The Truth About Cars » mid-size cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:20:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » mid-size cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Ford Fusion Rides Coastal Wave To Sales Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ford-fusion-rides-coastal-wave-to-sales-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ford-fusion-rides-coastal-wave-to-sales-success/#comments Mon, 18 Nov 2013 14:48:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=654218 From the neon-drenched beaches of Miami and the hipster enclaves in New York, to the high-tech castles in San Francisco and the studio lots of Hollywood, the Ford Fusion is experiencing a coastal market surge in popularity. Nationwide, sales of the Aston Martin-esque Fusion made up 71 percent of all sales for the Blue Oval […]

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2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

From the neon-drenched beaches of Miami and the hipster enclaves in New York, to the high-tech castles in San Francisco and the studio lots of Hollywood, the Ford Fusion is experiencing a coastal market surge in popularity.

Nationwide, sales of the Aston Martin-esque Fusion made up 71 percent of all sales for the Blue Oval last month, with huge gains found on the East and West coasts ranging from 62 percent in Miami to 77 percent in Los Angeles.

The reason? Style, style, style. Aside from goodies such as touchscreen and voice-activated controls and various types of horsepower under the hood, the Fusion’s luxury looks are attracting buyers who would normally be found shopping for clothes at Zara and smartphones at their nearest Apple Store. Further, some of these same buyers are trading in their Toyotas and Hondas just to be seen in something hipper than a cheap toaster, a fact not lost on Ford.

Thus, the automaker opened a second factory to meet demand in Flat Rock, Mich. this past August, allowing for more than 400,000 Fusions to be screwed together annually while putting pressure on Toyota’s best-seller Camry, a title the latter has held for the past 11 years with 460,000 units made per year.

Paired with the decision by Consumer Reports last mont to strip the Camry of its recommended status due to failing new crash tests administered by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the Fusion could claim 12 percent of the mid-sized car market by the end of 2013 according to analysts at LMC Automotive, up from 10 percent a year ago.

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Cain’s Segments, November 2013: Compact Vs. Mid-Size Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/cains-segments-november-2013-compact-vs-mid-size-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/cains-segments-november-2013-compact-vs-mid-size-cars/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 18:57:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=648338 Four months ago, when we last looked into the U.S. compact car sales battle, the Toyota Corolla (including the Matrix hatchback offshoot with which Toyota combines Corolla sales figures) was the class leader. Yet the expiring Corolla’s lead over the Honda Civic was slim, and it didn’t seem promising. Indeed, through ten months, the best-selling […]

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TTAC_compact-chart-October-2013

Four months ago, when we last looked into the U.S. compact car sales battle, the Toyota Corolla (including the Matrix hatchback offshoot with which Toyota combines Corolla sales figures) was the class leader. Yet the expiring Corolla’s lead over the Honda Civic was slim, and it didn’t seem promising.

Indeed, through ten months, the best-selling compact car in America is the Honda Civic, not the Toyota Corolla. By the end of October, the Civic was America’s third-best-selling car, up from sixth at the halfway point.

Toyota’s Corolla is now 23,705 sales back of the increasingly popular Honda.

The Civic’s 10% year-over-year improvement through the end of October comes on the heels of a year in which Civic sales rose to their highest level since 2008. Honda may not be commanding absurd transaction prices, and they may be competing with the same kinds of incentives used by other automakers, but that doesn’t change the outright number of Civics that are currently being sold.

The Civic outsold Honda’s top seller, the Accord, in the months of July, August, and October. Accord sales were down 0.5% over the last four months as Civic volume jumped 25% to 122,185 units, 1781 more than what Honda managed with the Accord.

By those measurements, the Honda Civic seems to be the dominant small car in the United States. Through six months, 13.5% of the sales generated by the cars we showed in the compact table were Civic-derived, a figure which has risen to 14.6% through ten months.

But you can do math just as well as Dave in accounting. If fewer than 15% of of compact car buyers are choosing the Civic then most compact car buyers, more than 85% of them, are choosing something other than the Civic.

There certainly is a dominant group of small cars. The Civic, Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Jetta, and Nissan Sentra – the seven compacts which have attracted at least 100,000 buyers so far this year – produce 73% of the compact category’s U.S. sales.

Although October was a particularly poor month for compact car sales in America, the category has certainly punched beyond its weight category over the course of 2013. Automotive News says car sales are up just 5% this year even as the overall auto industry has grown 8.2%. Yet compact sales are up 6.6%.

The segment has been pushed forward most especially by the Dodge Dart, which has contributed 46,630 more sales than Dodge compacts did last year, and by the Hyundai Elantra’s 25% year-over-year improvement, equal to 42,382 extra sales. Declines among compacts were most notable at Kia, Mazda, and Volkswagen.

If we define the compact segment’s borders in a stricter fashion, compact growth still appeared slow in October, yet healthy through ten months. Exclude the Suzuki SX4, two Scions, Nissan’s Cube, and the Kia Soul and compact sales rose 0.8% in October; 8.1% year-to-date. Exclude those cars plus the defunct Dodge Caliber and compact sales were up 0.9% in October; 8.2% year-to-date. Exclude the aforementioned cars and the premium-leaning Acura ILX and Buick Verano and compact car sales rose 0.7% to 143,475 units in October; 7.9% to 1,732,330 year-to-date.

Auto
October
2013
October
2012
%
Change
10
mos.
2013
10
mos.
2012
%
Change
Acura ILX
2005
1529 + 31.1% 17,275 7658 + 126%
Buick Verano
3306
3502 - 5.6% 39,874 32,648 + 22.1%
Chevrolet Cruze
16,087
19,121 -15.9% 211,862 199,721 + 6.1%
Dodge Caliber
92 - 100% 45 10,113 - 99.6%
Dodge Dart
5617
5455 + 3.0% 71,453 14,710 + 386%
Ford Focus
15,108
18,320 - 17.5% 203,762 205,006 - 0.6%
Honda Civic
27,328
20,687 + 32.1% 280,889 254,716 + 10.3%
Hyundai Elantra
14,876
14,512 + 2.5% 209,469 167,087 + 25.4%
Kia Forte
4706
5911 - 20.4% 57,421 67,139 - 14.5%
Kia Soul
8240
7988 + 3.2% 98,864 101,344 - 2.4%
Mazda 3
7674
9518 - 19.4% 89,288 103,223 - 13.5%
Mitsubishi Lancer
1161
1256 - 7.6% 16,581 14,024 + 18.2%
Nissan Cube
297
475 - 37.5% 4719 6287 - 24.9%
Nissan Sentra
8399
5624 + 49.3% 106,680 91,464 + 16.6%
Scion xB
1246
1463 - 14.8% 15,238 17,055 - 10.7%
Scion xD
716
855 - 16.3% 7676 9280 - 17.3%
Subaru Impreza
4923
4738 + 3.9% 64,922 68,389 - 5.1%
Suzuki SX4
1072 - 100% 2859 10,633 - 73.1%
Toyota Corolla/Matrix
23,637
20,949 + 12.8% 257,184 243,652 + 5.6%
Volkswagen Golf
2249
2914 - 22.8% 26,836 35,322 - 24.0%
Volkswagen Jetta
11,710
13,476 - 13.1% 135,983 140,504 - 3.2%
Total
159,285
159,457 - 0.1% 1,918,880 1,799,975 + 6.6%

