Let me tell you a little bit about test-driving a car in a hurricane.
Actually, all things considered, my week spent stuck tooling around Sandy-struck Washington, D.C., in the new Accord was infinitely better (and safer) than if I'd opted to be in New York at the same time.
Where we see that cars float when parking garages fill up with water. And gasoline becomes a very precious commodity. My heart goes out to those folks. DC got off easy, minus a few 80-mph wind gusts and dropped trees.
And, as a result, I can give you a brief but honest look at one impressive, speedy and pleasant automobile - as generally blended and homogenized with the new crop of mid-size sedans as it may be.
Accord, which has always sold in the jillions, steps things up a tad for 2013 with somewhat more sparkly styling, a litany of sometimes-infuriating safety features and lots and lots of power. This is the ninth generation of the Accord, its 37th year in the U.S. market, with assembly at two different plants in Ohio.
My jaunts across the massive Woodrow Wilson Bridge indicated that Accord's V6 variation, a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, does not leave the car yearning for forward thrust. Not much in the Honda lineup is positioned as a sports car, but with the V6's tangible whomp, you'll have no trouble keeping up with traffic, even in the mega-aggressive motorways in Virginia or Maryland. There's also a direct injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder that will get as much as 36 mpg on the highway; the V6 was rated for 34 highway, but got considerably more modest overall mileage during my drives.
Should you want to optimize the mileage, click on the Eco Assist mode and it will dampen the throttle response and provide lighting feedback to optimize your savings.
Having that extra power on hand does brighten the overall Accord experience; it's perfectly happy serving placid transporter duty, with a quiet and comfortable ride, but it can be pushed a bit and responds well - concise braking, well-sorted handling and all that.
Despite Accord being shortened in both overall length and wheelbase, families will appreciate the car's pleasantly wide-open spaces - rear legroom has been increased and the trunk space is bigger. While headroom in the rear seat can be a little snug for adult passengers, the seating itself is broad and comfortable (covered in perforated leather, as well) and there's very ample legroom indeed.
Besides a new auxiliary touchscreen for navigation system input - which supplements the much larger and partially recessed screen on the center console, and means you can mess with the data via voice, wheel-mounted controls, a spinning pointer controller and a touchscreen - you may not be prepared for Accord's biggest technological change. It may make you throw up.
Hit the right turn signal indicator and suddenly a large video image of the right-hand side of the car, traveling backwards, pops up on the navigation screen. Do this at 70 mph on the highway and you may be overcome with nausea. My recommendation would be to skip it and instead look to the right when changing lanes. Folks who cannot independently move their heads may appreciate this feature.
Accord has also added predictive cruise control and an imminent collision warning system - a bright light on the instrument panel blinks at you - plus lane departure warnings.
Looks are an upwardly mobile variation of the standard 2013 mid-size sedan, with a pointy, aerodynamic lower lip on the front bumper and headlamp boxes that extend far off the body. A deeply scalloped body line runs along the entire passenger cabin, plus some Infiniti-esque chrome trim around the windows (there's pronounced chrome trim on the nose and in the tail, as well).
Inside, Accord's basic layout gets a tad more futuristic with nearly wood-grain quality trim, chrome and metal-colored plastic highlights and a wild array of surfaces and colors on the doors and dash.
In the coming months, Accord is also going to branch into the plug-in hybrid world, with that model being the precursor to a regular hybrid model.