2013 Honda Accord long-term sedan review

Honda has  done well at keeping its Accord  near the top of the ultra-competitive midsize-sedan category year after year. In  fact, Honda sold more than 730,000 cars in 2012, and the Accord accounted for  about 45 percent of those sales, making it the company’s most important  nameplate by a long shot. In its class, the only car to sell more than the  Accord last year was the Toyota  Camry.

 

Redesigning the Accord is thus a big deal for Honda, and something that has  to be done the right way. This is especially true at a time when the stakes  couldn’t be higher thanks to the barrage of new midsize sedans that recently hit  the market: the Ford  Fusion, Chevrolet  Malibu, Nissan  Altima and Mazda  6.

 

Even an office full of enthusiasts could see how important the ninth-generation  Accord is for the industry. Plus, it’s full of Honda firsts that we want to  experience up close. So adding an Accord to our long-term fleet for a year was  an easy decision, allowing us to see if the plethora of changes inside and out  is enough to keep the car battling at the top of its class.

 

The updates begin with a new base 2.4-liter engine that gets direct injection  for the first time, making 185 hp and 189 lb-ft of torque. As enticing as the  available 278-hp V6 was, we opted to play the part of a typical Accord buyer and  went with the volume four-cylinder.

 

Honda also added a continuously variable transmission, which replaces the  outgoing five-speed torque-converter automatic as the optional gearbox on  four-cylinder Accords. We’re not huge fans of CVTs for their often rubber  band-like operation; how- ever, the Accord’s CVT is programmed with steps meant  to mimic a regular gearbox, in hopes of eliminating that feeling. Over the  course of the next year, we’ll decide for ourselves if Honda was successful.

 

Like most carmakers, Honda’s move to direct injection and CVTs is an attempt  at upping fuel economy. Our car is rated at 27 mpg in the city and 36 on the  highway. That stacks up pretty well against other non-hybrids of the class; only  the Nissan  Altima comes in with a better rating—31 mpg combined compared to 30 for the  Accord. Other firsts in an Accord are electric power steering and a MacPherson  strut front suspension setup, the latter of which is a switch from double  wishbone.

 

Dimensionally, the new Accord is smaller than the previous generation with a  wheelbase 0.9 inch shorter and an overall length cut down by 3.5 inches. But the  interior gains 0.5 cubic foot of space, and the trunk grows by 0.8 cubic  foot.

 

Inside, Honda didn’t flop with the interior like it did with the 2012 Civic,  which, thankfully, has been redone for 2013. Almost all of the major surfaces  are soft-touch materials with a quality look. The styling surely doesn’t jump  out at you, but it isn’t ugly.

 

Honda also addressed an admitted area of weakness—cabin noise. To quiet  matters, the Accord employs active noise cancellation in hopes of sealing things  up better from road and wind banter.

 

When choosing our long-termer, we decided on the Accord EX-L trim with  navigation, wrapped in what Honda calls Champagne Frost pearl paint. Truth be  told, it looked much better on the com-puter screen. Inside, the ivory-colored  interior has a leather-trimmed steering wheel and seats. Both front seats are  heated and power adjustable, too.

 

Technology includes Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB audio interface and an  8-inch touschreen; sound is provided by a seven-speaker, 360-watt system.

 

One available feature that we certainly couldn’t pass up is Honda’s new Lane  Watch system, which vigilantly monitors two lanes of your right-side blind spot  and prominently displays a reporting image on the central screen.

 

These are also included: an in-car interface that works with Android and  iPhone devices, forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, and adaptive  cruise control.

 

The exterior of the EX-L trim comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED brake  lights, and chrome on the door handles and the exhaust tip—all making for a  sportier appearance. The heated side mirrors have integrated turn indicators,  and we couldn’t say no to a power moonroof.

 

Our Honda may not be the flashiest, quickest, most enthusiastic car on the  road, but the Accord has a well-earned history of being a practical, efficient  and safe choice in its category.

 

We are looking forward to seeing how it handles road trips, day-to-day life  and the inevitable wear and tear of being in our long-term fleet for the next  year.

 

Most importantly, though, we’ll be able to see if Honda’s redesign is enough  to keep the Accord ahead of the pack.

 

2013 HONDA ACCORD EX-L NAVI SEDAN

 

Pricing & Oprions Base (includes $795 delivery):  $30,790 As-tested price: $30,790 Options: None

 

Dimensions Wheelbase: 109.3 in Track (in): 62.4 front, 62.3  rear Length/width/height (in): 191.4/72.8/57.7 Curb weight/GVWR (lb):  3,365/4,321

 

Engine Transverse 2.4-liter/144-cid DOHC I4 Power: 185 hp @ 6400  rpm Torque: 181 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm Compression ratio: 11.1:1 Fuel  requirement: 87 octane

 

Drivetrain Front-wheel drive Transmission: Continuously variable  transmission Final drive ratio: 3.238:1

 

Suspension Front: MacPherson strut with coil springs, gas-charged  shock absorbers, antiroll bar Rear: Multi-link with coil springs, gas-charged  shock absorbers, antiroll bar

 

Brakes/Wheels/Tires Vented discs front and solid discs rear, ABS  with EBD; aluminum 215/55 R17 Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max

 

Fuel Mileage EPA city/hwy/combined: 27/36/30 mpg

 

TRACK TEST DATA

 

Standing-start Acceleration 0-60 mph: 7.6 sec 0-quarter mile:  15.9 @ 92.5 mph

 

Braking 60-0 mph: 135.8 ft

 

Handling 490-ft slalom: 42.4 mph Lateral acceleration (200-ft  skidpad): 0.76 g

 

Interior Noise (DBA) Idle: 37.3 Full throttle: 71.3 Steady 60  mph: 61.2

 

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