Honda Accord review
The Honda Accord is a premium alternative to mainstream saloons. It's not the largest car in its class, but it's luxurious and well equipped
The Honda Accord combines classy looks with a superbly built, upmarket interior, and at launch in 2008 it challenged premium compact executive models like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. But it’s fallen behind these class leaders in terms of running costs and driver appeal, and is now best viewed as a posh alternative to mainstream large family cars like the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Skoda Superb – with a price to match. Still, the exterior design is subtle, and on the road the Accord is refined and comfortable – it’s an excellent motorway cruiser. Honda sells the Accord as a saloon and Tourer estate, but neither is particularly practical considering the large dimensions, and both versions trail the best cars in this market in terms of boot size and rear legroom. The Accord will also cost more to run than its major rivals: even the diesels suffer from high fuel consumption, and high emissions across the range mean your annual road tax bill will be expensive.
Our choice: Accord 2.2 i-DTEC ES 4dr
While the Honda Accord looks smart enough, the shape is now rather dated, especially when compared to other models in the range, like the radical Honda Civic. There’s no hiding the large dimensions, either – the Accord looks like a big car. It falls somewhere between mainstream family cars and premium compact executive models: the design is more upmarket than the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, but the Honda badge doesn’t have the image and appeal of BMW, Audi or Mercedes. It’s a similar story inside, as the superb build quality has the edge over mainstream models – the soft-touch plastics and solid-feeling switchgear reassure buyers that they won’t encounter any problems with their Accord. Yet the interior can’t quite match the classy materials of the latest premium saloons. Plus, the layout is beginning to show its age.
Compared to its rivals, the Honda Accord has quite a limited engine range, with buyers able to choose from only two petrol engines and one diesel. Still, decent performance is guaranteed, whichever model you go for. The 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol version comes with 154bhp and is quite smooth, while the 2.4-litre i-VTEC is the quickest version in the line-up. It offers 198bhp and feels quite fast, with 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds. The trouble is, both petrol versions are hampered by their high fuel consumption, so you’re better off with the 148bhp 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel Accord. It's impressively quiet and refined, but has enough torque to make overtaking easy. The diesel also has the best towing capacity in the range, at 1,700kg, so it’s a decent choice for caravan owners. No matter which Accord you buy, you’ll find the steering reasonably precise and the six-speed manual gearchange slick. This isn’t the most entertaining driver’s car in this market – that honour belongs to the thrilling BMW 3 Series, which is much more engaging from behind the wheel – but the Honda is competent enough. An automatic transmission is available on all models, although as it’s only a five-speed box, we’d stick with the manual.
Independent crash test organisation Euro NCAP awarded the Honda Accord a maximum five stars for safety. Because Honda has its own in-house testing facility, this is one of the safest cars in its class. Six airbags, anti-whiplash headrests and ESP are all included as standard. The Accord is also likely to be one of the most dependable choices around. Honda has a great reputation for reliability, and this has been upheld in the Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction surveys over the years. In 2013, Honda was ranked sixth overall, while the Accord finished 25th in the Driver Power Top 100, with owners praising the in-car tech, build quality and, not surprisingly, the reliability. And many buyers will be sold on the idea of a car they can rely on, even if it’s not the most exciting choice.
Unlike some rivals, the Honda Accord isn't available as a hatchback, which blunts its practicality. The boot opening on the saloon model is quite narrow, so getting large items of luggage in and out can be difficult, and the rear suspension set-up protrudes into the load area, making it an awkward shape. With 467 litres of space it trails behind most of its rivals, although the rear seats do split and fold to make room for longer items. If you need more practicality, you can always go for the Accord Tourer, although again, this isn’t as spacious as some premium estates – its 406-litre boot size with the seats in place expands to 1,183 litres, which trails the class leaders. Passenger space is also an issue in both versions – there's a decent amount of headroom, but the rear passenger footwell is quite tight, and its not as roomy as a Toyota Avensis or Skoda Superb. The main dash controls are a little confusing, but each of the four model lines is well equipped, with important features like air-con and cruise control included as standard. GT spec adds sporty extras like an aerodynamic bodykit, bigger wheels, leather trimmed steering wheel and alloy gearknob.
Stop-start isn’t available on any Honda Accord, and as a result the car is some way off the pace when it comes to economy and emissions. The 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel is the most efficient model in the range, and in manual ES trim it promises fuel consumption of just over 50mpg. Emissions stand at 138g/km, which means road tax is more expensive than for rivals. The 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol can manage over 40mpg and 159g/km with a manual gearbox, while the bigger-capacity petrol models and automatic versions are considerably more thirsty. The higher-powered models also have the most costly insurance; the line-up ranges from insurance group 23 to 28. Variable service intervals mean the car will flag up when it needs a check-up, and owners should find visiting their local showroom a pleasurable experience, as Honda’s network has a great reputation for customer service – the dealers are always highly rated in the Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey.