Great American sedans bigger than some mini warehouses once floated down smooth interstates, gulping a gallon of high-test every few miles.
With their loping, road-eating V-8s and trunks large enough to live in, they seemed limitless -- highway silver-liners bound for distant horizons.
Now, of course, those behemoths are gone, along with most other domestic sedans. At least one exceptional American-built car still navigates our broken, now-congested interstates: the 2020 Honda Accord 2.0T.
OK, OK, so the Accord is a tad bit Japanese.
Like those wonderful old floaters from the past, it shines with style, speed and comfort. If Accord rhymed with more words, bad rock bands might even be writing songs about it.
The Accord probably deserves them. The Ohio-built sedan, long recognized for its quality and capabilities, finally flashed some style a few years ago and now looks to me like the best mid-size sedan in the U.S.
Sorry, GM, Ford and Chrysler – my beloved Detroit Iron. You’re history now in this segment.
Though technically a mid-sizer, the wine-red Accord Touring I had recently looked bigger with its slinky fastback-style top and long, powerful hood.
Moreover, it didn’t try to bulldoze me with some massive, laughable grille, opting instead for long, narrow LED headlamps as its dominant style element.
They were connected by a four-inch band of chrome, capping a deep black grille and setting a stylish tone for the rest of the car.
The Accord’s flat sides and long doors, for example, sported a slight, muscular curve in them as well as a prominent crease above the door-handles.
Also, a big contributor visually were bold, five-spoke 19-inch wheels wrapped with 235/40 tires.
Granted, the Accord still can’t fully match the Mazda6 in styling, but Honda is developing a strong, distinctive look for the Accord that I hope oozes down to some of its other, clumsier vehicles.
The real jewel in the Accord, however, resides beneath the car’s lengthy hood – a turbocharged, direct-injected 2-liter four producing 252 stout horsepower.
The smooth, responsive engine, which replaces a V-6 as the Accord’s optional top-of-the-line motor, was bolted to a 10-speed automatic that seemed to have a gear for every situation.
One appeal with turbocharged four-bangers over V-6s is they can be tuned more effectively for low-end torque, generating a bigger push away from stops than a V-6 – and theoretically, better fuel economy.
With 273 lb.-ft. of torque and the 10-speed automatic, the front-wheel-drive Accord could spin the tires from a stop, pulling strongly to 6,000 rpm without turbo-lag or flat spots.
Under hard acceleration, the automatic transmission clicked off almost racing-quick shifts, helping the Accord to zip to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
That puts the 3,300-pound Accord at or near the top of the mid-size segment in acceleration, which might account for its average overall fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon.
But it doesn’t start hard and stop there. Like the Mazda6, the Accord offers handling and steering that approach those of some sports sedans – a rarity in a family-oriented mid-size sedan.
Although slightly firm, the Accord’s suspension provided crisp moderate-speed cornering without much lean, while its steering was quick and precise, giving the sedan a light, agile feel.
Likewise, the ivory interior in my $37,000 Accord – which looked light gray to me – gave the car more high-end flair.
In years past, mid-size sedans rarely offered more than child-proof plastic bins as interiors – in black, tan or gray.
Honda and others continue to move away from that approach.
A deep black dashboard in the Accord curved gently down onto a mid-dash anchored by a horizontal tablet-shaped display screen with navigation, voice recognition, rear cross-traffic monitor and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration.
Despite all the techy stuff, the Accord also had buttons for the volume and tuning of its audio system – something most German sports sedans can’t claim.
Meanwhile, the lower dash, in ivory, eased down the sides of the console, giving the front of the interior a cockpit feel.
Like Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, the Accord featured a panel on the console with push buttons for the automatic transmission.
The car’s ivory leather seats were sectioned and perforated, with Uber-like leg- and headroom, and even the black door panels looked inviting with gray centers and dark wood trim.
Best of all, everything came standard.
The polished, well-engineered Accord Touring 2.0T is more proof that Asian automakers still see plenty of life left in a segment the GM, Ford and Chrysler departed.
Considering all the pop and sparkle now in mid-size sedans, I hope the domestics know what they’re doing.
2020 Honda Accord 2.0T
- What I liked most: The Accord’s impressive mix of style, performance and comfort at a price of less than $40,000.
- What I would change: Not much.
- MSRP: Base price of Touring model, $36,100; as equipped, $37,030.
- Official color: Radiant Red Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 22 miles per gallon in town, 32 on the highway and 26 mpg combined with filler on the left.
- Odometer reading when tested: 832 miles.
- Spare tire: Temporary compact.
- Weight: 3,276 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 192.1 inches long/73.2 inches wide/57.1 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 14.8 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Not applicable.
- 2020 Honda Accord Touring in a few words: A mainstream mid-size sedan that may make you forget entry-level, near-luxury cars that cost substantially more.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final assembly location: Marysville, Ohio
- Manufacturer’s website: www.honda.com
- E-mail me at email@example.com
- Up next: 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid