11.09.2014

The 2015 Honda Accord: Another Model Year of Greatness (with one drawback)

Front view of 2015 Honda Accord EX-L
The 2015 Honda Accord EX-L.
It was only nine months ago that I wrote about the Honda Accord EX-L...suggesting that buyers go for the four-cylinder version of this benchmark family sedan because I honestly thought I was driving the more expensive and thirstier six-cylinder for the entire week I had it.

That was the 2014 Accord.  Now we've had a week in the '15.  What's changed?




Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Honda Accord EX-L
2015 Honda Accord EX-L.
Very nearly nothing.  And that's good news. Though it trails the Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima (but only barely), it is firmly ensconced on the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right side of this page.  The only difference between the '14 and the '15 is a new standard universal remote in the EX-L model and a slight increase in base price (from $30,045 to $30,195).

2015 Honda Accord EX-L interior view
2015 Honda Accord EX-L interior.
Beyond that, though, it's the same big bowl of "just right" on nearly every level.  Yes, the four-cylinder makes 91 fewer horsepower than the six, but in normal driving, you don't sense the loss...and the payoff (apart from a two-thousand dollar and change lower price of entry) is in gas mileage.  27 in town for the four versus 21 for the six...36 on the highway for the four versus 34 for the six.

Honda's materials and workmanship are back to being a standard-setter. The only niggle (and what probably costs the Accord second place on the TireKicker's Best Cars list among family sedans to the Nissan Altima) is that the navigation and audio system look and function like units from 2005 instead of 2015. They introduce a level of frustration into a car that otherwise has none.

The worst is the radio presets.  Let's say you've set your first bank of favorite stations under "FM 1".  You select "FM 2" and begin saving those.  Except...unless you select "FM 2" before EACH save....you're replacing your "FM 1" presets. I don't know of another car (apart from other Hondas and Acuras) that does that.

Navigation and audio system for 2015 Honda Accord
2015 Honda Accord EX-L navigation and audio system.

The graphics on both the audio and nav systems are generations behind the competition. An upgraded audio system, with quality that can compete with the Bose, Infinity, HarmonKardon, Rockford Fosgate and other systems offered by other carmakers, even if it's an extra-cost option,  needs to become part of the mix ASAP, and the two-screen setup is pointless.  And don't get me started on HondaLink.

Oh, heck...now I've got me started on HondaLink.  The idea's a good one...a cloud-based system that links your mobile phone and your car and gives you seamless access to Aha (the app, not the 80s band), Pandora and more.

Except it doesn't work. Not just for me, for anybody.

Checking the iTunes app store as I write this, there are 38 reviews of the HondaLink app. The highest rating anyone gives it is two stars out of five.  That's three people. The other 35 are one-star reviews with headings like "Black Eye", "Horrible" and "Lamest App Ever".  Beyond the headings are comments like "A good reason why we need zero stars on the rating system", "I was a Honda fan for over ten years, but this experience has ruined the brand" and "Can't believe the Honda name would be associated with this garbage".

What's the big deal? As I wrote in my review of the Touring V6 a year and a half ago,  Honda used to be Apple. By that I mean that in the 80s and 90s, Honda stood for cool technology and clean design that functioned flawlessly.  They were the company most likely to get something new and cutting-edge right the first time. The comments from users make clear the shortcomings of HondaLink.  The problem is that when you finally give up and don't use it, you're still dealing with an infotainment system that's ten years out of date.

And that's how good the rest of the Accord is.  Even with all that, it still lands on a list of our ten favorite current cars. There are people for whom the nav is something nice to have that gets used once or twice a year and who have fewer than six favorite radio stations so what happens when you try to save numbers seven through 12 is irrelevant. They'll never notice.  But if you're not one of those people, you've been warned.  The Accord is the perfect mate with one annoying trait.  It's up to you whether it's a deal-breaker.

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