2013 Honda Accord arrives, and the crowd goes mild: Motoramic Drives
"The Honda Accord is the greatest car in the world," the guy with the inexplicable mini-Mohawk, a lead designer for the company, was saying. "It is, absolutely, without question."
He said this live-miked while sitting in a brand-new 2013 model on the patio of a resort in Santa Barbara. Two-dozen car reviewers circled around him like buzzards, waiting for him to utter something else outrageous and uncomfortable. His Honda co-workers gritted their teeth, muttering shutupshutupshutup under their breath. This was the definition of an oversell. At some point, the guy realized he'd stepped outside the bounds of conventional car hype, saying, "What I meant is that the Accord does its job better than any car in the world." But the statement had already been released into the wild, ready to be judged.
Shockingly, the Honda Accord is not the greatest car in the world. It never has been, not even close, and, barring some catastrophic event where dozens of contemporary models are suddenly wiped away from history and memory, it never will be. The 2013 update of the Accord will be available in many flavors, with a 4-cylinder engine or a 6-cylinder one, as an automatic 4-door, a manual coupe, or a CVT, and even, starting early next year, as a plug-in hybrid. It boasts a tighter rear and slightly sleeker lines than previous models. But no matter the iteration, the Accord will be what it has been for more than 30 years, a reliable, safe, reasonably comfortable, moderately priced family sedan running between $23,000 and $33,000. Few will be amazed and even fewer will be offended.
On a beautiful day in mid-August, I drove several different versions of the new Accord. The first one my partner and I got was a 278-hp V-6 with all the trimmings. Family sedans don't tend to be that fun to drive, and this new Accord wasn't much of an exception. The front end felt a little sluggish, it didn't corner brilliantly, nor did it accelerate with a ton of gusto. Everything seemed a bit heavy, including the brakes. The transmission, when we put it into Sport mode, whined and churned when it was switching gears. It was fine. The Accord never really claimed to be a driver's car.
But it also had great leg room and fantastic visibility. Compared with other cars of its class, where window height sometimes feels like an afterthought, the Accord seemed to boast a 360-degree panorama, lacking only a glass floor, a perk which no car maker has yet figured out how to safely install. The Accord had other strengths, too. Side cameras, which can be turned on and off, worked extremely well, greatly mitigating the dangers of the blind spot. The rest of the electronic safety-warning apparatus was also efficient, smart, and not annoying.
The version we had was fully appointed, with breathable leather seats and a bit of faux-wood panelling, a higher-end version of the Accord than most people will buy, more like an entry-level Lexus, Infiniti, or, dare I say it, an Acura. At the very least, it almost exactly resembled a high-end Toyota Camry. That's one of the problems with the Accord, though, or maybe with all mid-range cars these days: They're mostly alike.