2018 Honda Accord Sedan Performance

7.0
Performance

Performance is relative in the 2018 Honda Accord. While it boasts an engine borrowed from Honda’s hottest hatchback in years and it sports manual transmissions across the lineup, speed was never the Honda Accord’s mission.

Realizing that not every commute needs to be a track-day workout, the Accord gets a 7 out of 10 on our scale for performance. The most popular engine and transmission combination is fine. It’s the handling and ride that makes it a standout. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2018 Honda Accord handles its available power with grace and ease. When did “fine” become a pejorative?

Four out of five Honda Accords on the road will feature a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), this Accord doesn’t hide its pedestrian intentions. The engine is tuned toward low-end grunt, an unintended consequence of swapping in fuel-efficient turbochargers. Off-the-line acceleration may fool drivers into believing that the base turbo-4 has more gusto than it does—that’s OK. Deep stabs at the throttle will reveal that the turbo-4 runs out of ideas somewhat quickly, and adding the manual transmission only makes it worse. Despite our affirmation that CVTs are from the underworld, we’ve found religion: it’s the pick in the Accord because it won’t highlight this  engine’s limited capabilities.

Honda dropped the V-6 this year in favor of another turbo-4, this time borrowed from the hot Civic Type R hatchback. The Accord’s version has been detuned to 252 hp and 273 lb-ft, with a revised engine map that won’t kink necks or fluster backs.

The bigger engine is mated to either a 10-speed automatic borrowed from the Odyssey or a 6-speed manual—again, plucked from the Type R. We say skip the manual here too: the clutch pedal is impossibly light, with a high takeup, and a unique linkage for the Accord results in long throws for the shifter. The 10-speed is more than adequate, and when equipped with paddle shifters, it’s the Accord’s best life. We’d ask for a less complicated gear selector (the shifter has been replaced with a series of Bop-it buttons: pull for reverse, push for drive or park) but these are small annoyances.

Honda makes the decision easier for us this year too—opting for the manual doesn’t save any money this time around.

A revised electric power steering system that uses adjustable ratios is a first for the Honda Accord. It’s a quicker rack at the edges, slower in the middle for longer slogs on the interstate when the steering wheel should feel optional. It’s well-weighted and much better than the outgoing version, which felt soggy to us in comparison.

A revised front suspension system that uses a different control arm and fluid filled bushings soaks up road imperfections. Most Accords use a traditional front strut, rear multi-link suspension setup, but higher trims feature Honda’s adaptive suspension system that can toggle between sport and normal modes for stiffer damper settings, also found in the Civic Si and Type R compacts.

The adaptive dampers help the Accord feel composed and confident when the road turns into a workout, relaxed and sedate everywhere else. Cars equipped with the base suspension are more communicative than you might expect, but hardly profane.

Sport trims get their own 19-inch wheel-tire combinations and a forewarning: those versions prioritize looks over comfort.

Accord Hybrid

The Honda Accord Hybrid returns this year for its third generation. The first wave of Accord Hybrids will appear early next year, but will largely sport the same powertrain from last year.

A 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4 that makes 143 hp is planted under the hood, while the batteries and power control unit have shifted from the trunk to underneath the rear seats.

Honda’s hybrid system is somewhat different than the others—its two-mode hybrid system uses the internal combustion engine to power a generator that feeds the 181-hp electric motors, or clutches all of the above to power the wheels together, same as last

The series or parallel hybrid powerplant worked together seamlessly in our drives of early prototypes, although we could hear some gremlins that Honda says they’re working out.

The net power output from engine and electric motors is 212 hp, which is relatively unspoiled by the weight savings from smaller batteries.

The Accord Hybrid and 2.0-liter Accord weigh roughly the same.

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