It reels the younger crowd that’s entering the next stages of life with the available manual transmission.
For the better part of four decades, Honda’s Accord has been a staple in many houses worldwide. The ninth-generation car, new to Canada for 2013, is quite possibly the best one yet, and has been met with tremendous sales success over this period. 2016 reflected a mid-cycle refresh for this car, a more significant one than we had anticipated, and solved a lot of qualms we experienced with the 2013-2015 model. We were sent a 2016 Honda Accord Touring for a weekend road trip to Montréal, and to put it through the paces as a midsized family sedan.
First off – I wasn’t initially a fan of the new fascia on the ’16 Accord. As the owner of a 2010 model, I thought the new grille and headlights looked way too close to the Hybrid model (reviewed here). However, the subtle accent changes, new wheel designs, and smoked taillights are on point. As this car has been on the road for just over a year now, the styling has grown on me and it’s a well-proportioned sedan, unquestionably attractive and sure to maintain loyalty from longtime customers and earn the respect of new ones. I must emphasize just how nice the 19” alloy wheels look, setting everything off nicely.
The Accord’s competition is fierce, with established examples like the Mazda6 (reviewed here), Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu having gone under the knife recently. I consider the Mazda6 to sit at the top of the pack right now, tied with the Accord and followed very closely by the Kia Optima (reviewed here). The Accord offers exceptional powertrain refinement, along with stellar interior features regardless of trim level, and a price point that’s aggressive enough to be compelling. The Camry is a pleasant choice that we’ve seen grow in popularity and refinement over the years, but the current one is due for a replacement next year.
Our Accord test vehicle was the Touring trim, which is the most luxurious (and most expensive) model one can opt for. Available in both four and six-cylinder models, the Touring adds the aforementioned 19” wheels, i-MID infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity/navigation/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, heated front and rear leather seats, wireless charging pad for smartphones, Honda Sensing tech, leather interior, LED headlights and taillights, and a sunroof. At $32,990, it’s a bit more than the $24,150 LX sedan, but the array of standard features on board make the price palatable.
Interior accommodations are top notch, and as usual, Honda’s ergonomics are spectacular. The ten-way power driver’s seat combined with tilt/telescope steering wheel makes it very easy to arrive at the ideal driving position. Materials are decent too, with good quality leather upholstery on the seats, door panels and steering wheel. The main i-MID screen is lacking in quality and feels a little bit dated, but the smaller one for navigation and smartphone connectivity is good, and responsive to touch. Matte finish means the screen is easy to read even in direct sunlight, and repels fingerprints decently well.
Honda Sensing is a suite of safety technology that is now available in the majority of Accord models, and slowly making its way into Honda’s entire lineup. Here, it incorporates a series of collision prevention/driver assist features, like Collision Mitigating Braking (CMBS), Lane Keep Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Combining LKAS with ACC actually makes for some semi autonomous ability, but rather than keep the car centered like some other manufacturers offer, the Honda has a bit of a ping-pong ball effect where it bounces between lane markers. This of course is solely an emergency tool and LKAS shouldn’t be relied on to steer the car.
Though also available with the Earth Dreams V6, we opted to test the Accord that the majority of customers will buy. This means it packs the 2.4L inline four-cylinder with direct injection and high compression. Horsepower is 185 at 6,400RPM, and torque is 181 lb-ft at 3,900RPM. The CVT transmission is something Honda does very well, as “shifts” in the Sport setting are actually simulated quite well. In normal everyday driving, the transmission doesn’t struggle to get the car going, and power delivery is smooth. The engine is very, very responsive and purely reflective of Honda’s dedication to building cars that are thoroughly fun to drive.
The last time I drove a fully loaded Mazda6, I went on and on about how it’s the only car in its segment that couples the top trim model with a six-speed manual transmission. Honda fans can rejoice, because the stick shift (reviewed here) can now be had in the Touring trim. Even though our car was not equipped with it, we have tested this transmission and it’s just as good as we anticipated it to be. Those interested in opting for this should act fast, because as we know, the third pedal is slowly but surely on its way to extinction. V6 sedan models don’t get a CVT or a manual – a six-speed automatic is the only available choice there.
One thing I observed on my long trip with the Accord is just how good the ride quality is. It’s a bit firmer than the Camry and Optima (reviewed here), but it’s by no means harsh and is reflective of the car’s sporty personality. The steering, while electrically assisted, has good feel and, like a Honda, is effortless at both parking lot speeds as well as decent on-center at higher speeds. Even as a first car for young families or new drivers, the Accord is a sensational choice. After hours and hours behind the wheel, I didn’t feel any fatigue and was refreshed upon getting out.
Honda rates the four-cylinder Touring with the CVT at 8.6L/100km in the city, and 6.4L/100km on the highway, for a combined rating of 7.6L/100km. We actually used the car for some daily commuting throughout the week before gallivanting off for a weekend away, and in town the Accord effortlessly stayed under the 7.5L/100km mark. On the longer highway haul, economy improved significantly and 6.2L/100km was the observed average. The 65L fuel tank is average for the segment, but its size and our economy meant in theory, 1000km could be achieved on a single tank. Despite the high compression on the engine, Honda only recommends 87-octane regular fuel for the Accord.
Some other rivals, such as the Subaru Legacy (reviewed here), offer advantages like all-wheel-drive, but no one offers the complete package like Honda. The 2016 Honda Accord is a butter smooth, fantastic choice in its class that has a proven reputation for reliability. It’s able to reel in the younger enthusiast crowd that’s entering the next stages of life with the available manual transmission and solid aftermarket, not to mention the plethora of Genuine Honda Accessories available at the dealer level. It’s no surprise that global sales are increasing every year, because not only is the Accord at the top of its class, it’s a lifestyle.