The Honda Accord Actually Cares That You Like Driving

By August 4, 2016Honda/Acura
2016 Honda Accord

Moments before sitting in the 2017 Honda Accord Touring you see here, I was driving around in the oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-this-thing-exists Volvo XC90 R-Design. You can imagine then that my expectations were set very high. So, as I drove from Volvo Laval to the Boucherville Honda press office to go pick up the Accord, I thought to myself: “How am I going to see clearly after being so spoiled?”

You see, automotive journalism requires that no matter how exquisite a car may be, we have to keep our head cool or else we wouldn’t be reviewing cars, but simply driving them instead. Yes, we are a spoiled bunch, which means that when we get out of a 70k Swedish luxury SUV, it’s hard to be objective about a mid-size sedan targeted to common mortals like you and me.

That being said, the moment I sat in the 2017 Honda Accord, apart from noticing a solid drop in the quality of interior materials compared to the blue Swede, I immediately felt at home; because the Accord is Honda ingenuity at its best. In fact, this car is so good, that by the time I had driven out of the Honda press office parking lot, I had already forgotten all about the Volvo.

It’s All in the Details

2016 Honda Accord

It’s really the minute details that add up to make the Accord feel so exquisite. Behind the wheel, the first thing you notice is how easy it is to see everything outside.  Thanks to a low cowl, thin A-pillars, and lower than average door windows, there’s an airy feeling in the cabin that brings back memories of the cars of the nineties. And that, believe me, is a very good quality – especially for us gen-Y’s who grew up in the 90s and are the ones buying new cars nowadays.

Then, there’s the way you sit in an Accord. Granted, there’s nothing revolutionary about the seats; the fabrics are ok at best, and that fake grey leather could very well have been borrowed from a Honda Shadow motorcycle seat cover for all I care. But they’re just so damn comfortable and provide excellent lumbar support. You also sit nice and low just like in the Honda products we all grew up with. And that instantly makes you feel happy about everything else in the world.

Styling wise, this is very much a Honda Accord, meaning it blends right into the array of mundane family sedans offered on the market today, yet it still retains that typical timeless design that’s so typical of Honda products.

2016 Honda Accord

Ever since the 2016 model year, the Accord received a facelift which does a fantastic job of giving it a bit more sex appeal. This was never a bad design to begin with, but the previous version was a bit too conservative for my tastes. The updated front fascia is now dressed up with even more chrome inserts, as well as a new pair of LED daytime running lights. Opt for the Touring trim, such as my tester, and you get the full LED treatment of headlights and fog lamps.

Touring also adds very attractive 19-inch wheels, which, coming from Honda, is a complement considering that most of their current wheel designs are just plain awful. Out back, there’s added chrome over the taillights which have also been given a revised LED design.

2016 Honda Accord

Dressed up this way, with the added rear spoiler and that Obsidian Blue Pearl paint job, this Accord looks, well it looks very good doesn’t it?

2016 Honda Accord

Inside, as stated earlier, the cabin won’t set your hair on fire with fancy designs or expensive looking fabrics. Just a clean, functional and well put together interior. Being the “older” car in Honda’s lineup, it’s certainly not as fresh as what you get in the 2016 Civic, but it still stands its own ground as a great place to spend some time in.  In an attempt to prevent the Accord from being overshadowed by the Civic, Honda has pimped up the interior with piano-black plastics, wood grain (for Touring trims) as well as soft-touch materials on door panels and across the dashboard, but to be totally honest, the Civic still feels more premium than its big sister. And that’s somewhat disconcerting.

You Need to Drive One to Understand

2016 Honda Accord

The charm of the 2017 Honda Accord lies in its driving dynamics. And this is where, somehow, it surpasses the Civic. Here is how ironic things are at Honda these days: the Civic, which is supposed to be the brand’s entry level sedan for younger buyers, feels more premium, spacious, and overall larger than the Accord.

The Accord, which is supposed to be the more sedate and mature midsize family sedan, feels sportier, nimbler, and light on its feet.

Ok Honda.

2016 Honda Accord

Anyway, the Accord is, without fail, fantastic to drive. And that’s no coincidence, since Honda’s engineers have carefully massaged the car’s handling feel by adding an aluminum hood, a more rigid front strut tower bar, a new front member upper member stiffener, as well as new front and rear damper housing stiffeners. The immediate feeling behind the wheel is of a light and playful chassis that can take abuse all day long and still ask for more. As a matter of fact, during the time I had my Accord press car, I allowed myself to enter corners way faster than I was legally allowed to, expecting the tires to start complaining as they were pushed to the limits of their adherence; in the end, all they did was claw into the pavement, as if they were asking, “Are you done warming up?”.

2016 Honda Accord

My god this car is a gem to drive.

And it’s not just the Accord’s ability to eat up corners that impresses the most, it’s its ability to soak up road imperfections and leave your Tim Hortons coffee intact while doing so. This is one of the most balanced suspension system I’ve ever experienced in any automobile so far, and I’ve driven a lot of stuff.

