We spend a week in the more-than-mildly refreshed and updated 2017 Accord Touring V6 sedan.
Small trunk pass-through
It was 40 years ago in May that Honda launched the first-generation of a vehicle based on a "desire for accord and harmony between people, society and the automobile."
That very first Honda Accord weighed roughly 2,000 pounds, was 162.4 inches long, had a 93.7-inch wheelbase and came equipped with a 1.6-liter engine that generated just 79 horsepower and 92 lb.-ft. of torque. It was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The only body style available, a 2-door hatchback, came with a standard equipment list that included cloth seats, an AM/FM stereo radio, intermittent wipers, a tachometer, steel belted radial tires and a rear window wiper, washer and defroster.
Only one trim level was offered and the suggested retail price was $3,995.
Since that time, the Accord has evolved from a compact to a midsize and, finally, a full-size sedan by EPA interior measurements. By 2012, it had grown by nearly 33 inches in length, while its wheelbase had increased by 16.8 inches. Weight was also up - by 1400 pounds - but, fortunately, horsepower in the base 4-cylinder had also more than doubled.
2016 Honda Accord Touring V6 Sedan
The size of the Accord was re-evaluated for the current ninth-generation model introduced in 2012 (as a 2013 model) and it's actually a bit smaller. Overall length, at 191.4 inches, is down 2.7 inches, wheelbase, at 109.3 inches is down by 0.9 of an inch and its height, at 57.7 inches is down by 0.4 of an inch while its width, as well as front and rear tracks, are all up slightly (0.1, 0.2 and 0.1 inches, respectively).
Four years into its current model cycle, Honda has given its flagship sedan what it calls a "major minor" facelift. There's an all new front fascia with a more chiseled look that features narrower headlamp enclosures, LED-strip fog lights and a lower air intake with a mesh grill. Less successful is the Accord's take on Honda's new signature "wing" grille. In our opinion, it's a plethora of chrome and reminds us a bit of the recently departed "power plenum" from Acura.
The biggest change up front, however, is unseen as Honda has replaced the Accord's stamped steel hood with one constructed of aluminum in order to save weight and improve fuel economy.
Along the sides, the larger (and standard on Sport and Touring trims) 19-inch fill the wheel wells nicely – not something we're used to seeing on Japanese sedans that have a reputation for being notoriously under-sized in this department. As for their design, it received mixed reviews as many felt they looked a bit too aggressive.
Although the rear fascia is also new, the changes are more subtle. The chrome strip above the taillights has been re-shaped, there's a new chrome trip strip that highlights the lower valance, while a rear deck spoiler is now standard on the Touring trim.
But taken as a whole, in our opinion, the updated look still has a way to go to match the style of such segment leaders as the Ford Fusion, Mazda Mazda6 and even the new Chevy Malibu.
The interior, on the other hand, is one of the best in the segment. It features a Lexus-like one-piece upper dashboard that encloses two binnacles – one housing the fuel, speedo and tachometer gauges, with a second and central one containing an upper display screen.
Think midsize luxury without the luxury price tag.
One of the functions of the upper screen is to display Honda's LaneWatch - a system that uses a camera on the underside of the passenger-side mirror. When activated (by engaging the right turn signal or pushing a button on the end of the stalk), it displays the right side of the vehicle. The only issue is that the system lacks a left-side blind spot warning feature – something that would make it much more effective.
The new lower screen is larger and the old off/volume knob has been eliminated – not necessarily a step forward. Fortunately, the steering wheel houses analog buttons for volume and channel pre-selects. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also simplifies at least a portion of Honda's somewhat convoluted infotainment interface – which we do see as a step in the right direction.
The rest of the controls are typical Honda – smooth, intuitive and within easy reach of the driver. And in an era in which the beltlines of even large sedans are rising resulting not only in a feeling claustrophobia but poor outward visibility, the view from the Accord's driver's seat both fore and aft as well as to the sides is excellent. There's plenty of leg, hip, shoulder and headroom for both front seat occupants as well as three adults in back.
