The Perfect Compromise
Honda Cars Philippines Inc. is in a busy 2014. We have witnessed the launching of 5 new models already, namely, the Accord, City, Jazz, Brio, and Brio Amaze. Today, we’ll be dealing with the Honda Accord, Honda’s prime midsize executive sedan. Over the years, the Honda Accord has lost its traction to its target market, mainly because of the lack of luxury and backseat premium features that its archrival, the Toyota Camry, possessed, as these cars are mainly chauffeur driven. While the Honda Accord provided an excellent balance between sporty driving dynamics and a comfortable ride, it still wasn’t enough to deter buyers from the Toyota Camry. How does the new Honda Accord fare against its competition? Let’s find out.
The all-new Honda Accord’s exterior design can be easily described as stately and unified. The conservative lines may not exude as much sexy as the Mazda 6’s or the sass of the Peugeot 508’s, but the design is far from boring. Exquisite, perhaps, is the perfect term for the Accord’s exterior design. Honda is very proud at the strict quality control they implemented in the new Accord, and the results speak for themselves. The panel gaps in the bumpers, for instance, are minimal, resulting in a well-crafted exterior design, and the doors close with a solid and reassuring thud, almost similar to that of a German executive sedan. Dual-projector LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights highlight the Accord’s elegant front, and these pair of LED daytime running lights command presence. At the back, the Honda Accord has a chrome strip that connects the LED taillights, emphasizing the car’s width. This Accord is equipped with the Modulo body kit, which includes a set of front, side, and rear under spoilers, a ducktail spoiler, a chrome strip garnish at the lower part of the boot lid, and a chrome sports grille. The grille is a matter of taste though, and even without the bodykit, the Honda Accord already looks sufficiently sporty and crisp.
The Honda Accord has an elegantly designed interior. Immediately noticeable in the Honda Accord are the pair of LCD screens that dominate the center stack. One is an 8-inch high-resolution TFT LCD display, and the other is a smaller 5-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display, which is a replacement for the predecessor’s dazzling array of buttons. A black interior combined with the dark wood trim brings an aura of elegance and sportiness. Everything is well laid-out, and the leather seats are soft and supple. There’s also an abundance of soft-touch plastics and leather surfaces around the cabin, making it feel very upmarket.
Space and Practicality
Its predecessor can be considered huge, already bordering the midsize and full size sedan category. Of course, this increased interior space, but its exterior dimensions were considered too big by many of its prospective buyers who only wished for a midsize sedan. This resulted in the new generation Accord becoming smaller, and its smaller dimensions are actually limited only to the exterior. Interior space actually became bigger, with more legroom and shoulder room. The Honda Accord, unlike most of its rivals, does not have a sharply rising beltline, and this translates to a bigger greenhouse, further enhancing the Accord’s spaciousness.
Storage places in the Honda Accord are plentiful. The glove box is huge, and there are generously sized bins on all four doors, enough to fit large bottles. There are also cupholders dotted around the cabin, including in the rear armrests. Should you want to carry long but narrow items, there is a ski pass-through when you fold down the rear armrests. For more practicality, the rear seats can be folded down, but they do not fold in a 60:40 split fashion, so if you need to carry flat-pack furniture with you, be sure that you are not carrying any rear passengers.
Features & Safety
All variants of the Honda Accord are generously specced. Standard across the range are those excellent automatic dual-projector LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights and cornering lights, LED tail lamps, rain sensing wipers, paddle shifters, smart key with push button start, leather seats, power adjustable front seats, 8-inch high resolution TFT LCD i-MID display, 5-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear aircon vents, power rear sunshades, rear side sunshades, and rear seat entertainment controls.
For the 3.5 S-V variant, a sunroof, and rear seat auxiliary controls are fitted as standard. The rear seat auxiliary controls are essentially buttons that moves the front passenger seats forward when it is unoccupied, bringing an unparalleled level of luxury and comfort to the executive that will be proudly seating in his throne. The Toyota Camry is still the only midsize sedan that offers most features for the back seat passengers, such as power reclining rear seats. Nevertheless, these features address what was lacking in the Honda Accord, and these are the rear seat features that chauffeur driven executives look for in an executive sedan.
The Honda Accord is also generously equipped with safety features. Standard across the range are a set of driver assistance features such as ABS with EBD, Multi-Angle Rear-View Camera with Dynamic Guidelines, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist, and a safety feature called an Emergency Stop Signal. ESS works in such a way wherein the hazard lights flash aggressively under hard or emergency braking in order to warn drivers behind and avoid a rear-end collision.
Should you worry if the worst ever happens, the Honda Accord is equipped with a generous amount of airbags, four (4) in the 2.4 variant and six (6) in this 3.5 V6 variant.
Many of its competitors are shying away from offering a V6 engine. Thankfully, the Honda Accord remains committed to offering a V6 powerplant. Today, we’re dealing with a 3.5 liter i-VTEC V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). It is a revised version of the previous 3.5 liter V6, now incorporating Honda’s Earth Dreams fuel saving technology, improving fuel economy. Power ratings have changed, now producing 281 hp @ 6200 rpm, and 342 Nm of torque @ 4,900 rpm, which lets this V6 Accord to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.3 seconds. Power is distributed at the front wheels, through a 6-Speed Automatic Transmission.
