First Drive: 2018 Honda Accord Goes Turbo, Improves On An Already Good Thing

The Honda Accord is one of the best selling sedans in the United States and the company recently pulled the wraps off an all-new model. Eager to find out how it stacks up, we traveled to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire for a test drive.

Whoa, That’s An Accord?

The Accord has always been pretty conservative but there’s been a trend in the segment towards bolder and more upscale designs. The 2018 Accord follows this philosophy and adopts a stylish new exterior which manages to look both sporty and elegant. The design might not win everyone over but the model looks better in person and the black trim on the front fascia isn’t as jarring as I expected.

As part of the redesign, Honda installed shorter overhangs, a lower hood, and a shorter roof. The model also features a wheelbase that has been stretched by 2.16 inches (54.86mm) and this help to give rear seat passengers an additional 1.9 inches (48.2mm) of legroom.

The Inside Story

During the press briefing several executives spoke about their desire to aim for a “class above.” This is clearly evident in the cabin as the Accord has an interior that is worthy of something costing thousands of dollars more. Virtually every surface of the Accord Touring is trimmed in high quality leather or soft-touch plastics. Even where they aren’t present, drivers will find metallic accents and stylish trim.

Thanks to the recent redesign, the Accord has more interior room than its predecessor and drivers shouldn’t have any problem getting comfortable behind the wheel. It’s a similar story for passengers as two adults can easily fit in the rear seats and still have plenty of leg and headroom. Even with the front seat adjusted to fit my 6′ 1″ (185.42 cm) frame, I had no trouble getting comfortable in the seat behind it.

Speaking of spaciousness, the trunk holds 16.7 cubic feet (472.9 liters) of luggage which is an increase of 0.9 cubic feet (25.4 liters). I didn’t have much use for the trunk on the test drive but that number compares favorably to rivals such as the Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry.

Tech Time

Like most modern cars, the 2018 Accord comes loaded with technology including an available 8-inch Display Audio system. For those who haven’t used the system, it’s incredibly user-friendly and has dedicated knobs for volume and tuning.

Higher end models pack on the features and highlights include a wireless smartphone charger and a new 6-inch head-up display which is extremely clear and shows your current speed as well as other vehicle information. Engineers also installed an NFC chip in the dashboard which makes pairing your smartphone to the vehicle a five second process.

All 2018 Accords come with a Traffic Sign Recognition system which uses a camera to automatically recognize road signs and display this information in the instrument cluster. The system was useful for providing speed limit info on the unfamiliar roads of New Hampshire but it’s not foolproof as the system would show a 20 mph (32.1 km/h) speed limit near a school with a sign that says the limit is only 20 mph (32.1 km/h) when a light is flashing.

Every Accord also comes with a suite of Honda Sensing driver assistance systems including Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. These are nice additions but the Lane Departure Warning system kicked in too early for my liking.

Say Goodbye To The V6

The entry-level engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 192 hp (143 kW) and 192 lb-ft (260 Nm) of torque. In the model I drove, it was paired to a continually variable transmission which worked flawlessly. This setup should offer a decent combination of performance and fuel efficiency as the vehicle has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of up to 30 mpg city / 38 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined.

Many fans have expressed concern about Honda’s decision to replace the previous 3.5-liter V6 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Those fears seem to be missed placed as the engine performs extremely well and Honda chief engineer Junji Yamano said the company focused on giving it plenty of low-end torque. The end result won’t please everyone but the engine develops 252 hp (187 kW) and 273 lb-ft (369 Nm) of torque. This is 26 hp (19 kW) less than its predecessor but the torque figure climbs by 21 lb-ft (28 Nm).

When paired to the car’s new ten-speed automatic transmission, the engine enables the Accord to accelerate quickly and without any drama. Honda declined to release performance or fuel economy figures for the 2.0-liter engine but initial impressions are certainly positive.

Regardless of which engine was under the hood, all of the Accords drove well over New Hampshire’s impressively maintained roads. The steering was spot on, handling was great, and the overall ride quality was extremely comfortable.

This can be chalked up to the car’s new Macpherson strut front suspension with L-shaped aluminum lower arms that are mounted to an aluminum front subframe. Honda says this setup “better isolates and manages varying road inputs, improving handling precision, ride quality, and cabin quietness.” The model also comes equipped with a new multi-link rear suspension as well as fluid-filled bushings which help to improve ride comfort and reduce the harshness of road imperfections.

Is It Better Than Last Year’s Model?

That answer would probably be better served following a longer evaluation but the 2018 Accord seems to improve on its predecessor in a number of different ways. While both models drive similarly, the 2018 Accord has a significantly improved cabin with a cleaner instrument cluster, additional space, and higher quality materials.

A few things standout in particular including the new three-spoke steering wheel which has larger thumb indentations that give it a sportier and more comfortable feel. Honda also jettisoned the distracting dual display setup of the previous Accord which allowed designers to install the infotainment system higher on the dashboard where it is easier to view navigation and entertainment information.

The 2018 Honda Accord will go on sale on October 18th and pricing starts at $23,570.

Photo Credits: Mike Gauthier / CarScoops

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