Honda Accord: Face-lifted for 2016

By Frank A. Aukofer, November 14th, 2015

Honda brags that it produces more engines for more purposes -- including jet engines for its own aircraft -- than any company on the planet, with 28 million units sold in the 2015 fiscal year. There's hardly anywhere you don't encounter a Honda-powered something or other, including snow blowers, string trimmers, all-terrain vehicles, marine outboard motors, lawn mowers, go-karts, generators, cultivators, and the Uni-Cub, a tiny personal indoor runabout something like a sit-down Segway.

But the company is best known for its cars, crossover sport utility vehicles, and motorcycles, and the Honda Accord is in the forefront.

Manufacturers rely on mid-cycle freshening of products to boost sales at a time when familiarity begins to breed apathy. Usually it happens about halfway through a given model's five- or six-year life cycle.

Sometimes it's merely a matter of adding a few updates here and there or putting out a "special edition" to entice buyers. With the 2016 Accord, however, its mid-cycle modifications are a bigger deal.

Facades on both the sedan and coupe have been restyled with new headlight and grille treatments, as well as a variety of larger, redesigned wheels up to 19 inches in diameter.

Inside, the updated Accord boasts new colors and fabrics, a more accessible center console, and, for the first time, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which meld smart phones into the Accord's onboard connectivity system.

Underneath, the engineers and designers have tweaked the suspension system, brakes, and steering for improved performance and handling, and added modifications to enhance interior comfort and noise reduction. They work.

strong>Two engines are offered: 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) -- both gearboxes are among the best in the business -- and a 3.5-liter V-6 with a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.

CVTs use belts and pulleys to deliver seamless multiplication of engine power without shift points. As engine revolutions build, some CVTs feel and sound as if the transmission is slipping; that's not so with the Accord's, which pulls strong and steady through the rev range and features instant jumps through seven "gears" with manual paddle shifting.

The V-6 engine makes 278 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque while the four-cylinder starts with 185 hp and 181 lb.-ft. of torque. However, on the new Accord Sport sedan, the four-cylinder has been bumped by 4 hp to 189.

Starting at $22,105, six trim levels are available: LX, Sport, EX, and EX-L with the four-cylinder engine, and EX-L and Touring with the V-6. The first three can be ordered with a choice of the CVT or six-speed manual gearbox, the EX-L four cylinder comes only with the CVT, and the V6 EX-L and Touring have the six-speed automatic standard.

A suite of safety enhancements called Honda Sensing is available on all sedan and coupe models, and standard on the Touring version. It includes collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and road departure mitigation.

All versions get Honda's backup camera and LaneWatch system, which captures the right rear quarter view when the right turn signal is activated. It eliminates that blind sport for drivers who do not correctly adjust their outside mirrors.

Tested here was the Sport with the CVT and a price of $25,785. Except for buyers who want to add SiriusXM satellite radio, it has almost every feature anybody might want. Seats are covered with a durable and classy cloth, which beats leather for comfort.

It can be ordered with the slick stick shift or CVT with the manual shift mode. The latter gets the edge in fuel economy, with the Sport's CVT rated at 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway/30 mpg combined, and the manual at 23/34/27.

Either way, the Sport delivers robust acceleration, competent handling and braking, and plenty of room for four passengers; fifth can manage less comfortably in the shortchanged center rear position.

As it has since its inception in 1976, the Accord improves with every update. Seekers will enjoy its refined personality.

Specifications

Base price $24,965 (as tested: $25,785)
Curb weight 3,369 lbs.
Displacement 2.4-liter
Engine type 16-valve iVTEC 4-cyl. w/DFI
Epa mileage rating 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 17.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 189 at 6400 rpm
Overall length 192.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 182 at 3900 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
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