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Review: 2013 Honda Accord EX (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/review-2013-honda-accord-ex-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/review-2013-honda-accord-ex-video/#comments Fri, 10 May 2013 17:10:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487583   Our last look at the Accord was back in September when we ran a two-parter (part 1, part 2) after being invited to the launch event. Yes, shockingly our invite wasn’t lost in the mail. As TTAC has said in the past, there are problems with launch events. Usually you’re running around in a […]

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2013 Honda Accord EX, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesOur last look at the Accord was back in September when we ran a two-parter (part 1, part 2) after being invited to the launch event. Yes, shockingly our invite wasn’t lost in the mail. As TTAC has said in the past, there are problems with launch events. Usually you’re running around in a pre-production car that may not be “quite right” yet, you have to split your driving time with some dude from another publication (shout out to Hooniverse on that trip).  Drive time is limited, and exclusively done on roads selected by the manufacturer. Sometimes you don’t get the trim level you want either. What I wanted was one step up from the base model, the mainstream EX and I wanted it on the same roads I’ve driven the other Camcord competitors. Here’s that review.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Honda has long been known as a serious kind of car company. Press events are orderly, the Honda folks wear suits and their products are similarly starched. While we have a new corporate nose up front with a chrome “smiley” face and aggressive headlamps, the rest of the profile is buttoned up and professional. The large (and low) greenhouse says “I have kids,” an image that Honda has been embracing with their latest commercials, essentially admitting they are leaving descriptives like “sexy” and “dramatic” to Hyundai and Ford. I have to admit I am quite torn, I love the Fusion’s sexy sheetmetal making it my first pick in terms of looks, but oddly enough the “plain Jane” Accord is number two for me because it’s simple clean. The new Kia Optima is a very, very close third thanks its nose job for 2014. I’m not convinced that the Camry’s nose or the Sonata’s dramatic character lines will age well, let me know what you think in the comment section. Something important to keep in mind is the Accord has bucked the growth trend and has shrunk on the outside compared to the previous generation making it among the smallest in this segment. Good if you live in the city, bad if you were hoping for a Honda land yacht.

Typical for Honda, the Accord has no factory installed options to choose from, you simply pick your trim: LX, EX, Sport EX-L, or Touring. LX, EX and Sport models can be had with a manual or a CVT while EX-L and Touring models are CVT only with the four cylinder and auto only with the V6. Aside from the lack of fog lights in the LX and a tiny bit of black trim on the LX and EX models, the only visual clues to which Accord you’re driving are the wheels and exhaust tips. When it comes to sleepers, there’s nothing that fits that description like an Accord.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

Honda’s interiors have long been known for their simple functionality rather than opulence or elegance and Honda is still singing the same tune. Despite being an all-new model for 2013, Honda hasn’t radically changed the interior design, opting instead for incremental improvements and more standard features. All Accords now get standard dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone integration, a backup cam and active noise cancellation. Honda seems to have listened to the complaints from reviewers and customers and took a methodical and dedicated approach to making the Accord quieter on the road. In addition to the fancy noise cancelling software, there’s more foam, more carpet and a one-piece dash designed to prevent squeaks later in life.

Honda’s seat engineers seem to be designing seats specifically for my back lately. The Accord and the refreshed Civic both sport supportive seats that coddled by back and backside on long journeys. There is a caution I must toss in however, the lumbar support in Sport, EX and LX models is fixed and pronounced. If you need some adjustability in your back support, you’ll need to step up to a leather model to get it. 2013 has brought a raft of materials improvements to the Accord cabin from improved seat fabrics to more squishy dash bits and the ever-so-popular stitched pleather. Thankfully Honda spares potential owners the shame of faux wood trim, instead opting for a modern brown pattern that I found attractive. The trim and the style are not as stylized or futuristic as the competition, but controls are easy to locate, and consistent in their high quality feel.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Interior, Dashboard Trim, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Thanks to the Accord’s upright profile, getting in and out of the back seats is an easy task, something I can’t say of the Fusion. Once inside the height pays further dividends with more headroom than the coupé-like competitors. Despite being smaller on the outside and having a smaller wheelbase than the outgoing model, legroom is up by a welcome 1.3 inches in the rear and the trunk has grown to a [finally] competitive 13.7 cubic feet. On the down side, Honda forgot that sometimes people need to carry large items and three people, not possible in the Accord if you fold down the rear seat since it folds as a single unit.

Even base model Accords are well equipped with dual-zone climate control, auto headlamps, cruise control, backup camera, and a one-touch up/down window for the driver. Because of the comfortable seats and high level of standard gadgets, the Accord is the poster child of “easy to live with” like that comfortable sweatshirt.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Radio Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

Honda’s relentless drive to streamline options means a high level of standard tech on the Accord. All Accords get an 8-inch high-res screen in the middle of the dash, Bluetooth integration for speakerphone and audio, iDevice/USB interface, Pandora internet radio app integration and SMS messaging features if your smartphone supports it. (At the time of our drive, Pandora radio is restricted to Apple iDevices and SMS messaging to Android devices, Honda giveth and taketh away.)

