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article details
Author Jeff Palmer
Categories Accord
Create Date October 06, 2017 16:02
Last Update October 06, 2017 16:54
2018 Honda Accord First Drive

Bretton Woods, NH –
Every 5 years or so, Honda updates the Accord. Representing America's best-selling car (to retail customers, at least), over the past 41 years, every time the Accord is updated it's generally a pretty big deal. The Accord has always worn a target on its back from its competitive set in the midsize sedan segment, but nowadays Honda has to worry about competing with the ever-growing popularity of compact and midsize crossover utility vehicles, a set which includes its own CR-V.

While every Accord update is pretty significant, the 10th generation represents one of the most comprehensive changes in the history of the Accord, with a brand new platform AND a completely revamped lineup of powertrains. For the first time since the 1988 model year, there is not a coupe offered in the Accord lineup. For the first time since the 1995 model year, there is not a V6 engine offered in the Accord lineup. And for the first time in history (for the US market, at least), the Accord offers a turbocharged engine. In fact, the entire 2018 Accord engine lineup is exclusively turbocharged.

For 2018, the Accord's exterior styling has also made a dramatic shift. Where the 9th generation Accord designers seemed to have borrowed some of their inspiration from Chris Bangle, the new generation Accord could have been influenced more by Audi's Stefan Sielaff. While it bears a strong family resemblance to the 10th generation Civic sedan (which happens to share the same architecture), when you see the new Accord on the street, you might catch a bit of an Audi A7 vibe.

The 10th generation Accord is lower and wider, and the wheelbase has stretched by more than 2 inches compared to last year's design. The cabin has been pushed rearward, with the base of the A-pillar sitting back roughly 4" deeper than last year's Accord. Thanks to the elimination of the optional V6 engine, the engine bay itself can be considerably smaller, so this reduces the front overhang. The shift in engine room dimensions allows Honda to position the front axle closer to the ideal location for a more pleasing "dash to axle" ratio. In the metal the Accord bears a somewhat muscular look, with clean lines, tight panel gaps, and unfussy details. To this point, we've only seen the Sport and Touring trims, but the wheel designs are nice (particularly the 19's - the Hybrids get aerodynamically designed 17s which are less attractive) and there's no visual penalty for going with the cheaper 1.5T versions. The wheelhouses are pleasingly tight around said wheels, leaving relatively small fenderwell gaps. A new laser brazing technique for the roof panel means the typical black plastic strips (apparently called "mohicans") on either side of the roof can be eliminated, leading to a cleaner look. Like many past Hondas, this car seems to look better in person than in the photos.

The Accord's new platform brings many benefits, including improved body rigidity (24% improvement in bending rigidity, and a 32% improvement in torsional rigidity), while reducing overall body weight by 5%. The stiffer body generally brings improvements in handling, ride quality, and overall refinement. Improvements in packaging efficiency result in volumetric increases of both the interior and cargo areas. At 102.9-105.7 cu ft, interior volume has increased by 1.9-2.5 cu-ft over the 9th generation Accord. The 2018 Accord's cargo area now hold 16.7 cu ft, representing an improvement of 0.9 cu ft and 1.4 cu ft compared to last year's 4-cylinder and V6 Accords, respectively. Impressively, the 2018 Accord Hybrid doesn't lose any interior or cargo volume to its additional hardware and shares the same specifications with the rest of the Accord lineup.

The lineup grows
When Honda introduced their VTEC Turbo engine family to the world some 5 years ago, they told us that the 1.5L Turbo engine was intended to replace "2.4L Class" engines. The 2.0L Turbo engine was intended to replace "3.5L Class" engines, and this is precisely what has happened for the 2018 Accord model year – in fact, it's pretty much a straight swap. As such, the 10th generation Accord lineup closely mirrors the 9th generation Accord offering. The 4-cylinder Accord (1.5T) still offers LX, Sport, EX and EX-L trim levels, though for the 10th generation Accord, you can now get the Touring trim level with the 1.5T. In the US Market, there never was a Touring trim level offered for the 9th generation 4-cylinder Accord. The 9th generation Accord V6 started at the EX-L level, and then had EX-L with Navi and Touring above that. It's the same for the 2018 Accord 2.0T lineup, but now Honda has added a 2.0T Sport to the range, where there was never a V6 Sport offered for the 9th generation.

