Honda Accord vs rivals

Honda aims to blur the lines between family car and company transport with its all-new Accord. But can it beat the best in the business? We line it up against the class-leading Ford Mondeo, plus rivals from Renault, Citroen and Mazda...

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What's the difference between family cars and small executive models? With every launch come aspirations to push upmarket, leave mainstream family vehicles behind and challenge the best German executive machines.

What this means to ordinary buyers is that the benchmark for Ford Mondeo-sized vehicles has never been higher. Honda’s latest Accord is arguably striving hardest to break into the class above – dominated by the BMW 3-Series – but will that make it a winner?

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Honda Accord

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For this test, we have lined up five of the latest family car contenders. And you can see how diverse the top-selling market has become. Style, comfort, driving fun and attractive prices all should be standard. Our Accord EX GT, one of the first models to arrive in the UK, is powered by the firm’s new 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine. Honda claims the car matches the 3-Series for dynamics and the 5-Series’ cabin quality.

Clearly, the Japanese firm has confidence in it – so bettering other family models will surely be a breeze. But not if the Mondeo has anything to do with it. The big five-door is a brilliant all-rounder – and the reigning Auto Express Car of the Year. The top-of-the-range Titanium X should have everything it needs to tackle the challenger from Honda.

And while Renault’s Laguna has yet to prove itself a winner in our tests, can it teach the Honda a thing or two about upmarket aspirations? Mazda’s top-value 6 and the sumptuous Citroen C5 must also be beaten if the Accord is to take the top prize here.

So the stage is set to find the best all-round family car. We are looking for a model that’s just as at ease outside one of the world’s most advanced offices – like the cutting-edge OpTIC Technology Centre in Wales – as it is ferrying the children around at weekends.

Verdict

There's nothing revolutionary about the latest Accord – it has simply improved in virtually every area. It’s capable, but its value for money and practicality don’t impress.

By concentrating on the compact executive market, Honda has given its Accord unparalleled desirability, a great diesel engine and a driving experience to match. Yet its appeal as a family car is compromised.

These shortcomings are brought into focus by the all-round success of Ford’s Mondeo. It’s cheaper, much more practical and still has the dynamic abilities to put a smile on your face. So, while the Accord is highly capable, it’s nudged into second place here.

With the focus on a well rounded package in this test, the keenly priced, hugely practical Mazda 6 has edged ahead of Citroen’s more stylish and comfortable, yet less versatile C5. The Renault Laguna brings up the rear, having failed to better its rivals in most areas.

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