Honda Teases New Accord: Updated Styling, Google Tech
On Tuesday, Honda teased the arrival of the 11th generation Accord – offering a series of darkened photos and just enough relevant information to whet one’s appetite.
The manufacturer is calling the updated model “sporty, modern, smart, and comfortable” while vowing it’ll have a sleek design that seems to be following in the footsteps of the new Civic and CR-V. That means understated but rather elegant bodywork that might not be as aggressive as its predecessor but is arguably more in sync with Honda’s historic styling decisions. Think less contemporary and more timeless.
While largely obfuscated by shadows, Honda’s sedan now appears to have LED lighting that underscores how the vehicle has been sculpted. The chrome-free grille is also new and appears to have a triangular, or perhaps, diamond theme. On the opposite end of the vehicle, Honda has stretched the Accord’s tail lamps all the way across its width. But designers stopped short of making it a singular piece by adding a tastefully small Honda emblem smack-dab in the middle.
The Honda Accord is one of those vehicles that everyone seems to appreciate – from the average commuter who cares nothing about cars to the enthusiast that obsesses over every inch of a vehicle. Granted, the Accord is no longer the brand’s mainstay since the CR-V became Honda’s top-selling product. But the sedan, along with the smaller Civic, still represents an important market for the Japanese automaker and is clearly a vehicle it takes real pride in building.
Your author has long held the conspiracy theory that American automakers didn’t just abandon small, traditional automobiles to expand their per-vehicle profit margins. But also because they were being outclassed by the Japanese. There were certainly exceptions to the rule (e.g. Ford Fusion), however, U.S. brands seemed to realize that they were engaged in a losing battle with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry in terms of mainstream appeal. Unless they were offering something truly unique, sticking with sedans was a losing proposition for American brands so they effectively handed it off to their non-domestic rivals. In exchange, U.S. companies focused on building crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks (a high-margin segment they absolutely dominate).
We can argue whether that puts more or less pressure on the Accord in the modern era, especially with sedan volumes trending down for roughly a decade. But that won’t change the fact that this remains an important vehicle for the Honda brand. As such, it’s getting an overall refresh that’s about more than just looks. The manufacturer wants to modernize the model by adding connectivity features and freshening its looks, without obliterating the characteristics that made it a winner in the first place.
With that in mind, Honda has also cleverly shown the 12.3-inch infotainment display running Google apps. The company announced that it would be working with the tech firm in 2021 to deliver upgraded connectivity features (e.g. an in-car voice assistant, upgraded navigation, new applications) and appears to be baking that into the 11th-generation Accord. These aren’t necessarily going to be desirable inclusions for everyone with serious privacy concerns (Google, like Amazon, has a bad track record in terms of transparency). But they do offer useful features, especially upgraded navigation, that many less-scrutinizing consumers will appreciate. Truth be told, a lot of the proprietary systems being offered by automotive companies haven’t been all that good. So a lot of brands have begun establishing partnerships with big tech to give themselves a competitive edge. However, the Accord’s current infotainment system never felt all that lacking from this end.
Honda hasn't released any official information about the sedan’s powertrains. Though it’s obvious to see (based on the teasers) that a hybrid option will be available. It’s also likely that the base Accord will still be internal combustion only, with the model likely to retain the current 192 horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder and perhaps the fancier 252 hp, 2.0-liter turbo that’s found in higher trims. While neither is bad, the latter option does make it more exciting to drive. We’d love to see it (even a de-tuned version) become the base powertrain, provided it doesn’t add a lot to the Accord’s price.
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