One of the most respected nameplates in the automotive industry
By Frank Washington
DETROIT - I was in Ypsilanti, MI, recently, a suburb just west of here, to test drive the 2013 Honda Accord.
The company showed off the new Accord Coupe and Sedan which are on sale now and it said that a plug-in hybrid Accord would go on sale early next year and that car will be followed by a conventional hybrid next summer.
To me, that was evidence that Honda is being pressed by the competition.
The Accord has been sold in the U.S. since 1976 and it has been produced here for the last 30 years. More than nine million Accords have been made in America.
The Accord is one of the most respected nameplates in the automotive industry and it is the most important car in Honda's lineup. The 2013 rendition is the 9th generation Accord and every one of them has been "a pretty big deal to us," as Mike Accavitti, vice president of Honda's national marketing operation said of the 2013 model.
More than likely, in times past, Honda would have staggered the role out of the sedan and the coupe and maybe even the four-cylinder and the six-cylinder equipped models. But with competitors getting better and having introduced new and improved midsize models of their own, this is no time for lollygagging.
Thus, Honda had its full family of new Accords on hand, except for the conventional hybrid which is one year away.
The engine choices were a direct injection four cylinder that made 185 horsepower and 182 foot-pounds of torque. And there was a 3.5-liter V6 that made 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. The plug-in hybrid was a different animal, confined to a short 15 or so minute loop close to the hotel, I didn't have time to get behind the wheel so I'll leave it be until I can get it for a full test drive.
The four-cylinder sedan can be equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a six speed manual as can the four-cylinder coupe. The V6 sedan is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the coupe comes with an automatic but can also be equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Some talking points: Although the Accord sedan is more than three inches shorter than the model it replaces, interior space has been increased a bit. Even the coupe has, at almost two inches shorter, a smidgen more interior space.
The new Accord is chock full of technology but three items caught my eye. Bluetooth for hands free phone use, USB/iPod integration so that you can bring your music with you and an expanded driver's side view (read wide new) mirror are standard equipment on all trim levels. And while talking about trim, the sedan has five trim levels and the coupe has four.
Pricing ranges from $22,470 to $34,220 for the sedan to $24,140 to $33,140 for the coupe.
During the presentation, a staffer referred to Honda as an engineering company. A couple of technology items show why. Available on the new Accord will be HondaLink, a cloud based system that allows drivers to connect to people, music and social media without connecting their Smartphones. In other words, the car can be turned into its own Wi-Fi hotspot.
We didn't know and didn't take the time to find out whether our test vehicle had the feature but it did have Honda LaneWatch™ which used a camera embedded in the passenger side mirror. Every time I engaged the turn signal to go right a wide angle view of the passenger side roadway appeared on the display screen. In other words, it was an advanced blind side warning system.
Our test car was the 2013 Honda Coupe with the V6 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. This car had plenty of pep. My driving partner, who was a far more aggressive driver than me, managed to screech the tires from a standing start through the first three gear shifts.
The only quibble we both had with this car was the gear shifter, especially the knob. It was out of character with the car. That's a political correct way of saying it was too small and obviously inexpensive. But that's an easily fixable quibble.
Using high strength steel and what it said was the "world's first use of steel and aluminum bonding" in the 2013 Accord's sub frame; Honda reduced the weight of the car by 57.3 pounds. I could feel that weight reduction in the front-end through the sweeping curves that sliced through two lane rural roads like Huron River Drive and Tecumseh-Clinton Highway.
I can't wait to get my hands on the 2013 Honda Coupe and Sedan, and then the plug-in hybrid as well as the conventional hybrid next year for some my world test driving. You know, where there's traffic.
Still, my initial opinion of the 2013 Honda Accord did not include disappointment.