2018 Honda Accord 1.5T Touring Road Test Review
August 17 2018, Trevor Hofmann
Sharp New Design Makes 2018 Accord the Mid-Size Style Leader
The edgy new design language being developed by Honda over the past few years has fully taken shape in the latest Accord, this popular midsize model fully redesigned from the ground up for 2018. This 10th-generation model is the longest, leanest, sportiest Accord yet, and follows many of the current Civic four-door's coupe-like styling cues, but to my eyes is even more pleasingly orchestrated.
This near top-tier Accord 1.5T Touring example has a bit more chrome than all lower grades excepting the EX-L, which not only brightens the leading edge of the grille and hood before striking through the swept-back wrap-around headlights as done with all models, not to mention the upper portion of the side window surrounds and tailpipes in back, but also garnishes the otherwise body-colour door handles as well as the extended rocker mouldings below the doors, the latter metal brightwork sweeping upward to each corner of the rear bumper.
The headlights dazzle as well. Their trademark jewel-like vertical pattern signifies standard LEDs, albeit just for low beam use in all trims but Touring that gets full low and high beam LED clusters. Their outer edges are surrounded in LED signature driving lights, with all but base models visually supported by a narrow set of LED fog lamps integrated within the lower fascia below. Additionally, wafer thin LED turn signals get fitted to the side mirror housings of all trims above the same base LX. The LED taillights are standard, plus their dramatic yet elegant C-like shape is completely unique in the industry. The lower portions aren't just reflectors either, but join the upper sections by lighting up with LEDs to provide a stylish nighttime statement.
Accord Takes Interior Design, Technology and Quality to New Heights
Honda has taken the Accord's new-edge design inside as well, delivering a stylish, high-tech experience. For instance, the standard primary gauge package includes a partially configurable 7.0-inch colour TFT display in place of the usual mechanical tachometer, and it's so realistic I actually thought the entire cluster was analogue when first sliding behind the wheel. In fact, about 60 percent of the left-side cluster is a high-resolution multi-information display that defaults to a tachometer, but otherwise can be used for myriad functions. The right-side speedometer spins via conventional means, while the temperature and fuel indicators to each side are separate backlit gauges.
Honda has improved its main centre stack-mounted infotainment system too, with its previous two-screen approach now reduced to one single 8.0-inch touch capacitive display. This makes sense on so many levels, especially cost, but also from a user experience perspective as the new system is much easier to live with. It starts with a newer more advanced touchscreen featuring most peoples' preferred tablet-style gloss finish, which improves contrast levels and depth of colour, while graphics now mimic Apple's colourful iPhone/iPad interface, resulting in a simple layout that's easy on the eyes.
On that note it incorporates standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, Siri Eyes Free compatibility, plus you can modulate many of the system's applications via smartphone/tablet-style tap, pinch and/or swipe gesture controls.
High-tech Accord Even Includes Near Field Communication
Smartphones in mind, Android users with the latest gear can take advantage of NFC (Near Field Communication), which comes standard on all trims above base (look for the stylized "N" on the dash trim ahead of the front passenger), making connectivity easier than ever. The rest of us will need to make do with standard HandsFreeLink, which was easy to set up with my cheap but serviceable smartphone.
The standard parking monitor was clear and bright, plus offered multiple angles to choose from, while dynamic guidelines made slotting into a parking spot easier. Additionally, Honda provides 360-degree overhead parking graphics that light up coloured warnings when getting too close to an object, this working in conjunction with audible beeps from my Touring trimmed model's front and rear parking sensors.
Touring trim also adds satellite-linked navigation with detailed mapping, a system that's worked brilliantly in previous Honda models and still does in the new infotainment system, while Honda's bilingual voice recognition worked quite well.
Touring models also include a wireless charging pad within a lidded bin at the base of the centre stack, this also filled with a 2.5-amp USB charging port and a 12-volt plug, while there's a second USB charging port in the storage bin under the centre armrest, plus in EX-L trims and above you'll get two more USB ports on the backside of the front console for rear passengers.
Standard and Optional Features Are Generous
Now that we're talking Touring features, a shortlist of exclusive items not yet mentioned include ambient door handle lighting, rain-sensing wipers, a head-up display that projects key info onto the windshield ahead of the driver, Blind Spot Information (BSI) with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, ventilated front seats, HD radio, an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot, HondaLink Subscription Services, plus more.
In addition, unique features the Touring model shares with the Accord Sport include 19-inch alloy wheels on 235/40 all-seasons (base Accords get 17-inch rims and rubber), a Sport mode (when the Sport comes with an automatic transmission that's standard with EX-L and Touring trims), and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (ditto).
Additional items pulled up to the Touring from lesser trims include an electromechanical parking brake, remote engine start, an ECON mode, a front wiper de-icer, an acoustic windshield, Active Noise Control (ANC), a heatable leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel (the heated part not available with the new 2018 Toyota Camry), a leather shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an overhead sunglasses holder, a HomeLink garage door opener, a powered moonroof, heated front and rear outboard seats, a driver attention monitor, a 12-way powered driver's seat with memory, a four-way powered front passenger's seat, perforated leather upholstery, 452-watt AM/FM/MP3/WMA/satellite audio with 10 speakers including a subwoofer, Bluetooth streaming audio, SMS text message and email reading capability, Wi-Fi tethering, the HondaLink Assist Automatic Emergency Response System, tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist, all the usual active and passive safety features including front knee airbags, convenient capless refueling, and the list goes on.
I purposely left a number of items from the last list of features because I wanted to highlight some of the most impressive kit pulled up from the base model that starts at only $26,590 plus freight and fees, particularly proximity access with pushbutton ignition and filtered dual-zone automatic climate control, items not normally seen so low in the trim level hierarchy.
