Honda gives peek at 2013 Accord with concept coupe

DAVID RUNK
January 10, 2012
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John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda unveils the 2013 Honda Accord Coupe concept during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT (AP) — Honda Motor Co. on Tuesday offered a peek at what the 2013 Accord midsize sedan will look like when it goes on sale in the fall.

The automaker unveiled the Accord Coupe Concept, a two-door version of a car that John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda, said will help the company bounce back from a difficult 2011, when the earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand disrupted production.

The Ford Fusion topped the Accord and competitors including the Hyundai Sonata last year in the U.S., though Toyota's Camry remained the best-seller among midsize sedans. Ford Motor Co. a day earlier at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit unveiled its redesigned Fusion, which also goes on sale in the fall.

Last year, Honda brand sales in the U.S. fell 7 percent to about 1.02 million. This year, the automaker aims to sell about 1.25 million vehicles in the U.S. Honda's North American plants got back to normal production in November, but the company still is working to restore full production in Asia.

"They temporarily picked up a lap or two while we were in the pits," Mendel said.

The Accord will be offered with new safety features such as Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot display, which uses a camera system mounted on the passenger mirror.

The car will go on sale around the time Honda marks 30 years of Accord production in the U.S. The first Accord sedan to roll off the line in Marysville, Ohio, on Nov. 1, 1982 — on loan from Henry Ford Museum near Detroit — was displayed Tuesday at the show alongside the Coupe Concept.

Here's what's new:

POWER: The Accord will feature three new powertrains, including a 2.4-liter engine promising 181 horsepower, and a plug-in hybrid version. The six-cylinder version of the car will be the first Honda sedan to feature a new 6-speed automatic transmission.

MILEAGE: Details weren't released, but Honda says the Accord sedan and coupe are expected to get class-leading fuel economy. The plug-in hybrid version will allow drivers to go about 10 to 15 miles in the city on battery power alone.

LOOKS: The concept version on display is sleeker than the current version. The front bumper is highlighted by a revised honeycomb grille and deeply set headlights. The concept version is displayed with 20-inch, five-spoke wheels, a trunk lid spoiler and large exhausts integrated into the bumper.

CHEERS: Despite the exterior changes, the interior space is expected to remain about the same. The Accord is known for safety, and drivers can expect updated features to be available, such as warning systems to detect potential collisions and notify that the car is drifting from its lane.

JEERS: The new Accord will face tough scrutiny among midsize car buyers, especially with the updated Fusion going on sale as well as Toyota's mainstay Camry.