Drivetrain wise, there are two possible engines with a total of three transmission choices for the 2017 Accord. There’s even a hybrid version. Buyers can either opt for a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine good for a more than sufficient 185 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. It can be coupled to either of Honda’s excellent transmissions, the CVT or the 6-speed manual – thank God.

2016 Honda Accord

A V6 is available; essentially the same engine found in all Honda V6-powered vehicles. It’s the brand’s now famous and very appreciated 3.5L, the same engine found in the Acura TLX SH-AWD I drove this winter. It’s good for 278 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and can only be had with a 6-speed automatic transmission in sedan trim. Rest assured, a 6-speed manual is available in the coupe.

2016 Honda Accord

My tester had the 2.4L with the CVT transmission. Although my Accord of choice would be equipped with the stick and three pedals, I was eager to experience that CVT with the 2.4L. This is the same transmission as in the near perfect 2016 Civic Turbo I drove earlier this spring, one which I had described as:

“Never once was I thinking about what the transmission was doing. It simply gets the job done, going about its business without attracting too much attention to itself.”

And things are no different in the Accord. There are three different drive modes available directly on the shift lever. Shift it into S, and, like in the Civic, the CVT transmission keeps the revs up to maximize the engine’s available power band. In this case, the 2.4L emits one very satisfying intake rasp and starts to bark as it climbs through the revs thanks to the i-VTEC system.

IMG_1208

Of course, this is the same 2.4L that powers the Acura ILX, but with slightly different tuning.  It’s without a doubt a fantastic engine, one which, even with the CVT transmission, satisfies drivers with quick throttle response, an enjoyable exhaust note, and a willingness to rev. And although I have nothing to say against Honda’s new turbocharged engines, this 2.4L will be missed.

2016 Honda Accord

It’s important to mention that the Touring model was never intended to be sporty. Honda will sell you an Accord Sport, which comes with an added 5 hp (lol) and a dual exhaust. It also gets the Touring’s rear deck spoiler, 19-inch wheels and carbon fibre inserts instead of the wood grain. Because nothing says Sport like carbon fibre trim.

That said, even in Touring trim, and with the “boring” CVT, the Accord manages to put a smile on the face of even the most hardcore of enthusiasts.

Uncomfortably Acura-esque

2016 Honda Accord

At the end of my time with the Accord, it took me a lot to find any shortcomings.  My only gripe is with the fact that Honda still hasn’t fitted its infotainment systems with a freakin volume knob. That touch-based volume control thingy is utterly useless. Also, I’m still not a big fan of the whole two-screen layout for the infotainment system, where more often than not, it simply mirrors the same information on both displays. It’s unintuitive and simply doesn’t make sense.

2016 Honda Accord

Annoying volume controls aside, the Accord not only accomplishes its duty of being a well put-together mid-size sedan for the masses, it also offers its drivers a list of pleasant surprises that allow it to punch way above its weight. Rear leg room and cargo space is more than decent, although I’ve heard you can get a tad more from the competition. Meh, who cares right? Boring statistics aside, the Accord is perfectly balanced in the areas that matter;  it’s comfortable, handles well, is seriously fun to drive, reliable, fuel efficient (6.9L/100 km average) and looks good enough to park it next to a BMW 3-series without being ashamed of it.

2016 Honda Accord

And then, there’s the fact that the 2017 Honda Accord is uncomfortably close to the Acura crop of sedans. During the time I was driving the Accord, I’d ask myself, “why on God’s earth would anyone buy an Acura TLX over this?”

Fine, the TLX does come with the added benefit of AWD in SH-AWD trim, but is it really worth paying almost $12 000 extra? And if you’re looking for a dynamic sports sedan with a raspy exhaust note and high-revving engine, why get an Acura ILX? That thing is still a few thousand dollars more than this Accord. Not that I want to bash on the ILX or anything; it’s a car I respect and rather enjoyed. But in four cylinder trim, the Accord is simply too much of a bargain. My tester, the Touring, is the most topped-out Accord you can get before entering V6 territory and it sells for $35 241. The Acura ILX I test drove a few months ago sells for $37 191.

2016 Honda Accord

And yes, at that price your Accord will have leather seats, power everything, and Honda Sensing; Honda’s seriously impressive mashup of safety technology and autonomous driving aids that actually allow your Accord to drive on its own on the highway. You can even charge your smart phone via Bluetooth in the Honda, something I couldn’t do in the ILX.

2016 Honda Accord

But the final nail in the coffin for Acura, especially for the ILX’s sake, is that the Accord Sport, which comes with a 6-speed manual, the same engine, and more overall interior space and comfort, sells for $28 941. Opt for the same tech packages as in the ILX, and you’re still under at $31 048 ($31 791 for the ILX).

Uh-oh.