Although the interior room of the Touring model still measures a spacious 100.8 cubic feet (non-sunroof models get an additional 2.4), the smaller 15.5 cubic foot trunk has pushed the sedan from large back down to mid-size by the EPA's yardstick. And while Honda notes that the 2016 update has made the rear bulkhead sturdier, the pass-through to the passenger compartment remains on the small side. In order to transport a 52cm road bike, we had to remove the front wheel – something that wasn't necessary with the new Civic.
Even the least expensive Accords come with a long list of standard features. Dual zone automatic climate control, power windows, locks mirrors, and doors, alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, a rearview camera with guidelines, stability control, traction control and six airbags are all there. The steering wheel also includes illuminated controls for the audio and cruise control systems along with controls for Honda's Bluetooth HandsFreeLink.
Step up to the Sport model and in addition to a slightly more powerful 4-cylinder engine you also get the larger alloy wheels, an available CVT with paddle, rear decklid spoiler, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar.
EX models lose the additional horsepower but gain a power moonroof, push button start with smart entry and LaneWatch.
Pick the EX-L and you'll be treated to leather seats (heated) and steering wheel, forward collision and land departure warning, Aha-enhanced HondaLink, a multi-angle rearview camera, two-position memory driver's seat, XM radio and an audio touch screen.
The EX-L with navigation adds a satellite-linked nav system, an 8-inch, customizable, intelligent multi-information display (i-MID) with steering wheel-mounted controls and a hard disc drive with 16 gigs of audio memory.
The next two models – the EX-L V6 and EX-L V6 with navigation add the V6 plus HomeLink and LED daytime running lamps.
The penultimate Accord sedan, our Touring, adds adaptive cruise control and the aforementioned LED headlights with auto on-off.
Under the hood
2016 Accord models are available with two engines. Standard on LX, Sport, EX and EX-L trims is a DOHC 2.4-liter direct-injected inline-4, producing 185 hp at 6,400rpm and a maximum 181 (182 in the sport) ob.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm.
Optional on the EX-L and standard on Touring models is a SOHC 3.5-liter multi-point fuel injected V6 that generates 278 hp at 6,200 rpm and a maximum 252 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,900 rpm.
The LX, Sport and EX trims come with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT automatic. 4-cylinder EX-L models (with or without navigation) are available only with a CVT, while 6-cylinder EX-L models are available with either a standard 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic. If you want a V6 EX-L with navigation or a Touring model, the only transmission offered is the 6-speed automatic.
By the way, the EPA rates the last setup at 21/34/26 city/highway/combined, while we observed 20 mpg in city driving.
On the road
On the road the refreshed 2016 Accord offers an even tauter and more well-balanced ride thanks to a more rigid body structure and new high-performance dampers on LX, Sport and EX models. Taking it one step further, top-line Touring models, like our tester, are now fitted with Amplitude Reactive Dampers and hydraulic subframe bushing for an even smoother ride. Even the drive-by-wire steering was retuned which, in our tester, resulted in even better feedback through the steering wheel.
The suspension soaked up bumps both large and small, while cornering at practically any speed produced absolutely no drama. The transmission shifts smoothly and even at freeway speeds there is very little noise emanating from the engine compartment. Like our 2013 Accord, we noticed, even at freeway speeds, very little road noise as well as good isolation from wind noise.
2016 Honda Accord Sedan prices
2016 Accord sedan prices (non-hybrid) start at $23,040 for the entry-level LX equipped with a manual transmission. And while you can add a few thousand in accessories to it, most buyers won't. This means that, for the most part, pricing tops out exactly where our Touring V6 landed: with a base price of $34,580, plus $820 in destination and handling charges for a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $35,400.
The Bottom Line
The 2016 Honda Accord has a lot going for it: a high-quality interior, much improved handling and decent, if uninspired, styling. On the other hand, the small pass-through to the trunk limits some of its versatility, while the infotainment system, though improved, still needs some work.
But for those buyers looking for a premium midsize package without having to pay premium prices, the 2017 Honda Accord sedan is ready and willing to oblige.