Honda Accord has come a long way since it first arrived in Australia as a 1.6-litre three-door hatchback in 1977. The ninth-generation model, launched midway through this year, is a four-door sedan that’s around 20 per cent larger than that first model and comes with the option of 2.4-litre four-cylinder or 3.5-litre V6 engines.
As well as growing in size over the years Accord has also grown in quality and is now bordering on luxury status but, despite a fairly significant hike in the price of the new model, without the luxury price of its German rivals.
By their nature conservative cars rarely undergo radical styling changes and the 2013 Accord looks very much like its predecessor. Unlike most model upgrades it’s marginally shorter (25mm) than before with a 25mm shorter wheelbase and 10mm taken off its height. There are now LED low-beam headlights in all but the entry-level model, LED daytime running lights and mirror-mounted turn indicators.
There’s plenty of interior space and even with the sunroof in our test car there was plenty of front seat headroom. Rear legroom is sufficient for two or even three adults while the 461-litre boot is long and easy to load although some depth is lost due to it being modified to take a full-size spare.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 2013 Honda Accord comes with the same choice of four and six cylinder engines as the previous model. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC is an all-new unit that delivers 129kW of power (down from 133kW) and 225Nm of torque (up from 222Nm).
The 3.5-litre V6 is an upgrade of the previous engine and provides marginally increased power (206kW from 202kW). Although peak torque remains the same (339Nm at 4900rpm) there has been a noticeable improvement at lower revs.
All engines are mated to automatic transmissions, five-speed with the four-cylinder and six-speed in the V6. Accord comes with four model options. The VTi, VTi-S and VTi-L each get the four-cylinder engine while, as the name indicates, the V6L uses the V6.
Honda Accord has a strong emphasis on the safety provided by crash avoidance and/or mitigation features, with many of the items in the Accord normally being seen only in upmarket European cars. These include radar cruise control, lane keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking. Not all items are standard in every model, so check with your dealer or Honda’s website for details.
Regular readers will know of our thoughts on blind spot monitoring systems – adjust your mirrors correctly and you won’t have a blind spot – but Honda has come up with an interesting system that effectively moves and enhances the view from the left-hand side mirror to the Accord’s 8-inch dashboard-mounted screen.
Through a camera mounted on the mirror which is activated when the left-turn indicator is activated the driver gets a clear view to the side and rear of the car. The view is not only wider than that from the mirror but, more importantly, it means that the driver can see it more clearly without the need to turn their head away from the road in front of them.
Called LaneWatch it’s standard in all Accord models above VTi. Let’s hope it catches on with other car makers because it could prove to be a life saver. All models do get a three-mode reversing camera with selectable options of a normal angle, 180-degree wide angle and top-down.
All 2013 Honda Accord models come with Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming; USB and auxiliary sockets; and a Speed-Sensitive Volume Control (SVC) that automatically adjusts the volume on the audio system according to vehicle speed and exterior noise. The higher-specced VTi-L and V6L models get satellite navigation displayed on the high-resolution 8-inch screen.
Conservative buyers rate comfort above performance and Honda Accord obliges with relatively soft suspension and steering settings. On the road Accord is smooth, luxurious and all-but silent inside thanks to its high-tech noise-cancelling system.
In the manner of active noise-cancelling headphones of the type popular on aircraft, the Honda system ‘listens’ to the ambient noise inside the Accord's cabin, and sends out sounds through the stereo speakers that attempt to counteract unwanted sounds. The result is a very quiet car that is barely audible when travelling on smooth surfaces at moderate speeds.
Our recent extended test was in the 2.4-litre VTi-L. This impressive engine will be more than enough for most drivers and only the fussiest of long-distance commuters would spend the extra twenty grand for the extra two cylinders. It’s sharp off the mark and responsive and only steep, twisting hill climbs found it a little lacking. This engine is impressively responsive and we loved the spritely feel it gave off the line. The five-speed automatic transmission reacted quickly to driver input through the throttle and was generally in the right gear on all occasions. We’ve driven the V6 in a previous test and found it to be effortless in the way it handled everything that was thrown at it.
With nearly 40 years in the Australian market Honda Accord has a proven track record as a high-quality, well-engineered mid-to-family sized car. The ninth-generation model takes it to the fringes of the prestige class and, despite price increases of between $3300 and $4700, it remains excellent value.
VTi 2.4-litre four-door sedan: $31,490 (automatic)
VTi-S 2.4-litre four-door sedan: $33,990 (automatic)
VTi-L 2.4-litre four-door sedan: $41,490 (automatic)
VTi-L ADAS 2.4-litre four-door sedan: $44,990 (automatic)
V6L 3.5-litre four-door sedan: $51,990 (automatic)
Honda Accord VTi 2.4-litre four-door sedan
Price: from $31,490
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder, 129kW/225Nm
Transmission: 5-speed auto, FWD