By on October 12, 2020

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid. Image: Honda

The most interesting thing about the press release for the 2021 Honda Accord is what is NOT in it.

There’s no mention of a manual transmission.

Sad, for three-pedal fans, but not unexpected. The take rate of Accords with manuals had to be minuscule, and few mid-size sedan buyers care about rowing their own. Manuals, in this author’s opinion, are soon to be fully relegated to only sports cars and certain off-roaders.

What else is new with the 2021 Accord? Not as much as with the refresh of the Ridgeline. The grille is widened and has a fresh look, upper trims get new LED headlights (low and high beam), the radar unit for Honda Sensing is better integrated into the grille, the fog-light openings are smaller, and new colors and new wheel designs are available based on trim.

The infotainment touchscreen system that was previously available on upper trims is now standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those systems are now wireless on upper-trim Accords.

Image: Honda

Honda moves all the front-seat USB ports to the front of the center console and adds two 2.5-volt USB ports to the rear seat on upper-trim cars, and all trims now have a rear-seat reminder system. Upper trims get a low-speed braking-control system.

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid. Image: Honda

The Accord Hybrid, meanwhile, gets tweaks that are meant to improve throttle response, making it more immediate. The two gas engines also get smoother throttle response via software updates, and the 1.5-liter turbo will start more quickly when the brake is released with the automatic start/stop system.

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid. Image: Honda

Finally, a Sport SE (Special Edition) trim replaces the EX 1.5T trim. Based on the Sport trim, the Sport SE car adds leather seats, heated front seats, 4-way power passenger seat, heated sideview mirrors, keyless entry, and remote start. You can spot Sports and the Sport SE by their different 19-inch wheels, decklid spoiler, LED fog lamps, dark-chrome grille, and chrome exhaust finishers.

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid. Image: Honda

We’re sad, but not surprised, to see the manual go. Other than that, these changes are minor and only the most dedicated Honda heads will note the difference, we think.

[Images: Honda]

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49 Comments on “Sayonara Stick Shift: 2021 Honda Accord is Two-Pedal Only...”


  • avatar
    notapreppie

    [Scene: the common room on the Millenium Falcon]

    Obi Wan: *Shudders*

    Luke: What’s wrong?

    Obi Wan: I felt a great disturbance in the force. It’s as though dozens of disproportionately loud voices suddenly cried out and were silenced (by Honda’s lack of profits on such a niche option combo).

    Though, lets be honest, the caterwauling of “save the manuals” movement isn’t going to be silenced any time soon.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    There’s not a single few “feature” on the 2021 Accord that interests me. So, now, not only is Honda no longer making coupes, it’s not even making a four-door that’d I’d buy.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    the writing was on the wall when they charged the same for the stick and auto – Acura did that just before they dropped the stick

    the value of used manual Accords will now go up

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    I guess I am part of the problem. I love cars, I am an enthusiast, I “drive just to drive” on some wonderful, fun roads. I own manual shift cars, SUV’s and trucks. But an Accord is not something I desire a stick in. This is the type of car that is most likely to be driven to work, most likely to be daily driven, most likely to be stuck in a traffic jam or backup due to somebody doing something stupid on the road. I’ve been stuck in a stick shift vehicle in those situations and it is NOT FUN. I remember one in particular where the jam was almost entirely UPHILL and when I finally escaped I felt like I should just drive the car straight to the shop for a new clutch. NOT FUN.
    I would not buy one with a stick, sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      I find myself struggling to mourn the loss of manuals in commuter grade appliances as well. Keep them where they make the most difference, in something fun to drive.

      I’d trade every remaining stick shift in an economy car for one in the C8 for example. Or in the V6 Bronco.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        “I find myself struggling to mourn the loss of manuals in commuter grade appliances as well. Keep them where they make the most difference, in something fun to drive.”

