Finally Honda has come out of its conservative styling funk to make its always solid Accord sedan look like more than a very reliable box.
The 2018 Accord is wider and lower than its predecessor and looks more muscular and exciting with a larger grille, snazzy taillights and a fastback profile that is more like a coupe. This isn’t your uncle Ed’s Accord anymore.
That alone makes the latest Accord worth a look, but as always, the car is solid from stem to stern. It has plenty of power, handles well and delivers a smooth sedan ride that will please any family of five or fewer.
First a few basics. Accord comes in five trim levels ranging from the LX at $24,460 to $36,690 for the Touring model that I tested. There are two new engines for 2018, a 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 that creates 192 horsepower and a 2.0-liter I4 turbo that cranks 252 horses. The smaller engine makes 7 hp more than the previous I4, while the 2.0-liter is down 26 horses from the earlier 3.5-liter V6.
A key reason for the change is gas mileage and the smaller engine tops the mid-size class with a combined 33 mpg rating. That’s 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. The tested 2.0-liter is rated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. I tested the car during a frigid week with morning temps starting below zero, so I managed just 21.0 mpg.
Yet for those with sportier leanings the 2.0-liter turbo will be the winner. It’s a strong engine that actually spins the front tires on our salty streets when you hit the gas pedal with any muscle. Harnessing that power is a 10-speed automatic transmission. Amazing that we’ve gone from 6- to 8- and now 10-speed transmissions in less than 10 years.
In any case, Accord gets up to highway speeds with ease and really rips when you engage the Sport drive mode via a console button. Sport also firms up the steering effort to feel like a sport sedan. That’s fun and the Accord handles well with little body lean in aggressive cornering. But even in Normal mode the car handles easily, with just a little lighter wheel feel.
One concern though is Honda’s new push-button transmission – not the performance, that’s pretty seamless. But for a driver wearing gloves in a brutally cold Midwest winter the Park button is small and a bit tough to push. Additionally, the Reverse lever must be pulled back to be engaged and that too is a tight squeeze when the driver is wearing a heavy glove.
The push buttons also are just in front of the console cup holders, so it’s possible a little beverage spillage could slosh onto Drive in particular. Not sure how that will affect things long term.
That aside, driver and passengers will enjoy the Honda’s quiet interior and comfortable seats, plus the car has added back seat legroom for 2018 as its wheelbase has grown. Five adults could easily fit.
The Kona Coffee (dark metallic brown) test car featured a black leather interior with gray headliner. There’s dark fake wood trim on the dash and doors and that’s edged in satin chrome.
Not surprisingly this top-level Touring model has every feature you’d expect, or likely want, in a family sedan. First, Honda includes its Honda Sensing safety package on all Accords. That includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning and mitigation, traffic sign recognition and auto high-beam headlights. That creates an amazing value at the entry-level trim.
But the tested Touring adds LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a navigation system, adaptive grille dampers for better fuel economy, a head-up display, wireless phone charging and rain-sensing wipers.
Another plus, the front seats are heated and cooled and the rear seats are heated on Touring models. Sadly, the extremely thick leather steering wheel is not heated.
The seats though are well shaped and the driver’s seat is powered, including lumbar support and two memory settings. These have good back side support so if you do drive a bit more aggressively you’ll feel quite snug.
I like the overall dash design, although several friends commented that the radio/nav screen atop the dash looks like an add-on. Some asked if it would power down into the dash so as not to be so distracting. It does not.
Beyond the base model the touchscreen is a large 8-incher, so easy to see. Most radio functions are handled via its touchscreen, but there are small buttons down each side of the screen that require a tap to access further functions. Those little buttons are not always so easy to use when wearing gloves.
I know small buttons is a theme here, but those to adjust the climate control directional and defrosters also are small. A lot of us live in colder climates and automakers need to be aware that a gloved hand requires larger buttons.
Enough whining though, so much of the rest here is so fine. Overhead is a HomeLink-style system, sliding sun visors (yes!) and a sunroof with shade. While in back is a large trunk and rear seats that split and fold down. A power trunk release is located in the driver’s door.
I like the head-up display because it’s adjustable as far as what readout a driver can see. Some give you charts and funky stuff you rarely would need to see regularly. This one was excellent.
Accord is full of other features you’d likely expect, like a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel with all sorts of buttons for cruise control, the HUD, phone, radio and lane departure. Start is via a push button and climate controls are dual.
There’s a power outlet and other electronic hookups just below the dash’s center stack and a door folds down to cover the area if it’s not being used. This also is where the wireless charging station is located for your phone.
Obviously not all these goodies come on each model, but the base LX has the Honda Sensing safety feature and a 7-inch touchscreen, plus grille shutters to boost fuel economy.
Move up to the Sport model and you can opt for a 6-speed manual transmission. Some of us love these as it puts the power back into a driver’s hands. But note that all the automatic transmissions actually get better gas mileage now than the manuals. For instance, the manual Sport, which is available with either engine, gets 26 mpg city and 35mpg highway compared with 30/38 for the automatic.
Sport models also feature 19-inch tires, as did the Touring, while 17-inchers come on the LX.
There are EX and EX-L trim levels too, each adding more features like the sunroof, blind-spot warning, heated seats and all. The EX-L is the first trim to come with leather seats and a 450-watt audio system standard.
For reference the Sport model with the smaller engine starts at $26,670 and bumps to $31,200 for the larger engine. Automatics and manuals are both priced the same.
And if you want the luxurious fully equipped Touring model you can get it with the smaller engine for a list price of $34,690. Note too that a hybrid Accord will be coming along soon too.
So you can see that Honda continues to offer a strong Accord lineup shaped to meet many car buyers’ pocketbooks. The more you can afford, the better equipped the trim. But then that has been the order of business for most of automotive history!
FAST STATS: 2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T
Hits: Good looks, power and ride, plus sporty handling in sport drive mode. Comfy interior with heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, sunroof, big trunk and a full complement of safety electronics.
Misses: No heated steering wheel, push-button transmission buttons a bit hard to use while wearing gloves, especially Park and Reverse. Nav/radio screen looks like an add-on device and has small buttons on sides of screen, so not all functions are touchscreen. Dash buttons for climate control and defrost also small and a bit tough to use when wearing gloves.
Made in: Ohio
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, 252 hp
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Weight: 3,428 lbs.
Length: 192.2 in.
Wheelbase: 111.4 in.
MPG: 22/32 (EPA)
MPG: 21.0 (tested)
Cargo: 16.7 cu.ft.
Base Price: $36,690 (includes delivery)
Invoice: $33,618 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $36,690
Photos: Mark Savage