A new generation's what's called for, and Honda sent out its scouts at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in the form of the Accord Coupe Concept, a precursor to the new Accord lineup expected in the 2013 model year.
With the new generation, Honda plans to revive the Hybrid sedan that it offered briefly in the last generation, withdrawing the gas-electric model after the 2007 model year due to poor sales. The new hybrid will also offer plug-in capability, which would mirror the strategy being taken by Ford with the 2013 Fusion sedan.
In Honda's plug-in system, a lean-burn four-cylinder and 6-kilowatt-hour battery are paired with a 120-kilowatt electric motor to give the new four-door an electric-only range of 10 to 15 miles and a top speed of 62 mph. Honda says a full recharge of the battery pack will take less than four hours with a standard 110-volt plug, and less than 90 minutes with a 240-volt charger. The hybrid's other drive modes will blend gas and electric power through an electric continuously variable transmission, or will allow the sedan to use only gas power for best efficiency. This version is promised for sale by the end of 2012.
Further down the efficiency scale is a new four-cylinder with direct injection. The 2.4-liter four will be paired only with a continuously variable transmission fitted with an eco driving mode. Available in two- and four-door Accords, with 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, the four-cylinder's power levels are comparable to today's Accord, while Honda says gas mileage should top its class--though it's uncertain if the Fusion's dramatic new fuel economy numbers are factored into that equation.
At the top of the lineup is a revised version of Honda's 3.5-liter V-6, now connected to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and fitted with an eco driving mode. Honda hasn't released horsepower figures or fuel economy numbers here, but says power output is higher, while gas mileage is better.
Visually, the Accord Coupe Concept refines the basic shapes of today's car, but the details seem to knit together more effectively than with the current car, with a smoother, wraparound grille and headlights and more sculpted flanks. The 2013 Accord shrinks in external dimensions--think 2013 Chevrolet Malibu--but Honda says interior space is similar to today's car, though the wheelbase is shorter and curb weight lower. Without divulging suspension, steering or brake details, Honda also says the new Accord will have more responsive handling.
On the safety front, the Accord adds a dollop of technology with forward-crash and lane-departure warning systems, which use a windshield-mounted forward camera to sense impending trouble. Blind-spot monitors will be available, as will a multi-angle rearview camera.
Among other features, the new Accord is set to adopt standard Bluetooth; an LCD display; text-to-voice capability; and streaming audio capability via Pandora and Apple's iPhone.
No changes were announced for the Crosstour, the hatchback Accord spin-off that formerly shared the best-selling nameplate. For the 2012 model year, Honda removed "Accord" from the name, and now simply calls that vehicle the Crosstour.