Thursday, September 5, 2013

Honda Accord Coupe - The Sportier Smart Choice

The Honda Accord has grown to be one of the pillars of the midsize car market in the U.S. Selling hundreds of thousands of units every year, it serves the needs of people who want room, comfort, reliability, high quality, and anonymity. Let's face it, there are lots of them in any parking lot, in every color.

While most buyers opt for the familiar and useful four-door configuration, there are those who want a little more sporty look and feel. For them, the coupe is available again in the brand new, ninth-generation Accord.

While it looks related, the styling is distinctive, and that's the main difference. As a coupe, the car has two long doors, so when you open yours in the parking lot, be careful! The general contours of the face of the car are similar, but the coupe's grille is slimmer and doesn't contain the horizontal bars of the sedan's. The carved side proportions, BMW-like, are similar between the cars as well, but from the center pillar back, the cars share nothing except the Honda logo on the tail. More tapered, the coupe wears chunker taillamps and a bolder rear bumper.

Both sedan and coupe are slightly smaller for 2013 (a first), but the effect is mixed. The sedan, already much roomier than the coupe, loses nearly three cubic feet of passenger room. The coupe, however, gains 3.5 cubic feet. I was able to put a six-foot-tall man (my son) in the back without complaint, although entry and exit is much easier with the sedan's extra doors. 

Underneath these divergent styling attitudes you'll find the same two engines, a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. As it's been for years, you get to choose between higher fuel economy and faster acceleration. With 185 horsepower, the four has eight more horses than last year's model, and is sufficient for normal driving. If you crave more excitement, opt for the V6, which delivers a heartier 278 horsepower, up 7 from last year.

Interesting--you can still order up a manual six-speed transmission in some Accord models, sedan or coupe. My test car, in Modern Steel (silver), had the V6 and the manual, and it helped to make the nearly 3,400-pound car feel more sporty than the sedan I  tested last year. Of course, sporty isn't much good in commute traffic, but the clutch isn't too heavy and the gear changes are smooth and easy. Pulling away from the freeway entrance lighting system or out in the country, the ability to shift for yourself is welcome.

The automatics vary by engine. The four gets a new continuously variable transmission (CVT), which replaces the five-speed automatic in the '12 model. This contributes to a three mpg overall fuel economy improvement. The four with automatic rates 26 City, 35 Highway, 29 Overall. The V6 uses a normal six-speed automatic, and achieves 21 City, 32 Highway, and 25 Overall. Yes, a bigger engine uses more gas--a tradeoff you will have to decide for yourself. My test car averaged 23.9 miles per gallon during the test week. The EPA gives the Accord Coupe with V6 a 6 for Smog and 5 for Greenhouse Gas.

There's an Econ button on the dash. I tried it, and it makes the car less responsive when you press the accelerator. That's less fun, but burns less fuel. As with the engine and transmission choice, you decide.

Although the new styling is a bit derivative, looking like a BMW and like the cars that also copy BMW's look, it is perhaps the most dramatic interpretation of the Accord, and there's no bad angle. I've seen the coupe in traffic and it has a nice hunkered-down appearance, and is not boring.

Inside, there's an all-new look and feel. Honda has taken a few lumps for cost-cutting over the last few years, but there is no evidence of that here. Dressed in basic black, there's plenty of silvery trim spread across the doors, dash and console. It will feel familiar to anyone used to Hondas, but seems to borrow some cues from upscale sibling Acura now, with more flow across the surfaces from one panel to the next. The silver slashes on the doors provide a rugged handle to pull the door closed and also a relief from the black plastic surfaces.

Of course, the requisite display screens are present in the console. The larger one at the top shows audio, navigation, phone, and other features as you use them. A smaller touch screen below it is a quick interface that will be familiar to smart phone users. The audio presets are there as touch spots, for example, and are easy to program with your favorites.

Honda understands that sometimes you just want a knob, so there's one for audio volume that stands out against the flat, shiny screen next to it. You can control a lot from the steering wheel, too, a common method in today's cars. Climate controls are at the bottom and are all buttons. This appears to be what people want now--at least the ones buying Hondas. There's a large round dial below the climate for accessing what's on the big screen, with Enter printed on it. Sometimes you need to answer the car's questions, including the legal advisory regarding using the navigation system while driving (basically, "keep your eyes on the road!").

My test car bristled with electronic helpers, including three that help you avoid accidents and are standard on the upper level models. The Lane Departure Warning system warns you if you appear to be changing lanes without the turn signal on. The Forward Collision Warning system flashes a red light and warning message if you appear to be closing in too quickly on the car in front. It occasionally misread the situation with parked cars on curving roads but would be a real help in stop-and-go traffic. My favorite, the Honda LaneWatch Blind Spot Display, gives you a rear view of the passenger side on the console display every time you activate your right turn signal. It's disconcerting until you figure out that it's there to help you.

My EX-L V6 with Navigation was the top coupe available. There are two four-cylinder models, LX-S and EX, but the V6 version is EX-L only (you decide on the navigation system). Prices start at $24,415 for the LX-S with manual transmission. My top-level tester runs $33,190 with either transmission.  Both prices include shipping.

The Accord Coupe is so pleasant and fault-free that it's easy to get used to its many features and cruise along happily. I did. While not a real sports car, the muscular V6, manual transmission, evocative interior and more than competent chassis give you some grins along the way.


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secure airport parking gatwick said...

Its great to know that the Accord Coupe is so pleasant and fault-free that it's easy to get used to its many features and cruise along happily. Nice share. Keep sharing.

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