2013 Honda Accord: First Drive Page 2

September 10, 2012
The electric power steering that all Accord models now have is another case of technology that’s not loved in other models, but it’s done right here. We really could see or feel no issue with the steering in four-cylinder or V-6 models, and it behaves as electric systems should, with a mostly linear weighting, a good sense of center, and a sense of the road surface and the cornering loads. It also has a nice natural feel, and Honda points to a non-contact torque sensor as one of the keys to this.

Honda acknowledges a weakness with cabin noise for the Accord, compared with some other models in this class, so it’s added more sound deadening—and, especially noteworthy, all 2013 Accord models receive active noise cancellation. The instrument panel itself is now made in-house for the first time, in one continuous piece (instead of four separate ones), so as to get a consistent texture and grain, and keep excess noise or rattles away.

Inside-out design approach

Of course, for those considering a mid-size sedan, passenger comfort, interior space, and cargo space are important differentiators. While some models in this class, like the Sonata might have a swoopy roofline that can cut into rear headroom, Honda is very intent on noting that the Accord was developed from the inside out, with a new man-machine approach that established packaging (front and rear seating) first and then had designers pen an exterior based around that.

And it all does lead to some very quantifiable improvements. While Honda has shortened the Accord just a bit, rear legroom increases about an inch, while shoulder room in front and in back is improved. And a couple of design traits that Honda draws attention to—the near-level beltline and ample window glass, with thinner-than typical front and rear pillars—not only keeps your rear passengers from needing Dramamine but also helps you stay safe with a better view outward. Trunk space is up somewhat, but the real news here is usability, as the cargo floor is now completely flat and better-shaped.

On the other hand, what they ended up with, from the outside, looks merely evolutionary. Walk around this new 2013 sedan—even with the badging removed—and even those who don’t know cars would be likely to call it out as an Accord. That said, there's a lot of interest in the side sheetmetal, including some expressive lift in the side sheetmetal—giving the car more of an aggressive, wedge-like look even if the greenhouse is mostly level—and creasing that flows around and into the contours of the taillamps.

If you like to row your own...

After spending a full day crawling behind the wheel, and around the interior of different variants of the 2013 Honda Accord lineup, the best of the bunch is the four-cylinder model with the manual transmission. With such a precise gearbox, neat clutch takeup, and the responsive, rev-happy feel, this Accord feels far more refined than other base-model. A manual gearbox is also offered with the V-6 in Coupe models only, but there it includes a rather heavy clutch pedal that we could see being more tiring in the commute. Meanwhile, the V-6 models are among the best highway-commuter and road-trip cars ever.

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