That feature set, though
Historically, Honda has been pretty aggressive when it comes to providing value to their various models through extensive feature sets. This tradition is continued with the 2018 Accord, and Honda is one of the first auto makers to make Honda Sensing (Honda's trade name for their Advanced Driver-assistance System, also known as ADAS) standard across the full line of Accords. This is quite significant as ADAS systems are credited with improving overall roadway safety, and with features such as Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS) and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, they can also help reduce driver fatigue. New for 2018, the Accord extends the Honda Sensing feature set with new Traffic Sign Recognition technology, which uses the Honda Sensing system's cameras to monitor speed limit signs and offer up a reminder on the dashboard and head's up display (Touring trim only). Other notable standard features include dual zone automatic climate control, auto on/off LED headlights with auto highbeams, LED taillights/signals, keyless entry, and more.

From the Driver's Seat
The interior is superb, particularly for the segment. Honda describes the cabin as "Elegant and Tech Savvy", and that is an apt description. For the most part, the materials and textures are not only high in quality, but the design and application of the materials is very impressive as well. The seats seemed to be comfortable for long runs (again, we didn't really get any LONG drive time) while providing sufficient support for moderately spirited driving situations as well. There's a decent amount of storage in the glovebox and center console, with a covered pocket at the bottom of the center stack, as well as bottle holders and pockets in the door panels. With the all new platform, Honda has lowered the hip point by about an inch, so your seating position is lower than it was with the 9th generation. This helps lower the vehicle's center of gravity and adds to the sensation of a flatter cornering attitude. The seats are comfortable with a moderate amount of bolstering. The center armrest could use a bit more padding - as it is one item that feels a little thin. Forward and lateral visibility is very good, thanks to thin A-Pillars and conventional rake on the front glass. The view over the hood is a bit different from most past Hondas, in that much more of the hood is plainly visible. The steering wheel is sized nicely, with a reasonably thick rim and proper deep thumb detents near the 9:30 and 2:30 positions. Visibility towards the rear is maybe not as good as the 9th generation Accord, owing to the steep rake of the backlight and the high trunkline. Fortunately the standard backup camera helps in this respect.

2nd row, not second class
Honda claims that the rear seat accommodations of the Accord have further grown. This is an impressive claim as the 9th generation Accord was already known for its generous rear seat accommodations. According to Honda's measuring tapes, rear seat legroom has grown by 1.9 inches. Honda also claims an improvement of nearly 3 inches in rear knee room, and that sounds like a lot. Even with the 10th generation Accord's fast roofline, headroom has actually improved slightly for the trim levels equipped with the moonroof (which is all of them except the LX, Sport 1.5T, and EX Hybrid), up to 37.2inches (vs 37.0 for 2017). For Touring trim levels, outboard passengers are treated to heated seating surfaces.

Flutter - Something to watch for
Perhaps as a consequence of the much more visible hood, while driving all of the 2018 Accords I noticed a fairly pronounced amount of wind-related flutter near the trailing edge of the hood. And this occurred at speeds even in the 40-50mph range. I mentioned this to the chief engineer and he indicated that the team had observed the same thing during development, and implemented some changes in hopes of addressing the issue, but it appears more work might need to be done. This is one of those things that may not bother everyone. After returning from the trip, I actually noticed that the hood on my 2016 Accord Sport actually flutters a bit at highway speeds, but since you can't really see much of the hood while driving, I had never noticed it previously.

Driver's Interface
The high resolution Display Audio (standard on everything except the LX trim level) system is very responsive and it features physical buttons for most of the important functions, including two large knobs for Volume and Tuning. This certainly reduces the level of fumbling and driver distraction. Still, there's a bit of a learning curve to remember everything that you'll encounter onscreen, though the system allows the owner to customize the layout of the screens to suit their preferences. The HVAC system features its own dedicated physical control panel just below the Display Audio, and the horizontally arranged interface is blissfully simple with 3 large knobs (L/R temp and fan speed) and 8 buttons. Buttons for the heated (and ventilated on Touring) front seats rest on either side of the HVAC controls.

