2013 Honda Accord

YPSILANTI, Mich. — The common belief is “the third time’s the charm.” If that’s the case imagine how charming the 2013 Honda Accord must be, being the ninth generation of this venerable nameplate. Accord is the single most important car in the Honda lineup so getting it right isn’t just a goal; it’s an imperative. Furthermore, Honda is celebrating the 30th anniversary of building Accords in Ohio.

Standard bearers like Accord and its chief rivals Camry, Sonata, Fusion and Altima often are accused of being “vanilla cars.” They’re highly dependable but if somebody crane’s their neck to look at one it’s because they’re probably trying to work out a kink.

Not the case anymore as far as the 2013 Accord is concerned. It’s all-new, more luxurious, more sophisticated, better performing and better equipped than any Accord in its 37-year history. Though slightly shorter in wheelbase and exterior length, interior improvements have provided more legroom and trunk volume. 

The 2013 Accord comes as either a sedan or coupe. Later it will be adding a plug-in hybrid as a 2014 model. The grille has the Honda familial appearance that resembles a stylish Honda Pilot. The side view is really slick with its rakish, nose-down stance and pronounced beltline, both upper and lower. Wheel well flares enhance the styling and the sweeping, wraparound taillamps. Underneath the lower, rear fascia is either a single, pronounced chrome exhaust extension or duals, depending on the engine. Accord also has LED daylight running lights and LED brake lights.

The new Accord seems to have a trim level for everyone. The 4-door is available in six and the coupe in four trims.

The new Accord offers two improved 4-cylinder and a V-6 engine — all making substantial gains in fuel efficiency. The new direct-injected 2.4L i-VTEC inline 4-cylinder powerplant is the base Accord engine, offering 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. (Its horsepower is improved 4% and torque is up 12% from its predecessor.)

The Sport model is equipped with a189-horsepower 4-cylinder that has 182 pound-feet of torque. The other engine choice is a 278-horsepower, 252 pound-feet of torque SOHC i-VTEC V-6 that’s available on the EX-L V6 and Touring sedans and the EX-L V6 coupes.

There’s a trio of transmissions. All 4-cylinder engines with automatic transmissions are equipped with Honda’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Of all the CVTs I’ve driven there are either good ones or not-so-good ones — no in-between. Honda’s is a good one.

Often times it sounds like CVTs strain to find an acceptable rpm. Not this one. Another plus is the new CVT contributes to a 10% greater overall fuel efficiency when compared to the prior 5-speed automatic transmission. A new 6-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX, Sport and EX 4-cylinder sedans and standard on LX-S and EX Coupes.

The EX-L V6 Coupe is available with a unique 6-speed manual that has closely-spaced gear ratios and a short-throw shifter. A reverse lockout feature prevents the transmission from accidentally being shifted into reverse while the car is moving.

I’ve had…er…I mean my Uncle Barney had this happen quite often and besides possible harm to the gears it’s embarrassing as well. I hated…I mean my Uncle Barney always hated the smirks of those who heard the gears grinding like a jackhammer being used in a deep, underground coal mine.

Ride and handling of the new Accord is outstanding. It definitely fits into the category of an “all-day car," meaning you could spend the day driving or riding and still not be tired.

An all-new chassis, a new steel and aluminum front subframe, new electric power steering, Active Noise Control and Active Sound Control counteract engine noise and help create a more linear and sophisticated high-rpm engine note. Alloy wheels are standard on every Accord and range in size from 16-inch to 18-inch.

There’s a new piece of safety technology that just blew me away. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) that alerts the driver through sensors alongside the vehicle when other cars or trucks are in the blind spots on the left or right of the vehicle.

Some of these systems beep, but most display an amber light in the outside rearview mirror. Honda’s new system called LaneWatch Blind Spot Display (standard on EX, EX-L and Touring sedan models and EX-L Coupe) uses a camera positioned below the passenger-side exterior mirror to display a wide-angle view of the passenger side roadway on the intelligent Multi-Information Display.

The image appears when the right turn signal is activated or when a button at the end of the turn signal stalk is pressed. The field of view from LaneWatch is four times greater (80 degrees) than the typical field of view. It helps the driver see traffic as well as pedestrians and other objects in the vehicle’s blind spot. Awesome! For some reason, however, Honda chose not to equip the driver’s side with either the same technology or at the least, the usual indicators of current BLIS installations.

As mentioned earlier, a completely new interior was designed for the 2013 Accord. It’s available in black, gray and ivory. There actually is comfort for five passengers. The seats are extremely pleasing and hold the driver solidly. Lots of front AND rear legroom (42.5 inches/38.5 inches).

The instrument panel contains a pair of large, circular dials and the information they display can be easily read from the passenger’s side as well. Among new interior technology is “Intelligent” Multi-Information Display (i-MID), standard Bluetooth HandsFreeLink with audio streaming, touch screen audio, standard dual-zone automatic climate control, standard rearview camera with guidelines, Available Adaptive Cruise Control and a pile of other goodies. Audiophiles are accommodated by a very good standard system and an even better optional one.

Another appreciated feature is the amount of redundant controls that are located on the steering wheel, which is also adjustable telescopically with tilt function. There’s a lot of available storage space and it all backs up to a large cargo volume of 15.8 cubic feet for the sedan and 13.7 cubic feet for the coupe.

Fuel economy is in the ballpark; City/Highway/Combined figures for the I-4 with CVT is 26/29/35; with the six-speed manual it’s 24/28/34; the V6 w/6AT is 21/25/32; and finally the V6 w/6MT is 18/22/28. Pricing is also buyer-friendly when considering what the costs include. MSRP for the sedan starts at $21,680 for the 4-cylinder w/6-speed MT and works its way through the field to $33,430 for the Accord Touring V-6 with automatic transmission.

Coupe pricing begins at $23,350 for the LX-S w/MT and goes up to $32,350 for the Accord EX-L Navi V-6 w/automatic. Destination and handling add another $790 to all prices shown.

Honda hasn’t really bet the farm developing the all-new 2013 Accord because through eight previous generations the model has proven to be a winner. But there’s always that apprehension that goes with bringing a new vehicle to market.

With 1.3 million units from the Honda brand sold in the U.S. this past year I’d say the track record brings with it a high-degree of aid and comfort. 

— Al Vinikour