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2013 Honda Accord: At 34 MPG, Would You Rather Have A V-6?

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2013 Honda Accord sedan

2013 Honda Accord sedan

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V-6 engines aren't exactly headed for extinction yet, but they're becoming increasingly rare in today's market—especially if you're shopping for a mid-size sedan like the 2013 Honda Accord.

A couple of years ago, when Hyundai went to an all four-cylinder-engine lineup for its mid-size (or larger) Sonata—including a step-up turbocharged four—the rationale was that a turbo four would return better mileage than a V-6. Likewise, in the all-new 2013 Fusion, Ford has cleared V-6 engines from its mid-size sedan's lineup, replacing them with a team of turbo fours.

Also this year the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is dropping its V-6 in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine; and Mazda plans to drop the V-6 from its Mazda6 after 2013.

Yet here arrives the 2013 Honda Accord, with its step-up engine a V-6—a large, 3.5-liter at that, making 278 horsepower—and it's rated an almost incredible 34 miles per gallon highway (21 mpg city). On top of that, it also runs on regular unleaded gas, and meets ULEV2 standards.

Accord V6 sips like a four

That's better than the 2013 Chrysler 200 Sedan or 2013 Dodge Avenger Sedan with their four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic, and essentially tied with both the Hyundai Sonata Turbo and base Chevrolet Malibu (both of those get 22/34 mpg). It's also 3 mpg better on the highway then either the 2013 Nissan Altima V-6 or the 2013 Volkswagen Passat five-cylinder. And it's 4 mpg better on the highway than the Toyota Camry.

Honda officials said that they believe there's still significant demand for a V-6 mid-size sedan, and that going to a turbocharged four instead was not the answer as it didn't meet the sum of all needs for drivability as a premium engine, combined with better efficiency.

“We plan our engines around our customer, and it [the V-6 engine] was still something that the customer very much wanted,” said Art St. Cyr, vice president for corporate planning and logistics at American Honda, at a recent preview of the upcoming Accord.

That oddly, leaves the Toyota and Honda the only ones standing with V-6 offerings in a recently redesigned mid-size sedan.

And there are some indications that Honda plans to offer the V-6 for many more years. This year the engine gets improvements aimed at reduced wear and improved longevity, and the cylinder head gets a new 'tumble port' intake design, while the exhaust manifold is now cast into the cylinder head itself.

The engine gets Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, as well as a SOHC i-VTEC valvetrain, and during cruising or coasting it can operate on just three cylinders to help boost mileage. But to help meet those V-6 standard of refinements, it utilizes both Active Engine Mounts and Active Noise Control.

2013 Honda Accord sedan

2013 Honda Accord sedan

Enlarge Photo

Direct injection, CVT, and 36 mpg for base four

The four-cylinder engine that will go into most Accords is probably the bigger story, although it's less of a surprise. As the first application of direct injection in a North American product for Honda, the new 2.4-liter in-line four makes 185 horsepower (189 hp in Sport models) and 181 (or 182) pound-feet of torque. It's matched to a new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and earns an EPA-rated 27 mpg city, 36 highway.

That's not up to the level of the Altima's 27/38 mpg ratings, but almost; and the more interesting comparison will be drivability. Be sure to see our review page on the 2013 Honda Accord for more details and pictures, and stay tuned for driving impressions on these new powertrains and how they match up in a class of very impressive entries.

In the meantime, we're curious: Would you expect to pay more, less, or about the same—all else comparable—for a mid-size V-6 sedan versus one with a turbo four? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (11)
  1. I'd really prefer not to have a car made by a Japanese or Korean company.
     
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  2. First of all, the Honda Accord is made in America. The Nissan Altima is made in America. The Toyota Camry is made in America. They are made by Americans, the checks go to Americans and the taxes go to Uncle Sam. So these are American companies, which are subdivisions of a foreign maker.
     
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  3. City mileage is 21mpg. That means it probably will average around 23mpg-ish. A far cry from the advertised 34mpg highway.
     
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  4. Put a clutch pedal in it and I'll buy one!
     
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  5. I would prefer the V6 overall. I do not want a turbo or an sluggish 4banger. I would not buy a sluggish four cylinder.
    Like to see a V6 in the CR-V.
    Other auto makers has V6 in their smaller SUVs.
     
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  6. I find this all very ironic... way back in 1995, Honda was considered non-competitive against some models (i.e., Taurus, Camry, et. al), so Honda reluctantly released an Accord V6.

    Several years later, Acura was reviled as a non sequitur for its lack of a V8.

    Today, most have migrated to 4-cylinder engines and Honda gets chastised for continuing with a 6-cylinder that is more efficient than some competing 4-cylinder cars.

    I agree Honda has lost its way over the years and its styling isn't as avant garde as Hyundai but if they can find a strategic advantage in marketing fuel efficient V6 cars...

    Let the market decide if it makes sense for them to keep selling V6s. Its only a matter of time before they will be forced to discontinue them.
     
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  7. With 34 mpg on the highway, about the same cost as the 4 cylinder EX-L, and an extra 90 hp, I don't see the V6 going away - unless they can add at least 80-90 hp using a 4 cylinder.
     
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  8. If fuel mileage is equal to or better than a turbo 4, then the refinement, smoothness, and better sound of a V-6 is preferable, especially in a "premium" vehicle. And Honda has always made engines, even their fours, which are notable for their refinement and good sound.
     
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  9. Especially when you can still use regular gas.
     
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  10. If you check fuely.com, actual mpg reports on the EPA website, and other sources, it seems that CVT's have a huge spread from EPA to real world MPG's (falsely rated high), and turbo's seem the opposite (real world is better than ratings). Nissan and now Honda are jumping on the bandwagon because people will buy them just for the high ratings, with no real understanding of how the tranny works, or any knowledge of the real-world mpg differences. However, I applaud Honda on being about the only one to offer cylinder deactivation on a V6 - my gut feeling is that the Accord V6 6 speed will rival the 4 cyl CVT in real world conditions.
     
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  11. I took my 2013 Accord EX-L V6 on its first road trip. I noted the mpg on different segments from Columbia, SC to Pawleys Island, SC. The results were interesting. The overall mpg was 37. The trek on I26 from Columbia to Charleston netted me about 35 mpg. I was travelling 70 to 75 mph. In 60 mph zones, the mpg climbed to 42 mpg. In 50 to 55 mpg zones, the mpg was 44 mpg. Using the AC affects the mpg by 10 percent or so. I drove with it mostly off. Road surfaces also affect the mpg. On rough surfaces, the mpg dropped significantly. On smooth surfaces, I received the highest levels. The key to the impressive numbers is the VCM capability of the engine where 3 cylinders are deactivated under light load.
     
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