The instrument panel is pleasingly simple. What appears to be a pair of very clear analog gauges is really a very well integrated TFT LCD with a single analog gauge (Speedometer) on the right. The default display for the TFT is an analog tachometer and Honda did such a good job of matching it up to the look of the speedometer, at first I thought the full panel was LCD. Only after I started paging through the display options for the instrument panel (Navigation, Phone, Audio, Trip Computer, etc) did I realize that the LCD panel ended at the left edge of the speedometer. The white numerals and markings are very clear and easy to read in any light. When the panel is set to the default mode, the small area between the two gauges is used to display simple items of information such as shifter position, the set speed and follow distance for the cruise control, and the recognized speed limit signs. For more detailed information, the tachometer display is replaced with the relevant information page when that page is selected.

How about the new engines?
If you've been following along with the 10th generation Accord development cycle, you already knew that Honda has ditched their wonderful 3.5L V6 in favor of a "downsized" 2.0L 4-cylinder Turbo engine. This is probably the biggest news on the powertrain front. The new K20C4 engine is basically a detuned version of the Civic Type R's mighty 306hp K20C1. The key differences between the Accord's K20C4 2.0T and the Civic Type R's K20C1 2.0T are the turbocharger (Accord uses a TD03, vs TD04 in the Type R), pistons, and cylinder head. Also, the Accord's K20C4 adds a pair of counter-rotating balancer shafts to ensure the smoothest possible operating characteristics. In the Accord, the TD03 turbo churns out up to 20psi of boost, delivering 252hp @ 6500rpm and a whopping 273lb-ft @ 1500-4000rpm.

Also of potential interest to TOVers is the fact that the new 1.5L Turbocharged engine is not exactly the same unit that's found in the latest Civic or CR-V models. It's really similar to the CR-V's L15B, and uses the same 6-speed and CVT transmissions that are offered in the Civic and CR-V, respectively, but the Accord's version of the L15B (L15BE, to be precise) actually has been equipped with VTEC on the exhaust valves (in addition to dual VTC, which is Honda-speak for dual variable cam phasing. The addition of VTEC allows the force-fed overachiever of an engine to generate 192hp@5500 rpm and 192lb-ft of torque from 1600-5000rpm, coming from a peak boost of around 20psi. This represents an an extra 13lb-ft of peak torque set across a slightly broader RPM range than that achieved by the CR-V's engine. Supposedly, the addition of VTEC helps reduce turbo lag as well. While the CVT transmission is largely carryover, it does have a shorter final drive ratio than the CVTs found in the 2017 Civic and CR-V, which should provide a more responsive feel and slightly improved acceleration off the line. If you want a 6-speed manual transmission with either the 1.5T or 2.0T, your only option is the Sport trim.

The new 10AT
Do you remember when bicycles were called "10-speeds"? Back then, 4-speed automatic transmissions were considered exotic, but now we have Honda mass producing 10-speed automatic transmissions of their own design. On top of that, this all-new, compact and lightweight transmission represents Honda's first foray into the realm of planetary automatic transmissions. Honda just introduced this transmission with the brilliant new 2018 Honda Odyssey, but to get it on the Odyssey, you have to shell out for the Touring and Elite trim levels. For the Accord, all three 2.0T Accord trim levels get the 10AT, starting with the Sport 2.0T.

Driving the new Accord
Honda hosted the debut drive event of the 2018 Accord in beautiful Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Normally at this time of the year the autumn weather is crisp and refreshing, and the foliage is well on its way to a brilliant display of fall colors. As luck would have it, the weather was more summerlike during our visit, and it was quite unusually warm (upper 80s F) and surprisingly humid, though the leaves were starting to show some color.