Browsing the lots of my nearest Honda dealers, it seems the EX and EX-L models account for the bulk of purchases and lot space, not surprising since they straddle the middle in terms of price from $24,605 for a manual EX to $32,070 foe an EX-L V6. All EX models get keyless entry/go, Honda’s up-level audio system and their Lane Watch blind-spot viewing system. (Trust me, LW is more exciting than it sounds). Stepping up to the EX-L model or above gets you a higher resolution 8-inch screen and a 5-inch touchscreen LCD in the center of the dash that acts as the primary audio control interface. The addition of the second display allows you to see some audio information at the same time as the 8-inch display either shows you the navigation screen (if you’ve opted for it) or some other information source. Want to know more? Check out that video above.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Engine 2.4L EarthDreams Direct-Injection I4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain

I know we’re here to dream of EarthDreams (which is quite possibly the worst thing anyone has ever named an engine family), but we should start out with that optional V6.  As before the V6 has cylinder deactivation tech, but Honda decided that the old system which would cut out 2 or 3 cylinders depending on the load was more trouble than it was worth, so for 2013 the V6 will only drop to 3 cylinders but the range of operation has been expanded. Thanks to the tweaks and a new 6-speed automatic, the V6 is good for 278HP and 252 lb-ft of torque while delivering 21/34MPG. The V6 has a well-tuned exhaust note and scoots to 60 in the same 6.2 seconds that the Altima 3.5 managed, but the Accord lags the Altima in real-world fuel economy by 3 MPG. This isn’t the engine you want.

What piqued my interest at the launch event was Honda’s new 2.4L direct-injection four cylinder engine. The engine and new CVT turned my impression of the Accord on its head. The engine’s 185HP still arrive at a very-Honda high RPM of 6,500, but thanks to the direct-injection sauce torque jumps to a [nearly] HP matching 181 lb-ft with a strong pull from idle and a peak at a decidedly un-Honda 3,900RPM. If you choose the 6-speed manual, you no longer have to rev the nuts off the engine to get the Accord in motion. Most shoppers however will findP a Continuously Variable Transmission under their Accord’s hood, although they may not even notice. Why? This is quite possibly the world’s best CVT.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Fuel Economy, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Yes, I know I have a rep for the love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name, but I have my reasons for liking a CVT: fuel economy, mountain climbing, and maximizing acceleration in underpowered cars like the 107HP Versa. This CVT is actually pleasant to drive. I’m not sure how the boffins managed it, but Honda’s new CVT switches ratios quickly and crisply with a feel that is so close to a standard automatic the average person might not be able to tell the difference. If you have driven a Nissan with a CVT, you get what some call a “rubber band” feeling that pressing the throttle gets instant response but builds, levels, then after you release the throttle it takes a while for the engine to “return” to a dull roar.

The Accord on the other hand has the feeling of a downshift where the engine shifts to a high RPM almost immediately, then like a normal CVT, stays there while you accelerate and when you lift it drops rapidly like a normal transmission upshifting. Passengers in the car were confused, some thought they detected shifts and thought it was an auto, while a few realized it was just a good CVT. This is as it should be. If you need another reason to give the CVT a shot, the 27 city, 36 highway and 30 combined MPG rating should make a believer out of you. In my mixed driving I averaged a stout 32.5 MPG. If you absolutely must have the manual, you’ll be limited to four-cylinder LX, EX and Sport models (the V6/MT combo is Accord coupé specific). The manual will save you $1,200 at the register but cost you more at the pump with fuel economy dropping to 24/34 and in my testing the combined number was some 5MPG lower than the CVT.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The Accord has long been known for its double wishbone front suspension, a design that some prefer because of increasing negative camber gain as the suspension reaches the end of travel. On the downside it’s heavier, more expensive and according to Honda contributed to the NVH that owners and reviewers whined about. What does that have to do with anything? The wishbone is gone, replaced by a MacPherson strut arrangement like just about every other FWD car in the USA. Does it matter? Not really, most people would be hard pressed to tell the difference since the Accord is hardly a track day car. Or is it?

The mid-size sedan is the ultimate comprise car, just watch a sedan add some time. They are supposed to schlep the kids to daycare and then carve that canyon on your way to your impressive day job where everyone congratulates you on making the smart decision to buy the family car instead of the Mercedes roadster. Truth be told, any mid-size sedan carves corners with shocking aplomb, holds at least two car seats with ease, looks good enough to valet park and manages to keep from breaking the bank. You know, except for that Dodge Avenger I’m trying to forget. But I digress.

2013 Honda Accord EX, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda made a big deal out of the weight reduction at the launch event, but in truth the 3,336lb curb weight merely represents a tend in the right direction and lands the Accord in the middle of the fray. What is different is how Honda chose to tune the Accord. Out on the road the steering is moderately heavy with a hint of feedback (more than can be said for most sedans these days) and the suspension is firm for a family car. The combination create a feel that I would almost describe as “Germanic,” something that paradoxically cannot be said of the latest Passat. When the feel and suspension are mated with 215/55R17 rubber on the EX and EX-L models, the Accord can dance with the best of the competition. The Sport model’s 235 width tires might sound attractive but beware, the rubber is bundled with new steering stops that increase the turning circle from good to enormous. My suggestion would be to buy a regular model, jump to 225s and deal with the occasional rubbing.

Thanks to a combination of excellent road manners, a surprisingly quick 6.8 second jump to 60 and the best mid-sized non-hybrid/non-diesel fuel economy we have tested so far and the Accord EX becomes my favorite four-cylinder mid-size sedan. It’s not as sexy as the Fusion, but it’s cheaper by a nose, more exciting than a Camry, more mainstream than a Kia or Hyundai (yes, I did use that as a factor because you know shoppers will) and statistically more reliable than some of the other options on the road. There’s always a “but” and here it is: the Altima 3.5 starts at $25,760, weighs the same as the four-cylinder Accord, clears 60 in 5.5 seconds and averaged a shocking (and totally worth it) 27.6 MPG during our week.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • The best CVT ever created.
  • Our average fuel economy was only 1MPG lower than a Civic.
  • Excellent chassis dynamics.

Quit it

  • Lane Watch is as gimmicky as it sounds.
  • You have to upgrade to the EX-L to avoid the urethane steering wheel.
  • I still don’t understand the split screen radio/nav situation. Someone explain that to me over a beer.

