The Honda Accord has always been a fantastic car, winning accolades all throughout its history. But like an aging rock star, it has gotten soft over the decades.
The previous Accord was arguably the best in its class, but also undoubtedly the biggest. Think '70s Vegas Elvis rather than Jailhouse Rock Elvis. But rather than succumbing to high cholesterol, this midsize-sedan King has hit the treadmill at the gym, gone on a diet and come back better than ever. Could this be the greatest comeback of all time, or has the game moved too far on for this Hunk of Burning Love to reclaim its throne?
The Accord's evolutionary approach to styling ensures instant recognition. You won't mistake the Accord for anything but an, er, Accord.
That said, this new generation looks taut and athletic, with muscular haunches and a tight rear end. The pared-back bodywork means that 17-inch wheels look proper here, rather than being overwhelmed by the car's mass.
Quad-LED projector headlights are an awesome touch. They have a slightly fuzzier cutoff than HIDs, but they're just as bright, consume less power, and don't need to "charge up" to full intensity. Even without our test unit's Modulo bodykit, the Accord is a looker.
Despite the slimmer body, the Accord is incredibly spacious. The rear seat actually feels bigger than in the old model, and is a great place to snooze on long trips. The twin-screen dashboard seems a bit busy compared to the newer single screen in the City, and the sparkling mica/black wood-trim combination is awkward where the two butt up against each other.
Otherwise, the design is restrained and elegant, with excellent build quality. Better yet, deeply bolstered power-adjustable front bucket seats and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column make for fantastic driver ergonomics. Necessary, considering what this car is capable of.
Despite the modest power increase, the new Accord feels like it has a dozen ponies more than before, thanks to new low-friction engine/transmission internals. The new six-speed transmission is more flexible than the old five-speeder.
While it refuses to hold first gear, even in Sport mode, there's enough power there to light the tires up on odd upshifts and to hit 160kph faster than many cars hit 100.
And yet, thanks to cylinder deactivation, the Accord does 16-18km/L on the highway on just three cylinders. In the city, 4.5-6.5km/L is typical, which isn't much worse than some four-cylinder competitors.
RIDE AND HANDLING
In the old car, using all of that prodigious power felt like taking your life into your hands. Here, a slightly stiffer setup and better 225/50 R17 Michelin Primacy tires make for much higher limits, despite the loss of the double-wishbone suspension.
There's much less body roll and brake dive. While the Accord feels a bit heavy in quick transitions, it's the heaviness of a Greco-Roman rather than a Sumo wrestler. The new electric-assist steering rack lacks some of the organic "feel" of the wonderful hydraulic system of old, but it's pin-sharp and responsive. Even better, the Accord is easy to pilot through traffic, with cornering lights that come on in turns.
The Accord comes with a dual-screen multimedia infotainment center, with a lower touchscreen and a large information screen up top, as well as steering-wheel controls. Sound is pretty good, and the three-mode rear camera works a treat, allowing for incredibly close street parking.
Rear-seat passengers get side window shades and a powered rear sunshade, but give up an armrest cupholder for rear audio controls. The full-size spare wheel and trunk organizer make for a tight, though still deep, trunk. Perhaps a safety spare would allow for a much lower floor.
The Accord 3.5 SV is the full-fat deal, loaded with all the goodies and the power you'd expect at this price level. But for captains of industry who don't drive themselves, the Accord 2.4 might be a better choice. It gets better economy yet still boasts many of the same features, including those 17-inch wheels, the gee-whiz LED projector headlights, the rear shades and the touchscreen head unit. But power is addictive. And if you're gunning for the King, the 3.5 SV is a swaggering return to dominant form for Honda, and is sure to leave the competition All Shook Up.
SPECS: HONDA ACCORD 3.5 SV
Engine: 3.5 liter SOHC i-VTEC V6 gasoline with cylinder management
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 278hp @ 6,200rpm
Torque: 342Nm @ 4,900rpm
Drive layout: FWD
Price: P2,097,000 (+20,000 for the White Orchid Pearl paint)
Photos by Niky Tamayo