2018 Honda Accord Abandons the V6, Ditches the Coupe, Maintains the Manual
After a brief history lesson underscoring just how important the Accord has been to North America throughout the last four decades, Honda unveiled the 10th generation of its midsize sedan to a semi-enthusiastic audience in Detroit today.
To be fair, it’s not the most exciting segment occupying the automotive landscape, but it is one of the most important — despite losing significant ground to crossovers and SUVs over the last few years. Honda clearly doesn’t want the Accord relegated exclusively to unimaginative buyers needing nothing more than basic transportation and fleet sales.
Despite sinking sales, automakers aren’t giving up on the midsize sedan, and Honda has placed some genuine effort behind the new Accord. That doesn’t mean they’ve converted it into a heart-stopping thrill ride, nor should they, since that’s not the kind of car it’s supposed to be. But they’ve taken steps to ensure the vehicle has improved in meaningful ways. While that didn’t stop Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of American Honda, from claiming it was “unquestionably the most dramatic remake of the Accord that we’ve ever done” at the unveiling, there is truth in that statement.
However, some the biggest changes coming to the 2018 Accord are what you won’t find in the upgraded model.
There won’t be a coupe in the 10th-gen Accord’s lineup, nor will there be a V6. Power options include two turbocharged inline-fours and a hybrid. The base-trimmed car receives a 1.5-liter 16-valve DOHC direct-injected turbo four producing 192 horsepower and foot-pounds of toque. Peak power arrives at 5,500 rpm while maximum torque is available at 1,500 rpm. Stepping up to the 2.0-liter i-VTEC yields a total of 252 hp at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. That’s a clear, but not egregious, downgrade in power from the 3.5-liter V6 it replaces. That mill cranked out 278 ponies and 252 lb-ft.
Conrad echoed the cry of enthusiasts everywhere when he said Honda wanted to “save the manual,” and promised each of the powerplants could be mated to an optional short-throw six-speed in sport trim. Otherwise, the 1.5-liter comes with a CVT whereas the 2.0-liter will have a standard 10-speed automatic.
The hybrid powertrain will utilize a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine that Honda claims will offer the best thermal efficiency of anything it currently has on the market. However, detailed specifications, including power and fuel economy ratings, will be released closer to launch. Honda also withheld the mpg figures for the non-hybrid cars, but promised they would be impressive.
All of the models are, expectedly, front-wheel driven. They should also be more sprightly than the current-generation Accord, thanks to a stiffer and lighter body utilizing 54.2-percent high strength steel. Depending on trim, total weight reduction ranges from 110 and 176 pounds. A redesigned MacPherson suspension with aluminum control arms affixed to an aluminum subframe is up front, while the rear uses a smaller multilink setup. Adaptive dampers are standard on high-end trims but an optional extra on the more affordable units.
New Accords will also come equipped with a two-mode driving system featuring normal and sport settings. Sport engages with chassis and drivetrain components by firming up the variable-ratio electric power steering, improving the drive-by-wire throttle response, sharpening the automatic transmission’s gear-holding abilities (if you didn’t get the manual), tweaking the adaptive dampers and adding some auditory oomph through the active control system.
Meanwhile, the normal setting can be paired with the now-classic Honda ECON button for when you just want to be a conscientious, planet-saving nerd.
Stepping up the Accord’s safety game is a standard suite of active and passive technologies. Adaptive cruise control, lane assist, automatic emergency braking, reverse camera, and road departure warnings all come standard. However, safety obsessed drivers may want to purchase the optional upgraded blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, cross-traffic alert, and driver drowsiness detector.
The interior looks to provide exceptional outward visibility, aided largely by the Accord’s fairly thin A-pillars. Spaciousness doesn’t appear to have diminished. The front seats are positioned slightly inward to provide some extra hip, shoulder and headroom. Extending the vehicle’s wheelbase by 2.16 inches provides rear passengers with 2.5 inches of additional legroom without adding to the vehicle’s overall length.
Infotainment is controlled through an 8-inch touchscreen that — and Honda was careful to mention this — includes a physical volume knob. That particular announcement garnered more applause from the crowd than almost anything else. If you’ve ever tried to use the horrendous slider on most late-model Hondas, you know exactly why this is so important. Without being hyperbolic, we can state that this may be the single best change made to the new Accord.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities are both standard. Optional extras include wireless charging and 4G LTE on-board Wi-Fi. HondaLink telematics are also available for those interested in remote locking, engine starts, diagnostics, or roadside assistance. A configurable 6-inch head-up display is included on the the premium touring versions.
As for the exterior styling, Honda has definitely taken a more conservative approach to the Accord than Toyota did with the Camry. It’s remains easily recognizable but shares some of the same design language as Civic. It’s slightly boxy and angular without being squared off, and the hood seems exceptionally low and long from some angles. The tail is gently swept back and, although it hints at the possibility of a hatch, the Accord remains a traditional sedan.
No pricing has been announced but expect Honda not to stray too much from the current model’s MSRP. All variants of the 2018 Accord will be assembled at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio plant, while the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbo engines will be produced in Anna, Ohio.
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