 

 Honda provided the vehicle, insurance and gas for this review

Specifications as tested

 0-30: 2.8 Seconds

0-60: 6.83 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.25 Seconds @ 93 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 32.5MPG over 659 miles

2013 Honda Accord EX 2013 Honda Accord EX-001 2013 Honda Accord EX-002 2013 Honda Accord EX-003 2013 Honda Accord EX-004 2013 Honda Accord EX, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-006 2013 Honda Accord EX-007 2013 Honda Accord EX, Grille, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-010 2013 Honda Accord EX, Interior, Dashboard Trim, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX, Radio Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-013 2013 Honda Accord EX-014 2013 Honda Accord EX-015 2013 Honda Accord EX-016 2013 Honda Accord EX-017 2013 Honda Accord EX-018 2013 Honda Accord EX-019 2013 Honda Accord EX, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-021 2013 Honda Accord EX-022 2013 Honda Accord EX, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-024 2013 Honda Accord EX-025 2013 Honda Accord EX-026 2013 Honda Accord EX-027 2013 Honda Accord EX-028 2013 Honda Accord EX-029 2013 Honda Accord EX-030 2013 Honda Accord EX-031 2013 Honda Accord EX-032 2013 Honda Accord EX-033 2013 Honda Accord EX-034 2013 Honda Accord EX-035 2013 Honda Accord EX, Engine 2.4L EarthDreams Direct-Injection I4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-037

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Review: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-volvo-s60-t5-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-volvo-s60-t5-awd/#comments Sat, 06 Oct 2012 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462338 When Volvo introduced the S60 in 2011, the Swedes advertised their mid-sized sedan as the naughtiest Volvo ever thanks to a 300HP turbocharged engine. While I’m sure former “R owners” would disagree, the S60 has met with sales success with over 18,000 units sold so far this year, a 14% increase over last year. In […]

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When Volvo introduced the S60 in 2011, the Swedes advertised their mid-sized sedan as the naughtiest Volvo ever thanks to a 300HP turbocharged engine. While I’m sure former “R owners” would disagree, the S60 has met with sales success with over 18,000 units sold so far this year, a 14% increase over last year. In 2012 Volvo added a less powerful FWD model to the mix to cut the price of entry. For 2013 Volvo has further expanded the S60 line by adding a torque vectoring AWD system to the lightest S60. Volvo also tells us they have completely refreshed their T5 engine for 2013 and tweaked the transmission for the naughty Volvo’s first retouch ahead of the rumored 2014 refresh. Huh? Yep, Volvo’s gettin’ down with the yearly refresh. Does that make the T5 AWD the naughtiest Volvo ever? Let’s find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

From the outside, the S60’s sheet metal is a departure from Volvo’s traditional past, but still retains Volvo’s strong shoulders and something of the iconic Volvo two-box style. If it were not for the over-sized proboscis, the design might rival the original S80’s form for the most elegant Volvo ever penned, but as it is, passengers and observers were mostly undecided whether they liked the schnoz or the short trunk lid. Light pipes in the tail lamp modules, subtle swoops over the wheel arches, and a coupé-like C-pillar conspire to add a touch of modernity to the new S60. Polarizing style has never been a Volvo hallmark however and taken as a whole the new S60 is conservative luxurious rather than daring. As before, Volvo remains the Birkenstock to BMW’s Prada.


Interior

Birkenstocks are comfy. Prada? Hit and miss I’m told. And so it is with Volvo and BMW interiors. The S60 is only 3 years old, so aside from massaging color and trim options, the only substantive change is the new transparent shifter. I’m not quite clear what Volvo was trying to accomplish with the new lighted plastic knob. Whatever it was I’m not sure it worked. Still, the rest of the cabin is pure Scandinavian Chic from the soft dashboard to the floating center console and supremely comfortable seats. Despite lacking the range of motion that the competition affords (seriously, have you see the number of buttons on a BMW sport seat?), Volvo’s thrones continue to be the segment’s ergonomic benchmark. Helping keep the interior trendy interior is a new black/baseball glove color scheme. Volvo has also improved sound deadening materials to reduce both road and wind noise in the cabin.

Once upon a time Volvo’s sedans occupied a half-step between the C and D segment cars from the German competition. Fast forward to today and the 3-Series has caught up with the Swedes and the S60 and 328 are essentially the same size. The BMW’s dimension stretch pays dividends with two more inches of rear seat room, an important number because four six-foot-two adults fill the Swede to capacity.

Like many luxury cars in the industry, Volvo has taken to a coupé-like rear profile that reduces the trunk opening to more of a cargo slot. This problem isn’t unique to Volvo, but the opening is a hair smaller than the new 328i’s recently enlarged cargo hold. As with the S60 models we reviewed earlier, the T5 AWD continues to use trunk hinges that cut into the available trunk space as well as the opening.

Infotainment, Gadgets & Safety

Volvo’s Sensus system has been around for three years and continues to deliver a competitive experience in the segment. The 7-inch LCD is essentially the same size as other entries in this segment aside from BMW’s 3-series which brings an 8.8 inch display to the fight. While Volvo has fixed many of the glitches the original system suffered from, the system still does not allow for voice commanding your USB/iDevices like the latest Acura and Lexus systems. Still, the Germans haven’t figured this out yet either. Overall the system is more intuitive than COMAND and MMI, but not as snazzy as iDrive. While I’m complaining, Sensus lacks internet connectivity and App integration that MMI and iDrive sport. Does that matter? Probably not, but I’m sure someone cares.

On the gadget front, Volvo is touting their new full-range cruise control which will now take the S60 to a complete stop in heavy traffic and keep you stopped until traffic moves again. (You just press the resume button.) The system works extremely well and easily ties with Mercedes’ Distronic Plus as the most natural feeling radar system. Bundled with the optional ($2100) radar system is a collision warning system with tailgating alert, lane departure warning, road sign information and automatic high beams.

Volvo’s City Safety system is standard on all S60 models and uses a camera and laser scanner to watch traffic and pedestrians ahead of you. For 2013, the system is active up to 31MPH (up from 19MPH) to keep you from running down Jimmy on his way to school. While the system isn’t perfect, Volvo claims the Volvo models with the system is responsible for the S60 and XC60 being involved in some 25% fewer at-fault accidents than the competition.

Drivetrain

Volvo may have committed to an all four-banger future, but that hasn’t prevented them from face-lifting the trusty 2.5L 5 cylinder for 2013. Yes, you read that right, this is not the same 2.5L 5-cylinder engine under last year’s hood. To improve efficiency, Volvo increased the compression to 9.5:1, dropped in new pistons, a new crank, and revised the software. The result of the overhaul is a 1MPG bump in fuel economy, but more importantly, a new over-boost feature is along for the ride. While the performance figures (250HP at 5,500RPM and 266lb-ft of twist from 1,800-4,800RPM) are the same as before, overboost cranks the twist up to 295lb-ft for 10 seconds when you bury the throttle. In addition to the extra twist, Volvo tweaked the Aisin transmission’s software for faster and crisper shifts and now offers a $2,000 optional AWD system. The new engine and tweaks drop the FWD T5′s sprint to 60 by 2/10ths and allows the T5 AWD to hit the mark in 5.93, only 0.26 behind the T6 AWD.