        Sure, but it’s a slippery slope. Many small commuter options used to be fun to drive in large part *because* they had a manual transmission available. If you accept the loss of manuals in one segment, you’re giving a green light to ditch them in an adjacent segment. The rate of attrition keeps accelerating, which means your “fun” cars will quickly lose their manuals too.

        It’s frustrating that I can’t even “vote with my dollars” since at this point, any new vehicle that I might be interested in is no longer available with a manual.

        All you people who choose an automatic because you want the heated seats or a certain level of “connectivity” are ruining it for those of use who enjoy driving.

        Ok, I’ll admit, if I lived in a major city and had bad knees, I might be tempted to buy an auto, but I doubt it.

        Rant over.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          “All you people who choose an automatic because you want the heated seats or a certain level of “connectivity” are ruining it for those of use who enjoy driving.”

          -If this criticism is directed at me, I’m not accepting it. I own 5 MT vehicles and bought 3 of them new.

          “If you accept the loss of manuals in one segment, you’re giving a green light to ditch them in an adjacent segment.”

          -This is the exact opposite of what I asked for in my post. People traditionally bought MTs in cars like the Accord because they were cheaper up front, faster accelerating, and saved money on gas. Fun was very far down the list. Now that the first three aren’t true anymore, fun is all that’s left. So they might as well keep the sticks in cars that people drive for fun.

          There’s no reason a FWD economy sedan losing a stick shift should have any bearing on a RWD sports or muscle car losing one. They don’t share drivetrains or transmission components. Canceling one doesn’t lead to any savings in the other.

          • 0 avatar
            statikboy

            At all who responded: no offense was meant. My concerns are real but I phrased them with tongue in cheek. Buy what you want. I just think it’s unfortunate that your choices affect my options.

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          “All you people who choose an automatic because you want the heated seats or a certain level of “connectivity” are ruining it for those of use who enjoy driving.”

          That’s a pretty specious argument. The issue is not the overlapping Venn Diagram circles of people who want a manual but are willing to give it up for creature comforts.

          The issue is that there are just very few people who find rowing their own gears to be worthwhile in the car they are going to drive in heavy traffic.

          It’s a tyranny of the majority. Maybe if people had more time and money to spend on such expensive pleasure activities, a manual would make more sense to more people. But, until wage growth and productivity growth start to mirror each other again, this is unlikely.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve Biro

          “It’s frustrating that I can’t even “vote with my dollars” since at this point, any new vehicle that I might be interested in is no longer available with a manual.”

          Exactly. It’s not that I wish to deny others what they want. It’s that the wishes of the oblivious majority are steadily reducing MY consumer choice.

          The same goes for “driver assistance” technology.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            OK, but car companies are not public bodies obligated to respect your freedom of choice. They’re commercial enterprises looking to make a profit, which means they’ll sell what consumers want to buy.

            I drove a stick for many years, and preferred it to an automatic. But I’m not going to cry in my beer that I can’t get a stick any more because almost nobody else wants one, especially when technology now gives automatics better performance and fuel economy than can be achieved with a manual shifter.

            It’s time to move on.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “ruining it for those of use who enjoy driving.”

          Nice line. Enjoy the automatic future.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          statikboy,

          yes

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I’m curious as to what kind of car that you and Steve Boro would like that is fun to drive and can’t be had with a manual transmission.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The problem in the Accord’s case is that they didn’t have an option for a stick in full-boat Touring models, and the Sport models they did offer were LX-grade Ace-of-Base with the yuuuge wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and power seats without a memory function, requiring endless fiddling with the seat after getting it back from service. The 2.0T Sport was essentially EX-grade, but left out stuff like an auto-dimming mirror. If you wanted leather seats, or any other interior color but black, with a stick, you were SOL.

