Car tough to sell

Buy­ers flock to SUVs and trucks

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

The lat­est ver­sion of Honda’s ven­er­a­ble Ac­cord mid­size car is lower, wider, lighter and sleeker than its pre­de­ces­sor, and the com­pany says it’s faster and han­dles bet­ter.

But no mat­ter how nice it looks, how well it drives or how big it is in­side, it’ll be a tough sell with U.S. buy­ers who are mi­grat­ing by the thou­sands from sedans to SUVs and trucks.

Honda is hop­ing the new Ac­cord, due in show­rooms in the fall, will re­verse the car’s sales de­cline. Through June, sales fell 5.5 per cent com­pared with last year as U.S. buy­ers shun mid­size cars in favour of SUVs. Sales of all mid­size cars com­bined were down nearly 18 per cent dur­ing the first half of the year, and the mid­size sedan’s share of the mar­ket has dropped from 16 per cent five years ago to just un­der 11 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Kelley Blue Book. Still, Honda sold more than 345,000 Ac­cords last year.

The new ver­sion, un­veiled Fri­day, is just un­der an inch lower than the out­go­ing model, and the dis­tance be­tween the wheels is more than two inches longer. That gives it more 2.5 cu­bic feet more of in­te­rior room and one added cu­bic foot of trunk space. The 2018 ver­sion is 110 to 176 pounds lighter as well, de­pend­ing on op­tions. The over­all length slightly shorter than the out­go­ing model at 192.1 inches.

Gone is a V6 en­gine op­tion, re­placed by two tur­bocharged four­cylin­der en­gines. The base four is 1.5 litres and it puts out 192 horse­power with a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. There’s also an op­tional 2-Liter four with 252 horse­power mated to a 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. A gas-elec­tric hy­brid ver­sion also is avail­able.

The 10th gen­er­a­tion of the Ac­cord will have Honda’s safety tech­nol­ogy suite, which in­cludes au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and lane-keep­ing as­sis­tance, stan­dard on all mod­els.

All the im­prove­ments may make the car great, but they likely won’t help sales much as the mar­ket shift con­tin­ues, said Jack Nerad, ex­ec­u­tive mar­ket an­a­lyst for Kelley Blue Book. “

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