Compared to the competition, the 5 cylinder’s 250HP class leading with Audi still using ye olde 211HP 2.0L TFSI and Mercedes’ new 1.8L turbo spooling up 201HP. It even compares well with BMW’s 240HP 2.0L turbo. (However, the 328i’s lighter weight and 8-speed transmission allow it to hit 60 0.17 seconds faster.) Volvo’s 5-cylinder produces a distinctly “dustbusterish” kind of sound that is less entry-level than a four-cylinder engine but not as refined as BMW’s sixes. BMW’s 2.0L may be the pinnacle of four-cylinder refinement but even it is not as smooth as Volvo’s 5-pot. Audi? The 2.0L engine sounds rough around the edges and the A4 transmits far more engine noise into the cabin than the BMW or Volvo.

Drive

We should get one thing straight right up front: no matter how many wheels get the power, little is going to make up for having 3/5ths of your weight on the front axle. While many reviews complain about the fact that the Audi A4′s engine is completely in-front of the front axle, it still has a better (54/46) weight balance than the S60 with the engine completely above the front axle. That being said, the S60′s chassis is well composed on all road surfaces and is perhaps one of the best FWD platforms currently on offer in America. Checking that AWD option box however turns the S60 into a different animal on the road delivering [literally] 96% of the performance of the S60 T6 for $6,700 less. In addition, putting the S60 on an engine diet means the T5 AWD weighs 200lbs less than the T6 AWD.

When the road bends, the S60 T5 surprises with more handling prowess than its front heavy numbers would indicate. The primary reasons are the 235-width tires and Volvo’s ABS system based torque vectoring software. Rather than using a limited slip differential, the Volvo system uses the ABS system to brake the inside wheels in corners to send power to the outside wheel. While the system is not as effective as the more expensive mechanical active diffs, it allows more rear end rotation than you would expect. The result is a car with extremely confident road manners in all driving situations. While the A4 can be more fun as it has a RWD bias, the A4 was less predictable and less composed on the back-country roads I frequent.

With a starting price of $33,750, the S60 T5 AWD is the bargain choice in this segment undercutting the A4 Quattro by $850 and the 328xi by $4,750. Adjusting for feature content, the S60 comes out further ahead at around $1,300 less than the Audi and between $4,200 and $5,800 less than the BMW (depending on content). Despite being the segment’s value choice, I’d call the S60 T5 AWD my second choice in this segment behind the 328i and ahead of the A4 Quattro. The BMW’s larger dimensions, sportier aspirations and impressive list of “techogadgetry” justify the 14% price jump in my mind. Audi’s rough and underpowered engine combined with their complicated MMI infotainment system help push the king of AWD one notch down below the confidant smooth S60. If value factors into your decision-making, then the S60 is about two paddle shifters and a 5% better weight balance away from perfection. Until then the 328i reins supreme in this segment, but the T5 AWD is an excellent option if you’re cheap like me.

 

Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 5.93 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.5 Seconds @ 95 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 26.5MPG over 895 miles

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear spoiler, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, gear shift, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, infotainment/HVAC controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, Sensus Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, Sensus Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, Sensus Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Engine, 2.5L 250HP I5, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Engine, 2.5L 250HP I5, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, T5 badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, tail light, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, front seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, cargo area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Interior, trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Pre-Production Review: 2013 Honda Accord – Part 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/pre-production-review-2013-honda-accord-part-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/pre-production-review-2013-honda-accord-part-2/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2012 13:55:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459369   Five days ago we released the first part of the 2013 Accord review. It’s not how we normally do things, but in order to get our hands on the second best-selling mid-size sedan in America we had to agree to keep you all in suspense. If you want to know about the new Accord’s […]

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Five days ago we released the first part of the 2013 Accord review. It’s not how we normally do things, but in order to get our hands on the second best-selling mid-size sedan in America we had to agree to keep you all in suspense. If you want to know about the new Accord’s drivetrain, interior and infotainment systems, click on over to part one and then head back here when you’re done. I promise we’ll wait for you.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Drive

The 2013 Accord is the first real foray into the CVT world for Honda. Yes, I know the Civic Hybrid and some GX models use a CVT, but they are low volume niche vehicles. Let me get one thing straight right off the bat. I love CVTs. The reason for my love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name, and the reason we find one under the hood of the new Accord is efficiency. For optimum efficiency, you want an engine to operate as close to its most efficient RPM as possible over a wide variety of speeds. For performance, you want to get the engine to its power band and keep it there as you accelerate. The problem of course has been that CVTs take a while to transition from one ratio to another which is a strange feeling if you are used to a transmission downshifting in milliseconds. Honda didn’t explain how, but somehow, the new Accord makes CVT ratio changes almost as fast as a traditional automatic. The difference behind the wheel is dramatic. If you are cruising at 60MPH and you “floor” a Nissan or Audi CVT, you get nothing for a moment, then the car starts to accelerate slowly while the tach rises. Once the tach reaches a certain point, you get maximum acceleration. Lifting the pedal produces a moment where you’re still accelerating as the CVT readjusts, then you’re back to normal. Performing the same maneuver in the Accord is more like an automatic in that the transmission shifts to a lower ratio very rapidly and returns to the higher ratio without the “rubber band” effect when you’re done passing. Compared to Honda’s 5 or 6 speed autos, I’d take the CVT any day.

From a stand still, the 185HP, 2.4L engine motivatess the Accord respectably thanks to its low-end torque (181lb-ft at 3,900RPM) and the new CVT. If you live in a mountainous area like I do, the CVT has another benefit; when hill climbing the CVT constantly varies the ratios, allowing you to keep a more consistent speed than with a traditional automatic. As much as I love a CVT, the manual transmission would be my personal preference. Available on the base, LX, Sport and EX trims, the 6-speed manual is a typical Honda close ratio manual that is skewed to the shorter end of the ratio scale for performance. The relatively low-end torque of the 2.4L engine seemed very “un-Honda” but is a welcome change. In true Honda fashion, the small four cylinder sounded perfectly happy to rev high and keep the fun going.

