It's getting tougher and tougher in the executive car class. The last couple of years have seen new model introductions that have breathed new life in the segment, not to mention having raised the bar.
As you can imagine, the Honda Accord, recently coming from a mild facelift and upgrade, has a lot to live up to. The Accord name was one of the best selling cars in its segment back in the 90's, taking advantage of the decline of the Corona. The 2000s were a little different for Honda's flagship midsize sedan, as it saw its lead get surpassed by the Camry and even saw the rise of the crossover and SUV segments that ate away at the executive car market.
This new Accord is not a new generation model. In fact, at first glance, I can't really tell if there's anything new about it. The facelift is mild at best, as it still looks very much the same to me. Side by side with the old one, it becomes a spot the difference game... and a challenging one at that. They changed the grille and the front bumper, and thats about it. The rims are the same, and the rear end stayed the same as well, except for the minor garnish on the trunklid.
Inside, nothing has really changed except the choice of colors. The 2008 model made use of beige, faux wood panels and dark gray hues. The 2012 model primarily uses black with shades of gray and silver. That's it.
Features-wise, not much has changed. Again, consulting my old photos of the 2008 model, nothing was really added, except for a new standalone Bluetooth handsfree system on the driver side A-pillar. What I was really disappointed to find was that the main issue some of us had with the original 2008 model hadn't been addressed, and by that I mean the seats. They're not softer (like the Camry's) and neither did they do any work into improving the lumbar support on the backrest. There's still that annoying bump on the small of my back, something we didn't have a problem with while driving other cars in the segment. Dear Honda's Seat Engineers: I don't know who you designed the contour of seats for, but they don't belong in an executive car.
So far, not so good.
Driving the Accord around is a different matter, however. Compared to the others like the Camry, Sonata or even the Legacy, I still love this 3.5 liter V6 in the Accord. In fact, it's my favorite of the bunch. Thanks to i-VTEC, it's got 250 horsepower. Stretching its legs on the highway is certainly fun, but where it also excels is in fuel economy thanks to the Variable Cylinder Management system that allows you to cruise on just 3 cylinders for consumption comparable to a typical 2 liter engine (9.3 km/l city driving with moderate traffic and 15.4 km/l on the highway). It literally is the best of both worlds
And, of course, there's the handling. Take a tight turn or a high speed corner with the Accord and you won't be disappointed. Few in its class have paddle shifters, and the Accord's pair will definitely let you have a little more fun. Having good cornering abilities does take its toll on ride comfort, and you will feel more of the road's imperfections than the Camry. You'll have a little fun behind the wheel, but not while riding in the back.
In all honesty, the Accord is decent, but I wasn't that impressed with it. In this class of car, where much is expected and much is delivered to the customer, the Accord does seem to fall short of the mark, especially in the all important category of comfort.