Honda Accord Sedan – finally a CVT that doesn’t suck

Background

I hate CVTs or Continually Variable Transmissions. They seemed like good idea on paper, but after 15 years of IMG_3842 IMG_3843 IMG_3844 IMG_3845being in the market, most car companies have abandoned them in Non-Hybrid applications with the exception of Nissan who is shoving them into practically every model to achieve better fuel economy. The reason CVTs work in Hybrids is because the electric motor that is paired with the Internal Combustion Engine has a ton of torque. In non-Hybrid applications, the CVT struggles because it limits the engine’s RPMs during hard acceleration making the actual torque & horsepower a fraction of the peak power since it can never get the engine to rev that high.

So, as you can imagine, my experience with CVTs has not been memorable and when Honda announced they were putting a CVT in the 4-Cylinder Accord, I screamed “NOOOOOOOOO!” I wanted to give the Accord a proper test – at least 500 miles. I picked it up in Washington D.C. and drove down to Virginia Beach to visit family, a 230-mile trip each way. I’m the guy who grew up with Hondas in the Eighties when they made brilliant manual transmissions, but those are rare species on dealer lots these days because we’re too busy drinking Starbucks pumpkin no-whip frappuccinos while texting about the latest episode of Duck Dynasty. But I digress.

The Accord is a rock star. Not like a Corvette C7 Stingray, 0-60 in less than 4-seconds Bono rock star, but more like Tom Petty. He’s been around forever and just keeps on delivering, but he’s never been the flashiest. If you’re reading this looking for a recommendation to buy the Accord, you can stop because an automotive journalist would have to be a complete idiot not to recommend it. These are mid-sized, reliable sedans that last forever, hold their value and never let their owners down.

This is the 9th generation Accord and of course it’s bigger, more fuel-efficient, more advanced and better than the 8th generation and every generation prior. People who buy Accords have either owned one in the past or know someone who has owned one. Again, it’s an easy recommendation. Recommending a Mitsubishi Outlander over a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 is not.

The Accord’s styling is evolutionary in the sense that it draws from its past, but looks to the future. The exterior is only supposed to get you to open the door and that’s where the Accord really shines. Honda has made some  major improvements to the interior with better seats, a better IP (or Instrument Panel) and better technology. Lane Watch is a polarizing new feature that turns the camera on when you indicate you are turning right. It’s supposed to take the guesswork out of figuring out your blind spot and I quite liked it.

It’s interesting that with all the buzz about the CVT, that this rubber band transmission does not outperform the 6-speed manual which gets 27 City and 36 Highway versus 26 City and 34 Highway for the CVT. So why the $%&#(! would you buy the CVT? Because most of you reading this can’t drive a damn manual!

Models & Pricing

The pricing & trim matrix for the Accord is overwhelming. Bottom line is that a base Accord start at $22K and if you load one out with a V6, you will reach $36K. These are the basic trim levels:

What We Liked

  1. If you buy an Accord, nobody will question it.
  2. When you go to sell your Accord, everyone will want it.
  3. I have more faith in the Accord than any other mid-sized sedan. It's not the most exciting, but it is the best. With that, I'd still buy the Mazda6 or VW Passat over it just because I want to be different. It's the same reason I prefer Stone IPA over Budweiser. The most popular is not always the best tasting.

What We Didn't Like

  1. Styling is a bit bulky as compared with sleeker models like the Kia Optima and Ford Fusion.
  2. The 3-Year/36-month warranty pales in comparison to the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.
  3. Interior is a bit cluttered with too many buttons. Would like to see a simpler interior and IP, but it is a step in the right direction.

Recommendations / Competition

NO BRAINER. If I had a mother-in-law and she wanted to buy a mid-sized sedan, and I never wanted to hear her complain, I'd recommend the Accord. It's not exciting, but it hits the mark for a mid-size sedan as well as anything in the segment.
Starting Price
$21,995
Expert Rating
90
Sedan
2.4-Liter, 16-Valve, Earth Dreams DOHC i-VTEC® 4-Cylinder Engine
185
181
Front-Wheel Drive
CVT
gas
130
Top speed:
2
6
3
4

Top Competitors

Toyota Camry
89
Mazda6
95
VW Passat
92