The 278HP, 3.5L V6 from last year is back with some tweaks to improve fuel economy. The exhaust is tuned toward a decidedly sporty note that was pleasant without being overbearing. Honda’s new 6-speed automatic sends power to the front wheels only meaning the V6 torque-steers with the best of them. The revised cylinder management system proved to be seamless and effective easily allowing the V6 sedan to average 35MPG on a 20 mile highway trip. On the flip side, the V6 lacks the low-end torque that the latest 2.0L turbos provide and Honda’s 6-speed auto isn’t the most responsive automatic. What could Honda do with a 2.0L direct injection turbo and their new CVT? Let’s hope we find out some day.

If road holding is your game, then the Sport model is for you, primarily because of the rubber choices. Most of our day was spent behind the wheel of the base LX model whose firm suspension seemed at odds with its road holding ability. When it came time to swap into an Accord Sport, the reason for the deficiency was obvious. Base Accords get 16-inch, 205-width 65-series rubber. EX and Touring Accords are fitted with 215/55E17s while sport models share the 235/45R18s with the V6 Accord Coupe. Despite the loss of the Accord’s double-wishbone suspension, the new Accord had no problems corner-carving like a solid alternative to the Mazda 6. Road noise has dropped compared to the outgoing Accord, but it is still above some of the competition. Despite the new active noise cancelling system, the Accord is still louder on the road than the Camry and the latest eerily quiet Buicks.

Drive – 2014 Accord Hybrid

Not due out until mid 2013, Honda allowed me a long drive in a prototype 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid. This new hybrid is a complete departure from everything that Honda has done in the past. Prior attempts at “hybridizing” the Accord were focused on adding some electric mojo to their V6 model for even more performance. This time around, Honda is aiming the Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid squarely at the Chevy Volt, Fusion Hybrid and Camry Hybrid and even the Toyota Prius.

The first thing to cover is the system’s operation. The Civic is often derided by Prius drivers because the engine can never be disconnected, so even in “EV mode”, the engine is spinning. The Accord takes this to the opposite extreme. Under 40 MPH, the engine is incapable of driving the car directly. At speeds below about 40MPH, motor two is driving the wheels drawing power from the lithium-ion battery pack or from the engine via motor one acting as a generator. At around 40MPH, the car may engage a clutch pack that directly connects motor one and motor two together allowing power to flow from the engine to the wheels. (Whether the car clutches the engine in or not depends on the battery’s state of charge). Once this clutch pack is connected the system is capable of delivering a combined power output of 196HP, and in EV mode it is limited to about 166HP.

If you’ve driven a Civic Hybrid, you know that the system is less than smooth from a wide variety of angles. Regenerative braking is grabby and strange, transitions between EV and hybrid modes are met with unrefined jerks and vibrations. Perhaps Honda’s biggest battle with the Accord will be in convincing shoppers to give the hybrid a chance. Honda’s larger traction motor and the ability to completely remove the engine from the drivetrain makes regenerative braking as smooth as any EV on the market. More surprising is the clutch engagement when the car enters hybrid mode. Despite my best attempts, the engagement was always perfectly seamless, making the Toyota Synergy Drive system seem rough in comparison. That’s something that cannot be said of the Infiniti M35h or the Hyundai/Kia hybrid system.

Out on the road the hybrid Accord drove more like the base LX model thanks to the low rolling resistance rubber and increased weight from the hybrid system. The suspension seemed to be tuned towards a softer ride than the other models -something I appreciated, if I can be candid for a moment. It wasn’t possible to get hard acceleration numbers for the Hybrid, but the “butt dyno” and the power figures indicate it should perform above the 2.4L and below the V6. I averaged a solid 42MPG in my 45-mile, hour long test drive of the Plug-In after the battery was exhausted.

 

Drive – Coupe

With the Solara gone from the market, the mid-sized volume coupé is a strange market to try to corner, but Honda is giving it the old college try. The Accord Coupé’s selling point is an enormous back seat. The back seat dimensions may make the coupé’s side profile a little unusual, but the increase in utility is impressive. Since the Coupé is only slightly shorter than the sedan with only a slight reduction in the wheelbase and just a few pounds shed, it drives pretty much like the sedan. The exception of course is the V6 model which can be equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Honda was cagey on what is different about the V6′s cog swapper, but the ratios seem to be different vs the four cylinder and the clutch action is firmer and more precise. If you’re going to opt for the coupé, keep in mind that aerodynamic differences reduce fuel economy numbers vs the sedan by 1-2MPG. In addition, the 6-speed manual equipped V6 looses the variable displacement system dropping highway economy by 6MPG to 28MPG. Oddly enough, I found the Accord sedan with the “Sport” package and the four cylinder engine to be a more enjoyable drive.

 

 

Honda has announced that the base LX model accord with the standard backup cam, 8-inch infotainment screen, 16-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone climate control will start at $21,640, or a modest $200 increase over 2012. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Touring model, which tosses in radar cruise control, LED headlamps, leather seats, dual exhaust, the V6, and all of Honda’s new active safety tech will set you back $33,430. Overall pricing is right in line with the competition, with the Hyundai/Kia ringing in lower and the Camry a bit more expensive if you account for the feature differences. Honda has yet to release pricing on the Accord Hybrid, but expect it to start around the same$27,500 neighborhood as the Camry and Fusion hybrids. Expect the plug in to command at least a $10,000 premium over the hybrid. It’s obvious that this 9th generation Accord has some serious competition ahead with the new Ford Fusion, but Honda hasn’t taken this lying down. The Accord has doubled down on interior comfort and value by jamming more electronic goodies in every model. Their new infotainment system is finally up to par being less attractive than MyTouch but far more responsive. Camry shoppers who are looking for something a bit more fun to drive would also do well to drop by the Honda dealer.

 

Honda paid for airfare and two nights at a swanky resort, travel expenses to the resort came out of my own pocket since I drove.

2013 Honda Accord Coupe 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-001 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-002 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-003 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-004 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-005 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-006 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-007 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-008 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-009 2013 Honda Accord Coupe-010 2013 Honda Accord 2013 Honda Accord-001 2013 Honda Accord-002 2013 Honda Accord-003 2013 Honda Accord-004 2013 Honda Accord-005 2013 Honda Accord-006 2013 Honda Accord-007 2013 Honda Accord-008 2013 Honda Accord-009 2013 Honda Accord-010 2013 Honda Accord-011 2013 Honda Accord-012 2013 Honda Accord-013 2013 Honda Accord-014 2013 Honda Accord-015 2013 Honda Accord-016 2013 Honda Accord-017 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord-019 2013 Honda Accord-020 2013 Honda Accord-021 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe 2014 Honda Accord PHEV 2014 Accord PHEV 2014 Accord PHEV 2014 Accord PHEV 2014 Honda Accord PHEV, Picture Courtesy of Honda America 2014 Honda Accord PHEV Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Pre-Production Review: 2013 Honda Accord, Part 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/pre-production-review-2013-honda-accord-part-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/pre-production-review-2013-honda-accord-part-1/#comments Wed, 05 Sep 2012 16:13:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458708 Redesigning the second best-selling midsize sedan in America is no easy task. It’s also one that doesn’t happen very often for fear of getting it wrong. Still, even with all the bad press the new Civic received, sales have been booming. By all appearances this has not made Honda sit on their hands however when […]

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Redesigning the second best-selling midsize sedan in America is no easy task. It’s also one that doesn’t happen very often for fear of getting it wrong. Still, even with all the bad press the new Civic received, sales have been booming. By all appearances this has not made Honda sit on their hands however when it came to the new Accord. Honda invited us to Santa Barbara to sample the all-new, smaller, 9th generation Honda Accord. This is a bold launch event with not just a new engine and transmission under the hood, but an all new hybrid technology on offer as well. If you want to know how it drives, or how much it costs, our Honda overlords have decreed our lips must be sealed until the 10th at 6AM Eastern. Set yourself a reminder then click-through the jump for part one.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The previous generation Accord suffered from some slightly cartoonish styling flairs, like “bulging” headlamps and a “Jaguaresque” sloping trunk. For 2013 Honda went back to a more traditional, some might even say sedate, exterior. In contrast to the swoopy styling from Hyundai and the “wannabe Camaro” tail on the Malibu, the Accord is simple and undeniably elegant. Compared to thew new Fusion, the Accord seems decidedly less sexy. In contrast to the other entries in this segment (apart from the Camry perhaps), the Accord is playing to the family demographic with low belt-lines for better visibility for kids and high roof lines for better headroom in the rear. There are of course the requisite minor front-end tweaks to the different Accord trim-lines for differentiation. Meanwhile, the all-new Hybrid accord wears a completely different, and strangely more aggressive front end with LED headlamps. While the sedate styling isn’t really news for Honda, the Accord’s dimensions are. Despite gaining both cargo and passenger room, the 9th generation Accord is nearly four inches shorter than last year and rides on a one-inch shorter wheelbase. Despite the right-sizing, suspension changes for 2013 result in a minor increase in turning circle to 38.1, notably larger than the Camry, Sonata, and even the Fusion.

As before the Accord will also be available as a large two-door coupé. Our time with the coupé was limited, but it impressed with an expansive trunk and rear seat. The options matrix is largely the same for the two-door Accord with the exception of the V6 and 6-speed manual combination which is exclusive to the coupé.

Interior

The interior of the Accord is likely to be its biggest selling point. Honda knows their audience well and it shows with a well featured, but simply laid out interior. For 2013 Honda hasn’t radically changed the interior design, opting instead for incremental improvements on the previous model. The new dashboard is soft touch and made out of one piece of plastic to reduce squeaks and rattles. The steering wheels have been redesigned for improved comfort and in most models are not trimmed in split grain leather worthy of Lexus. Joining these improvements is a much quieter cabin than before, a common complaint about the 2012 model. Honda achieved the quieter ride by not just adding more foam, but installing an active noise cancellation system in all Accord models. The system works much like the noise cancelling headphones you wear on an airplane.

As you would expect, seat comfort was excellent for my 6-foot, 190lb frame and thanks to a standard power driver’s seat and tilt/telescope steering wheel it was easy to find a comfortable seating position for a 2 hour drive. Also improved are the touch points on the dash, doors and center console to reduce fatigue on long journeys. Despite being smaller on the outside and having a smaller wheelbase than the outgoing model, legroom is up by a welcome 1.3 inches in the rear and the trunk has grown by 1.8 cubes to 13.7 total finally putting the Accord in line with the competition. Even base model Accords are well equipped with dual-zone climate control, auto headlamps, cruise control, backup camera, and a one-touch up/down window for the driver. Largely because of the comfortable seats and standard gadgets, “easy to live with” is a phrase that kept coming to mind.

 

Infotainment & Gadgets

The mid-sized sedan market is an interesting segment because shoppers want reliability and the latest gadgets, at bargain basement prices. Honda hasn’t announced pricing yet, but expect a hike of at least a few Benjamins on the base LX model. Countering the inevitable increase is a bevy of new standard equipment including an 8-inch infotainment screen with HondaLink. The new infotainment software is similar in function to Toyota’s Entune and Ford’s MyFordTouch systems allowing smartphone app integration and voice commands. Honda has also tossed in SMS text messaging integration for good measure. In an interesting twist the Pandora radio and a few other functions are restricted to Apple iDevices and SMS messaging to Android devices for the moment.

Stepping up to the EX model gets you Honda’s new “LaneWatch” system which puts a CCD camera in the side view mirror and displays your blind spot on the 8-inch infotainment screen. You also get keyless entry/go and a few more speakers.

Stepping up to the EX-L model or above gets you a higher resolution 8-inch screen and a 5-inch touchscreen LCD in the center of the dash that acts as the primary audio control interface. The addition of the second display allows you to see some audio information at the same time as the 8-inch display either shows you the navigation screen (if you’ve opted for it) or some other information source.

Honda’s new infotainment software is very responsive providing a sharp contrast to Ford’s sluggish touch screen interface. Compared to Toyota’s Entune system the Honda system is a little better thought out, more responsive and has a much larger library of voice commands. All three systems perform similarly when it comes to voice commanding tunes from your iDevices, USB thumb drive or (optional) hard drive music library. Of course the big news on the Honda front is that unlike Entune and MyTouch, HondaLink is standard.

Should your pockets know no depths, Honda will be happy to sell you the latest in driving aids like radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, LED headlamps and more.

