Despite the badge, few vehicles feel as wholly American as the Honda Accord. Since 1982, Honda’s self-described flagship has been built in Ohio, not too far from the U.S. auto manufacturing Mecca that is Detroit.
From the moment the cover was pulled off this new model, there’s been quite a stir from Honda enthusiasts. What seemed to cause the greatest fuss was the move to an entirely turbocharged lineup. The days of high-revving naturally aspirated Honda engines is nearly gone, replaced by turbocharged engines with lots of torque and less stratospheric redlines. Pitchforks were raised over the loss of the V6. Some people seem to have given up on Honda. Those kneejerk reactions were all misplaced. This is the best Accord Honda has ever built.
The 2018 Accord is available with either a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four making 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque or a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four making 252 horsepower and a very un-Honda 273 pound-feet of torque. The latter replaces the 3.5-liter V6 that’s been in Hondas for more than 20 years. It’s based off of and built alongside the 2.0-liter turbo engine found in the new Honda Civic Type R.
The Accord now has the updated infotainment system from the new Odyssey. After years of dual screens and touch-capacitive inputs, Honda has simplified things with a single screen with two large knobs and an array of buttons. Sure, it doesn’t look as clean as a slick piece of glass or plastic, but it’s far, far easier to use. I’ll take that over a frustrating and fingerprint prone interface any day. The system itself is clean and responds quickly to inputs. Most people just want their cars to be as easy as their phones, so Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available.
For 2018, the HondaSensing active safety suite is standard on all Accords. This means every model gets automatic cruise control with low-speed follow, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist and traffic-sign recognition. EX models and above get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert while top-level Touring models get front and rear parking sensors. The automatic cruise control and lane-keep assist work well, not leaving a huge gap between cars like some earlier systems.
There’s no doubt that this is the best-looking and best-driving Accord that Honda has ever produced. Sure, the new engines mean the car doesn’t quite have the same character as older models, but it’s just different, not bad. Front to back, this car is really something special. It’s not only better than the last Accord, it’s as good or better than everything else in the class. There’s not one fundamental flaw or glaring issue that Honda left in. All of the criticisms of the past few years about complacency and a lost focus seem to have been addressed.
The new Toyota Camry is a truly great car, and one that’s fun to drive for the first time in decades. It offers more power from its V6, but there’s no manual available on any trim. The same goes for the Ford Fusion. Those might be better options if you really care about straight-line performance. Both were on hand to drive and, after a back to back comparison, don’t feel nearly as well rounded as the Accord. The Camry comes close, and for some, the details might lead you towards Toyota. I’ll stick with the Honda.