The 2018 Honda Accord is all new, more upscale and more refined. Built around a new chassis that utilizes more high-strength steel, it’s wider and lower than before, and it looks more substantial. Inside, it’s roomier and quieter.
There are two new turbocharged four-cylinder engines, with a hybrid version available late in the model year. Gone is the brilliant, smooth, longtime V6 (though it remains in other Honda products).
The new engines deliver adequate performance, but it’s the handling and ride that make the new Accord stand out.
The new sedan brings a Honda-made 10-speed automatic, soft leathers, wood dash accents, interior noise cancellation, LED headlamps, advanced safety features, and a slick 8.0-inch touchscreen on every model but the base LX.
The standard Accord LX still offers a lot. It uses a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, mated to a continuously variable transmission, to bring a 33 Combined miles per gallon EPA rating, 38 mpg Highway. The ride is composed, the cabin is quiet, and there’s good rear legroom. A six-speed manual transmission is available for no cost.
Sport models get upgraded equipment and appearance features.
The popular EX and EX-L models get upgraded upholstery, bigger wheels, and better audio. The Accord Touring model with adaptive suspension feels upscale, almost feels like a luxury car, and is enjoyable to drive on a winding road.
The upgrade engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The 10-speed automatic is standard, a 6-speed manual available.
HondaSensing, standard on every model, includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. LED headlamps are standard.
The Accord Hybrid is expected in early 2018, beginning its third generation. Honda’s hybrid system is different than the others, using its internal combustion engine to power a generator that feeds two 181-hp electric motors that power the wheels. The engine is a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder making 143 horsepower, to make a total horsepower of 212 when combined with the electric motors. Compact batteries are relocated under the seat. We’ve had some seat time in prototypes, and the powerplant felt seamless.
Models are the LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring. The 1.5-liter engine is standard. The 2.0-liter engine is available in Sport, EX-L, and Touring.
Accord LX ($24,445) gets a 7.0-inch screen. All other models get the 8.0-inch with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7.0-inch driver information display buried into the instrument cluster, and a USB port for charging and audio. Plus the advanced safety features.
Sport adds 19-inch wheels, chrome exhaust tips, spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat, 8.0-inch touchscreen, synthetic leather inserts in the cloth seats, and foglights.
EX gets heated seats, satellite radio, upgraded cloth upholstery, moonroof, blind-spot monitors, another USB port, and a chrome grille.
EX-L brings leather accents, power-adjustable front seats, 10-speaker premium stereo, and optional navigation.
Touring offers heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a head-up display, navigation, wireless cellphone charging and one-touch Bluetooth connectivity, and paddle shifters.
With its classic profile and contemporary edges, the 2018 Accord is one of the best-looking cars in its class. If it was thought to be frumpy before, it’s not now. The design isn’t over-wrought. During our test drives, we’ve noticed people watching it.
We prefer the body-colored grille to the chrome version.
Some of the interior trim packages make the cabin feel dark. The base cloth is handsome but seems thin.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen, taken from the Honda Odyssey minivan, sits atop the dash, eliminating the need to have dash material behind it. The display is sharp and the maps are easy to understand. Roads and icons are bright and clear. It’s easy to swipe and scroll. The infotainment system is a bit confusing at first, but it’s learned fast.
We found the new Accord supremely comfortable, for four people.
Five works only for short periods. The outboard rear seats are deep, with a hump in the middle. The rear seats are nearly 1 inch lower than before, but the doors open wider. The increased wheelbase allows more legroom in the rear, more than 40 inches, enough for a six-foot-tall person. The increase in width doesn’t seem to bring shoulder space, though.
The driver’s seat is 1 inch lower, gaining headroom in front. The front seats are taller and have more bolstering.
Standard active noise cancellation uses a microphone in the rear of the car to redact road noise. All but the LX have wheel resonators, a piece of material wrapped around the center of the wheel, that swallow tire noise.
The trunk is massive and holds 16.7 cubic feet, with a wider opening than on the previous generation.
The Hybrid, with its batteries now moved out of the trunk and under the rear seat, holds about the same as the standard models. The rear seats split and fold, opening up to the trunk to create big cargo-carrying flexibility.
Back by popular (buyers’) demand, there is a hard knob for tuning and scrolling on the radio, in addition to the volume knob. Other buttons for common functions flank the touchscreen. We’ve found this setup easy to use, and vastly superior to the previous Honda design that used touchscreen controls.
The base engine, powering 80 percent of all Accords, is a 1.5-liter turbo four making 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, paired with either a 6-speed manual or CVT. It’s strong on power at low revs, not so much at the top. We recommend the CVT, because the manual takes work to keep the Accord on the bubble.
The available 2.0-liter turbo four comes from the Civic Type R hatchback, but it’s a bit less aggressive in the horsepower, 252 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. It’s quick, smooth and flexible. The 2.0-liter uses either a 10-speed automatic from the Odyssey van or a 6-speed manual from the Type R.
The 10-speed with paddle shifters works very well. The gear selector is on the console, a series of buttons that has become a standard design on Honda and Acura cars. They take some getting used to, but the buttons are shaped differently and look different and become easier to use with familiarization. A traditional shifter is quicker going from Drive to Reverse and back, however, because you don’t have to look at it.
With the manual, the clutch pedal is very light, and its engagement lengthy and late; and the throws on the shifter are long.
It also uses electric power steering system with ratios that adjust for the situation, for example it quickens when the driver turns it quickly. Out on the freeway, when there’s less turning, the steering is slower. It is well weighted, a big improvement over the previous Accord, precise, confident.
The suspension is basic front strut and rear multi-link, with fluid-filled bushings for a smoother ride. It’s more communicative than you might expect. Top models get adaptive dampers with modes, as in the Civic Si and Type R. They make the Accord feel composed and confident on challenging roads, while being relaxed when the road calls for it. The Sport gets 19-inch wheels that reduce the comfort of the ride.
The new Honda Accord delivers standout handling and a smooth ride, a comfortable cabin with intuitive controls, elegant looks. It’s loaded with safety features and delivers good fuel economy.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with NCTD editor Mitch McCullough reporting from New York and New Jersey, and staff reports.