The Accord is one of Honda’s mainstay nameplates, with a history in this country that stretches back to 1977. There have been ten generations of Accord in Australia including the model we’re testing here, but does the Accord have the goods to stay competitive in the medium sedan segment – a segment that’s been on the decline?
We took a good look at the petrol-powered Honda Accord VTi-LX, which is expected to account for the majority of new Accord sales, to find out.
For the tenth-gen Accord, Honda Australia has shifted tactics and focused on a high-end offering only. Prefer a no-frills experience? Too bad, because the new Accord only comes in one flavour: the feature-rich VTi-LX grade.
You do get a choice of powertrain, however, with a 1.5-litre turbo petrol being the most affordable at $47,990 before on-roads, while a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid caps the range at $50,490
That’s on the high-end as far as average segment pricing is concerned, but given there’s no ‘base’ model so to speak, the equipment you get for your spend does at least go some way to justifying the Accord’s high price of entry.
All 2020 Honda Accords will be sold with leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, an electronic instrument panel, 8-inch infotainment display, a 6.0-inch colour head-up display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, active cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera array, a wireless phone charger and remote engine start.
READ MORE: 2020 Honda Accord pricing and features
And that’s just the standout features. On top of that you have keyless entry and ignition, eated and powered front seats, USB charge ports for the front and rear (two in the back), dual-zone climate control, power windows, power folding mirrors and LED headlamps.
The Accord is classified as a medium sedan, however with an overall length of 4.9 metres it sits at the upper end of that segment in terms of size and even eclipses the Holden Commodore (which is classed as a large car) in that metric. Peek inside the cabin, and the sheer amount of legroom in both front and rear will tell you that this is more of a large car than a midsizer.
Boot space is limousine-like too, with a whopping 570 litres of seats-up luggage capacity that’s expandable via the folding rear seat backs and central ski port.
As standard, the Accord comes equipped with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, a left-facing rear view camera that activates whenever indicating left, a 360-degree parking camera view, active cruise control, six airbags (dual front, front side and full-length curtain) and two ISOFIX child seat anchorages in the back.
There’s one word that dominates the Accord’s in-car experience: space. It’s simply cavernous on the inside, so much so that when I set the front passenger seat to a position that I thought provided truly selfish levels of legroom, the seat behind it still had enough space to challenge the average large-car limo.
Comfort is king, too. The leather is supple, while the cushioning behind it strikes the right balance between support and softness. Front seat bases are a touch short and thus might compromise under-thigh support for long-legged people, but it’s otherwise very accommodating up front.
Yet it’s the back seat that’s the place to be. Besides having enough legroom acreage to make a property developer salivate, the back seats are blessed with a hugely comfortable and supportive bench, plenty of headroom and big windows (and a quarter-window in the D-pillar) that let in a huge amount of light and provide a great view of the outside world.
Downsides? While infotainment features and presentation are fast becoming a bigger priority for many car buyers, Honda’s own infotainment software lags behind much of its competition in terms of graphics and intuitiveness. The large touchscreen screen is also mounted up high on the dash – which is great for keeping it in your eyeline – and is surrounded by physical shortcut keys and a volume knob, but its just slightly too far away to be within easy reach of your fingertips, and there’s no remote controller to use as there is in, say, a Mazda 6.
Cabin presentation is another shortcoming. There’s a somewhat passable faux wood used as the main trim highlight on the dash and doors, but the closer you inspect it, the more obvious it is that it’s just a texture printed onto plastic.
A bigger material quality issue is the extensiveness of leather-grained hard plastics on the lower dash, centre console and door cards. While key touch-points are upholstered in soft vinyl or leather, the glossy appearance and hard textures elsewhere detract from the otherwise quasi-premium image that Honda is chasing with the new Accord, and don’t belong in a car with a circa-$50K price tag. The same goes for that overly-tall gear selector, which makes a pronounced and cheap-sounding ‘clack’ as you pull it through its gate.
ON THE ROAD
The preceding Accord (we’re not talking about the delightful Accord Euro that sadly departed showrooms many years ago) was anything but dynamic, but with the arrival of the 10th generation Honda promises that’s no longer the case. In fact, the company says those who appreciated the old Accord Euro’s handling will find much to love about the new garden-variety Accord.
A bold claim considering how limp and lazy the last Accord felt on the road, but after our first taste of the new one on local roads we have to concede that Honda’s right: the new Accord is a fine handling car.
It is, obviously, tuned for comfort first and foremost, with the wheels having plenty of vertical travel to soak up lumpy roads – which it does superbly. Even big mid-corner bumps, the kind that usually send shimmies through a car’s chassis, don’t perturb the Accord one bit.
And the steering provides the confidence needed to hustle this big four-door hard. It’s accurate, well-weighted and has zero slack without feeling overly sharp, while the amount of turns from lock-to-lock has been slightly tightened to make life easier in car parks.
The 1.5-litre turbo is the only non-hybridised powertrain on offer, and the most affordable option in the Accord range, but does that small displacement hamper performance? Not really. Even though the power and torque numbers are modest at 140kW and 260Nm, there’s enough thrust to keep up with traffic.
A CVT automatic gearbox takes power to the front wheels and, there’s little to complain about here. It’s fairly responsive for a CVT automatic, and can step through preset ratios if you want to play with the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. Most of the time though, it silently goes about adjusting its ratio to keep the engine subdued – and thus quiet.
Which is nice, because refinement really is the Accord’s best attribute. Driven normally its turbo engine is barely audible, thumps from the suspension pleasingly absent and wind noise practically non-existent.
Its tyres are a bit noisy on coarse chip, though, despite the presence of active noise-cancelling audio tech and passive anti-resonance chambers inside each wheel. It’s not excessive amounts of road noise, mind you, but perhaps the absence of aural intrusion from every other aspect of the car just means that road noise is extra noticeable.
The arrival of the new Accord represents a return to form for the nameplate. No longer a bloated barge, it’s a fine-handling car with plenty of cabin space to sprawl in and a handsome design that looks good in traffic.
Honda’s strategy of only selling top-shelf varieties is a bold one, and it’s keeping its sales expectation at a highly conservative 150 cars per year as a result, but we think its combination of size, refinement and on-road competence makes it worth the price of entry.