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New Honda Accord revealed

... the improved styling will be backed - at least in the US - by more powerful and fuel-efficient engines.

The Koreans starred, the Japanese mounted a comeback, and One Ford hit the headlines with an extended family of Focus-based newcomers that it is certain to make a big hit in Australia. But it was one car and the commitment of its company chief that made the most impact as America fought back on the opening day of the 2011 North American International Motor Show.

Take off the 20-inch rims that neatly fill out the guards and the chrome-surrounded fog lights and the concept car is production ready.

And the improved styling will be backed - at least in the US - by more powerful and fuel-efficient engines. The 3.5-litre V6 is retained but has been overhauled with Honda's latest technology, including cylinder deactivation, and is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission.

The base 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine has been replaced by an "Earth Dreams" 2.4-litre direct injection unit that produces 135kW/240Nm and is paired with a new continuously variable transmission to achieve what Honda says will be class-leading fuel economy.

A new two-motor plug-in hybrid system is reserved for the Accord sedan. The system operates in three modes - electric, hybrid and petrol only - to maximize efficiency.

In electric mode, the Accord plug-in hybrid will use a 6kWh lithium-ion battery and a 120kW electric motor to drive up to 23km in town and Honda says the recharge time will be less than an hour and a half using a 240-volt charger.

In hybrid mode, the Accord is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder , i-VTEC inline four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine, while at high speed the system will switch to petrol only mode. Drive in all modes is through the front wheels.

Honda says the Accord will launch in late 2012 in the US and is expected to show the more compact sedan at the New York Motor Show. The sedan is claimed to have the same interior space with a more compact exterior to save weight and improve driving dynmics.

The Accord will also be the first to be fitted with Honda's lane departure and forward crash warning systems. Both use a camera mounted behind the windscreen to alert drivers if the car is moving out of its lane or approaching a car too quickly.