Standard Honda Sensing Technology Makes Every Accord Ultra Safe
Even better, the Accord's standard Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance systems includes Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), auto high beams, and traffic sign recognition, plus when upgrading to the automatic transmission Adaptive Cruise Control comes along for the ride.
This is an impressive safety-first attitude from Honda Canada, and is no doubt partially responsible for its IIHS Top Safety Pick status (when upgrading to those full LED headlamps mentioned earlier) and best-possible five-star NHTSA rating.
Quality finishings don't necessarily make a car safer, but they can certainly instill a sense of solidity compared to a more cheaply built car. Fortunately the new Accord doesn't suffer from a quality perspective, with the entire dash top made from high-grade soft-touch synthetic, as are the front door uppers, while rich padded leatherette gets used for the door inserts and armrests, plus premium levels of stitched leatherette padding are added to each side of the lower console, which covers enough area to protect the driver and front passenger's knees. Additionally, the woodgrain and metal inlays are denser and more realistic than in previous Accords, giving the new car higher end appeal.
All of the switchgear is superb too, with the door window controls finished in a lovely metallic edging, as is the toggle for the powered mirrors and the surrounds for the memory seats. The same metal can be found throughout the rest of the cabin, whether we're talking buttons, knobs and rockers like the those found on the auto HVAC interface and electromechanical parking brake lever, or just the trim around the rest of the centre stack and lower console, or for that matter the steering wheel which is beautifully shaped and covered in wonderfully soft stitched leather, not to mention backed by a set of satin silver finished paddle shifters. All of the steering wheel switchgear is extremely upscale too, matching many premium sector players.
High Quality Accord Interior Is Comfortable and Roomy
Most should find the interior design appealing, while I also found it more comfortable than the Camry, with a driver's seat you sit within instead of on top of, and as part of that a lower front squab that nicely cups under the hamstrings for better support, plus greater reach from the telescopic steering wheel for improved ergonomics.
Additionally, the driver's seatback provides true four-way powered lumbar support for up and down control instead of just two-way in and out adjustment like the Toyota, not to mention the much pricier Lexus ES that isn't as comfortable as the Accord for my body type either, while I found the side bolsters did a good job of holding me in place during hard cornering.
While an ideal opportunity to segue into driving dynamics, I can't forget about those in back that are similarly supported by ideally shaped outboard seats featuring excellent lower back bolstering and well designed cushions under the legs. Legroom is incredibly generous too, with enough space left over to fully stretch out when the front seat was positioned for my five-foot-eight medium-build frame. I had ample side-to-side space too, plus headroom was more than ample for my height and would be for folks that are many inches taller, while a comfortable centre armrest and three-way outboard seat warmers added to my Touring model's luxury.
As you might expect the trunk is nicely carpeted, is large at 473 litres, and features the usual 60/40 split for longer cargo.
Performance and Fuel Economy Remain Accord Strengths
Back up front, those familiar with Honda's top-line Odyssey or Pilot and therefore looking for an unorthodox set of gear selector buttons on the lower console will need to move up to top-tier Accord Sport 2.0 or Touring 2.0 trims, which not only feature a state-of-the-art 10-speed automatic transmission connecting to those buttons but also a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that's good for 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Instead, my tester featured a more conventional gear lever actuating a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which in turn found motivation from a 1.5-litre turbo-four with 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox comes standard with the LX and can also be had on both Sport trims.
My CVT-equipped tester also had a Sport mode as noted earlier, and it really helped the smaller engine accelerate quickly. What's more, shifts were quite crisp, while it held its chosen gear between intervals and responded well to DIY paddle-shift actuation. At the same time it's a wonderfully smooth transmission that's ideal for this type of large mid-size sedan.
While pleasantly surprised by how well the base engine and CVT performed, the Accord's agility around corners was expected, as the popular sedan has long been one of the segment's best handlers. This said I like the way the new model drives on the open highway better than the outgoing car, particularly its seemingly effortless cruising capability once lifting off the throttle, its lack of kinetic drag shocking.
This is especially good for fuel economy, the model I tested having a highly efficient 8.2 L/100km city, 6.8 highway and 7.6 combined rating with ECON button engaged, making it the second-most miserly 2018 Accord available, the stingiest being the base LX model with the CVT that gets a claimed 7.9, 6.3 and 7.2 respectively. Of note, the LX and Sport 1.5 with the six-speed manual are rated at 8.9 city, 6.7 highway and 7.9 combined, the Sport 2.0 with the same transmission is claimed to get 10.7, 7.3 and 9.2, whereas the Sport and Touring with the 2.0 and 10-speed auto are good for 10.4, 7.4 and 9.1.
So how does it compare to the outgoing Accord? Last year's naturally aspirated 2.4-litre four, CVT combo was good for 9.2 L/100km city, 6.9 highway and 8.2 combined when configured similarly to my 2018 tester, so they've made big progress, while the previous manual was only capable of 10.4, 7.4 and 9.0 respectively.
New 2018 Honda Accord Is Racking up Awards
As you might expect it's been a good year for the new Accord thanks to earning the 2018 North American Car of the Year award in January, the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada's 2018 Canadian Car of the Year award in February, one of three 2018 ALG Residual Value awards won by Honda (the other two were for the Fit and Odyssey) just after that, and more.
To me this makes perfect sense, as the 2018 Honda Accord is easily the best mid-size sedan I've ever driven. Evidently you agree, being that Accord was the only high-volume mid-size sedan to gain market share last year. Obviously the Accord is an easy car for me to recommend.