          And of course, as has been said, the Accord’s last stick was a little underwhelming compared to normal Honda fare anyway. A fait accompli thanks to marketing and positioning of the stick within the various trims.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            I’m looking at Auto Trader, and there are 563 new Accords in stock here in the ATL. Counts by trim level are:
            LX: 164
            Sport: 194
            EX: 55
            EX-L: 90
            Touring: 48

            So, no, the unavailability of a stick on the Touring trim was not what sank the manual Accord. What did sink it was that precious few Americans want a manual transmission in a family sedan.

            Carmakers build what sells and makes money. Stick shift family sedans are not what the market wants.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      @ MiataReallyIsTheAnwer

      “stuck in a traffic jam or backup … I’ve been stuck in a stick shift vehicle in those situations and it is NOT FUN.”

      I have heard this line of argument before, but I NEVER get tired of using my clutch and shifter. –Heck, traffic makes it better, I get to actually “drive” my car more. As such, I respectfully state for the record, that not all enthusiasts share your perspective on this issue.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        R Henry,

        exactly. I don’t get these “traffic” complaints. How hard is to give few yards to a car in front and roll in first?

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          When it’s 20 miles of that on a daily basis, it gets tiring really fast. Sometimes you’d have to give more than a few yards to just roll along in first in many cases. All of that for something that handicaps the performance of the car. Even for my next daily driver, some possibilities are cars that can do 0-60 in 2 to 3.5 seconds. How would manual shifting help something like that?

          They’re a lot of fun in the right car. Manuals are great for weekend cars that are underpowered and can benefit from a manual.

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          ” How hard is to give few yards to a car in front and roll in first?”

          It’s a challenge and that’s good because it provides some entertainment while oozing along in traffic. Using a shifter and clutch is one of those (seemingly) few things left that requires “the touch” to do right. I don’t give a rat’s a$$ if it loses a tiny bit of performance. I like driving a manual. Autos provide far less entertainment.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    No worries, that is not an interior I would spend time in. The non-integrated screen would be a dealbreaker.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Two “features” that would frighten me off: ANY fancy electronics set into a bumper-less grille is easy damaged when my parked car is backed into by a hooptie; 19” wheels are designed for good looks, poor ride quality, easy damaged side walls and expen$ive replacement costs. As a 99% city driver and street side parking space driver, these 2021 “improvements” are not for me.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    The real deal breaker is the styling, not the absence of a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      If Hudson Hornets were still being made today, they would look like the current-gen Accord.

      https://rmsothebys-cache.azureedge.net/c/7/b/5/5/f/c7b55fd098446a6ad9f1f8838e4fe31479466b47.jpg

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Wasn’t this already covered at TTAC?

    I may not like it but the writing is on the wall.

    Sports cars will be the only place you’ll find a manual soon enough.

    Sorry bros, its over.

    You can add non-turbocharged V8s to this list too.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      “You can add non-turbocharged V8s to this list too.”

      I’m confident in stating you’ll be able to buy one of those in a pickup truck long after the last manual transmission is sold.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I believe that Honda announced this earlier in the year, but it came back up now that the 2021 car is shipping. I’m surprised Honda kept it around this long. Looks like the only MT Hondas left are the sport and sport touring Civics. I assume a manual Civic SI will be coming in 2022.

  • avatar
    AutoPatriot

    I really thought the worlds largest engine producer would be the last to shed the manuals. I think it is a real bad indicater for the industry overall and says alot about what these companys plan to sell in the future. I feel like they want products to not as long with so called tech/safety improvements. What if I do not want a gps sending all of my cars data to some windowless office. So many distractions from needless alerts.
    The problem to me is that the companies did above and beyond for many years.
    Like washing machines that could last for thirty years now filled with computers those machines might last a fraction of the time so you have to get a new one sooner.
    Many Honda stick shifts were amazing machines. I have owned almost thirty cars over the years and most of them were stick hondas because of how well they were made.Personally id take any one of them back.I have owned a 91 Accord coupe 5spd+a sunroof great car. A 96 Prelude si 5spd, very fun vtec coupe. 06 Accord coupe 6spd. 98 integra gsr 5spd coupe. A 2004 Acura Rsx type-s 6spd. Most recently a 2013 civic coupe lx 5spd that to me even in base trim was a great car to drive if it had not been totaled by a distracted driver in their new nissan kicks, the car had 70k miles id still be driving in for a few more years. These cars were made very well I had them all used and some of them had over 200k miles when i got them and still never had any major problems from any of them. Ive been looking for a year now to replace civic. I had no idea the rate of decline for these kinds of cars. Its a real shame.To me a manual Accord sedan is no coupe but still better than a accord automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I did a quick check on auto trader, and of all the new inventory in my area, about two thirds of a percent were manuals.

