First impressions: The force is strong with the 2020 Honda Accord

Turbo kicked in, yo!
by Dinzo Tabamo | Sep 24, 2019

“The subject of strength is something the all-new Accord wants to rectify”

It’s always hard to follow a hit product. For every Avengers: Endgame and The Empire Strikes Back, there’s also a Home Alone 3 and a Batman V Superman (although it can be argued the whole Zack Snyder DCEU run is execrable).

The 10th-generation Accord succeeds a sedan that, in my eyes, is the most handsome midsize car Honda has ever produced. I don’t say this lightly because unlike the Civic, which seems to be a winner only in even-numbered generations, the Accord has been consistently desirable since the fifth generation arrived in our market in the mid-’90s.

By the time the ninth-gen Accord landed in 2014, it had everything one could want from a car: space, comfort, power, convenience, and safety. You could look at it every day and not get tired of its balanced design. Sadly, the midlife refresh saw the loss of the 3.5-liter V6 engine, but the Accord still had all of the aforementioned attributes except for power—and it’s not like it was underpowered. 

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PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

Still, the subject of strength is something the all-new 2020 Accord wants to rectify. Now equipped with a single-scroll turbocharger, Honda’s midsize entry downsizes to 1.5 liters of displacement, and this made me immediately skeptical. The current Civic has the same powerplant, and while I can say it’s fast, I feel the chassis is just right for that engine. 

Honda says the Accord’s mill is tuned to be more powerful, and the specs say it has 187hp and 260Nm compared with the Civic’s 171hp and 220Nm. The hp difference is notable, but the torque is more significant. That means it can theoretically handle the not-inconsequential 171kg weight difference between the compact and midsize Honda. And it easily beats the ninth-gen Accord’s 226Nm.

Speaking of the Civic, the new Accord clearly follows the design direction set by the former. It now has a sportback shape and the same upright face. The new model’s shoulder line rises a bit more, lending it a bulkier appearance.

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PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

The back is where the two of them obviously diverge; the Civic has the boomerang-style taillights that f***boys love (especially if you get the RS Turbo version with the little wing), while the Accord ends up with crab pincers similar to those on the current Subaru Forester. This is clearly a case of previous Accord - 1, new Accord - 0 when it comes to looks. No doubt the new car has presence, but the verdict is still out on whether the new design will grow on you. 

Inside, it gets better—much better. The steering wheel, one of the first things I assess, is lovely to look at and hold. It’s leather, but with a matte feel and ergonomic thumb hooks. The eight-inch infotainment system dominates the dashboard, and it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, of course. Under the touchscreen display are the simple A/C controls that Honda is known for.

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The cabin is austere, refreshingly uncluttered by buttons. Classy wood trim bifurcates the dashboard from top to bottom, and a warm interior color palette caresses your eyes. This makes the red start/stop button pop in contrast to the muted materials around it. 

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

In this segment, the backseat definitely matters as much—if not more—than the front perches. I just came from the backseat of the previous-gen Accord, chatting with Honda PH PR group head Lyka-Mae De La Cruz, and it was more comfortable than many boardrooms I’ve sat in. I almost felt like we were deciding the fate of the auto industry, rather than just catching up on chismis; the car just gives conversations a certain gravitas.

But the new Accord’s rear seat isn’t big—it’s downright cavernous. With the front seat adjusted for my body, I go to the back and there’s still an expanse of space in front of me. The sportback design begins to make sense. To charge the rear occupants’ gadgets, twin USB ports are also available.

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Time to see if the turbocharged 1.5-engine can still deliver some excitement. I move to the front again, step on the accelerator, and...damn. While the outgoing Accord’s peak torque started at 4,000rpm, the new one can access 15% more grunt at a diesel-like 1,500rpm. The 18-inch tires grip instantly, and the car rapidly surges forward. The acceleration is just as exciting as in the turbocharged Civic, and it feels smoother. There is not enough road in our shooting location to see more of what this engine can do, but I can guarantee it is certainly no slouch.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

It feels more nimble than its size suggests, too. It’s very stable even when doing quick lane changes, and I can get a good sense of the road.  If you do get carried away by your new executive toy—and trust me, it’s easy to do so—it’s best to introduce you to the next big highlight: Honda Sensing.

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The new Accord is equipped with enough safety tech to get you home safely: collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, low-speed follow, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning. In other words, Honda’s newest model is smart enough to stop you from getting hurt, as well as make driving much easier for you—especially on long journeys.

So, the new Accord is roomier, mightier, safer, and more refined. And yes, there’s a ‘however’ coming: It receives a price hike of P350,000. From P1,938,000, it now costs P2,288,000.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

Is the price increase too much? The only thing preventing me from yelling “No!” is the design. I still like the previous generation’s look more. But in other aspects, the new model is improved enough to justify the added expense.

In the end, I sense that the Accord doesn’t care whether it follows in the ninth-gen’s tire marks. It’s a bold new direction for the line thanks to its engine and safety features. It now tops its segment when it comes to safety, besting the market leader Camry even at the cost of being more expensive than Toyota’s midsize contender.

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It was an all too brief encounter with the 2020 Honda Accord, but it has already proved that it isn’t a sequel. It’s more of a reboot.

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PHOTO: Paul del Rosario
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