2016 Honda Accord

And although I have nothing to say against the current crop of Acura products, I would personally go out and buy the Accord Sport way before an Acura ILX, even if it comes with an impressive dual-clutch transmission. Sorry DCT, the manual box still has you beaten. That being said, not only does the Honda Accord offer more Acura for your money, it’s just a way better sorted out vehicle in every way. Unlike the Acuras, which try so hard to get noticed, the 2017 Honda Accord simply dominates its mission of being the benchmarked midsize sedan. Simply put, there aren’t many cars on the market today that offer you this much car and fun for the price.

 

Clavey’s Verdict

Review of the 2016 Honda Accord by William Clavey – *2016 Top 10 Contender

/ 10
Midsize Sedans

+
+ Impressive handling and road manners.
+ Comfortable and well put together interior.
+ A lot of car for the money.


– Interior materials feel low grade next to the cheaper Civic.
– Lack of a volume knob.
– Unintuitive two-screen infotainment system.

 


Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.

Special thanks: Honda Canada

Photography: Appearance

Contact the author: william@claveyscorner.com

William Clavey

About William Clavey

Automotive journalist, writer, and apparently the Canadian contributor to some silly car website called Jalopnik.

8 Comments

  • […] go check out my full review. Maybe you’ll want to buy one as […]

  • Newf E says:

    Few things. Another reviewer that doesn’t take the time to learn how to use the electronics doesn’t mean the electronics are bad. I fully expect the next Accord to not have two screens simply because of lazy people. Two screens are always better then one. When you back up the top screen is the camera while the bottom screen is free to use as a radio or nav. When you use the blind spot camera it’s the same thing. The top screen is easier to look quickly at for nav without taking your eyes from the road as much…and the list goes on. You simply need to spend time with it and learn it.
    Next you’re comparison to the ILX is spot on. No idea why anyone would pay more for an ILX and the 6 speed will always be better. But your comparison to the tlx is wrong. You are comparing a 4cyl cvt touring to a sh-awd v6. Apples to oranges. Your pricing is a bit off too. As an owner of both the accord touring v6 and Tlx shawd elite I have some insight here.
    The Honda’s stereo sounds horrible. The materials on the seats, doors and dash are considerably lower quality. The Honda has much more road noise. The Honda suffers from massive wheel spin and understeer issues where the TLX is super planted in every situation. The sport mode in the auto tranny on the Accord is erratic to the point where its unpredictable. 1st gear in the Accord auto is useless and shifts too early. The steering is numb. The Accord even with winter studs on is not a good car in the snow even the 8th gen Accord was better. There are so many little touches in the TLX interior and exterior that make it the better car but you need more then a test drive to notice them all. The TLX however still uses the old slow infotainment gui the first 2013 Accords had… not acceptable given its price but it does sound considerably better. It has no spare tire! If you can get the ShAWD V6 with a rebate and lower interest rate as I did the car gets even more attractive.

    • Hey, thanks for commenting and providing me with such valuable insights about both cars. I just finished spending another week in a TLX SH-AWD press car (review coming out shortly), and it allowed me to look back at the car and better compare it to the Accord. The problem with the two-screen setup is not that it’s bad, it’s that it takes a while to get your head around it, and more often than not, both screens offer the same information. Granted, after spending more time in it, I agree that having two screens does come in handy, but the system isn’t intuitive compared to the one offered by other carmakers. Simple tasks such as changing audio sources are complex and tedious, which in turn takes your attention off the road while driving.

      FYI: the pricing comes straight from Honda Canada and is before taxes and preparation.

      That said, thanks for bringing up the TLX’ minute details, compared to the Accord. I noticed them too. Stay tuned for my second review of the car which will be released later this week. Hint: we spent the day on a wet and cold track to fully exploit the SH-AWD.

  • Wing Yip says:

    “My tester, the Touring, is the most topped-out Accord you can get before entering V6 territory and it sells for $35 241.”

    Accord Touring trim comes with a V6 and v6 only.

  • William says:

    Wow to your test of the Accord Sp. manual and wow to the car. Oh my. just got back from a road test of a ’14 model with 27k on it. Dang that thing goes pretty well. It wants to go and it wants to corner hard. I couldnt even run it much over 85 mph due to traffic and un-car-guy passengers. Tactile feel of controls was excellent. Car is a gem. I’ll be getting a used one. I’ve found my thrill. Had a V6 Venza (very powerful) and have a v8 Tundra now. Can’t wait.

  • Demosthenes says:

    Great review. Thanks.

    I own a 2016 Accord EX-L V6. I had a BWM 3 series before that.

    The V6 is a gem. It loves to rev, sounds good and pulls strongly.

    The cabin is comfortable, open and airy. It provides great visibility and the right side view camera makes changing lanes a breeze.

    The chassis provides a great balance between ride and handling. I miss my BMW’s “planted” feeling but I don’t miss the very firm ride.

    Minuses? The interior is dated. The fake wood trim and brightwork around the main screen are irritating. But the seats are comfortable and the car feels huge inside. Although my car is pretty quiet overall, there’s too much road noise on rough roads.

    The bottom line is that I enjoy driving this car and I can afford it. Sure, I’d rather have a high end German sports sedan but I can’t afford them and I hate being surprised by $1,000 to $2,000 repair bills.

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