      If you buy used you’re going to get whatever new car buyers want.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The world’s largest engine producer is having to drink the damned green kool-aid being shoved down the collective throats of the world! Even American Honda’s Executive VP of Operations is saying that the Hybrid is the one to get, and if you look closely at the PR pictures, just about all of the shots are of the Hybrid, including the interior/dash shots.

      I had a 2018 Accord Hybrid as a service loaner a couple weeks back. It’s OK, but even with the improvements in varying the engine speed based on throttle input which are supposed to have been made for the refresh, the driving experience is probably still somewhat abnormal; the worst part being that the engine will not decrease from fast-idle when the engine is cold, and the car is put into gear. It’s weird to be backing out of the garage with the engine screaming as if it was still in Park!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Sorry to see them go, but if near zero percent are buying them, it makes business sense. While my play car is a stick shift, my daily driver went automatic 20 years ago. As someone who deals with heavy commuter traffic daily, life is much easier with an auto.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I just gave up my MT vehicle this week. Traded for a run of the mill mid-sized FWD SUV. Yes another appliance on the road.

    The MT was ‘fun’ on country roads, on the DVP on those very rare occasion when it was not ‘stop and go’. It was not much fun in daily commuter traffic when those behind you would stick their front bumper within milli-inches of your back bumper on an incline.

    Or when the emergency brake seized when it was not driven for a matter of a few weeks this spring.

    And I would have to turn the traction control off on loose snow or it would ‘jolt/jump’ when starting from a full stop.

    When I purchase my retirement Miata or ‘new to me’ Corvette then I may acquire another MT. Otherwise you can now count me as part of the ‘herd’.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      My guess is that your perfect commuter vehicle would be a Mark IV Pucci Edition that would miraculously deliver 22mpg in stop-‘n-go! :-)

      What did you give up, and what did you get?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        You are correct. Although over the past year, I have warmed to the idea of a ‘resto mod’ Pucci as my lottery win car.

        Now please don’t laugh.

        I gave up a Sonata. The only MT Sonata that dealership has ever sold/serviced. As the say, ‘more fun to drive a slow car fast’. The MT made the Sonata something more than an appliance on rural roads.

        Nearly 210,000kms and the clutch still felt like new. The interior held up well. The paint was however a little ‘thin’ and prone to stone chips and door dings. Even with irregular waxing to try to protect it.

        Nearly a dozen recalls but no out of warranty repairs other than regular maintenance, until the end. Either a belt is gone on a tire, the front end needs alignment or as my mechanic believes, it needs a steering rack.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      I was under the impression that manual and automatic cars had identical e-brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Statikboy: Nope. Mine had the good old fashioned hand brake. I would not have purchased the vehicle without that. As Clarkson, May and Hammond repeatedly state, a good old handbrake turn is the sexiest thing that you can do with a car.

        Forget drifting, loud exhausts, brake stands, etc and handbrake turn is ‘the bomb’.

        Unfortunately we now have an entire generation who do not know how to do that.

        However what nobody in the dealership realized, because mine was the only model they ever sold with an MT, is that the MT deletes the heated seats, because the handbrake lever is installed where the seat heater buttons would normally reside.

