2018 Honda Ac­cord zooms to front of mid­size pack with tur­bos, new fea­tures

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Wheels - By Mark Phe­lan

New tech­nol­ogy, ad­vanced safety fea­tures and a roomy, com­fort­able in­te­rior pro­pel the 2018 Honda Ac­cord to the top of the mid­size sedan class.

The base Ac­cord goes on sale this month with a 192horse­power tur­bocharged 1.5-liter engine. A more pow­er­ful model fol­lows in Novem­ber. A fuel-ef­fi­cient hy­brid is due early in 2018.

Ac­cord prices start at $23,570, ex­clud­ing des­ti­na­tion charges. I tested a top-ofthe-line 2.0T Tour­ing model that stick­ered at $35,800, thanks to fea­tures that in­cluded leather up­hol­stery, a sun­roof, a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, 252-horse­power 2.0-liter tur­bocharged engine, blindspot alert and more. Pric­ing on the hy­brid will be an­nounced closer to when it goes on sale.

The new Ac­cord is roomier and lighter, but nearly the same size as the out­go­ing model.

It’s the first Ac­cord to of­fer tur­bocharged en­gines, ditch­ing the V-6 that pow­ered top mod­els for years.

It has a long hood, thin head­lights and wrap­around front chrome trim. At the rear, fast­back looks and tail­lights re­call Honda’s pop­u­lar Civic com­pact.

A wide range of ad­vanced safety and driver-as­sis­tance fea­tures are stan­dard equip­ment, in­clud­ing adap­tive cruise con­trol, au­to­matic high beams, front col­li­sion alert and lane-de­par­ture as­sist.

The Ac­cord com­petes with mid­size fam­ily sedans in­clud­ing the Chevro­let Mal­ibu, Ford Fu­sion, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6, Nis­san Al­tima, Toy­ota Camry and VW Pas­sat.

Mid­size sedan sales have slipped as buy­ers turn to SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Es­cape, but the seg­ment re­mains big, com­pet­i­tive and prof­itable.

Sporty looks and han­dling that made the Ac­cord just a bit more ex­cit­ing than its pro­saic com­peti­tors made the car a fa­vorite for years, but re­cent mod­els lost some of that edge.

The new car changes that. The steer­ing is fast and re­spon­sive.

The 2.0-liter turbo and 10speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion in the Tour­ing model I tested de­liv­ered con­fi­dent ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The sport mode changed engine sound and shift points no­tice­ably.

The shifter is an awk­ward set of but­tons in an ar­range­ment that never felt nat­u­ral to me. Honda uses the same lay­out in the Odyssey mini­van and its Acura lux­ury brand.

The Ac­cord feels small and ma­neu­ver­able, de­spite be­ing one of the big­gest cars in its class.

That’s a credit to good sus­pen­sion and steer­ing tun­ing and the fact that the Ac­cord’s cen­ter of grav­ity is lower than in the old car.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s fuel-econ­omy fig­ures for the 2.0-liter turbo and 10-speed aren’t avail­able.

The base Ac­cord’s 192horse­power 1.5-liter turbo and six-speed man­ual or con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic trans­mis­sion rated 30-33 mpg — depend­ing on other equip­ment — in com­bined city and high­way driv­ing. That’s good, but not the best among mid­size sedans.

The 2018 Ac­cord’s wheel­base is longer, while over­all length shrinks slightly. Pas­sen­ger space in­creases 2.9 cu­bic feet to be at or near the top of its class, depend­ing on whether the car has a sun­roof.

The 16.7 cu­bic-foot trunk is the big­gest in its class. Most of the ex­tra pas­sen­ger space went to rear legroom, but the front seat is roomy and ac­com­mo­dat­ing, with lots of stor­age.

The in­te­rior looks and feels great, with soft ma­te­ri­als on the doors, dash and arm­rests.

Af­ter years of com­plaints, Honda gave the Ac­cord’s au­dio con­trols vol­ume and tun­ing di­als, a huge im­prove­ment from the pre­vi­ous touch panel. Cli­mate con­trols are equally user-friendly.

It’s hard to imag­ine, but a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­can driv­ers have grown up not un­der­stand­ing why a new Honda Ac­cord is a big deal.

The all-new 2018 Ac­cord is here to show them.

HONDA/COURTESY PHO­TO­GRAPH

The 2018 Honda Ac­cord Tour­ing 2.0T.

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