Ride Review: 2018 Honda Accord
The Honda Accord has always been a success here in the U.S.A.
When it arrived in 1976, the sporty hatchback gave Honda a much-needed boost thanks to its solid engineering, a larger version of its innovative CVCC engine, and practical design. From that point, the Accord made history repeatedly.
It was the first Honda built in the U.S.A. back in 1982. It also challenged conventional thinking in design and engineering along the way. As a result, it was a sales leader in this country. Because of its engineering and quality, there are a lot of Accords—of every generation—still on the road. Maybe you just happen to own one?
In recent years, the sedan has lost out to the SUV in terms of vehicle choice for individuals and families. It seems that drivers wanted to step up into an SUV rather than step into a car. They also wanted a higher driving position for better command of the road. Makes sense, except we saw sales of the most popular vehicles in this country drop in favor of the SUV.
To stem the tide, Honda introduced an all-new Accord. To do so, it went back to the reason why it was popular in the first place—being different in the face of convention.
How different is this new 2018 Honda Accord compared to its predecessors?
In short, this tenth-generation Accord follows a convention that has sustained this model through the years. The Accord is seen as a shape-shifter with extreme changes in its overall design instead of evolutionary progression. Instead, this Accord follows Honda’s new design language established by the current generation Civic—a bold statement that disturbs the sedan market.
The fastback design starts with a blunt front end. A large chrome piece crowns the upper part with a large lower grille designed for a massive intake of air. Two thin headlamp units flank the horizontal chrome piece with two lower units on the corners of the front fascia. All lighting is now LED, which emits a great beam of light at night.
Sweeping back is a rakish roofline that finishes off with a trunk. It may look like a hatchback, but we can point out other models which follow this fastback/non-hatchback convention, many of which have never been sold in the U.S.A. It is a completely different look and format for the Accord, which is really up for debate. The rear end is finished off with a LED taillight cluster that looks more conventional compared to the smaller Civic. Our Touring tester came with 19-inch alloy wheels that are as boldly designed as the rest of the car.
Underneath this fastback roofline is a cabin that is equally advanced. The instrument panel may be seen as minimalist, but it is not. Instrumentation is set in a full TFT screen with two large dials—one of which is the fully customizable Driver Information Interface. You can choose which bit of information you need to go along with the analog speedometer and other critical information in the middle. Our Touring tester came with a Head-Up Display that is also customizable—including a graphical tachometer with a digital speedometer. The idea behind all of this is to ensure that the driver is informed and not distracted by anything not in view of him or her.
Attached to the instrument panel is the Honda Link infotainment screen. The tablet-like, eight-inch touchscreen is not exactly integrated with the interior design, but it is high enough for quick glances when necessary. This screen offers one of the best navigation readouts so far. Plus, each screen is logical and easy to navigate. Smartphone integration is available through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sound quality from the 10-speaker system is very good.
Climate controls are easy to use and understand, plus the storage area below it has wireless phone charging and a door to hide your phone from further distraction. The center console has the push-button, shift-by-wire transmission selector for our tester. Having used this before on other recent Honda and Acura models, it is logical once you use it properly.
The seats are comfortable and supportive up front. The roofline is a bit low, which means a few adjustments can be made with the Accord Touring’s 12-way power adjustment for the driver. Rear seat space is excellent with plenty of head and legroom for six-footers. There are 16.7 cubic feet of usable trunk space that is expandable with the 60/40 split rear seatbacks.
The 2018 Accord offers three different power options. Standard is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 192 horsepower, along with an optional two-motor Hybrid driveline with a 212 total horsepower rating. Our Touring tester gets the new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 252 horsepower on tap. Though some Accord enthusiasts lament to the passing of the available V6 engine found on previous generations, the 2.0-liter turbo engine will make them forget it even existed. It is very powerful with loads of low-end torque—273 pound-feet to be exact. There is nominal lag from the turbocharger. This engine is the more exciting pick of this trio.
Connected to the 2.0-liter turbo is a 10-speed automatic transmission. It shifts smoothly and responds well to the engine. The Accord is a front-drive car, which offered plenty of traction—even through an April blizzard on low-profile all-season tires.
The most important part of the Accord is how it retains superb fuel economy. We were happy to see that our 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged Touring tester returned an average of 29.2 MPG in our care. This is a massive improvement over the V6 Touring sedan we reviewed back in 2013 of almost 6 MPG! As we said before, this larger turbocharged engine replaced the V6 in the Accord lineup—something to think about!
Where the Accord truly shines is in its driving dynamics. The ride/handling mix is very good, offering a smooth ride, great handling, and cornering. You can switch to a Sport mode where the steering weight is heavier and the suspension firms up for even better control. The latter actually gives you some comfort when you need it the most.
The brakes are superb, offering excellent pedal feel and solid stops in normal, panic and, yes, winter conditions. Though we are in the month of May, we should consider anything our climate throws at us at the most unexpected times. Steering-wise, it has good on-center feel in all driving modes. We wished for a tighter turning radius in some maneuvers. Road feel is fine from the wheel, however.
Standard on all 2018 Accords in Honda Sense. This is the suite of active safety features that work with various sensors, including one tucked away in the lower grille of our tester. You do get Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Traffic Sign Recognition among key features of this driver assistance suite.
The 2018 Accord lineup is available in twelve different models across five trim levels. The starting point is an LX sedan with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with a base price of $23,570. Our 2.0-liter turbocharged Touring is at the top of the range, coming with a sticker price of $36,690.
One thing became clear with the 2018 Honda Accord was how well executed this mid-sized sedan turned out. It offers the right space and the right mix of safety technology, distinctive design, performance, driving dynamics, and efficiency needed for today’s mid-sized family sedans. Not to mention, it is the reigning North American Car of The Year.
As tempted as we are to compare to other 2018 mid-sized sedans, we would rather leave that to you. After all, it will be your preference and experience that dictates which vehicle to go with.
For a car with a 42-year history of shape-shifting, perhaps we needed something that disturbs the industry. Something that pushes the edge in design and engineering. The 2018 Honda Accord has become the most compelling sedan available today. It is worth checking out!