The roads we travelled were lovely and scenic, though given the gentle nature of the curves and generous sightlines, the posted 50mph speed limits were very conservative. On top of that, we had heard that the enforcement in New Hampshire can be strict. Even if we decided to test our luck on that front, the traffic we encountered was strictly observant of the speed limits. So we can't really say we were able to give the Accords (or the competing vehicles) any proper sort of workout, so full evaluations will have to wait until we can get our hands on some cars locally.

With that said, Honda had a lot of cars for us to drive, so this particular event was a little different than the typical drive event. Thus, we had relatively short drive segments on our way to a central spot where we would eat lunch, and then set off on short drive loops in the EIGHT 2017/2018 Accord variants and 4 competitor vehicles that were on-hand. On the 2018 Accord side there were Sport (6MT) and Touring (CVT/10AT) trims in 1.5T and 2.0T flavors, and a 2018 Accord Hybrid. The competitive set included 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder 2018 Toyota Camrys (both 8AT), a 2018 Hyundai Sonata SE (2.4 6AT), and a 2017 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L Ecoboost.

With the sheer number of vehicles to drive, I decided to focus on what I thought would be the most interesting models, and then drive whatever else I could for comparison. My priority list was: 1) 6MT 2.0T Accord, 2) 10AT 2.0T Accord, 3) 6MT 1.5T Accord, 4) CVT 1.5T Accord, 5) everything else, starting with the Camrys.

Accord Sport 2.0T 6MT
The offering at our starting point only included 2.0T Accords, so I opted for a 6MT Sport 2.0T straight away. Since confirming that the Accord 2.0T would be offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, I imagined that this one would hit the proverbial sweet spot for enthusiasts. In past Accords, the 4-cylinder versions always delivered the best chassis dynamics, while the V6s provided the most thrust and general refinement. With the 2.0T Sport it seemed like we could have our cake and eat it, and as it turns out, for most part, we can. However, there are a few tradeoffs. First of all, the chassis seems to indeed be quite good. I put the "seems to be" disclaimer in there because as I mentioned above, we really didn't get to push the cars at all. Ride quality is good, and the suspension offers a reasonable balance between ride comfort, impact isolation, and body control, while overall balance and turn-in also felt very good. Comparing it to the 1.5T Sport, even though the 2.0T is a bit heavier, the two Accords feel much closer together in terms of dynamic balance than the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder Accords ever did. So that's definitely a plus. Refinement levels are very good, and the balancer shaft in the 2.0T's K20C surely helps there. The downside? Well, as good as the 2.0T is, it doesn't seem to pack quite the same visceral punch as the J35 did. It just doesn't feel quite as quick or powerful as the 9th generation 6MT Accord V6. In fact, it didn't feel significantly quicker than a 2017 Civic Si, though the K20 is certainly more energetic and free revving than the Si's L15B7. The K20C4 generally makes pleasant sounds, though it falls short of the sweet intake and exhaust notes that the V6 delivered so well. On the plus side, the K20C4s little TD03 turbocharger does a good job of spooling up quickly and delivering a healthy dose of midrange torque when you need to slip past slower moving traffic, and you generally won't find the need to downshift too often, unless you're in an incredibly urgent hurry or simply want to enjoy the smooth operation of the slick 6-speed shifter. The 6-speed gearbox that's connected to the 2.0T is essentially the same unit that's found in the Civic Type R, though given the Accord's more relaxed mission in life, it goes with a taller final drive ratio. Ratios 1-4 are identical to the Civic Type R's gearbox, while 5th and 6th gears are taller in the Accord. As for the shifter mechanism itself, the feel is completely different from that of the Civic Type R. Where the Civic Type R's shifter is as quick and precise as speed metal, the Accord's shifter is as the jazz ensemble at a Sunday brunch. For the most part, it feels like past Accord shifters - it has slightly longer throws and lower, smoother effort than the sportier shifters found in the Civic Si and Type R. So while I was hopeful that the 2.0T would inject a bit more Sport into the Accord Sport, overall it remains more of a "Sport" in name and appearance.

