Honda’s New Accord

Honda is revealing the look of the next Accord, a sleeker, more fuel-efficient sedan that faces tough rivals.
Honda has great timing: The current Accord has re-established itself as a best seller after a difficult year in which supplies were interrupted by Japan’s tsunami. Last month, Accord was second only to Toyota’s Camry as America’s best-selling car, and it was the fourth-best-selling vehicle of any kind.
Honda says the new look for 2013 is more sculpted. “It doesn’t scream and shout, but it’s sophisticated and refined,” says Vicki Poponi, an assistant vice president.
The new Accord is 3 inches shorter than the one it replaces but retains about the same interior size. The trunk is a cubic-foot larger. Honda engineers have an “obsession with getting the most interior (space),” she says.
When it goes on sale this fall, the ninth generation of Accord will compete in the big but ever-tougher midsize-car market, where automakers are placing huge bets. New products have poured into the segment. Besides the just year-old redone Camry and Volkswagen Passat and 2-year-old Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, redone 2013 models newly on sale or soon to be include Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion.
“This is going to be a real battleground,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “It’s going to take an Accord to bring back the same level of excellence, high value and quality (Honda) has had in the past.”
Honda says it’s going to stay ahead of the competition by giving the new Accord more upscale touches and new technology:
It will get LED headlights, taillights and running lights, a feature typically found in luxury cars. The four-cylinder base engine will be paired with a more gas-efficient continuously variable transmission, or CVT, rather than a conventional automatic transmission. The new transmission is “not rubber-bandy” feeling, a reputation of many CVTs, Poponi asserts. Unlike many others, Accord still will offer a V-6, too.
Although Honda didn’t reveal the expected fuel-economy figures — or the price — the new Accord is designed for extra-low wind drag, with flush-mounted window glass and wipers and a smoother underbody.
Peterson says Honda doesn’t need to be the segment leader to win customers when it comes to fuel economy, but it will have to post in the high-30-miles-per-gallon range in highway driving.
Accord has the advantage of having an army of happy customers behind it, points out Joseph Phillippi of AutoTrends. “Maybe (the styling) is a little conservative, but there is a huge cadre of loyal owners out there,” he says.


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