The midsize executive passenger car segment is one of my most favorite automotive segments. As a matter of fact, I personally even own one. Cars in this segment offer almost the same level of luxury, refinement, and technology as entry-level luxury cars. However, this segment has become one of the biggest casualties of the rise in demand towards high-riding but more utilitarian SUVs–especially the PPV segment. For the same amount of money, you can buy a pickup-based three-row vehicle, but often for less luxury and refinement. This has pushed this segment towards more of an aspirational and affluent choice. So consider me excited when I got the keys to this 2020 Honda Accord 1.5 EL Turbo.
In a bid to make the Accord more affluent and aspirational, the design has gotten a lot bolder. Starting with the front, the large grille with its chrome unibrow is hard to ignore. Not everyone can rock a unibrow, but the Accord flaunts it well. Of course, at this segment, you expect all sorts of LED technology to dominate the fascia. Moving towards the side, designers have opted for a fastback profile. The long hood and sloping roofline are definitely a sporty touch. Plus the 18-inch alloy wheels are a perfect match to its overall design. Where it slightly falls apart is with its rear fascia. Not that it’s ugly, but the C-shaped LED taillights don’t project the same prestige feel you get in a Toyota Camry and a Mazda 6.
Moving inside, and the all-new Honda Accord ditches the confusing twin-screen layout of its predecessor for a more conventional single screen layout. Premium soft-touch injection molded plastics are abundant on the doors and dashboard. Plus Honda did a good job with the simulated wood. My favorite part of the interior has to be the climate controls. The knobs and buttons emit a supremely satisfying click that you’d find in an Audi. The knobs also illuminate in blue or red whenever you increase or decrease the temperature, which is a very nice touch. As a whole, the Honda Accord’s interior is quite premium, though the 2020 Mazda 6 and its Nappa Leather interior is still the one to beat.
As for interior tech, the Accord does not disappoint. The part-digital gauge cluster looks neat, wherein the left gauge is a highly-configurable screen and the right gauge is a traditional analog dial. Most drivers, however, will interact with Honda’s latest 8-inch touch screen infotainment system. This is Honda’s best infotainment system so far, thanks to its snappy user interface and numerous hard shortcut buttons. As expected, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Though I wouldn’t mind using Honda’s own interface, it’s really that good. I just wished that the Accord comes with a premium audio system like the Bose with Centerpoint speakers in the Mazda 6.
Those sitting at the back will enjoy the sheer amounts of room available. The last time I had this much space in a passenger car, it was in a BMW 7 Series. The Accord is a perfect example of Honda’s packaging ingenuity. However, the all-new Accord’s rear-seat amenities only include manual window shades and two USB ports. This is much less than what its predecessor offered. With this in mind, we think Honda is now targeting self-driven executives with their latest executive sedan. Trunk space is also very generous for the class. With 575 liters on offer, this is almost on par with what a Mazda 6 Sports Wagon is able to offer.
As you might expect with its model designation, the Honda Accord 1.5 EL Turbo is powered by a 1.5-liter inline-4 turbocharged VTEC Turbo gasoline engine, which produces 190 hp at 5,500 rpm and 260 Nm of torque from 1,600 to 5,000 rpm. This is the same engine being used in the Civic RS Turbo, albeit with more power and torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT.
So, how does the Accord fare out in the open road? Quite good actually. The Honda Accord’s chassis and suspension tuning offer a nice balance between comfort and sport. The suspension is soft, yes, but the suspension lets the driver have a pretty good time behind the wheel. This nice balance between comfort and handling is coupled with a good electronic power steering. The responses are very sharp and accurate, letting the driver know where to point the wheel as the car goes through corners. It doesn’t have as much road feel as the Mazda 6, but for most people, the Accord’s steering is already pretty good, all things considered.
Where the sportiness is spoiled somewhat is with the powertrain. The engine performance itself is pretty solid, though not spectacular. Torque is abundant in the lower revs, but as you go through the mid and high rev range, pulling power isn’t as strong as you’d expect. This isn’t helped by the fact that the CVT has such a strong rubber band effect. It constantly holds revs. So if you try to overtake at a provincial road, the high rev range that the CVT constantly holds on to isn’t matched with a lot of acceleration. A conventional automatic would be better suited for this powertrain in order to fully exploit the engine’s torque band.
The best way to enjoy the engine’s wave of torque is to drive the Accord sensibly. Driven around town or in a relaxed manner at a highway, there’s a wave of torque that’s always present in the lower rev range. Nevertheless, this engine returns very solid fuel economy numbers. For my entire week’s use, my average was at 10.2 km/l, dropping to 8.3 km/l at its worst. Granted, I do not live in Metro Manila, but in a similar situation, the Toyota Camry only did 8.5 km/l. The Mazda 6 2.2-liter diesel and non-turbo 2.5-liter fare slightly better than the Accord. Still, 10.2 km/l is a spectacular number for a large sedan.
As for the rest of the Accord experience, on-road refinement is top-notch. Road and wind noise are minimal, performing slightly better than the Mazda 6, and almost on par with the Toyota Camry’s quietness. Perhaps the Honda Accord’s standout feature would be the presence of Honda Sensing. Honda’s suite of forward-based advanced driver-assist features includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and road departure mitigation. It also comes with that LaneWatch camera, but we still prefer rear radar-based systems such as blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.
Costing P2,288,000, the 2020 Honda Accord 1.5 EL Turbo is the most expensive among the executive sedan crop. While it does get the aforementioned Honda Sensing, it misses out on other luxury features that matter more to buyers in this segment, such as ventilated seats, a high-end sound system, two-person memory for the driver’s seat, and even a sunroof. Powertrain wise, the Accord isn’t up to par with what the turbocharged gasoline and diesel Mazda 6 models offer. And in terms of rear-seat amenities, it lacks what the primarily chauffeur-driven Camry provides.
As a whole, the 2020 Honda Accord 1.5 EL Turbo is decently specced, though it is a bit too expensive for some of the luxuries it lacks and the 1.5-liter turbo powertrain that isn’t the mightiest in its segment. What this new Accord does is blend two polar opposite traits from this segment and then mold it into one vehicle. Therefore, if it’s a combination of sportiness and comfort are what you’re looking for in an executive car, then the all-new Honda Accord might be for you.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★☆☆
Overall: 4.3 out of 5
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