All-new midsize sedan offers loads of content and superior drivability, but is somewhat lacking in engagement
The all-new Honda Accord is an attractive midsize, mainstream sedan with a nice interior at an affordable price that pretty much does everything well, up-to-date and beyond reproach.
The new 2.0-liter turbo-4 is smooth and powerful, with bright performance and relaxed high-speed cruising, another testament to Honda’s continuing excellence as an engine builder.
Steering and handling are right up there, too; the top-of-the-line Accord Touring 2.0T model tested here – which continues for 2019 – is even fitted with very-low-profile performance tires for rapid response. The power steering is quick and nicely weighted, though fairly numb to the touch.
Which segues into my overall view of the Accord. While the 10th-generation of Honda’s bread-and-butter sedan is quick, responsive, comfortable, well-equipped and good-looking, it is also unaccountably bland and unexciting. Dull, even.
No, that does not make a lot of sense, considering all its pluses, but that was how it came across to me.
For most drivers, the fact that the new Accord is such a well-realized transportation machine should be plenty. But as something of a driving enthusiast, I found that there was something missing. I never felt much sense of engagement with the Accord, even when pushing it hard to sample its handling and performance.
But if those sorts of things don’t bother you, then you’re among the majority of folk who just want to sit back in comfort in a good-driving sedan, and I would say that the Accord is very refined and offers a lot for the money.
Actually, the price tag for this full-zoot, top-of-the-line Accord Touring 2.0T is right about where the average cost of an automobile is these days, at $36,690 all in. Considering all the premium gear you get with this model, plus its above-par performance, that’s not a bad deal at all.
Midsize, mid-price, mainstream and loaded. That, and the fact that Accords have a notable record for reliability, make this an attractive package indeed.
For the record, here’s how Honda describes what’s new about the 2018 Accord:
“All new from the ground up, the new Accord is built on a new platform with a lower, wider stance, a lighter and more rigid unibody structure; a lighter and more sophisticated chassis; three advanced new power units, including Accord’s first-ever turbocharged engines, a new 10-speed automatic transmission and a third-generation two-motor hybrid system.”
And that about covers the details.
Accord’s new styling is sharp and expressive, looking bigger and more purposeful than the previous model. The sparkling rows of headlight beams, which carry over to other Honda and Acura models, look cool, and the body contours make the sedan look long and sleek.
The interior is also very nice on this premium model, with pretty much all the things you might want, and more. Interior fit and finish are excellent, and the cabin overall is quite roomy, with Honda touting the fact that the latest version has been repackaged to emphasize interior space.
Part of that can be attributed to the new turbo-4 engines, which take up less space than the outgoing V6 and allowed the engineers to expand the footwell and generally move things forward. There was plenty of legroom for this too-tall driver. And the back seat was still usable even with the fronts pushed back.
That new 2.0-liter engine, which generates 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, replaces the V6 in Honda’s lineup, which now consists solely of turbo-4 engines. Lesser versions of the Accord get the also new 1.5-liter, 192-horsepower turbo engine, which should provide decent acceleration.
Those lesser Accords transfer their power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (aside from the Sport model, which also can be had with a 6-speed manual). There are five ascending models in this configuration, ranging from LX through Touring. There are also three gas-electric hybrid versions of Accord, but we’ll leave that for another time.
For the upper-end Accords – the Sport 2.0T, EX-L 2.0T and the Touring 2.0T – the automatic transmission is a 10-speed. That’s right, 10 gears. You might wonder how they stick them all in there, but explaining the intricacies of modern automatics are above my pay grade.
All you need to know is that it works well, with sharp shifts throughout that are fairly unnoticeable unless you are actively paying attention to them. And the downshift response to throttle input is remarkably quick and accurate. The Sport 2.0T is also available with a 6-speed manual – that would be the model I’d go for.
With the 10-speed automatic, there are paddle shifters, but they require a lot of flipping among all those ratios to make a difference. Unless you’re in some high-performance situation, such as on a favorite winding road, best to allow the trans to do its own thing.
There is a Sport mode that enhances the Accord’s response and an Eco mode for best fuel mileage. So really, you can let the electronics do the work for you, as they were intended.
Speaking of shifting, I was impressed by the very simple but effective gear selector on the console, which uses large, Fisher-Price-style push buttons to change from park to reverse to drive, etc. Very compact and easy to use.
The 2018 Accord with its all-new engines, chassis, styling, interior, etc., is an excellent car for the money, definitely a cut above the routine. Yet for fans of engaged driving, you might still find the Accord very nice but fairly vanilla. Maybe the Sport models are more dialed in. I could go for that.
2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T
Vehicle type: five-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel drive
Base price: $35,800 Price as tested: $36,690
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo 4, 252 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, 273 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 111.4 inches Overall length/width: 191.2 inches / 57.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,428 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 22 city / 32 highway / 26 combined
Assembled in: Marysville, Ohio