YOU WOULDN’T CALL THEM ‘SWEEPING CHANGES’ BUT A MID-LIFE UPDATE HAS GIVEN THE HONDA ACCORD A SHARPER LOOK AND EXTRA TECHNOLOGY INSIDE.
The Accord is a refined and competent sedan, but this year sales are lagging behind even the Holden Malibu and Nissan Altima. Fact is, with the exception of the Ford Mondeo, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Passat, all the major league players in the mid-size segment are finding customers hard to come by this year.
But it shouldn’t be so. These cars are mostly excellent and are selling like hotcakes in other global markets.
What’s next? Well, as we’ve seen from the all-new Mondeo – Ford’s global mid-sizer – dimensions are getting larger so while there is much to like about the Honda Accord in its current format, in order to be more competitive, we suspect the all-new model (not due imminently)will follow that trend and grow.
Many speculate mid-size vehicles and large-size vehicles will soon blend, obliterating a market segment and making the next step upscale SUVs.
Vehicle Style: Mid-Size Sedan
Engine/trans: 3.5-litre V6 petrol | six-sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 9.2l/100kms | Tested: 9.1l/100kms
It is widely considered in automotive circles that Honda is brand with ‘Comeback’ stamped next to its name. After some time in the doldrums, we’ve seen from new arrivals like the HR-V and Civic that - from the styling and engineering points of view - Honda is showing signs of regaining its mojo.
And it can be seen too in the styling changes implemented as part of the update for the Accord – the new front-end is highlighted by a prominent grille the looks of which have been clearly influenced by the all-new Civic. There are new headlights, new bumpers (the front bordering on aggressive/sporty!) and, in the case of the range-topping Accord V6L we tested, new LED driving lights.
Most of the focus in the update goes towards to the new entry-level four-cylinder Honda Accord VTi model priced at $32,990 which looks to be good value.
In that context it must be said, at $52,590, the range-topping V6L Accord we’re testing faces some tough challenges as it squares-off against the $42,490 Subaru Liberty 3.6R, the $45,490 Nissan Altima Ti-S and the $51,990 German-sourced Holden Insignia hatchback.
Thanks to Volkswagen’s axing of the V6 Passat these are the only segment contenders with six-cylinder engines…with the exception of the Hyundai Genesis, which starts at $61,500 but is more a luxury contender.
- Standard Features: Leather seats (fronts electric adjustment and heated), sunshades (rear window electric, rear sides manual), remote keyless entry with push-button start, 7.7-inch Intelligent Multi Information Display screen, multi-angle reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors
- Infotainment: Satellite navigation and 6-speaker audio with 7-inch touchscreen, CD/AM/FM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth compatibility, 2USB ports, HDMI port
- Cargo Capacity: 457-litres
New on the inside are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the infotainment system and, for driver assistance, ‘Honda Sensing’ which bundles the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation, adaptive cruise, lane-keeping assist, a multi-angle reversing camera and ‘LaneWatch’ (which we really like – a blind spot-negating left-side camera system which projects its image onto the seven-inch infotainment screen when you activate the left-side indicator).
Until the current Ford Mondeo arrived, rear seat leg room had been Honda Accord’s trump card when measured against major rivals. And it is still better than the rest.
Up-front there’s the traditionally conservative Honda dashboard with a neat three-gauge instrument cluster, four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel - which is very busy with buttons and toggles for a host of infotainment and driver assistance functions – and left, atop the centre stack, are the two screens for satellite navigation and multi-information.
As usual with Honda, a nice combination of steering wheel and seat adjustment soon has the driver set and while the seats favour ‘comfort’ over ‘sporty’ they certainly aren’t lacking for support.
It’s all very well presented - the material quality is great and there is plenty of information for the driver - but the styling is hardly ‘Museum Of Modern Art’.
At 457-litres, the Honda Accord’s cargo capacity sits in the middle of the mid-size pack.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine/transmission: 3.5-litre V6 petrol (206kW @6200rpm/339Nm @ 4900rpm), 6-sp automatic with paddle shift for sequential manual changes
- Suspension: MacPherson strut (front)/Multi-link (rear)
- Steering: Electric power steering/ turning circle 11.8-metres
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
No, that’s not a typo in our “Tested” fuel consumption line. After a week in the Accord V6L our average was (by a whopping 0.1l/100kms) under Honda’s official figure – sometimes the ‘real-world’ does align with the scientists’ calculations.
But don’t assume the 3.5-litre V6 is lacking punch – in fact, when you kick it along, the Accord’s 206kW/339Nm arrives with a rush and smart ratios in the six-speed automatic transmission have you moving with dash
Refinement is the other area where the Honda Accord V6L scores high marks. Over the years, while focusing on screaming projectiles like turbocharged F1 race cars and Civic Type R road rockets, Honda’s achievements for quietude inside models like the Accord (and previously the Legend) have often been overlooked.
And of course part of the tranquility you enjoy inside the Honda Accord V6L comes from smartly calibrated suspension. Your AMG and M performance types may possibly conclude the Accord is a tad too soft for their tastes but, for most buyers looking here, its serene movement over even substantial road imperfections will be welcome.
Likewise, while there is plenty of grip on both turn-in and mid-corner and the steering is precise and nicely weighted, some newer rivals present better body control than the Accord V6L.
ANCAP Rating: Five stars
Safety Features: Six airbags, traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, lane-keeping assistance, road departure mitigation, collision mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, Trailer Stability Assist
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000kms
Servicing: Six months/10,00kms. Honda Tailored Service capped price service from $273 per service.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Holden’s Insignia certainly throws-up some challenges for the Honda Accord V6L. Probably better attuned for performance drivers than the Honda, the Insignia VXR is sharply priced at $51,990 and offers a 239kW/435Nm turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 engine and all-wheel-drive grip.
The Ti-S grade Nissan Altima with its 183kW/312Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine is overshadowed by its handy four-cylinder stablemates. There is plenty of space inside the Altima but, like the Honda Accord, it’s not a styling masterpiece.
And Subaru’s Liberty 3.6R has the value-for-money race run and won at $42,490. There’s 191kW/350Nm from Subaru’s naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre ‘Boxer’ six-cylinder and of course Subaru’s acclaimed all-wheel-drive chassis and, in its latest guise, a much-improved interior.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
No, it’s not a performance-focused option like Holden’s Insignia and, from a styling point of view, the Accord won’t be hanging at the Getty anytime soon… but for everyday operation, the V6L with its hushed and refined way of doing things can certainly be appreciated.
There’s no great complexity here: everything is where it should be, there’s plenty of driver aids, you don’t need a PHD to operate the infotainment system and Honda engineering means the Accord will last a very, very long time.