Honda has two of the best-known nameplates in the motoring world: Civic and Accord. The compact Civic was recently given a comprehensive makeover, and now its bigger brother has been treated to a radical redesign. Although it isn't quite as "out there" as the refreshed Camry, the 10th-gen Accord is a smarter, more efficient car than the Accords that came before it.
The design team at Honda describes the redesigned Accord as a "dramatic" change from its predecessors. We wouldn't quite go that far. It sits on a 2.16 in (5.5 cm) longer wheelbase than before, but is 0.6 in (1.5 cm) lower and has a 0.39 in (1-cm) shorter body all up. The wheel tracks are wider at both ends, too, and the swept-back glasshouse makes for a less conventional, more interesting silhouette overall.
It's undoubtedly a handsome car, and manages to look interesting without stooping to fake scoops, vents and wings. In other words, it doesn't look like the new Toyota Camry. The design is smarter, too, delivering (marginally) smoother aerodynamics than the car it replaces.
Inside, the longer wheelbase and wider body contribute to a more upscale experience for all five passengers. Honda says there's more leg, hip and shoulder room all round, and the boot now holds 16.7 cu.ft (473 L) of stuff. These cars need to do it all, from hauling kids to moving furniture, and every little bit of extra space on offer is likely to be appreciated by their owners.
Practicality aside, the interior has been designed with a focus on quality. The dashboard is trimmed in soft-touch material, and the new steering wheel is meant to feel sportier than before. Drivers sit in a 12-way adjustable throne, which can be heated and cooled if the right options boxes are ticked. Even rear seat passengers can be treated to seat heaters.
Under the hood, the Accord benefits from a range of compact turbocharged engines, along with one hybrid. The smallest is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder making 192 hp (143 kW) of power and 260 Nm (192 lb-ft) of torque, while jumping up to the 2.0-liter turbo boosts those outputs to 252 hp (188 kW) and 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) of torque. Honda says the 2.0-liter engine shares a lot of parts with the Civic Type-R, which suggest we might see a hotter Accord in the future.
The entry-level Accord is available with a six-speed manual or a CVT, while the more expensive 2.0-liter can be paired with the first 10-speed automatic to be used in a front-wheel drive car, or the same six-speed stick as the entry-level car. According to Honda, the 10-speed auto is 22 percent lighter than the six-speed auto in the current Accord, and has a much wider ratio spread. That means the bottom gears are shorter for better acceleration off the line, while the top ratios are taller for better highway efficiency.
There's also an Accord Hybrid on offer. It pairs an Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine with the highest thermal efficiency of any production Honda engine, combined with in-house electric motors that contain no heavy rare-earth metals.
As you'd expect of a modern family car, there's a full suite of active safety features on offer. The car has auto-emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind spot warnings. Nervous parkers will appreciate the parking sensors and rear-view camera, too. Honda says the body is stiffer than before, which should help if you do manage to have an accident.
The new Accord will be built in Ohio when it goes on sale in the US fall later this year.