Walkaround and Interior

By February 6, 2014

Walkaround

The Honda Accord sedans and coupes look fresh, having been completely redesigned for the 2013 model year. This ninth-generation Accord blends curves, creases and angles, now in a more cohesive shape; it's incrementally lower, wider and three inches shorter than pre-2013 models. There are no changes for 2014.

Honda has always favored slender pillars, lots of glass and a low hoodline for good visibility, and amongst the growing trend to make four-door sedans resemble coupes this generous window area is refreshing. Where the window line on many cars extends from the top of the hood to the top of the trunk, the Accord's runs more from the headlight cut-line to the top of the tail lights. This yields not only a credible sedan profile but also adds to the airy cabin spaciousness and proper rear-seat headroom. From overhead the center section is mildly barrel-shaped, the widest point where front and rear doors meet appearing pointed relative the smooth lines of the roof above it.

There's a mild forward tilt to the profile, enhanced by the scalloped front door panels and raked headlight housings. Viewed from behind, the front wheel opening is inset above the sill and shows some tire, an image we associate more with sports cars than family sedans.

Rear doors on Accord sedans look like long-wheelbase versions of some sedans, with an almost flat section at the top and opening that runs straight from the door sill to the window kink popularized by BMW and Hofmeister half a century ago.

The coupe is nicely proportioned and, like the sedan, uses a higher than average roofline over the back seat for better-than-normal rear-seat room. Unlike the sedan the tail lights do not extend into the trunk lid, and the chrome lower molding is much wider. Also unlike the sedan, the rear reflectors on the coupe are vertically oriented and the tail pipes are semi-inset in a deeper bumper; you actually see fewer mechanical parts from behind the coupe than from behind the sedan.

Up front the dual-bar horizontal grille is all Honda, with a more stylish lower half. A more attractive honeycomb lower grille and chrome strip at the bottom edge are handsome without being edgy. Coupes get a more pronounced center section, honeycomb grilles top and bottom, and round fog lights in square openings for more attitude; it's the same width as the sedan, just an inch lower. On V6 models the daytime running lights are LED, and the Touring sedan uses LED for low-beam headlights as well.

The hybrid models have unique front styling. The headlight housings and upper grille get blue accents, the hood, bumper and fog light apertures are different, and a black bar bisects the big single grille opening as on many Audis. To our eyes all the black trim is a bit much on anything other than a black car, though only three colors are offered. The wheels are also gloss-black, with forward-climbing metal spokes, a sinister look more rapper than tree-hugger. A very obvious blue-ringed, Hybrid-badged charging port in the left-front fender is at odds with the square fuel door at the back; we prefer the Chevrolet Volt's approach of one discrete opening on each side.

At the rear, a chrome strip across the trunk and clear backup/signal lenses separate trunk lid and rear window from the back of the car, the end result reminiscent of a Hyundai Genesis. A small lip spoiler adorns the rear deck of Accord hybrid and Sport versions and can be added to others. Sport and V6 models get dual exhaust outlets. All have a chrome bottom strip to complement the front, and the rear quarters are reasonably square even if you can't see the edges from the driver's seat. On Accord EX-L and higher trims, the brake- and taillights are LED.

On models with the Lane Watch function, the passenger-side mirror is deeper than the driver's to accommodate a small camera, lending a small imbalance viewed from a distance. (Cars from Mercedes and other manufacturers have done this in the past, also.) We like symmetry on sedans and would prefer the same mirrors, but it's a small thing.

All Accords have alloy wheels of 16 to 18 inches in diameter. Most handsome are the 18s used on some coupes and the Sport sedan, and just the wheel upgrade, small rear spoiler and dual exhaust outlets make the car more attractive to our eyes.

Interior Features

The cabin in the Honda Accord is comfortable, functional, and attractive, and the model line offers plenty of variations in price and features.

Front seats proved comfortable and supportive, not at all flat and spongy; adjustability degrees vary by manual or power, driver or passenger. With a tilt/telescoping steering wheel anyone should find a good driving position. There is plenty of room. Some slender types wished the door wasn't so far away though few will complain about reaching the seat adjusters with the door closed. Footwells are wide and headroom is fine, even with a sunroof. The only complaint came from a tall rider who found thigh support lacking because the cushion wasn't far from the floor and the passenger's footwall seems closer than the driver's.

We put a pair of 6-footers in the back seat and there were no complaints, even though with a moonroof, which reduces headroom slightly. There are AC vents in the center console (EX or better), assist handles and a fold-down armrest. With the small floor hump, minimal headrest lift and higher seat cushion, the center position is best for child seats. We did not see any rear-seat reading lights or a trunk pass-through, and the seatback folds only as one piece, not split 1/3-2/3 as in some cars.

Assembly quality appears good. We have seen no sharp edges on plastic moldings around door pockets or seat tracks, no flimsy hardware. High-gloss woodgrain trim has been replaced by matte finishes, gathered leather by tauter perforated upholstery. The upper door panels are soft-touch only on the back half, which visually splits the upper in two and some may construe as cost-cutting. Sport and EX-L cars get a leather-wrapped version of the nicely dimensioned three-spoke steering wheel, with shift buttons on Sport CVT. Dash trim may be a vertically oriented dark woodgrain, metallic mesh, or a sparkly black, but all have a big chrome ring around the cupholder.

A single-piece dashboard is dominated by a speedometer so large that other motorists may be able to read it. The speedometer is flanked by a partial corona that changes color to green the more economically you drive, giving a Christmas-light effect against the red gauge markings on Sport and Coupe. We could not figure out how to turn it off, even if ECON mode was not engaged.

Hybrid versions get a unique instrument panel. Surrounding the corona-ring big speedometer are bar-graph indications for fuel and battery charge level, and the power/recharge scale. The display in the center offers powertrain modes, economy guide that moves a car within a circle for better or worse fuel efficiency, the requisite green leaves, turn-by-turn navigation, active cruise control and so on.

Engine revs, temperature and fuel level flank the speedo; the digital center gives instant fuel economy, trip odo, exterior temperature, gear and so on. Stalk controls are simple, the interval wiper industry-best, and the steering wheel switches quick to master. A few switches such as the ECON button, traction-off and lane-departure warning are less convenient left of the wheel, and do-it-yourselfers and tire technicians will appreciate the tire-warning reset switch on the dash.

All Accords have a central dash screen that displays an image from the rearview camera. Without navigation, the audio and information controls are just below that screen between two. The dual-temperature climate controls are grouped below that. On cars with navigation the area beneath the screen becomes touch-screen audio with a volume knob, while the nav/phone/info controls move below climate control, replacing a storage bin on lesser cars. Although further from the screen, those controls are closer to shifter and the whole arrangement is far superior to the mishmash on the previous-generation, 2008-2012 models.

Cabin storage is good, with bins in the console, all doors, and a decent glovebox.

The trunk offers 15.8 cubic feet of space, which is competitive for the class. Under the trunk floor, there is a temporary spare tire but room for the flat you take off. There are grocery bag hooks in the rear corners. A pull-lever in the trunk releases the rear seat back for large, awkward items, but the opening is small by class standards.