Honda’s New Accord Ready for Mid-Size Duty

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2013 Honda Accord.

You can almost set your long-term calendar by it. Every five years, Honda does a redesign of its popular Accord, the car that really put the company on the map years ago as a maker of mainstream mid-size cars.

There are legions of buyers – multi-generational family members even – who only buy Honda Accords. They’ve come to count on the efficiency, reliability, and value that comes with the largest sedan the company builds.

Honda just recently launched its latest all-new Accord for the 2013 model year. This time around however, things are a little bit tougher for the car that usually stood out as a logical choice without Honda seemingly having to try too hard.

There are now all kinds of really good competition in the mid-size sedan class, something that wasn’t always true. There’s a brand-new Ford Fusion that’s getting rave reviews, as well as new examples of the Nissan Altima and Chevy Malibu. Throw in the still-fresh Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, a recent redesign of the Accord’s long-time rival the Toyota Camry, and you’ve got quite a horse race on your hands.

One other factor that the new Accord is up against is a stumble in the giddy-up of its smaller sibling, the Civic. It got a redesign itself last year, but to some criticism for being cheapened up inside in order to cut costs.

Honda’s still smarting from that one, and is even working on an unusual mid-cycle refresh for the Civic to perk up its appeal. But no worries with regards to the Accord, as it’s up to the usual Honda standards right out of the starting gate.

First off, somewhat unusually, is that the 2013 Accord is actually a bit smaller than the 2012 model. Every previous generation of the car grew just a bit over the years, to the point that the most recent example would actually dwarf one from the early 1980s parked side-by-side in a garage.

That shrinkage is only on the outside, as Honda’s engineers actually gave the new Accord sedan a touch more interior space. And rest assured, the design and materials of the new interior are first-rate and up to face the completion. There’s no way the company was going to take another skewering about its interior, the way it did with the Civic.

Technology has also advanced for 2013, starting with new direct fuel injection for the base 2.4 liter engine, and a new CVT automatic transmission. Those are both firsts for the Accord, and help it garner some impressive fuel economy numbers. How about 27 mpg city and 36 highway for the most popular trim levels, with a combined number of 30.

There’s a new Sport model that loses just a touch of economy due to its more aggressive tires, and the V6 engine offered in the EX-L and Limited trim averages 25, combining city/highway figures of 21/34. But hooray for Honda still even offering a V6 option, with many competitors in the mid-size segment going four-cylinder-only in recent years.

To help the Accord further stand out in the marketplace, Honda decided to make lots of things standard on even the base LX model, which starts at around $22,000. Bluetooth phone integration, dual-zone automatic climate control, and even a rear-view camera round out the impressive list of included features.

Another slick new safety item that’s included in upper trim levels is something called LaneWatch. Whenever you activate the right turn signal, a small camera in the mirror housing provides a clear view in the display screen of whatever might be in your blind spot and the adjacent lane. It’s really clever.

Is the new Accord the best car in the mid-size sedan segment? Not necessarily. It’s very, very good. But then again, there’s a lot of very, very good competition out there as well. With that, it’s a great time to be a shopper in this segment, as you really can’t make a bad choice.

Of course for all those loyal Accord owners out there, the choice is pretty simple. A 2013 Accord, with all its upgrades and improvements.

I’ll see you down the road.

Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7 and can be heard on “The Car Show” Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM. E-mail Dave at TVCarz @ pacbell.net Twitter: @dave_kunz, Facebook: ABC7Dave

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