|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Despite what every carmaker has come up with, my verdict on the all-new Honda Accord is this: two thumbs up; four-and-a-half out of five stars. It’s not the perfect executive sedan, but it still is the opus that Honda has always designed the Accord to be.
Let’s start outside: the all-new Accord is crisper and sportier than the immediate model it replaces. Whereas the older model had a sense of fussiness to its design, the Accord’s new sheet metal is sleeker; helped by the fact that it’s now 56-mm shorter and 11-mm lower than before. It doesn’t grab attention, and I wager it wasn’t designed to be. Instead, the look is very stately with excellent proportions and intricate detailing that focuses on delivering a low-key but memorable statement. The headlights, for one, is complex integrating twin LED projectors for the low beams, halogen high beams, active cornering lights, signal lights, and LED daytime running lights. Moving over to the side, the Accord features a hard crease line at the top and bottom that extend all the way to the tail lamps, cutting a slimming silhouette to the car. At the back, the tail lamps, a known Accord weak point, is finally well-integrated into the design and offers LED lighting as well.
The Honda Accord’s design smarts continues inside. The smaller body does lead you to assume that the cabin’s more cramped. But rest assured, that’s not the case. If there’s one thing that Honda does well, it’s interior packaging. Front or back, the Accord has kingly accommodations with larger shoulder and legroom than before; the rear alone has grown around 25-mm over the previous (larger) model. Because of the lower overall height, the driving position is also a bit lower, lending a sportier flavor. With that sole exception, the rest of the experience is typical Honda with an exemplary man-machine interface. The pedals, stalks, and steering wheel position are spot on while most of the controls are intuitive and easy-to-use. The seats also offer exemplary support and adjustment for every body type. And finally, visibility on all corners is excellent, making this car a large but nimble one to drive around in traffic.
Notice I mentioned that I found “most of the controls intuitive and easy-to-use”? The only exception and it’s a rather glaring one is the Accord’s infotainment interface. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the directness of buttons or even a central click wheel (I still use a BlackBerry after all) rather than a fingerprint smudge-prone touchscreen. In theory, this new interface is supposed to make the complex and full-featured infotainment easy to use; but in reality it’s quite the opposite. Let me explain: the Accord’s system uses two screens—a small touchscreen located between the center a/c vents and a larger 8-inch LCD on top. Intuitively, you’d expect that commands inputted in the touchscreen will appear on the larger screen. Wrong. In the Accord, commands such as ‘Source’, ‘Phone’, and ‘Settings’ on the touchscreen will change the touchscreen panel itself while the larger screen remains oblivious. The larger screen meanwhile is commanded by the knob located on the right of the touchscreen panel. And because of the touchscreen’s small size, what used to take one or two button presses will at least take three or four. For instance, saving preferred FM stations normally require two steps: press ‘Seek’ and then hold one of 6 ‘Preset’ buttons. In the Accord, this takes three: press ‘Seek’, Select ‘Page’, and hold ‘Preset’. The laggy response doesn’t help things either. Meanwhile, the rotary dial that controls the larger screen is no better. Aside from the throwback graphics, the ‘Menu’ button is mislabeled since it doesn’t really bring you to the top-level menu as you’d expect; only to a menu of options for whichever part of the system you happen to be at that moment. In the Accord’s defense, once you set everything up (station presets, etc.), the rest of the experience fairs much better.
Of course, a car must be judged not by its infotainment system alone and given that, the rest of the Accord package fares excellently. In fact, next to its peers, it’s the clear all-around winner when it comes to performance. Whereas its competition manages to nail one or two attributes correctly, the Accord’s mechanicals all feel like they’re on the same page—cohesively running to give you a serenely comfortable but spirited driving experience. I had initial reservations about the Accord shunning away from its trademark Double Wishbone front suspension to a more conventional MacPherson Strut front-end, but you know what? I don’t miss it. The Accord deals with just about any sort of road surface you throw at it, counteracting imperfect city streets with its plush ride while remaining stable and composed when the speeds pick up. The electric power steering also feels much more responsive and sharper than ever before. And finally, the brakes provide a natural feel throughout the pedal stroke while giving nice bite.
While some of its executive sedan rivals are beginning to shy away from V6 engines, the Accord continues on with a 3.5-liter V6 pumping out 281 horsepower and 342 Nm of torque. Overall, the Accord is now quieter and smoother than ever before thanks to Honda engineer’s emphasis on improving NVH isolation. The V6 comes with Active Noise Cancellation which works very well, lulling my passengers to sleep on more than one occasion. And while you’d normally think that the Accord will suffer greatly in terms of fuel mileage, the opposite is actually true. Equipped not only with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) like the previous model, the new Accord also benefits from ECON mode which makes VCM more aggressive but manages engine and throttle response to extract even more mileage. How better is better? The previous Accord V6 managed around 6.51 km/L in the city, while the new one does 7.58 km/L—a 15-percent improvement. Though there wasn’t any opportunity to bring the Accord out into the highway, the new 6-speed automatic should theoretically also bump up the fuel economy figure into the double digits (US EPA tests say 17 km/L).
Really, the only thing I could fault with the Accord’s on-road performance is the lack of high-tech toys that go along with the potent drivetrain. Aside from the automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and paddle shifters, you don’t get much else to make driving even less stressful. There’s no cruise control for instance, a common feature nowadays on some compact sedans. Plus unlike Accords available in other markets, we don’t get the LaneWatch blind spot indicators, Forward Collision Alert, or anything of the sort. Yes, the Accord does have a multi-angle rear parking camera, but leaving it on the default view seems to be the most effective (unless you really, really want to park equidistant between the parking lines, then the top-down view becomes useful).
Priced at P 2,097,000 (not including the additional P 20,000 for the White Orchid Pearl color you see here and some additional Modulo accessories), the Honda Accord certainly isn’t for everyone. Nonetheless, if this car serves as an oracle to Honda’s fortunes, then things are certainly looking up. Still among the best handling executive sedans in the market, the Accord adds a refined and sophisticated design, more space where it counts, and efficiency that belies the power of its Earth Dreams V6. The infotainment system and the lack of driving toys are indeed sticking points, but won’t necessarily detract from the overall experience. Indeed, the Accord may just lead the charge to Honda’s return to glory.
2014 Honda Accord 3.5 SV
|Ownership||Accord 3.5 SV V6|
|Vehicle Classification||Executive Car|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||V6|
|BHP @ rpm||281 @ 6,200|
|Nm @ rpm||342 @ 4,900|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 93~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,653|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, with Reverse Camera|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather/Wood|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual with Rear Vents|
|No. of Speakers||7|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|