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Honda's new Accord is an excellent transportation appliance

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

No automaker in history has made better cars than Honda. The Japanese company deserves its reputation for delivering decent, dependable cars at fair prices.

The 2018 Accord is another feather in its cap, a well-engineered transportation appliance that is almost post-automotive in design and execution.

Honda reworked its bestselling sedan for the 2018 model year, giving the car an improved chassis and a new engine.

The Touring model I drove was equipped with the 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged option. Hooked to Honda's continuously variable transmission -- with paddle shifters and a Sport mode that make it a little more interesting -- the Touring's engine makes 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque.

The turbocharging is excellent, delivering power and boost smoothly with no sensation of turbo lag or turbo dump.

Around town the Accord zips from corner to corner. Using the Eco setting reduces that feeling, while increasing fuel economy. But the Sport setting adds zest to the zip, maximizing the available horsepower and torque and making the car feel racier than it actually is. (For those who need a car that's faster, there's the Accord Sport 2.0.T, whose two-liter engine makes 252 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. The Accord Touring can also be had with this engine, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.)

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On the open road, thanks to a firmer chassis and the generous use of sound-deadening interior materials, it feels almost stately, humming quietly even at higher highway speeds. The engine is quiet, and there's relatively little tire noise or wind noise.

And while I don't generally like the continuously variable transmissions that Honda uses for its small-motor cars, because of their tendency to whine when working hard, on this Accord I seldom thought about sewing machines or Habitrails.

Inside, the Accord is roomy and comfortable, even in the back seat. Even when a tall person with long legs was occupying the front passenger seat, the rear passenger side area had plenty of legroom and headroom.

One passenger was particularly impressed that the rear door handles were illuminated at night. I guess this will be helpful to someone in some circumstance, though I'm not sure who or what.

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