2016 Honda Accord Sport 6MT Review - High Expectations

Jeff Jablansky
by Jeff Jablansky
Fast Facts

2016 Honda Accord Sport

2.4-liter inline four-cylinder (189 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm, 182 lbs-ft @ 3,900 rpm)
Six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive
23 city / 34 highway / 27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
30 mpg (Observed, casually)
Base Price (Sedan, LX 6MT)
: $23,040
As Tested (Sedan, Sport 6MT)
: $25,100
All prices include $835 destination and handling fee.

Quality of life is about making the best of your surroundings. There isn’t a car on the market today that reflects that ethos more than the Honda Accord.

After years of growing to make room for smaller models in the lineup, the Accord — which has gathered accolades as the most reliable choice in the family car segment for decades — has skipped having a midlife crisis, and is still playing like a kid. It would be easy to say the Accord has always been a favorite for us, but as the competition improves, we wanted to come back and give the Accord another go.

Here’s what we learned after several days of puttering around southern California in the Accord Sport, the value-priced model that hits the sweet spot of what you have and what you want.

Exterior

Sure, the Accord has grown, and grown, and grown in its lifetime — but who among us hasn’t? It hides its larger dimensions, thanks to oversized headlights and nice proportions, although it won’t stand out in a crowd. In San Marino red, which sparkled in the West Hollywood sunshine and reflected beautifully against sunsets in Malibu, the Accord looked a class above. A wise reviewer/mentor once declared that you’re not supposed to judge a car based on its color, but kudos to Honda for offering such a rich hue.

Interior

In short, the Accord’s interior feels like it’s built to last, and the Accord Sport offers refinement and build quality leaps and bounds above its price. The best way to understand a Honda interior is to get in and immediately start touching everything. The solid, tensile fabric of the cloth seats. The softness of the steering wheel leather. The knurled pattern of the shift knob. The chunkiness of the center control knob. There’s a reason you immediately feel comfortable in the Accord, and the Accord Sport (thankfully) ignores the trend of turning the “sporty” trim into an excuse for garish design.

Yes, the design itself appears dated, especially next to a comparable a Hyundai Sonata, but swoops and swashes aren’t for everyone.

By sticking with the Sport trim, you avoid a secondary screen on the dashboard, and any mention of THE TOUCHSCREEN VOLUME CONTROLS.

Technology

On the Accord Sport, there’s not much to see in terms of technology, thanks to rigid trim level differentiation (more on that later) that keeps most of the good stuff for loaded Accords only. A hooded screen sits atop the center stack, which is only useful for viewing the backup camera and a rudimentary trip computer. Neither navigation nor other goodies, like CarPlay, are offered on Accord Sport, but keeping it simple also means retaining traditional knobs and buttons for radio controls. Active and passive driver assist systems are available as part of the Honda Sensing package, which requires substituting the manual with the continuously variable transmission. In the decision between having fun with a manual gearbox and hearing a beep when you deviate from lane markings, there is a clear decision for enthusiasts, but I’m not sure there needs to be one.

Drivetrain

Most Accords come with a direct injection, non-turbo 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, although Honda still offers a V6, presumably to court legacy Accord buyers and continue the Accord v. Camry rivalry. Accord Sport models get a bump from 185 to 189 horsepower (yay!), and a slight bump in torque over LX, EX, and EX-Ls with the same four-cylinder powerplant. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Accord Sport, as it is on the LX and EX; a CVT is optional across the board, standard on the EX-L, and on both Accord EX-L V-6 and Touring.

Drive

Here’s the part you were waiting for: Yes, the Accord Sport with the manual still drives as sweetly as it ever has — and everything hereon reflects our opinion of the manual Accord Sport. We didn’t have a chance to spend time with the CVT volume model, but we can easily recommend spending some quality time with this manual one in particular.

The relationship among all the moving parts in the Accord has developed harmoniously over the last several decades, and the Accord Sport is the second most competent performer in this segment. (Top honors still go to the Mazda6 with the manual transmission.) For anyone who cares about driving, choosing an Accord over the competition means appreciating high quality in all aspects of life. The steering feels direct, not floaty. The clutch is forgiving, and the six-speed manual is as crisp to use as in any Honda performance car. The engine note sounds refreshingly unaltered. It’s fun to let the engine sing all the way up to redline in a way we couldn’t have expected the CVT to match. Even sitting in traffic in the hell that is California’s 405 freeway in rush hour, the Accord’s throttle was easy to manage, causing no left-leg clutch pedal fatigue.

The Accord Sport offers the confidence to enter a corner a little faster than you wanted, and come out even quicker. The standard 19-inch wheels do little to mar the ride quality, which ought to be much harsher given the larger-than-necessary rims. Braking performance could be stronger and firmer. Judging this family sedan against other family sedans, they’re just fine, but because the Accord’s chassis errs on the side of Four Door Sports Car, the comparison expands beyond the category.

Pricing

With the Accord Sport, what you see is what you get for a not-unreasonable 25 grand. Honda fastidiously maintains trim levels, and there are no options on the Accord Sport. For more toys, you’ll need to upgrade to the EX, EX-L, or Touring trims. For example, Apple CarPlay, the infotainment innovation that could have turned the Accord Sport’s useless display screen into a useful one, is only available on Accord EXes and above. Further complication of the trim level strategy means that the excellent Honda Sensing driver assist tech isn’t available on any Accord with a manual transmission. Sigh. Even fully equipped, an Accord won’t run more than $35,000 or so, which is a great deal.

Disclosure: Honda provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

[Images: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars]

Jeff Jablansky
Jeff Jablansky

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  • SC5door SC5door on Apr 21, 2016

    There's too much chrome on this car to be a "Sport" model. A small strip of chrome on the door handles would have been fine to stand out, but everything else should either be body colored, or blacked out.

  • Macc4644 Macc4644 on Apr 27, 2016

    The Sport was priced very fairly. But like others said I did not see the interior was upscale or made to last. It wore rather poorly in just 19K. The paint was the worst I had ever seen. This was my 11'th Honda-Acura since my 1986 LS Integra. The engine was smooth and got great mileage. However below 30F it sounded horrible on start up. Honda said it was fine. What ended my ownership with Hondas was wind noise and road noise and after all of these years Honda hasn't figured out the American roads. A lowly Mitsu O.S. is quieter and better tuned to the roads here. I moved on and if Honda wants me back they need to clean up their act. BTW- the stereo was a joke. Same with the last several Hondas I have had.

  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
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