        • 0 avatar
          statikboy

          I guess my question is: are not all e-brakes wire actuated (and therefore able to seize)? And if not, how do they actuate an electronic e-brake? It seems as though servos built into the calipers or somesuch would be even more failure prone.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I’m not sure if there’s a separate caliper which engages when the brake goes on, or if the electronic e-brake simply engages the caliper for the service brake. I do know that to replace the rear pads or rotors on a vehicle so-equipped, you have to perform a procedure to put the entire mechanism into a “service” position, either at the brake itself, performing some sort of combination of ignition cycles while pressing and releasing the brakes, or even having to use some sort of scan tool or dealer computer to do it!

            I know that the Accord had an electronic brake even on the sticks, and at least at first, if you stalled the car at a light, you’d have to engage the e-brake before you could restart; I’m not sure if they added a delay to that in software so that you could simply hit the clutch or not.

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          I made good use of the manual hand brake in the Jeep Liberty the other day. I was running an errand when I heard that unfriendly metal-on-metal grind from the left front. Checked — yup, no pad left. So, I drove home using the hand brake
          (which fortunately acts on the rear drum brakes) and avoided destroying the rotor. Oh, yes, ordered new pads — only $23 for a front set!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    It seems appropriate that I was behind a previous-gen manual Accord in stop-and-go traffic today.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Tim,

    Do you have access to the breakdown of GTI and GLI between manual and automatic? I recall hearing the manual take rate being between 30-40%, but I could be misremembering.

    For those mourning the loss, the GLI offers 4 doors and what is likely a much more fun ride than the family vehicle focused Accord. Same with Civic.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    The Accord is a great car even with the CVT transmission.
    Owned an Acura Integra and Ford Probe GT with manual transmissions and I do miss the shifting at times. However, I know that manual will be very tiresome on daily commute , so they are best left for weekend sports car that I don’t have.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    This is _specially_ sad considering the 1.5T models come with the CVT transmission. The gas pedal action is non-linear in a bad way. The CVT is lazy and delays increasing the revs, until you floor it, and then car kinda lunges which was uncalled for. Reminds me the behavior of bad 4-speed transmissions from the 90s. This and fuel in oil problems of the 1.5T engine suggest buying the 2.0T model instead which comes with an automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Another reason for at least a side sales channel where a customer can order a vehicle how they see fit? Dealers won’t stock manuals because they won’t sell, customers can’t buy manuals because they’re not in stock, manufacturer stops building manuals because they don’t sell. Also, could the transmission be a standalone option separate and apart from any options packages.

    I went looking for AWD, a sunroof, heated seats, and a color other than black, white or silver. I could mostly get there with an Impreza, but the sunroof meant that I had to get Subaru Eyesight, which was only available with a CVT. Suffice it to say Subaru did not win the sale.

    I can understand reducing options down to the numbers people actually buy, especially when money is tight, but a transmission shouldn’t be part of a package. I get that certain features interact with each other in ways I couldn’t pretend to understand, but I’d like to decide that I want a sunroof, and don’t need the ancillary other items.

    I’m as guilty as the next person of going to a dealer and selecting the car that is 9/10s what I want, but having orders being a more respected/publicized option makes all the sense in the world.

    Of course I’m sure there are costs associated with vehicle development, which allows for both types of transmission to be used, costs to certify both, costs to keep parts on hand, or be able to ramp up production should it be necessary. I don’t pretend to be a vehicle planner, or engineer and can’t speak to the feasibility, but allowing for orders and offering certain items as standalones seems an interesting compromise.

    “You can order this, but it may take a while for us to cue it up and have it ready. Are you sure? Yes/no. We’ll need $YYY deposit.”

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      That was an argument I had for the Accord: if you wanted leather seats, and/or an interior color other than black, plus a stick (to say nothing of seat memory, or heated rear seats, a Touring-only item), you were out of luck!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Malaise era II kicks off …..

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