Sport 2.0T vs 1.5T equipment levels
It should be noted that the Sport 2.0T has quite a bit more standard equipment compared to its Sport 1.5T counterpart. The Sport 2.0T starts at the EX equipment level and adds to that, whereas the Sport 1.5T is based upon the LX. So with the 2.0T Sport, you get a moonroof, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, rear seat HVAC vents, an upgraded 8-speaker 180-watt audio system, blind spot information system (BSI) with cross traffic monitoring, remote engine start (10AT only), 60/40 folding rear seat, and SiriusXM radio.

Accord Touring impressions
For the first time, the Accord Touring model is offered with both engine specifications, so if you dont care so much about performance, and you're fine with a CVT, you can save $2,000 and opt for the Touring 1.5T ($33,800). In exchange, you will enjoy better rated fuel efficiency (29/35/31 city/hwy/combined MPG for the 1.5T vs {TBA} for the 2.0T). The only visual differences between the 1.5T and 2.0T Touring models are the 2.0T badge on the rear deck and the 2.0T's pushbutton shift selector. The 1.5T goes with a standard console shift selector lever.

For the money, the Touring trim level adds a healthy list of added features, including FULL LED headlights (all of the other trims use LEDs for the low beams only), a Heads-up Display (HUD), a two-mode driving system (adds Sport mode), auto phone pairing via NFC (near-field communications), standard wireless phone charging (compatible with many flagship Android phones, Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X), ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, next-generation HondaLink Assist, 19" wheels, chrome exterior trim, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers and paddle shifters. The simulated wood trim that spreads horizontally across the dashboard and door panels is very nice in appearance, with an open-grained matte finish. The ivory colored interior especially caught my eye with the contrast of light upholstery and darker trim pieces.

I spent more time driving the 2.0T version of the Accord Touring than the 1.5T, but in short, the 1.5T version drives very nicely. The Accord CVT's shorter final drive ratio and higher engine spec helps offset some of the additional weight that the Accord carries over the Civic, though during my limited time with the 1.5T CVT Accord, it didn't feel appreciably quicker than a 2.4L Accord with CVT. The CVT is best suited for those who prefer a relaxed driving pace and optimal fuel economy, as opposed to more spirited drivin endeavors.

The 2.0T pairs pretty much perfectly with the new 10-speed automatic transmission. The tightly spaced gearing and quick shifting characteristics help keep the 2.0T operating in its optimal range. The transmission responds nicely to the Touring's paddle shifters, and it is even more responsive when you engage Sport mode. The short and tightly spaced gearing helps the 2.0T spool the turbo almost instantly when pulling away from a stop. Torque delivery is quite linear with no sudden sensation of a surge in torque. Shift quality is excellent and the transmission never seems to confuse itself about which gear it should select. With that said, the 2.0T + 10AT is ultimately quicker on paper than last year's V6 + 6AT. However, as we noticed with the Sport 2.0T 6MT, the 2.0T just doesn't seem to quite have the same visceral feel as the V6. Still, with the ability to clear 60mph in less than 6 seconds, the 2.0T 10AT is no slouch.

Adaptive Dampers
Honda (and Acura) have been doing great things with adaptive dampers on some of their models lately, and the Accord is the latest to benefit. Damping forces are changed dynamically in response to road conditions, but the calibration can be tightened by way of the Touring models' Sport mode button.

Sport mode?
Yes, for the first time the Accord has a Sport mode. Similar to most other implementations, the Accord's Sport mode remaps a number of parameters. On the Touring models, this list of parameters includes damping forces, steering weight, agile handling assist, throttle response, shift logic, and even the Active Sound Control calibration. When the Sport mode is engaged, the tachometer display is changed to include a boost gauge. This is the only way to see There's also an "anti-Sport" button (labeled ECON) which softens the throttle response and implements a more conservative A/C approach in the hopes of gaining extra fuel economy. The idea of the Sport button is always appreciated, but to be frank on the 2018 Accord I wish it probed a little further than it does, at least with respect to the adaptive suspension calibration. Sport mode in the Touring feels about the same as the standard calibration of the Accord Sport. Personally I was hoping the base calibration would be about the same as the Sport, with the Sport button stiffening it up even further. With that said, I should note that dynamically the 2018 Accord Touring does seem like a noticeable improvement over the 2017 Touring V6, with better balance and improved stability (via improved body control) through more challenging corners.