How It Drives
The Toyota Camry has always been a joke to many driving enthusiasts, but a dream for the executives who love riding in the back seat. Its polar opposite, the Mazda 6, is what driving enthusiasts truly desire. How about the Honda Accord? Just as much as the previous generations, the Honda Accord is a balance between sport and comfort.
It is now known by many that this new Honda Accord lost its signature identity. Previous generations of the Accord had a double-wishbone front suspension, but this new one switched to a simpler, less costly to build McPherson Strut set-up that basically almost every car nowadays has. On paper, the double-wishbone set-up provides better handling and a better ride compared to the simpler McPherson Struts that this generation now possesses. The truth is, good riddance to that double wishbone front suspension. This generation drives and rides better than before. The ride is much more compliant, and the body remains poised, with only the worst of Manila’s potholes truly upsetting the ride. Honda has done a good job in tuning the suspension of this new generation model, so should you prefer riding in the back seat and have your chauffeur drive you, you won’t be disappointed.
What if it’s you who wants to drive the Honda Accord? If ever you do find a twisty mountain road or simply just a road with plenty of curves, it will leave you with a smile on your face. It’s not as sporty or as poised as the Mazda 6, but despite the switch to the simpler McPherson Strut front suspension, it certainly has better handling credentials. Body roll is well controlled, and the steering wheel is responsive. There isn’t a lot of feedback though, but it is accurate. Turn the wheel to the direction you want, the Honda Accord will really follow without hesitation, and when pushed to the limit, there isn’t too much understeer to rub the fun out of driving. If the Honda Accord becomes too fast for you to handle, firm and progressive feeling brakes are there to bring you to a full stop.
A midsize executive sedan needs to be quiet and refined, isolated from the imperfections of the world outside your palace. While the previous generation Accord isn’t noisy in the first place, it becomes significant when compared to the Toyota Camry, which is a really quiet car. This generation fixes that. It is a huge improvement, with road and wind noise kept at a minimum, even at highway speeds. Also, when pressing the starter button to turn on the engine, no vibrations go through the cabin, even when putting your foot down on the gas pedal. These attributes can be credited to the Accord’s new features that improve refinement, namely, Active Noise Cancellation, and Active Control Engine Mounts. Active Noise Cancellation eliminates unwanted noise from the cabin by sending negative sound waves through the Accord’s speakers, while Active Control Engine Mounts fight any vibrations that the engine may produce. These features truly work in symphony and in the background to isolate you from the world outside.
Thanks to the new Earth Dreams technology and the Accord’s already trademark Variable Cylinder Management that can switch from 6 to 3 cylinders under light loads, fuel economy is excellent, especially considering how big and how much power the engine produces. The worst I could achieve was 7.1 km/l, which includes bursts of acceleration, city, and some short highway driving, however, I wasn’t able to truly take it on a long highway drive. Given that the Honda Accord 3.5 S-V now has a 6-Speed Automatic Transmission, the improvements in highway fuel consumption should be even greater than the previous generation with a 5-Speed Automatic.
On The Downside
There are a few negatives I’d like to talk about in the Honda Accord. First, I’m not too keen on the car’s two screen system. At first, it was confusing, because I expected that the two screens would be displaying the same or related things, but that wasn’t the case. Let me explain. Let’s say I’m at the telephone menu. I should expect the touchscreen to display things related to the telephone, right? Wrong. It was still displaying buttons for the radio presets, and so I knew that the two screens are independent of each other, with the bigger screen independently controlled by a knob on the right of the touchscreen. For someone like me (or us) who is fond of gadgets, I was able to adapt easily, but to the average driver, it may take a while for them to get used to such a system.
Lastly, while the Honda Accord isn’t a sparsely equipped midsize sedan, there’s one key feature missing; especially considering the segment the Honda Accord is competing in. See the right side of the steering wheel? There’s an awfully huge patch of gloss black trim there. It’s missing the cruise control buttons. Considering that smaller, lower priced cars such as the Honda Civic and the Honda CR-V have one; it’s a feature that should be standard.
I’ve always had a love affair with the Honda Accord. It’s a showcase of what Honda has to offer in its smaller cars in the future, and if that’s the case in this new Accord, then the future is going to be bright. Priced at P2,097,000 (not including this White Orchid Pearl paint and Modulo kits), it is targeted at the higher-end of the market, competing along with its rivals with a V6 engine option. It does not ride as soft, or have as much back-seat luxury features as the predominantly chauffeur-driven Toyota Camry, nor the sporty driving experience of the Mazda 6. What the Honda Accord does have is the perfect compromise between a sporty driving experience, and a cossetting back-seat experience. Whether you’d prefer driving the Accord, or being driven by a chauffeur in one, you won’t be disappointed.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
OVERALL: 4 out of 5