2013 Honda AccordPosted on February 11th, 2013
Ninth-generation sedan is safer and smarter
By Nina Russin
As a runner and cyclist, I’m always on the lookout for technology that helps drivers and pedestrians share the road safely. One of the most common scenarios for car/pedestrian accidents occurs when a driver fails to see a pedestrian to the right of the vehicle before turning. While a runner might be able to jump back onto the sidewalk, faster-moving cyclists have a more difficult time avoiding a collision.
A LaneWatch feature on the 2013 Accord enables the driver to see pedestrians to the right of the vehicle, using a camera mounted on the side view mirror. When the driver signals to turn, the camera projects a wide-angle view to the right of the sedan. Lines superimposed over the image help the driver to gauge the distance between the vehicle and pedestrians to his right.
I would consider the 2013 Accord a brilliant design, if only for this feature. But the ninth-generation of Honda’s midsized sedan offers quite a bit more. A powerful V-6 engine delivers up to 34 miles-per-gallon on the highway, thanks to technology that shuts off half the cylinders when engine loads are low.
Driving enthusiasts can purchase both four and six-cylinder models with a six-speed manual transmission. Honda is also producing both conventional and plug-in hybrids for buyers with an environmental focus. There are two automatic transmissions: a continuously-variable transmission on the four-cylinder car, and a six-speed step transmission that replaces the five-speed box on the outgoing model.
This week I drove the V-6 Touring model with the six-speed automatic transmission. Base price is $33,430, excluding the $790 destination charge.
Honda keeps its pricing strategy simple by making all of the comfort and convenience features standard equipment on the upscale grade. Convenience features on the test car include keyless entry and start, ten-way power driver’s seat with two-position memory, power passenger seat, heated front seats, Bluetooth interface, Pandora, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, heated power door mirrors, leather upholstery, navigation with rearview camera and a 360-watt sound system.
Safety features include the rear and side view cameras, tire pressure monitoring, daytime running lamps and a maintenance minder display. Final MSRP is $34,220.
Test drive in Phoenix
In addition to driving the Accord around town, I took the sedan on a 100-mile loop from my house in the southeast valley into the Superstition Mountains. I wanted to see how the engine handled elevation gain, test the sport mode and compare my fuel economy with the EPA estimates.
Having done that, I believe that the current Accord is the best version of the model to date. Engineers made the newest sedan slightly smaller than the outgoing model, which was legally classified as a full-sized sedan. Yet interior space in the new car seems as good, if not better for both rows of passengers.
The new V-6 engine is an outstanding piece of engineering. Were it not for a display in the gauge cluster, I would have been unaware of the cylinder cut-off feature. There is no perceptible change in power and performance. Yet fuel economy is every bit as good as the manufacturer claims.
The six-speed automatic transmission that replaces the former five-speed unit enhances gas mileage further by adding another overdrive gear. In sport mode, the on-board computer keeps engine speeds in the 3000 rpm range for better power. Normally, engine speeds are at or below 2000 rpm, for best efficiency.
The electric power steering system offers good on-center response on the highway, in the event the driver needs to perform a quick lane change. There is ample assist at low speeds for maneuvering through traffic. The turning circle is just over 38 feet.
Visibility around the perimeter is exceptional, thanks to the two cameras and a convex mirror mounted inside the driver’s side door mirror. I was able to monitor several lanes of traffic to the left when merging onto the highway, and had no problems monitoring vehicles to the right. The LaneWatch feature was especially useful on Bush Highway: a popular route for cyclists.
Vented disc brakes in the front and solid rotors in the rear stop the Accord in a firm, linear manner.
The Honda Accord seats up to five passengers. Legroom in the second-row center position is a bit scant due to the location of the center console, but passengers should be fine on shorter trips around town. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin. Overhead reading lamps illuminate both rows of seating at night.
Keyless entry with push button start enables the driver to enter the car and fire the ignition without removing the key fob from his pocket. Driver’s seat memory controls make it easier for multiple family members to share the car.
Honda uses a mouse-type device to control infotainment functions. It was not as intuitive as I had hoped to use. But that isn’t necessarily as much of an issue for car owners as for a journalist getting in and out of the vehicle on a test drive.
I found the gauge cluster easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions, but the center stack screen tended to wash out in bright sunlight.
Designers did a good job of providing all passengers with 12-volt power points for recharging electronic devices, as well as a USB and auxiliary port.
A locking glovebox provides secure storage inside the passenger cabin. The Accord trunk is quite spacious, with room for luggage, golf bags, groceries and modest-sized camping equipment. A pass-through extends the floor for longer items such as skis and snowboards. A release lever near the lip of the trunk makes it easy to fold the second-row seats flat.
The Honda Accord comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, forward collision warning, stability control, antilock brakes, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lamps.
Honda builds the Accord at its Marysville, Ohio assembly plant.
Like: An extremely safe and comfortable five-passenger sedan, with innovative features that help to avoid car/pedestrian collisions. The new V-6 engine is both powerful and efficient, combining excellent performance and fuel economy.
Dislike: Center stack screen tends to wash out in bright sunlight.
Model: Accord V-6 Touring
Base price: $33,430
As tested: $34,220
Horsepower: 278 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 252 lbs.-ft. @ 4900 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 21/34 mpg city/highway
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