Honda Accord Versus Toyota Camry

October 27, 2010

Question: I’m trying to decide if I should buy a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. I want luxury features, but fuel efficiency and safety are important, too.

The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are two perennial favorites in this mid-to-full size class of economical family sedans. The first thing you’ll notice when comparing these two highly-rated cars is that it can be difficult to compare apples-to-apples. Honda has very distinct trim lines (LX, LX-P, SE, EX, EX-L, and so on) where each trim level has a complete set of options included with that trim level’s added price.

Toyota also has distinct trim levels, but it tends to list as optional many features Honda makes standard. For this reason, comparison shoppers need to adjust trim levels and options in order to get the Accord and Camry on level ground.

Accord EX-L vs Camry LE

We want models that have similar luxury features. We begin with the 2011 Honda Accord EX-L. The “L” in “EX-L” indicates leather seats and other upgraded features. To find a comparable 2011 Toyota Camry we choose the LE model and add a list of extras: leather and heated seats, a CD changer, moon roof, and others.

Both the Accord and Camry start out with similar engines. The Accord’s 2.4L, 4-cylinder engine is slightly smaller than the Camry’s 2.5L, 4-cylinder engine. Both have side curtain bags, ABS brakes, and electronic stability control. However, dynamic head restraints—the ones that move higher and closer to the occupants head to reduce whiplash injuries in the event of rear-end collision—are available on the Accord as standard equipment, but not available on the Camry at any price.

Crash Test Ratings

Honda pulls ahead in the new crash test rating structure instituted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA not only created more stringent tests this year, but they are now comparing vehicles in the same class against each other. Even though Toyota says the 2011 Camry is essentially the same car as last year when it scored a perfect 5-star crash test rating, its crash test rating this year dropped to three out of five stars. The Honda Accord remains a perfect five out of five.

Pricing & Gas Mileage

The two remaining factors that need our attention are cost and fuel efficiency. In tomorrow’s column, we discover Honda has the advantage in one category, while Toyota has the advantage in the other. Stay tuned.

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