Mountain Wheels: Honda’s reimagined Accord allows fans to savor the sedan
These are strange days in the automobile business, but great if you happen to have a lot of SUVs arriving on the delivery truck at your lot. Sedans and standard, non-crossover-inspired cars, maybe not so much.
Official news came this week that Ford is entirely axing small and midsized cars (Fiesta, Focus, Fusion) from its U.S. lineup, and the monster-truck effect will also impact this week’s car du jour, the quite impressive and vastly reconfigured 2018 Honda Accord.
Accord is a stylish and legitimately pleasant driving redo of the popular sedan, its 10th-generation model, with some 15 different variations of trim available. The car has topped various auto publications’ best-of lists and with its new 2.0-liter engine — it goes like hell and borrows some of the sporty mojo of those racy new Civics I’ve profiled in the past year.
Unfortunately, the Accord arrived in the middle of our current SUV glut and despite the best of intentions — plus the fact that more than 11 million of them have been produced at the company’s Ohio plant since 1982 — Honda has announced that it’s shutting that plant for two weeks this summer, as consumer demand for regular car-type cars is waning.
Like the Ford move, I’d like to consider that shortsighted, but I also did not just invest $267 million in my Ohio auto plant like Honda did for the new Accord, and business is business.
So let me tell you what you might be missing by overlooking one very sophisticated and infinitely enhanced automobile, one with those zillion variants, including a nuanced and futuristic hybrid version. For our purposes, let’s examine a Touring model powered by that 2-liter, priced at $36,690, including destination and handling.
The 2018 Accord, despite looking suspiciously, from the front, like a Dodge Charger or a Chevy Malibu with that new, wide chrome monobrow on the front fascia — an effect accentuated with the white paint job on my test vehicle — is certainly more attractive and stylish than in recent years.
Bodywork is pretty brassy everywhere, from the Ferrari-styled character lines on the hood to a pair of very prominent lines that run along the top and the bottom of the cabin, the bottom ones are so overstated (more chrome, even) that I almost expected to see an old Viper exhaust pipe sticking out of them.
The cumulative effect, capped with a tapered, almost hatchback looking rear with an air dam on the trunk, is more Audi A7 than you’d expect from Honda. Even the 19-inch wheels are sexy.
Part of the toughened-up look comes from a lower, wider stance, with a 2-plus-inch-longer wheelbase that translates into almost 2 inches of extra rear legroom.
Equipped with a new 10-speed transmission (like a Ford Raptor, if that helps sell you on a car versus a truck), my 2.0T Touring did indeed come with that 252-horsepower 2-liter turbo, generating 273 lb.-ft. of passing and hill-pulling torque.
Estimates suggest up to 32 highway MPG; the overall effect seems to be a good instance of a 2.0-liter engine replicating the old 3.5-liter V-6 Accord used to offer.
The driving experience largely lives up to the car’s vastly reconfigured looks and posture, and the car seems to get a whole lot out of that turbo. Gun it and you’ll get noisy, invigorating takeoffs, plus power that’s well suited for the smooth and sophisticated road feel and highway handling.
A set of super-deep, stiffly side-bolstered sport seats and a small and very solid, sporty wheel are just part of the total makeover inside. Visiblity is improved with thinner A-pillars, and the cabin gets a concentrated and simplistic but very tasteful design.
In the low-drama center console, you’ll find the new, Acura-sourced pushbutton transmission controls, plus an hourglass-shaped beverage bin and steel grey surfacing that opens up to reveal a cordless phone charging mat.
AC controls are ridiculously simple — three bottlecap-styled knobs — plus some very simple switchgear. Your optional navigation setup is housed in a single, thin-profile, iPad-styled screen that sits just off the dash, but is made easier to use with eight actual hard buttons and two real control knobs.
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