New technology, advanced safety features and a roomy, comfortable interior propel the 2018 Honda Accord to the top of the midsize sedan class.
The base Accord goes on sale this month with a 192-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter engine. A more powerful model follows in November. A fuel-efficient hybrid is due early in 2018.
Accord prices start at $23,570, excluding destination charges. I tested a top-of-the-line 2.0T Touring model that stickered at $35,800, thanks to features that included leather upholstery, a sunroof, a navigation system, 252-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, blind-spot alert and more. Pricing on the hybrid will be announced closer to when it goes on sale.
The new Accord is roomier and lighter, but nearly the same size as the outgoing model. It's the first Accord to offer turbocharged engines, ditching the V-6 that powered top models for years.
It has a long hood, thin headlights and wraparound front chrome trim. At the rear, fastback looks and taillights recall Honda's popular Civic compact.
A wide range of advanced safety and driver-assistance features are standard equipment, including adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, front collision alert and lane-departure assist. The Accord competes with midsize family sedans including the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and VW Passat.
Midsize sedan sales have slipped as buyers turn to SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, but the segment remains big, competitive and profitable.
Sporty looks and handling that made the Accord just a bit more exciting than its prosaic competitors made the car a favorite for years, but recent models lost some of that edge.
The new car changes that. The steering is fast and responsive. The 2.0-liter turbo and 10-speed automatic transmission in the Touring model I tested delivered confident acceleration. The sport mode changed engine sound and shift points noticeably.
The shifter is an awkward set of buttons in an arrangement that never felt natural to me. Honda uses the same layout in the Odyssey minivan and its Acura luxury brand.