The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure
Words by: Adam Allen
Hmmmm…isn’t the ultimate guilty pleasure singing along to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” while devouring a dozen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts?
You can sign us up for that anytime…well,maybe just the calorie bombs. We might as well get this out of the way now- we really like the Honda Accord. To further explain what we mean by the ultimate guilty pleasure : ordinary sedans like this typically don’t generate such acclaim from the snobbery-infused bunch who call the Carpages Garage home. Most of you know that we reserve our giddy excitement for cars with steroidal horsepower, internal organ rearranging levels of grip and brakes that induce vertigo with their clamping force. Our Accord tester carried precisely none of those credentials, but after living with it for a week we’ll tell you that it is one of the best all-around cars for sale today, and that it was tremendously engaging and fun. That’s right folks- we’re putting our enthusiast cred on the line to vouch for the inherent excellence the of the Honda Accord, in this case the full zoot Touring model with an automatic gearbox.
In Touring trim, there’s significant swank quotient.
While this is the ultimate Accord in the model hierarchy, ‘swanky’ doesn’t feel like the right word to describe the vibe- the word has an ostentatious feel to it and the Accord is silently modest with its feature rich content and comfort. Park yourself behind the wheel and take in your surroundings. Although the interior has a decidedly minimalist feel to it, somehow Honda has managed to avoid making it feel cold and austere- with tasteful appliques of convincing fake wood trim here and there it’s the opposite. There are two things that we discovered during our time with the Accord that stood out. The infotainment system- long a source of angst in Honda products- is excellent. Crisp graphics, an intuitive layout and ultra-snappy responses make for a vastly improved user experience and we hope that this generation makes its way across the lineup. Then there’s the palatial roominess that would make an S-Class Mercedes Benz blush. Rear occupants are treated to an almost limousine like feel and those up front, no matter the body type, will feel properly spoiled.
Explain why the Accord is such a treat to drive.
You get the sense that the Accord is trying very hard to earn your praise- every touchpoint and control feels thought out, like someone was really sweating the details. Clearly the engineers were paying attention to avoiding excess bloat, because the Accord is a relative featherweight at 1,562 kilos. Despite its lightness, it never feels insubstantial or flimsy. To tell you about the driving experience in greater detail beginning under the hood seems like a good place to start. There you’ll find the same 2.0 turbo four from the piquant Civic Type R, although it’s been detuned and demurred for this application which seems entirely appropriate. Although it surrenders 54 horsepower, it still turns the Accord into one of the fleeter sedans out there. The power is robust enough that it nips at the heels of V6-powered Toyota Camrys during the sprint from naught to 100km/h yet returns superior fuel economy. Honda offers a Sport mode which firms up the adaptive dampers and sharpens the steering and throttle response, but this too is an exercise in caffeinated calculated restraint- think cup of coffee rather than Red Bull. Channeling the turbocharged thrust to the tarmac is a 10-speed automatic transmission that works exceptionally well. Normally we don’t like having this many speeds to choose from as it can be too much and translates into uncertain and sometimes lurchy shifting, but the Accord doesn’t suffer from that at all. Our Touring model came with paddle shifters and usually for the most part we try these out once or twice and then forget all about them. We found ourselves employing them quite a bit during the week the Accord spent in the Carpages Garage because they respond quickly when you ask for a shift, not the sluggish reluctance that is par for the course in other cars. We must tip our hat to the cosseting ride quality which makes for an utterly serene experience on the highway and smartly takes the edge of scabrous pavement in the city.
The Accord has a lot of great things going for it, but there’s one thing it doesn’t have.
Yes, we have heard people say, “I’d buy the Accord, but it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.” That’s true- it doesn’t, and only the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion do in the midsize sedan segment. There’s no question that the Accord could lose some potential buyers who insist that power goes to all contact patches. While all-wheel drive is nice to have, it does add complexity and weight which negatively effects fuel economy. Experience has shown us that if a modern car- complete with all the de riguer safety features and traction aids- is shod with a good set of winter tires, there isn’t much that will stop it from performing well in when the snow flies. Another thing to remember is that winter doesn’t last the entire year, so when the weather gets nice again you won’t need the extra engagement of the rear axle. Despite the absence of AWD, we think that the Accord’s dynamic superiority over its rivals make it a better year-round choice overall.
What might go wrong?
Despite our glowing prose levied at the Accord, it is not perfect. You will agree that the nits we have to pick are extremely trivial and not deal breakers by any stretch- a subtle clue to the car’s overall greatness. We wonder why, with all the careful attention to detail on display would someone sign off on antiquated gooseneck hinges for the trunk lid- ask the dozen eggs we bought that were rendered into a soupy mess when crushed by them on a trip to the grocery store if they thought that was a good idea. The transmission shifts by pushing buttons, and while it does free up a lot of space in the console area just give us a good ol’ shift lever please and thank you. The last gripe was styling, although there were two distinct camps where this was concerned in the Carpages Garage- some found it pleasing while others thought the design forgettable. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, it is unanimously agreed that the Accord looks like a candidate for the Concours D’ Elegance compared to its smaller garishly styled sibling, the Civic.
Should I buy a Honda Accord?
Fancy a family sedan? Then yes, you should buy a Honda Accord. But you better act fast, because sedans are fast becoming an endangered species. Most people will cast their glances across the showroom to a CR-V or the new Passport. While those two are good cars it’s a bit of a shame, because the Accord is a great one. And get this- you can get it with a manual gearbox! For those VTEC bros (or just the set of the population who like driving) of the Nineties and early Ought’s, Honda hasn’t forgotten about you, which will make the Accord a true pleasure to park in your driveway, guilty or otherwise.
2019 Honda Accord 2.0 Touring
- Price as tested: $40,226
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger Sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 252 @ 6,500 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 273 @ 1,500 rpm
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 1,562 kg (3,444 lb)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 8.8L/100 km (27 mpg)