2013 Honda Accord V6 Touring Road Test Review

Simon Hill - CAP staff
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Here's something unexpected and welcome: After some 35 years of production during which it grew consistently bigger from one generation to the next, eventually cracking the full-size barrier in North America with the eighth-generation model of 2008, the all-new ninth-generation 2013 Accord has reversed direction and gotten a little smaller. So the new Accord is, once more, a true mid-size contender.

The dimensional changes aren't massive: the sedan's wheelbase is down from 2,799 mm to 2,776, the overall length from 4,950 mm to 4,862, and the height from 1,476 mm to 1,466 while the width remains about the same at 1,849 mm. The overall effect, however, is quite pronounced and the new car looks decidedly sleeker and more carefully detailed than the outgoing model. Gone is the hard beltline crease and resultant slab-sided appearance, replaced by smoothly flowing lines, with a nicely upturned trunk edge and a soft beltline crease that fades out at the rear door handles. Jewel-like hexagonal headlight inserts add a nice touch of detail at the front end, while a clamshell-style hood design provides a wide, clean look. Taken as a whole the new car is by no means flashy or even particularly evocative, but the various subtle changes make it pleasing to the eye in a way the eighth-generation car never really was.

Inside, thanks to space-saving details like a sculpted headliner, the Accord remains amply roomy despite the nipping and tucking, and indeed the trunk is actually a bit bigger than before (although the trunk pass-through is rather small and the rear seatback only folds as a single piece, so if you are carrying long objects you can't accommodate any back-seat passengers). The real news is in the interior design and features, which are both markedly improved over the previous generation.

The new dash is a study in sophisticated simplicity, with a standard 8-inch multi-information display. My V6 Touring test car included a seven-speaker premium audio system with an intuitive touch-screen display, but I had a brief opportunity to experience a Sport-equipped model later in the week, and even without the touch screen, the audio interface is simplified and improved compared to previous Accords.

The interior design uses satin-finished metal accents to focus attention on the low, split-level centre stack, with controls nicely grouped by function. The previous generation's wide, four-dial instrument cluster is replaced by a more compact three-dial cluster that groups the fuel and temperature gauges into a single dial and includes glowing semi-circles around the speedometer that change from green to white depending on how economically (or not) you are driving. Materials are all more than up to snuff for the segment, with soft-touch surfaces everywhere they're called for, top-notch switchgear and excellent fit and finish.

With my V6 Touring test car's perforated leather seats, satellite navigation system, power moonroof, proximity entry, pushbutton start, LaneWatch blind spot display (which works like a backup camera for you right-hand blind spot when you turn on the signal lane), forward collision warning, auto-dimming rearview mirror and Homelink remote system, the overall interior ambience shares more in common with an entry-level luxury car than what one would normally expect in a mainstream family sedan, but in even lower trim levels the new Accord is surprisingly well featured.

All Accords now get a rearview camera, heated front seats, 8-way power driver's seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity, active noise cancellation, automatic headlights, exterior temperature indicator, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, remote entry and alloy wheels. Automatic dual-zone climate control is standard in all but the base model (it gets manually-controlled single-zone air conditioning), as are fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated power mirrors with built-in turn signals (the base car gets the heated mirrors, just not the built-in turn signals). Honda also seems to have focused some needed attention on the Bluetooth interface, because while I've had no luck connecting my Bluetooth phone to previous Honda products (the car would immediately disconnect the phone and start streaming Bluetooth audio instead), on this new model everything worked tickety-boo. Hurray! Now if Honda would only put a door on the cubby at the bottom of the console (the natural place to park expensive audio devices since the cubby sits by the standard-equipment USB and audio jacks) it would be perfect.

On the road, the V6 Touring delivers a very composed and refined ride, offering good levels of comfort without being mushy - indeed I found it pleasantly athletic feeling for such a comparatively large car. The big 3.5-litre 24-valve V6 is hooked up to a conventional 6-speed automatic and offers buckets of power when you open the taps (278 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque to be exact), launching the Accord from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds flat. Driven with a little more moderation it can achieve reasonably good highway mileage, although my best, at an indicated 7.9 L/100km, never matched the claimed highway rating of 5.7 L/100km. Around the city I found the V6's fuel economy hampered by its comparatively long warm-up time - in cold weather it starts blowing warm air into the cabin quickly enough, but I found it takes a good four or five kilometres of driving before it's warm enough to start averaging anything approximating its 9.7 L/100km city fuel consumption rating (I never saw less than 13 L/100km indicated during city driving).

So if you live in an outlying area and have a long commute (or if you take a lot of long road trips) the V6 might make sense, but for city-dwelling Canadians the 4-cylinder Touring model will likely prove powerful enough and much more economical (and a little special too, because you can't get the Touring trim with a 4-cylinder in the U.S.). The Accord Sport I experienced, which shares the same newly developed 185-horsepower 2.4-litre engine as the 4-cylinder Touring models, would quickly get its average below 10 L/100km in city driving. For the comfort and fuel economy conscious, the 4-cylinder is available with a CVT automatic for an additional $1,200 (as in the Sport model I tried), while for the more sport-oriented or budget-minded drivers it is also available with a 6-speed manual transmission, which to me sounds like just the ticket.

Price-wise, the 2013 Accord covers a broad spectrum. At the bottom of the range, a base Accord with the manual transmission goes for $25,630 including destination charges, while my top-of-the-range V6 Touring test car carries a suggested retail price of $36,930, destination in. By comparison the Toyota Camry ranges from $25,265 to $35,265, the Hyundai Sonata from $25,564 to $32,964, the Chevrolet Malibu from $26,495 to $34,040 and the Ford Fusion from $24,049 to $37,049 (all prices including destination fees).

With all the right features and competitive pricing, this certainly means the Accord remains a must-see contender for those shopping for a mid-size family sedan.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Honda, 2013, Accord, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Midsize,

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