The Honda Accord, America’s best-selling car for more than 41 years, enters the 2018 model year offering an impressive and almost unbelievable host of choices for consumers. There are three engines: a new turbocharged, 1.5-liter direct-injected VTEC 4-cylinder that produces 192 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 192 pound-feet of torque from 1,600-5,000 rpm (the Accord’s most powerful base engine ever); a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, direct-injected VTEC 4-cylinder that delivers 252 horses at 6,500 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque from 1,500-4,000 rpm (the highest torque ever for the Accord), and a third generation 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine with two electric motors and more than 40 percent thermal efficiency, the highest for any mass-produced Honda engine. All engines feature Honda’s drive-by-wire throttle system.
There are also three different transmissions: a 6-speed manual, a CVT, and a 10-speed automatic. Touring and Sport trims with automatic transmissions for both the 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines come with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The new Accord’s wheelbase is longer (+2.16 inches), lower (-0.59 in.), and wider (+0.39 in.) than the previous generation. It has a wider track (+0.20 in. front, +0.79 in. rear), shorter overall length (-0.39 in.), and the seating position is lower and sportier (-1.0 in. front, -0.79 in. rear). The cargo volume for all Accord sedans is 16.7 cubic feet.
The 2018 Accord’s model lineup includes nine variations: LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, Touring, Sport 2.0T, EX-L 2.0T, Touring 2.0T. Hybrids models are available in EX, EX-L and Touring trim. Base pricing for 1.5T-liter powered Accords will range from $23,570 for an LX model with CVT to $33,800 for a Touring model. Prices for 2.0-liter Accords from $30,310 for a Sport model with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or new 10-speed automatic to $35,800 for a 10-speed automatic Touring.
All variations of the Accord are based on a new chassis design that delivers improved steering feel, reduced weight and a lower center of gravity. Added value for 2018 includes: Honda Sensing, standard on all trims with Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Assistive Support Info with a multi-angle rearview and dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention monitor and Auto High Beam headlights – EX and higher trims will add Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Monitor; HMI of Preventive Safety System, Collision Mitigation Braking System (FCW included), Road Departure Mitigation (LDW function included), Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist System; LED exterior lighting; 1.9” added rear legroom; increased fuel economy; NCAP 5-star rating for all test modes; a new 8” Display Audio; a Digital Driver’s meter; and a Head Up Display.
1.5-liter engines will power LX, EX, EX-L Accord models with CVT transmissions and the 2.0-liter engine will propel the EX-L via the 10-speed automatic. As in the past, the Accord Hybrid’s two-motor system operates without the need for a conventional automatic transmission. Additionally, a new, more compact intelligent power unit (IPU) that contains the hybrid battery pack and its control systems, is now mounted beneath the rear floor rather than in the trunk, preserving both cargo space (16.7 cu.-ft.) and the flexibility of a 60/40-split and folding rear seat, which is standard on all Hybrid models and trims.
In terms of the new Accord’s visual appeal, all trim levels display an upscale, sophisticated, and sporty image with its wider stance, lower roofline and a dramatically longer, lower hood that helps it to achieve improved dynamics, a more comfortable interior and a more dramatic persona. Up front are Honda’s characteristic, chrome wing grille and streamlined wing-shaped headlights and aggressive air inlets with Active Grille shutters. Aggressive hood lines lend a bold look, while A-pillars are thinner and positioned rearward on the body, improving outward visibility for the driver.
In profile, the body sides are distinguished by pronounced wheel arches, a distinctive character line running the car’s length along the beltline, concave door panels, and bold, flowing lower sills.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Moving to the interior, the cabin is more spacious and streamlined than before, with a tapered rear section including longer and sleeker quarter windows that adds lightness, visibility and a sporty flair, to the new Accord, with a bright trim flowing front to rear above the windows adding a more aerodynamic look.
The rear features a brightly trimmed fascia mimicking the front end, with a slightly longer overhang than before. The tailored decklid helps air separate cleanly from the body, while bright trim adds a premium appearance, and dramatic light-pipe LED taillights finish the Accord’s new styling.
During the national press introduction, my driving partner and I were able to experience ride and drive time in Accord examples representing: Sport and Touring models as well an early pre-production Hybrid. All three engines as well as all three transmissions were put through their paces in various driving scenarios including urban stretches, freeways and scenic roads around Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Test vehicle exterior colors included San Marino Red metallic, Still Night Pearl and Kona Coffee metallic, while all interiors happened to be in black leather.
If there happens to be an issue with the 2018 Honda Accord, it’s only in the selection process. The chassis dynamics are essentially the same across the board, but which engine and transmission are best? What represents the favored model – Sport, Touring or Hybrid?
The six-speed manual gearbox is somewhat on the notchy side and the clutch takeup was near the top – still in all the manual provided the most enjoyable grass roots driving experience. The CVT transmission performed well as CVT transmissions go, but would benefit from a stepped gear shift treatment. The new 10-speed is incredibly smooth providing admirable attributes.
The 1.5T engine’s power is obviously outclassed by the 2.0T for better acceleration. The Hybrid performs exceptionally well and is nearly indiscernible as a hybrid.
Handling characteristics and roadability are exemplary, with instantly responsive steering for all variations tested and ride comfort is exceptional especially with the improved cabin ambiance and seating support.
TFLCAR’S TAKE: Model choice is a singularly personal thing. “Dyed in the wool” enthusiasts will likely opt for the 2.0T Sport with the manual gearbox, though the 10-speed auto was pleasurable. For those wanting the “whole enchilada”, the 2.0T Touring model is recommended. Availability is another issue – 1.5-liter turbos go on sale October 18, 2017, the 2.0T-liter Accords become available at the end of November, 2017, and the Hybrid will not be available until early 2018.
In the final analysis, with all the various choices available, the 2018 Honda Accord is likely to provide the just right vehicle for nearly everyone. Essentially, there is no wrong selection to be made from the new lineup of this newest iteration Accord that’s smaller on the outside but larger on the inside featuring the latest in state of the art technology for driving application, infotainment and connectivity available including: Auto Phone Pairing, Wireless charging, Honda’s next generation HondaLink® Assist with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.– all are winners sure to perpetuate the Accord’s continued legendary sales success.
2018 Honda Accord Specifications:
|MSRP:||$24,445 – $36,675, depending on trim|
|1.5T Specs (HP/Torque)||192hp @ 5,500 RPM/192 ft-lbs. @ 1,600-5,500 RPM|
|2.0T Specs (HP/Torque)||252hp @ 6,500 RPM/272 ft-lbs. @3,500 RPM|
|Transmissions:||6-speed manual; CVT; 10-speed automatic|
|Drivetrain:||Transverse-mounted engine, Front-wheel-drive|
|Suspension:||Front – McPherson struts w/ tubular stabilizer bar
Rear – Multi-link with solid stabilizer bar
|Brakes:||Power-assisted discs (front vented) w/ ABS, EBB, EBD, BA, VSA with Traction Control and Agile Handling Assist|
|Curb Weight:||3,138 to 3,428 pounds, depending on engine/transmission|
|Turning Circle:||38.1 feet|
|Fuel Capacity:||14.8 gallons; Hybrid is 12.8 gallons|
|Fuel Economy (EPA, Combined/City/Highway):||1.5T – 33/30/38
2.0T – 28/25/34
Hybrid – Not yet rated
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed|
|0-60 MPH:||Not yet tested|