Latest Honda Accord Maintains Sporty Executive Appeal

By Lee Pang Seng

THE Honda Accord has firmly established itself here as one of the popular options for executive motoring among the Asian brands over the years. This is also reflected in the US market especially with the current generation (ninth) model, which has been the top selling car there in the last few years, with the Toyota Camry second best.

Indeed, the Accord has grown in stature and engineering over the years. We could recall the first model back in the early 1980s; it was actually smaller in body dimensions than the City today, but was considered a ‘big’ car back then. It was powered by a 1.6-litre engine that gave it good pace in town and on the highway because of the good power-to-weight ratio.
The Accord today has evolved to serve its role as an executive car better and that means a higher level of equipment to make driving comfortable and modern, yet has the performance in acceleration, driveability and competency. In that respect, the latest Accord would measure up nicely and a weekend with the 2.4 VTi-L confirmed that.

At the time of the launch for this facelift model in September 2016, the Accord was celebrating its 40th anniversary. The latest version was updated to stay abreast of modern demands with typical new touches in the redesigned front bumper and LED (light emitting diode) headlights for the top model 2.4VTi-L. The rear combination lamps are also LED units and this apply to all three models. However, the 2.0-litre models have halogen headlamps but all three have LED daytime running lights.

What is more relevant to driving comfort and convenience lies in the addition of equipment and features, especially in the lower models 2.0 VTi and 2.0VTi-L (the most popular variant of the three). All models now come standard with Smart Entry (key fob sensing), Push Button start and cruise control.

To give added value to the 2.0VTi-L, Honda increased the level of equipment to include Honda LaneWatch (live camera view of the left lane), auto dim rearview mirror, auto wiper, front passenger four-way power seat (electric control adjustments), side airbags and side curtain airbags. The top model 2.4VTi-L comes with the addition of the LED Active Cornering Lights, among other exclusive items.

Honda says the 2.4VTi-L is powered by its revolutionary ‘Earth Dreams Technology’ that provides better acceleration while continuing the better fuel efficiency theme. It has double overhead camshafts, displaces an exact 2356cc and delivers 129kW (175PS) at 6200rpm and 225Nm of torque at 4000rpm. A five-speed automatic transmission channels engine output to the front wheels.

Compared to the Germans, the Japanese carmakers appear to lag a little in providing turbo engine power but the recent introduction of the 1.5-litre turbo unit in the latest Civic is a sign that change is definitely being made. In the meantime, we might as well enjoy normally aspirated power while it’s available.

The latest Accord 2.4 has enough engine output to make for fairly quick acceleration in urban driving and quiet and relaxed cruising on the highway. The torque builds up quickly enough to allow quick passing manoeuvres, helped by the grunt of a bigger displacement engine. Cruising at legal highway speeds meant an easy-going engine turning about 2300rpm that should provide good fuel mileage.

This is helped by the fact that highway cruising was as quiet as expected with good insulation from the engine compartment, suspension linkages and a body profile that is aerodynamically efficient. The suspension bushing appeared to be well sorted out to suppress the transmission of all the noise generated by the tyres over different road surfaces.

To assist the driver when taking left turns or changing lanes, using the indicator activates the camera that is mounted on the left door mirror (Honda LaneWatch). A view of the traffic on the road to the left is displayed on the upper dashboard screen, centrally located above the 7-inch touchscreen for the audio system. It goes off when the indicator returns to a neutral position. It’s practical as it helps the driver watch out for motorcyclists that may nip by on the left as he’s about to turn to the left or change lanes.

This display screen also serves a similar role when reversing with colour line guides to indicate proximity to the wall or obstacle behind. The system in our Accord 2.4VTi-L was somewhat flawed as the line guides didn’t turn red all the time, especially when we reversed a bit too close to the wall once. We could see that we were pretty close to the wall via the display and we confirmed that on getting out to check.

Although the car’s mileage wasn’t that high, we found the touchscreen sensor on the audio display to be a bit inconsistent as well; it wouldn’t respond instantaneously all the time. We had to dab firmly and more than once to get the expected response. Other than these two electronic malfunctions, the experience in the latest Accord was generally likeable.

The Accord is a big car all round as it sits on a 2775mm wheelbase. That makes it sizeable at 4935mm long and 1850mm wide. Yet, the view all round is good from the driver’s seat and we could confidently manoeuvre the Accord in tight places. The thick A-pillars did impede view though at junctions and we found that having a second look, for motorcyclists in particular, was a safer bet.

Independently sprung with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link suspension system at the rear, the Accord complements the Michelin Pilot Sport 3 235/45 R18 tyres in providing a stable and comfortable ride. We could tell that the suspension was tuned to be stiffer with the firmer ride while being compliant over road bumps and irregularities to iron out the impacts nicely for a comfortable experience. And our rear passengers certainly enjoyed the ride to give the Accord the thumbs up.

For the windies, the car’s body roll was reasonably well checked for us to explore its limits a fair bit. The Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering gave us sufficient feedback of how the front wheels were pointing as we took to corners at pretty quick speeds. We did feel its 1565kg kerb weight some when pushing a bit too hard as the understeer became more pronounced and the front tyres squealed. Still, the Accord 2.4 VTi-L could be driven fast enough through winding stretches, a trait that we had enjoyed even with the previous generation models. Therein lies its strength as a sporty executive sedan.

As the flagship model, the Accord 2.4 VTi-L is viewed more critically and we did receive remarks about the rather cheap looking panels on the central console. Generally, most agree that the car was up to the mark in the other fittings and equipment to reflect its premium and refined image.

That is very relevant as at RM172,800 on the road, the Accord 2.4 VTi-L indeed commands a premium price. On that premise, for those who could afford it, this flagship Honda should meet expectations squarely in most areas.

Photo Gallery