2013 Honda Accord EX Sedan Review By Carey Russ


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2013 Honda Accord EX Sedan


This 2013 Honda Accord is the best yet, with a fine combination of space, comfort, and fuel economy

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

REVIEW: 2013 Honda Accord EX Sedan

Smaller is better? In the case of the newest Honda Accord, yes.

What started, 37 years ago, as a compact hatchback quickly grew into a compact sedan. Which became a mid-size sedan until the 2008 version, which had enough interior volume to count as a "large sedan" to government statisticians.

That led to some criticism, maybe more from the automotive press than consumers, but Honda took that in mind when developing the next generation of Accord. That, the ninth, is the 2013 model, and while it doesn't look massively changed outside, very little was left the same.

The newest Accord is smaller outside -- by 0.9 inches in wheelbase and 3.5 inches in length -- fractionally lower and wider, and a few pounds lighter. Passenger cabin volume drops by 2.8 cubic feet, but you likely won't notice unless you're in the habit of stuffing a car with ping-pong balls. One of those "missing" cubic feet has found its way into the trunk, a good trade-off.

The skin and pretty much everything under it is completely new. Refinements in design and construction and careful attention to detail mean lower interior noise levels and greater comfort, and improved fuel economy. The 3.5-liter V6 carries over with some significant changes, but the only similarity between the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the one in last year's Accord is the displacement. It sees the first North American-market use of direct fuel injection, which helps make is both more powerful -- 185 hp to the previous 177 -- and more fuel-efficient. Six, instead of five speeds in the manual transmission and a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) instead of the previous five-speed automatic further improve both performance and economy.

The sedan's model lineup is mostly familiar, with entry-level LX, value-content EX, and fancier EX-L with the four-cylinder engine, and EX-L V6 and full-luxury Touring with the V6. New is a Sport, slotting between the LX and EX. It gets a slight horsepower boost, to 189, courtesy of a low-restriction exhaust, and has sportier trim. A plug-in hybrid is on the way, to be first introduced into the California and New York markets, with a regular hybrid slated to appear after that.

And there is the coupe, which I've driven previously in V6, six-speed manual form. Which showed that any rumors that Honda has lost its way regarding sporty performance and character are absolutely false. This week's choice, and EX sedan with the CVT, is more pedestrian -- but surprisingly sprightly and very frugal with the unleaded regular. Power for merging and passing was never lacking, and with mileage usually at least 30 mpg in a mix of highway and surface street driving, no complaints there, especially considering that, if no longer "full size", it's not at all small. Spacious and space-efficient, plenty quick enough for the real world, and with a meager appetite for fuel -- what's not to like?

APPEARANCE: It can be hard to tell the newest Accord from its immediate predecessor. Continuity is good, and the lower roof and slightly more angular lines give it a sportier, less formal look. Cutlines in the hood and well-defined sides also help. Chrome trim around the sides and bottom of the grille, and on the door handles and around the side windows adds an upscale touch. The rear is more dynamic-looking than in the previous generation.

COMFORT: At EX level, the Accord has all you need and nearly everything you could want. Yes, the upholstery is cloth and the steering wheel molded, textured urethane (and both the seats and wheel are just fine, thank you) -- but the doors unlock when you walk up to them with the "key" fob in your pocket, the driver's seat is power-adjustable, and the steering wheel adjusts for both tilt and reach and has controls for audio, cruise control, information and Bluetooth phone systems. If there is no built-in navigation system, there probably is one in your phone. There is a backup camera -- and the LaneWatch system, which uses a small video camera in the right-side rearview mirror that's activated with use of the turn signal. It's one of the most useful new safety features around. Both the interior design and the materials used strike a good balance between fancy and plain. Fit and finish is very good. The emphasis on fuel economy shows in the instant mpg gauge set into the speedometer and the Eco Assistā„¢ display on its periphery, which glows green when driving in the most economical manner. The standard "Intelligent Multi-Information Display" (i-MID) screen at the top of the center stack shows audio and economy information plus views from the backup LaneWatch cameras in cars without a nav system. Audio choices here are AM and FM radio, CD, remote player via a USB port, or Pandora® streaming audio (with a compatible phone and service). There are useful storage spaces around the cabin, including pockets with bottle holders in all four doors. The glovebox locks. Rear passengers get a contoured bench seat with plenty of elbow room and both floor heat and end-of-console HVAC vents. The central tunnel is low enough that the center position is useful, at least for a short time. There is plenty of trunk capacity, and a space-saver spare under its flat floor.

SAFETY: The 2013 Honda Accord has received a "TopSafetyPick" rating from the IIHS. Passive safety is addressed by the "Advanced Compatibility Engineeringā„¢" unibody structure designed and constructed to control crash energy and protect passengers. The usual front, front-seat side, and full-length side-curtain airbags and side-impact door beams offer further protection. Vehicle Stability Assistā„¢ and traction control enhance driver control, as do antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA). Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning systems are available on upper trim levels.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Use of lightweight high-strength steel results in a more rigid but lighter structure. Less weight improves efficiency, and greater rigidity reduces squeaks and rattles. It also means that the suspension does exactly it was designed to do. That suspension is now by MacPherson struts in front, not double wishbones as previously. Struts are lighter and simpler, and can do the job just as well. The rear is a multilink system. Ride quality is very good, with a moderately firm tuning for supple comfort and good control. There is no pretense to being a sports sedan, but the Accord is an enjoyable drive.

PERFORMANCE: Direct fuel injection allows a high compression ratio -- here 11:1 -- for maximum efficiency and power. Careful combustion chamber design allows that power to be made on regular, not premium, gasoline. Result? 185 horsepower (at 6400 rpm), and more importantly to daily driving, 181 lb-ft of torque at 3900 rpm and plenty all the way down to just above idle. The wide-ratio CVT further improves both acceleration and economy with a low low ratio for quick acceleration at city traffic and highway merging speeds and a high highest ratio for economical highway cruising. And nothing shifts more smoothly than a transmission that has no discrete shifting at all. Given the Accord's mission in life, the four is far more than "merely adequate" -- I never felt the need for more power, and was quite happy to see 30 mpg on a regular basis even around town and on backroads, with 34 in longer-distance highway driving, at real-world highway speeds.

CONCLUSIONS: The newest Honda Accord is the best yet, with a fine combination of space, comfort, and fuel economy.

SPECIFICATIONS
2013 Honda Accord EX Sedan

Base Price			$ 25,405
Price As Tested			$ 26,195
Engine Type			DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with
				 direct fuel injection and i-VTEC®
				 valve timing and lift management
Engine Size			2.4 liters / 144 cu. in.
Horsepower			185 @ 6400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			181 @ 3900 rpm
Transmission			CVT
Wheelbase / Length		109.3 in. / 191.4 in.
Curb Weight			3336 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		18.0
Fuel Capacity			17.2 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				215/55R17 94V Michelin Primacy mxv4
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
				 ABS, EBD, BA standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		27 / 36 / 30
0 to 60 mph				8.3  sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES

Destination and Handling		$ 790
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