of the lane.
Even gentle corners can be navigated with the hands completely off the wheel. It all works very well, and for drivers who spend a lot of time on highways, ADAS is a godsend.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Honda has upped the ante with its Accord, and delivered a car that’s substantially quieter, more luxurious, more comfortable and more refined than the current model.
It’s as spacious as ever and chock-full of technology, but it's getting pricey at the premium V6L end of the range.
At the other end, where the Accord 2.4 VTi sits, the Toyota Camry has a lower price of entry, and there’s little price advantage over the Ford Mondeo. Both of those cars though are older and don’t have the premium feel of the Accord.
Look further up the segment, and, if you're shopping on price, the new Accord packs more value than the Mazda6 and Volkswagen Passat.
Both cars were singled out by Honda as being key competitors. Certainly, the new Accord’s four-cylinder range presents an enticing alternative to either.
We’ll have more in-depth reviews of the 2013 Honda Accord soon. Stay tuned.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- 2013 Accord VTi - $31,490
- 2013 Accord VTi-S - $33,990
- 2013 Accord VTi-L - $41,490
- 2013 Accord VTi-L with ADAS - $44,990
- 2013 Accord V6L - 51,990