October 20, 2011

Review: Honda Accord

The Honda Accord has grown larger and wider, perhaps following the lead of the people who were young at its introduction. In the US, it was in the "compact car" category in 1976; now it is classified as a "full size" car. But it hasn't grown equally in all parts of the world.

When CelloMom was in college, her then-boyfriend Juan got his first job, and his first new car, a metallic-blue Honda Accord hatchback. Juan drove it happily through the commuter traffic, and less happily on shopping trips when CelloMom begged him to. We still call each other now and then, and compare notes on parenthood with our respective children, foreign languages, and a host of other things. When CelloMom mentioned this blog, Juan told her that he still drives a Honda Accord, albeit a different one from that first hatchback. Suddenly CelloMom realised that she hasn't seen an Accord hatchback for a while, and decided to look into it.

This baby sure has come a long way. At its introduction (1976) the Accord was just 4.115m long, and was offered only as a 3-door hatchback. Its 1.6L engine put out 68 HP, enough to give a nimble feel to its 2000-lb weight. It was well-known for its excellent fuel efficiency, 46mpg hwy.

Fast-forward to 2012. The 4-door sedan (US version) is now 4.94m long, or nearly three feet longer than the original hatchback. The current 2.4L engine gets a spec of 23 / 34 mpg (cty/hwy). The V6, 3.5L monster gets just 20 / 30 mpg (cty/hwy); it puts out 271HP to push around its 3600 lbs.

What happened here? As the drivers got older (and larger), they were sold increasingly bloated versions of the same car, which need larger and larger engines to keep that feeling of nimbleness? But wait: as drivers get older and hopefully a little wiser, would they not have less of a need to zip around the highways? So why would one need 271HP in a passenger car that's allowed to go at most 65mph in most states?


Honda Accord, versions offered in selected countries

*larger version (called Honda Inspire in Japan)

2.2L Diesel
4-cyl, 16vlv

4-cyl, 16vlv

4-cyl, 16vlv
V6, 24vlv
24 mpg
It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, in Japan, the Accord comes with a choice of a 2.0L and a 2.4L engine, and it is only 4.73m long. That's nearly 8 inches shorter than its US counterpart, but still about two feet longer than the 1976 hatchback. The larger US-sized model is available in Japan as the Honda Inspire, and comes only with the 3.5L V6 engine. CelloMom is not sure to what one is supposed to feel inspired.

In the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, the smaller Accord comes not only with a 2.0L and a 2.4L gasoline engine, but also with a 2.2L diesel option, with a 41mpg real-life efficiency. For fuel economy, this engine is the best you can do in today's Honda Accord.

In the Netherlands, you can buy the 2.4L engine only for the "Executive" trim level, which starts at € 42,490 (about $ 58,400 at October 2011 exchange rates). Falling in the "D" category for carbon emissions, a pretty hefty carbon surcharge is included in the MSRP. You don't have to even try selling the Dutch the 3.5L V6 engine: it would get taxed too punitively, both at purchase and in the annual road tax which will soon depend on the car's carbon emissions.

The oddest choice is given to would-be Accord buyers in Brazil: only the larger US model is available there, but with the largest and the smallest gasoline engines; no middle way. No diesel option, either. (What's that about?)

There is no doubt that there is plenty of room for a cello in either version of the current Accord, even in the US version which, bafflingly, has a smaller trunk volume than the Japanese/European version, despite being longer overall. But this car has way outgrown CelloMom, who would probably look like a little old lady trying to peek over the steering wheel.

As for Juan, CelloMom has caught a glimpse of him on a YouTube clip. He has a few more gray hairs - and he looks as trim as ever. CelloMom would bet he regularly tells Father Time to eat his dust on his daily run. When he is ready to say goodbye to his current trusty Accord, will he really be ready to drive around in a full-sized family sedan? One of which the fuel expense eats into the savings for future college tuition?


Honda Accord, Same-Model comparison, different engine.

US (JP Inspire) Japan, Europe, UK
Type Accord Sedan LX Accord Saloon ES
Year 2012 2012
Emissions rating ULEV-2/PZEV EURO5 "B"
MSRP $ 21,380 £ 23,325 (US$ 36,900)
CelloMom Rating 3 4
Fuel Economy:
City/Hwy quoted 23 / 34 mpg 39 / 61 mpg_imp
(32 / 51 mpg_US)
Avg. quoted 27 mpg 50 mpg_imp
(42 mpg_US)
Avg. actual   49.4 mpg_imp
(41 mpg_US)

2.4L 4-cyl 16-valve

2.2L 4-cyl 16-valve
Power 177hp @ 6500rpm 148 HP
Gears 5-spd manual 5-spd manual
Fuel Reg. unleaded Diesel
Length, mm(in) 4935mm (194.5in) 4726mm (186in)
Width, mm(in) 1845mm (72.7in) 1840mm (72in)
Height, mm(in) 1486mm (58.1in) 1440mm (57in)
Weight, kg(lbs) 1487kg (3279lbs) 1540kg (3395lbs)
Trunk volume, liters(cuft) 420L (14.7cuft) 467L (16.4cuft)
Turning radius, m(ft) 11.3m (37.7ft) 11.0m (36.8ft)
Top speed, kph(mph)   212 kph (132mph)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Cellomom.

    The Accord I own currently is pushing 14 years and 200K, and features such quaint amenities as a manually cranked windows, a cassette deck, and a complete mechanical linkage from the accelerator pedal to the actual throttle valve. It appeals to my sense of simplicity and reliability while still getting 30+ mpg. It's the third Honda I've owned, all three having been bought new, and none have ever been the source of a serious repair or maintenance bill.


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