Drivetrain

No all-new sedan would be complete without an all-new engine, and no all-new engine would be complete without an eco-friendly name and a new transmission. Enter the Honda Earth Dreams 2.4L four cylinder engine and Honda’s all-new CVT. While I’m still not clear what Earth Dreams is supposed to mean, the new mill’s numbers are what are important. As you would expect from a Honda engine, 185HP arrives at a lofty 6,500RPM. What you wouldn’t expect is 181-lbft of torque arriving at a low 3,900 RPM. Should you need some V6 love, the EX-L V6 and the new Touring model come with a lightly re-worked 3.5L V6, good for 278HP and 252lb-ft of twist. Like last year, the V6 continues to feature Honda’s “variable cylinder management” system which will turn off the rear bank of cylinders when cruising at highway speeds. Honda has tweaked the system for 2013 removing the four-cylinder mode and expanding the range that the three-cylinder mode operates in. While the new 2.4L engine can be mated to either the 6-speed manual or the new CVT, the V6 is only available with a new 6-speed automatic in the sedan while the 6-speed manual is available in the coupé. If fuel economy is what you need, the CVT is the best choice delivering 27 city, 36 highway. The 6-speed manual drops economy to 24/34 and the V6 is the thirstiest in the bunch at 21/34 with the 6-speed automatic.

All-new hybrid system

The previous Accord Hybrid was an odd duck. Instead of improving fuel economy, Honda used their IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system to improve performance. The system’s lack of electric only operation and 40% lower fuel economy than the Camry Hybrid made shoppers scratch their heads and buy something else before Honda euthanized the model in 2007. For 2013 Honda went back to the drawing board and created an entirely new hybrid system from the ground up. The system starts with a new 2.0L, 137HP four-cylinder engine that uses Honda’s VTEC system to switch between an Otto and an Atkinson profile making this the first engine I have ever  heard of capable of switching between these two cycles. The engine is directly connected to a motor/generator that is used to start the engine and generate power (motor one). Meanwhile, the wheels are connected via a reduction gearset to a 166HP electric motor (motor two).

If this setup sounds similar to the Volt, let me throw a wrench in here. The Volt is more like a Prius since they both use a planetary gearset as a power splitting device. The Accord does not have a planetary gearset at all. At speeds below about 40MPH, motor two is driving the wheels solo drawing power from either the lithium-ion battery pack or from the engine via motor one acting as a generator. As you accelerate, at around 40MPH, the car will engage a clutch pack that directly connects motor one and motor two together allowing power to flow directly from the engine to the wheels. Once this clutch pack is connected the system is capable of delivering a combined power output of 196HP.

Want to know how the Accord drives? Want to know how much it costs? Check back with TTAC on the 10th at 6AM Eastern time when the embargo lifts. (Oh, and we’ll have a video with more details then you’ll ever need about the Accord Hybrid)

 

Honda paid for airfare and two nights at a swanky resort, travel expenses to the resort came out of my own pocket since I drove.

 

2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Interior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Interior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Interior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, wheel, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, four cylinder engine, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, four cylinder engine, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Internal, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Internal, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, V6 engine, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, V6 Engine, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord, V6 engine, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, wheels, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, trunk, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, Exterior, Picture Courtesty of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Sedan, Picture Courtesy of Honda America 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Sedan, Picture Courtesy of Honda America 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Sedan, Picture Courtesy of Honda America 2013 Honda Accord PHEV 203 2013 Honda Accord PHEV drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Honda America Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Dodge Avenger Headed For Death Row? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/dodge-avenger-headed-for-death-row/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/dodge-avenger-headed-for-death-row/#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2012 21:51:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425890 Chrysler is facing a dilemma straight out of “Sophie’s Choice” – whether or not it should kill the wretched Dodge Avenger to help the marginally better Chrysler 200 thrive. But words straight from the mouth of Dodge boss Reid Bigland made it seem like it’s all but a done deal. Stating that “…Chrysler Group will likely […]

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Chrysler is facing a dilemma straight out of “Sophie’s Choice” – whether or not it should kill the wretched Dodge Avenger to help the marginally better Chrysler 200 thrive. But words straight from the mouth of Dodge boss Reid Bigland made it seem like it’s all but a done deal.

Stating that “…Chrysler Group will likely consolidate around one midsize car in the future,” Bigland essentially signed the Avenger’s death warrant while speaking to the media at the Detroit Auto Show. The introduction of the Dodge Dart, more appealing in practically every way than the Avenger, should expedite the process. Dodge sold 64,000 Avengers in 2011 while the 200 managed to shift roughly 89,000. Both models lagged far behind the #1 selling Toyota Camry, which sold 308,510 examples in 2011.

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NAIAS Preview: 2013 Ford Fusion Official Shots And Specs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/naias-preview-2013-ford-fusion-official-shots-and-specs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/naias-preview-2013-ford-fusion-official-shots-and-specs/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2012 04:39:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424825 Some of the commenters took me to task for what seemed to be undue praise for the 2013 Ford Fusion. So, without prejudice, here is the 2013 Ford Fusion and Ford Fusion Energi. The 2013 Fusion will be based on the same platform that underpins the Ford Mondeo. Three powertrains will be offered; a 2.5L […]

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Some of the commenters took me to task for what seemed to be undue praise for the 2013 Ford Fusion. So, without prejudice, here is the 2013 Ford Fusion and Ford Fusion Energi.

The 2013 Fusion will be based on the same platform that underpins the Ford Mondeo. Three powertrains will be offered; a 2.5L four-cylinder utilized on other Ford products, making 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic, and two Ecoboost options. A 1.6L Ecoboost will make 179 horsepower and 172 lb-ft and will be the sole configuration available with a 6-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy for the 1.6L is said to be 26/37 mpg city/highway. A 2.0L Ecoboost will put out 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, but will have an all-wheel drive option. A 6-speed automatic is the sole transmission.

The Fusion Hybrid returns with 47/44 mpg city/highway figures being reported. The Atkinson cycle engine is downsized from 2.5L to 2.0L, making 185 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque but transmission details weren’t available at this time. A lane departure warning system, SYNC, active park assist, blind spot monitoring system and MyFord Touch will be available.

A plug-in Fusion, dubbed the Fusion Energi, will be available. Ford didn’t disclose battery pack size, charge times or official range figures (although it is estimated to be 500 miles) but the car is said to get 100MPGe.

Plug it in. Photo courtesy of Ford. Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion Energi 2013 Ford Fusion Energi 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2013 Ford Fusion Energi 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion 2013 Ford Fusion

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