6.09.2013

New Car Review: 2013 Honda Accord Touring V6

Front 3/4 view of 2013 Honda Accord

Mojo is a horrible thing to lose. And for much of the last decade or so, it appeared Honda had lost it.  The products became too big, too plastic, too...boring.  And the Accord became all those things.  It was as though Honda decided to out-geezer the 1999 Avalon. I expected to find coupons for the Early Bird Special at Hometown Buffet in the glove box.

Well, forget all that.  The company that won Boomers over 30 years ago by showing that jewel-like quality, advanced engineering and just plain fun could co-exist in an affordable automobile (four of them, actually...Accord, Prelude, Civic and CRX) is back with the 2013 Honda Accord.



Rear 3/4 view of 2013 Honda Accord

First things first: They cleaned up the styling. While the Accord is still a large-ish sedan by contemporary standards, it is leaner than last time, and looks it.  The stylists have worked in all the right lines and creases in all the right places to reduce the impression of mass. It looks lean, muscular (within the bounds of the segment) and purposeful.

We haven't had the four-cylinder yet. or the coupe (space available, Honda press fleet folks!), but the four-door V6 Touring model we drove was a revelation.  The 276 horsepower engine gets up and runs. The six-speed automatic transmission makes sure it doesn't guzzle fuel while doing it (EPA estimates 21 city/34 highway), the smaller, better designed body means easier visibility, improved sightlines that give you more confidence behind the wheel...all  the better to explore the handling that benefits from front and rear stabilizer bars.  It's not tossable to the degree our favorite Acura, the TSX is, but that would be asking a lot from this bigger, more commodious family sedan.


And then, there's the interior...where Honda seems to have re-found its old-time religion: Keep the dash as low as you can, improving visibility ahead. Put things where they naturally fall to hand. And simplify wherever possible.  They've got a way to go with that last, but the number of buttons is finally starting to drop to a reasonable number (probably because there are now two screens).

About the little screen.  That's where HondaLink lives.  The promise is a great one. It's a cloud-based system that gets your phone and the car together, giving you access to Aha by Harman, Pandora, and a bunch more.  In fact, just take two minutes and watch how Honda pitches it:



Sounds pretty great, huh?

It would be...if it worked.

The app crashes like a moth....um...a lot.

I thought it was me. I went to the iTunes store to re-load the app. That's when I saw the reviews: 2 stars out of 5. And six months without an update despite the complaints.

Here's the problem:  In the 80s and 90s, Honda WAS Apple. Here's what I mean by that. In the same way that Apple has come to mean cool technology and good design that functions in a trouble-free way today...that's what Honda stood for in the 80s and 90s.  They'd be the company most likely to get something new and cutting-edge right.

But GM's got MyChevy and MyBuick and Toyota has Entune and Lexus has Enform and....they all work.  So it's not just that Honda uncharacteristically blew it on something where no one has feared to tread. They've failed to keep up with the other guys.

Truth be told, both the nav and audio functionality are hopelessly out-of-date. Honda needs to spend the money, hire the people, whatever, and get about three steps ahead of the rest of the industry. Right now, the interface looks very 2003-ish.

But...that's it. The only thing wrong. Everything else about this car simply wowed me in the same way the '84 Civic won me over enough to pull out the checkbook after a 10-minute test drive.

The Touring V6 starts and stops at $33,430. Everything (a long, long, long list...just go here) is standard. Add $790 destination and handling and the tab is $34,220.  Not cheap, but it's a lot of car with a lot of features for the money.

HondaLink? If they can get the car this good, they can fix the app (if they don't they're going to have to deal with some very angry owners of $34,220 Accords, and Honda's always had the public relations/customer service thing down).  So, betting that they'll do that, it's thumbs up on this one...as Honda returns to glory, and knocks our favorite family sedan, the Nissan Altima down a peg on the TireKicker's Top Ten Cars (so far).


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