2.0T + 10AT - the quickest combo
Going into this event, I was pretty sure the 2.0L Accord with the 10-speed automatic would likely be the quickest configuration. It turns out that it is, and it's quicker than the 9th generation Accord V6 with the 6-speed automatic. We performed some informal 0-60 tests using a OBD-II CAN-bus scan tool and the 2.0T Accord 10AT was the quickest car that we tested. With simple brake torquing, the 10AT Accord ripped off 2 identical 0-60 passes of 5.92 seconds. Without brake torquing, we were seeing numbers in the 6.4x range. For comparison, the 2017 Accord Touring that we tested put up a best time of 6.45 seconds, while the best that we could manage from the 2018 Accord Sport 2.0T 6MT was 6.57 seconds, and that involved a lot of dancing on the clutch in an attempt to balance boost delivery with wheelspin. A simple launch off of idle in the 6MT Sport resulted in multiple runs in the 6.9-7.0 second range. This isn't terrible but I was hoping the 2.0T would have been at least a half second quicker to 60mph than it was. Further testing in better conditions will likely reveal better numbers for all of the cars, but the relative differences will probably stay roughly the same. Unfortunately, we were unable to test any of the 1.5T models.

Measured 0-60 Times for the 2018 Honda Accord
Trim Level0-60
2018 Accord Sport 2.0 6MT
6.57 seconds
2018 Accord Touring 2.0 10AT
5.92 seconds
2018 Accord Hybrid
6.91 seconds
2017 Accord Touring V6 6AT
6.45 seconds
Tested via OBD-II/CAN Bus data

First Conclusions
While we look forward to spending a lot more time getting to know and understand the 2018 Honda Accord, it seems pretty clear that Honda has yet another winner on their hands. Compared to the latest competitors, the new Accords stand up extremely well. Of course styling preferences are subjective (and we happen to think the new Accord is gorgeous inside and out), but Hondas have always held certain advantages when it came to the actual hardware. In this sense, the new 10th generation Accord really knocks it out of the park. Honda's done a great job with the feature mix and how it's spread out across the trim and powertrain levels, and we're especially pleased to see the addition of the Sport 2.0T and Touring 1.5T trims.

Pricing and Availability
The 2018 Accord will go on sale in two stages, with the 1.5T models arriving first, officially on October 18. The 2.0T Models will be arriving at the end of November. We should have EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0T models closer to that time. Below is the pricing and available EPA fuel economy data.

2018 Honda Accord Pricing* and EPA Data
Trim Level1.5T2.0T
LX
$23,570
30 / 38 / 33
––
Sport 6MT
$25,780
26 / 35 / 30
$30,310
TBA
Sport CVT/10AT
$25,780
29 / 35 / 31
$30,310
TBA
EX
$27,470
30 / 38 / 33
––
EX-L
$29,970
30 / 38 / 33
$31,970
TBA
EX-L w/ Navi
$30,970
30 / 38 / 33
$32,970
TBA
Touring
$33,800
29 / 35 / 31
$35,800
TBA
*Excluding tax, license, registration, $875 destination charge and options.

Specifications and Photos






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Subject Thread Originator Replies Last Post
  Speak your mind man!
osaze 3
  Rev Hang?
MGP999 1
  Black lug nuts
Potenza 2
  Why do the Sport and Touring have lower fuel economy?
DanielAcosta 2
  Lots of potential with the 2.0T
superchg2 5
  NVH compared to your 9th gen jeff
PoweredbyHondaX 11
  Wait for the Hybrid
JimmyEats 8
  Jeff, do you feel compelled to trade your new Sport in?
longhorn 8
  In summary the V6 was more refined.
saulinpa 10
  Sounds like Honda nailed it!
Gfn8r 0
  Nice summary
vh2k 8
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