2013 Honda Accord V6 Touring: Driven

May 21, 2013
The Honda Accord is now in its ninth generation, and as we reported in our First Drive of the 2013 Honda Accord last year, the 2013 Accord makes some noticeable leaps forward—and for the most part, it's a better all-purpose sedan than ever, and a return to form in some respects the driver will appreciate.

While we spent most of our time at the original launch with four-cylinder models—the ones with which most Accord shoppers will be perfectly happy—we felt a follow-up with the 278-horsepower flagship V-6 model, the Accord V6 Touring, was in order.

Why? Because we knew that the four-cylinder models hit the mark—especially the $22,470 “killer base model,” as we put it, but also the $24,180 Accord Sport. You can get an excellent manual gearbox, but even with the new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that most people are going to choose, the Accord's powertrain is smooth and plenty sharp—with none of the rubber-band-like responsiveness that can make these transmissions a drag to drive.

While other models like the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Chevrolet Malibu have ditched the V-6 in favor of turbo fours, the pricier Accord V6 models, on the other hand are looking more and more like standout flagship material. Outside of the Camry, the Altima, and a few other mid-sizers like the soon-to-disappear Chrysler 200, the V-6 Accord is more of an outlier in the market today.

In the Accord Sedan, only about 20 percent of buyers—at the most—will opt for one of the V-6 models; and we dare say that they will expect a different kind of driving experience.

Is it worth the splurge?

Does it matter to you that you're not driving a sedan with a luxury badge, yet still spending a mid-thirties amount? That's one important reality check.

Charmed... by a 'rational' car

Those priorities and questions aside, after a week with the 2013 Accord V6 Limited—the top-of-the-line Accord, stickered at $34,220—we felt a little bit charmed, by a car that's intended to be pretty darned rational.

The main reasons? The superb seats and great driving position; the smooth, predictable surge of power from the V-6; true luxury-level refinement; and a 'hidden' athletic side under it all were all part of it.

The Accord V-6 can dash to 60 mph in less than six seconds, but what's more impressive is how quickly yet smoothly the engine and six-speed automatic work together; the downshift hesitation we noticed on Accords past is history. Yet it can be a little touchy compared to other Hondas when you tip into the accelerator; we clicked over to Econ mode for some of the week (it changes a number of variables including air-conditioning operation and shift points, too), which feels just fine in stop-and-go traffic or when just cruising.

Our earlier drive was a pretty rapid spin on twisty backroads; but this time we had plenty of chances to take it easy, puttering along with traffic or even setting the cruise. Honda's Variable Cylinder Management and active noise cancellation are both unobtrusive technologies. We doubt you'll ever notice when VCM is running the engine on fewer cylinders, or when active noise cancellation takes some of the boominess away from early shifts.

The Accord V6 comes with an EPA rating of 21 mpg city, 34 highway, and in mostly short trips, we managed to average 23 mpg over about 110 miles. Four-cylinder models, on the other hand, manage 27/36 with the CVT.

Sporty, but not too harsh

Accord V6 models are tuned a little more on the sporty side, we noticed before; factor in some real-world experience with less-than-ideal road surfaces, and we can say that the Accord soaks up coarseness and even small potholes without being jarring. It also has great body control, with an athletic side that emerges on the backroads. Yes, Honda has gotten rid of its double-wishbone suspension layout, but you might not know the difference.

The seating and driving position in the Accord feel about perfect, and we appreciated the perfect amount of side support and thigh support built into those front seats—which should be about right for a very wide range of sizes. With the thinner pillars and somewhat improved greenhouse, the driver has a better view out than nearly any other mid-sizer. And the trunk is now huge—although we still can't get over why Honda nixed the split-folding rear seatback (we don't buy what company officials then told us, that those who want that level of flexibility will get a crossover).

To the point, you're going to feel comfortable in the Accord right away. It's quiet, accommodating, and even luxurious in feel for everyday driving, which can make its crisp responses and athletic, balanced feel on a curvy road seem all the more delightful.

Dash not always intuitive

For all the Accord's refreshingly straightforward presentation, we still find the control layout for the 2013 Accord perplexing. With its multi-tier layout, we understand that the intent is to place crucial information up top, with secondary controls below. The redundancy to the two displays still strikes us as odd—you can get to a point where both are displaying audio information, which they update at slightly different times—but as several Honda officials have assured me, it's intentional.

Elsewhere in the cabin, there's very little that doesn't feel as it would in a car with a luxury badge; as we scrutinized the switchgear and trims, it all feels fully up to what we'd expect to see in a $34k car.

Our V6 Touring, with no additional options, totaled $34,220. With it, we get upgraded audio, touch-screen navigation, adaptive cruise control, and fine ventilated leather seats. And that's in addition to the wealth of equipment you get in EX and EX-L models—features like Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning, heated side mirrors, a power moonroof, and the excellent LaneWatch system, which

Is that, the excellent feature set, and the refined luxury-car feel enough? Or should you pay just a little bit more and get a true luxury badge—and the luxury dealership experience to go with it—with the Acura TL or Lexus ES 350?

Priorities, priorities.

Be sure to read our full review pages on the 2013 Honda Accord for all the details.

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