Alright, Honda, Let's Do This Before It's Too Late Forever

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
alright honda let s do this before it s too late forever

Everything old is new again: for the first time since the demise of the LX-i hatch some 28 years ago, there is going to be a fastback-profiled Accord in American Honda showrooms. The remarkably unhelpful spy shots show a wide, low rear window that wouldn’t be out of place on a first-generation Toyota Camry but which in the public imagination is currently more closely associated with the Audi A7 “four-door koo-pay”.

There’s no solid information yet on what powertrains will motivate this new Civic-derived Accord, but the general consensus is that we have seen the last of the J35 SOHC V6 engine in this application. Future upscale Accords will likely hew to the modern 2.0-liter turbo four-banger line as seen everywhere from Kia to, er, Hyundai. It’s more than a little depressing to see Honda’s traditional leadership philosophy fall apart like this. The company that once shocked the world with the Accord hatchback now waits to see what the Koreans do and then falls in line behind them.

We do, however, have one last model year of the current Accord left to run. Which means that there’s still time for Honda to assert its traditional values and send a love letter to the hooligans, street racers, and adjunct professors who have supported the brand over the past forty years — and they can do it without so much as a letter to the EPA.

It’s been a relatively slow year for my 2013 Honda Accord V6; I’ve put just six thousand miles on the car since the middle of January. That’s entirely because of my travel schedule and because it’s easier to park a motorcycle in downtown Columbus than it is to find a space for a car. I’m in no way sick of the car and I’ll be posting an update on my ownership experience next week. The longer I have the Accord, the more I appreciate it.

The combination of the hopped-up J35Y3 engine and the slick six-speed manual that Honda has offered in the Accord coupe over the past three model years is, in my opinion, the greatest enthusiast-oriented powertrain currently available in anything south of the Coyote-powered Mustang GT. It has a tremendous amount of area under the curve, so to speak, but it is also eager to rev to the limiter in every gear with very little flywheel effect and none of the emissions-oriented fueling artifacts that plagued manual-equipped six-cylinder BMWs and Audis. Everybody who drives the car loves the engine and at least likes the transmission, which is about as good as any cable-equipped FWD transaxle is going to be in terms of shift effort and accuracy.

The only real problem with the V6/6MT combination is, to be frank, the car in which it’s supplied. The Accord Coupe is an acquired taste aimed mostly at older women, permanently single librarians of both sexes, and those of us who remember the 1977 Cutlass Supreme with fondness, not aversion. It works very well for me, being spacious enough for four adults and slightly easier to park than its sedan sibling, but we now live in an era where perceived capability rules the roost and the perceived capability of a two-door car, no matter how much interior room and usability it truly offers, worries potential buyers. There’s something odd about the idea that we have never been more truly alone in society, as individuals, than we are right now, yet everybody worries constantly about being able to fit six people in their cars.

But I digress. It doesn’t matter why coupes represent just the very tip of the Accord sales iceberg. That’s not going to change. So what Honda needs to do, for the 2017 model year that will mark the end of this platform’s run, is a very simple thing. Drop the V6 6MT powertrain into the Accord sedan.

We haven’t had a full-strength Accord sedan since the “red badge” six-speed V6 four-doors of 2006 and 2007, but there’s no technical reason why such a car cannot exist. The powertrain is already certified. It’s just a matter of putting a sedan body beneath the robot that drops it in.

In a perfect world, we’d have a stripped-out Accord LX V6/6MT for $24,995 — a sort of Plymouth RoadRunner for the 21st century — but it’s hard to imagine Honda doing anything but just extending the EX-L V6 manual trim level to the sedan. All the pieces already fit. The pricing strategy would be logical.

Such a car wouldn’t set any sales records, but I can’t help but think that it would out-sell my coupe. Nor would it terribly cannibalize existing auto-transmission Accord V6 sales. I think it would instead prey on the customers for entry-level BMW, Audi, and Mercedes sedans who would relish the idea of having a sports sedan of recognized provenance for under $35,000. It would hold its own with any CLA, A4 2.0T, or 320i in any kind of test you could dream up. In truth, it would be better to drive than those very compromised vinyl-seat cheapskate-mobiles.

At the very least, you’d get the business of the red-badge ’07 owners who probably need a new car by now, but you’d also likely see showroom traffic from all the people who had Integras and the like before their children and their careers arrived. Which perhaps explains why Honda won’t do it; a V6 6MT Accord sedan would make the TLX four-cylinder look pretty weak-sauce. So what. It’s not like any of the Integra Type-R crowd gets excited about the TLX anyway. Give them an option.

If Honda does this thing, as they say, I’ll buy one and I’ll put my deposit down the day it’s announced. I won’t be alone. What say you, Honda? Before you turn the Accord into a Me Too Iguana Kia Optima or wanna-be A7, howabout you show some love, and some respect, for the people who put you where you are today? Or would you rather wait for Hyundai to make something like that, so you can copy it?

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10 of 121 comments
  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 23, 2016

    Sorry, Honda just cheezes me off. My bro has in the garage the ur CRX-Si, unmodified and un hacked. He's a hardcore Honda guy, and there has been a procession of those 90's Accords, for friends, nannies, and family members...yes, they run forever. His other car is a second gen TL, with 250k...also perfect. It is interesting to note that other than a Bluetooth install, the TL isn't any worse or better than what it could be replaced with. (He'd rather spend the money on the Ducati and cycle collection for fun.) The Euro Honda catalog has all sorts of stuff. Here, we ask mother Honda for anything performance, and they point to the NSX, which really isn't the answer to the question...and I've still never seen one in the wild, by which, I mean the leafy green burbs around NYC. I've seen more McLaren and i8 on the street than new NSX. Honda can make some nice stuff....but in the US market, it is any flavor of vanilla you want. We all complain because VW, etc, won't bring in the turbo-XXX230si-Q or some such, but Honda has a full catalog of interesting cars....elsewhere.

    • See 7 previous
    • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on Jul 23, 2016

      @speedlaw Nice trade!! Although disappointed, I really can't complain either. On one leg, I got an Audi A3 automatic with nav. On another leg, a very rare Toyota Auris Hybrid (it's a station wagon), also with nav. Yes, the Europeans have better lane discipline. Anyone who passes on the right risks getting a ticket, but it was never necessary!

  • Brucebanner Brucebanner on Jul 23, 2016

    Google "2018 Honda Accord" and you'll see something quite nice. It's that not what they're making?

  • V16 I'm sure most people could find 155,365 reasons to choose another luxury brand SUV and pocket the difference.
  • ChristianWimmer I don’t want this autonomous driving garbage technology in any car.My main fear is this. Once this technology is perfected, freedom-hating eco hysterical governments (crap hole Germany, UK and the European Union in general) will attempt to ban private car ownership because “you don’t need to own a car anymore since the car can come to you, drop you off and then proceed to service the next customer”... no thanks. Having your own car is FREEDOM.Go away, autonomous driving. I also enjoy the act of driving a car. I want to drive, not be driven.
  • Mike-NB2 The solution is obvious here. Everyone should be raised in an Irish Catholic family and then all it takes is a sideways glance from mom and you're atoning for that sin for the rest of your life. My mother has been dead for decades and I still want to apologize to her. Catholic guilt is a real thing. 😁
  • Wjtinfwb A good car. I don't find Accord's as appealing as they were a decade or two ago, not that they've gotten worse, but the competition has gotten better. It would be my choice if I had to pay for it myself and maintain it for 10 years and 150k miles. They'd be very reliable and no doubt inexpensive miles, but probably a pretty boring 10 years.
  • Lou_BC "augmented reality" Isn't that a mamoplasty?