Accord and Camry slug it out.
Despite the huge switch from cars to utility vehicles, the four-door family sedan remains a large and vital sector. Camry and Accord are all new for the 2018 model year. Both are designed, engineered and built in North America, for North Americans.
Two of the biggest players in the industry have been totally re-designed and re-engineered at the same time.
The 10th generation Accord has a new look, new features, more interior room, improved fuel efficiency, and increased safety. It is based on a stretched version of the new global platform that serves beneath the latest CR-V and Civic.
The 2018 Accord has a bolder, more aggressive look. The wheelbase is 5.3-cm longer,. But is is one centimetre shorter overall. It is 15-mm lower, and 10-mm wider than the outgoing model. Using larger wheels and pushing them to the corners results in shorter overhangs, and the impression of greater length. A character line that stretches from one end to the other, and a fastback-like roofline help.
Despite the low roofline, there is plenty of rear seat headroom for full-size adults. This is possible because of scallops in the roof liner in the appropriate spot.
Most of the added wheelbase has been allocated to the rear seat area where legroom is noticeably improved.
The low belt line, and tall glass surfaces make for excellent visibility except to the rear. The steeply sloped glass, and high sill where the window meets the trunk leave only a narrow gap, looking out the rear window. On the plus side, the there is more trunk space than the outgoing Accord.
The LED headlight array of the Touring model blends nicely with the chromed stripe hosting a giant Honda logo. The raised edges of the hood is another styling touch that sets the Accord apartthe pack.
The interior is distinctly more upscale than the previous Accord. High quality materials have been meticulously applied. Everything is positioned where you first look for it. Both major and minor controls operate with smoothness and precision. Kudos to the interior design team for bringing back big round knobs to control vital functions. You can once again change a station, and adjust volume or temperature by simply turning a knob!
The instrument panel contains a pair of large, round configurable digital gauges. A large infotainment screen at the top dominates the center stack. A vast improvement over the old system, this one uses tiles as the basis for choosing a function. The same tap, swipe, pinch and zoom functions used on smart phones are at play here. You can even place your favourites on a separate bar for ready access. The system includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The big news for enthusiasts lies under the hood. No more V6. The sonorous and silky six has been replaced by a turbocharged four-cylinder. While those of us who loved that six will be disappointed, the other 99% of consumers will not notice the difference.
The new Accord comes with a pair of turbo fours.
A turbocharged 1.5-litre unit producing more horsepower and torque has replaced the old 2.4-litre four used in base and mid-level models. At 192 horses and the same number of lb.ft. this is the most powerful base engine ever offered in an Accord.
No more V6
The V6 has been replaced by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four, this one producing 252 horsepower and 273 lb.ft. of torque. That latter number is greater than the 252 lb.ft. produced by the V6 and peaks at only 1,500 rpm, compared to a lofty 4,900 for the V6. More grunt, more readily while using less fuel, is the story for both new engines compared to those they replaced.
The smaller engine is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission, and the bigger one with a new conventional 10-speed automatic. For about $3,000 I’d chose the bigger engine and 10-speed, not only for the added power, but because I am not a fan of continuously variable automatics, even when they are as good as this one. But, once again, that other 99% will probably not notice the difference.
The Accord and Camry are all new for 2018 – let the games begin!
Model: 2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5L
Engine: turbocharged, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, 192 horsepower, 192 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
Transmission: six speed manual, continuously variable automatic
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 8.2/6.8
Length: 4,882 mm
Width: 2,137 mm
Wheelbase: 2,830 mm
Weight: 1,408 kg
Price: $35,790 base – $35,790 as tested, plus freight.
Alternatives: Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry