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2014 Honda Accord Test Drive Review
Materials, design details and overall execution make the Accord’s owner feel like they stole the car from the dealership, even at the sticker price.
The Honda Accord is one of the best-selling sedans in America, but in my opinion, it should be the best-selling sedan. Aside from citing production capacity constraints at the Marysville, Ohio, factory that builds the Accord for U.S. consumption, there is no rational reason for the Accord to trail the Toyota Camry in terms of sales. Review the data, drive both of ‘em, and then tell me you disagree.
Look and Feel
Out of 10
Honda sells the 2014 Accord as a 2-door coupe and a 4-door sedan. In this review, we’re talking about the more popular sedan version, which is sold in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L and Touring trim levels. In addition to these versions of the car, Honda sells the new-for-2014 Accord Hybrid and Accord Plug-in Hybrid. All that’s missing is a turbodiesel model and a dedicated sport sedan with a V6 engine.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2014 Accord lineup. The least expensive pathway to ownership is the Accord LX, which costs $22,745 including the $790 destination charge. If you can’t operate the standard manual transmission, you’ll want the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), which costs another $800.
As we will see, the Accord LX is equipped with everything you need, and nothing you don’t. If you want something with a sportier look and flavor, try the Accord Sport ($24,505), which includes LX standard equipment plus 18-inch wheels, more aggressive P235/45R18 tires, fog lights, a rear lip spoiler, a chrome exhaust finisher, and a 10-way power driver’s seat. With the optional CVT, the Accord Sport includes paddle shifters, too.
The Accord EX ($25,670) also builds from the Accord LX model, equipping the car with 17-inch aluminum wheels, a better sound system, LaneWatch blind-spot monitoring technology, SmartEntry keyless entry with push-button start, and a power sunroof. As is true of the Accord LX and Sport trims, a CVT is optional for the Accord EX.
Select the Accord EX-L ($29,060) if you want leather seats and a whole lot more. This luxed-up version of the Accord also comes with a CVT, heated front seats, memory for the driver’s preferred settings, a 4-way power front passenger’s seat, a premium sound system with a touchscreen display, satellite radio and HondaLink connected services. A multi-angle reversing camera replaces the standard single-angle camera, and the Accord EX-L includes Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and LED brake lights.
Honda offers two factory options for the Accord EX-L. For $1,775, buyers can choose a navigation system with a hard-disc music server and Song by Voice technology. Another $2,075 installs a V6 engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, LED running lights and a universal garage door opener.
At the top of the trim tree, the Accord Touring ($34,270) includes all of the EX-L’s options, plus an Adaptive Cruise Control system and LED headlights.
If you’re interested in the 2014 Accord Hybrid, it goes on sale at the end of October 2013 in standard, EX-L and Touring trim levels. Prices range from $29,945 to $35,695, and the base trim includes Accord EX equipment except for a power sunroof. Instead, the Accord Hybrid has standard LED running lights. The sunroof is included for the Accord Hybrid EX-L, along with all the regular Accord EX-L model’s standard features, while the Accord Hybrid Touring adds LED headlights with blue-tinted bezels to the Accord Touring’s list of upgrades. All Accord Hybrids have a unique grille and a special aluminum wheel design.
There’s one more Accord Sedan to discuss, and that’s the Accord Plug-in Hybrid ($40,570). In addition to plug-in hybrid powertrain technology that gives it a short EV-only driving range, this model has bio-fabric upholstery, heated rear seats, blue-tinted taillight bezels and forged aluminum wheels with aerodynamic covers. There’s no spare tire, so this model has a tire repair kit. The Accord Plug-in also includes an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System to let bystanders know that an electric vehicle is approaching.
In addition to the Accord’s standard equipment, Honda dealers will install numerous extra-cost items at your request. They range from useful features like remote engine start, rear parking assist sensors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a cargo net and a cool cargo hook, to features seemingly designed to accelerate depreciation, such as door visors and an Aero Kit.
My test vehicle isn’t one of the fancier models, though it looks upscale. I drove a 2014 Accord Sport with the optional CVT, painted Basque Red Pearl II. The window sticker read $25,305. That’s a significant amount less than most Americans spend on a new car these days.
As I alluded to earlier, I like the way the Accord Sport looks, especially with its 18-inch aluminum wheels. Since it was redesigned for the 2013 model year, the Accord looks premium and upscale, taut and athletic, like the sheet metal is wrapped as tightly as possible around the underlying structure. You should know, however, that the Accord Sport’s wheel-and-tire combo has a negative effect on ride quality, so if you’re disinterested in feeling every zit in the road, skip the Sport trim and go with an LX or EX.
Inside, the Accord demonstrates a class-above look and feel. From the driver’s seat, this sedan doesn’t seem very big, but it is exceptionally comfortable front and rear. Materials, design details and overall execution make the Accord’s owner feel like they stole the car from the dealership, even at the sticker price.
Out of 10
With the 2014 Honda Accord, if you can’t find an engine that you like, you’re not trying hard enough. Most models are equipped with a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a CVT that drives the car’s front wheels. In the LX, Sport and EX trims, a 6-speed manual gearbox is standard. Also, note that in Sport trim this engine’s horsepower rating rises to 189 hp and that the CVT is equipped with paddle shifters. Fuel economy ranges from 24 mpg in the city to 36 mpg on the highway, depending on transmission choice.
A 278-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine is optional for the Accord EX-L and standard for the Accord Touring. It is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and fuel economy estimates measure 21/34, for a combined rating of 26 mpg.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid features Honda’s new two-motor gas-electric hybrid powertrain. This is a far more sophisticated setup than what Honda has previously offered, comprised of a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine, a 124kW electric motor, an electric continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) and a 1.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Three different driver-selectable powertrain modes are available: Electric-only, Hybrid and Engine-only.
Taken together, these components generate a combined 196 horsepower, while the gasoline engine makes 141 horsepower when the car is operated in Engine-only mode. The EPA gives this model an astounding 50-mpg city fuel economy rating, in addition to 45 mpg on the highway and 47 mpg in combined driving.
For greater electric-only range at much higher speeds, the Accord Plug-in is designed to travel up to 13 miles on electricity alone thanks to its larger 6.7kWh lithium-ion battery. A 6.6kW onboard charger is able to re-charge the car’s battery in 3 hours using a standard 120-volt household outlet, or in 1 hour using a 240-volt outlet. The EPA’s rating for this powertrain is 115 MPGe when driven as an electric vehicle, or 47/46 with a combined driving estimate of 46 mpg when used as a hybrid vehicle.
My Accord Sport test car had the standard 4-cylinder engine and the CVT. The first thing I noticed was how quiet and refined this engine is, and how responsive the CVT is. Under normal acceleration, the CVT operates at low rpm, managing power delivery in the background so that you don’t even notice it. Push the go pedal harder, such as when accelerating down a freeway on-ramp, and it does exhibit the steady-rpm droning common to this type of transmission. However, the droning is brief, and as soon as the driver relents on the accelerator, the CVT quickly adjusts to lower rpm and quiets down in rapid fashion.
Cruising on the freeway, the Accord is relatively free of wind, road and engine noise, and feels firmly affixed to the pavement. Suspension tuning errs on the side of communication about the road surface, but this is a good thing. Do, however, keep in mind that the Accord Sport’s wider tires and lower profile sidewalls produce a stiffer, less forgiving ride quality that is best appreciated by people who like that sort of thing.
Around town, the Accord feels smaller than it is—nimble, graceful and light on its feet. Parking this car is easy, though the bigger 18-inch wheels have a slightly negative impact on turning radius when squeezing into tight spaces or making U-turns. The electric steering always feels natural and perfectly weighted, and it demonstrates uncanny accuracy no matter the car’s speed.
Already an impressive back-road athlete, even if it’s not marketed that way, the Accord Sport’s bigger wheels add a modicum of extra grip on a twisty stretch of blacktop. The brakes work flawlessly under normal driving conditions, but if you subject an Accord to sustained abuse, they reveal that this car’s true mission is not to serve as a sport sedan. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone.
Form and Function
Out of 10
Honda knows that a car owner’s favorable perception of his or her vehicle is won or lost with the interior, and so the company doesn’t skimp in obvious ways when it comes to outfitting the 2014 Accord.
Most of the places an Accord owner is likely to come into contact with the cabin are soft, plush and pleasing to the touch. From the padded dashboard and upper door panel trim to the level of refinement displayed by the car’s buttons and knobs, the Accord exudes polish and sophistication.
Those descriptors are also apt for the Accord’s beautiful gauges, its high-resolution dashboard monitor graphics, and how clearly everything is labeled. If there’s a significant ergonomic misstep inside the Accord Sport, it’s that the center control panel lacks a corresponding tuning knob to the audio system’s power/volume knob.
Additionally, the Accord is roomy, spacious and comfortable. The Accord Sport’s 10-way driver’s seat is a bonus, but the front passenger seat sits high enough off the floor to deliver decent thigh support. There is no shortage of rear seat legroom, and while the rear backrest is reclined a little too much for my liking, the bottom cushion is supportive.
Measuring 15.8 cubic feet in LX, Sport and EX trims, the trunk is huge. However, my Accord Sport test car did not have a split folding rear seat, so if you buy this trim and need to expand cargo space or simply load some skis, you’ll need to choose between bringing extra stuff or extra people. Also, note that the trunk shrinks a bit to 15.5 cubic feet in EX-L and Touring trims, measures 12.7 cubic feet in the Accord Hybrid, and holds 12.3 cubic feet of cargo in the Accord Plug-in Hybrid.
Out of 10
Honda is smart about how it packages technology for the 2014 Accord, giving buyers what they most likely want in the more affordable trims. At the same time, however, because the company offers factory options only for the EX-L model, the automaker simultaneously limits customer choice.
For example, if all you really care about is being able to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, to stream music and to both receive and send text messages in a safe manner, then the Accord LX and Accord Sport meet your requirements. But if you want the sportier look of the Accord Sport and you also want features like SmartEntry with push-button start, HondaLink connected services, a navigation system or any of the Accord’s available safety technologies, you are out of luck.
As such, my Accord Sport test car was sparsely outfitted in terms of technology, but the modern basics are present and accounted for. I was able to successfully pair my iPhone without any trouble, make and receive calls, receive text messages and stream Pandora and playlists from my phone to the car’s audio system.
Out of 10
As I mentioned previously, Honda includes as standard equipment for the Accord the features most people are most likely to want most of the time, but asks buyers to spend more money on successively more expensive trim levels to gain access to additional technology.
In terms of safety, this strategy makes SmartVent side impact airbags for the front seats and a reversing camera standard, as well as the company’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering II body structure, which helps the Accord earn favorable crash-test ratings. LaneWatch is included for the Accord EX, while Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning systems are included for EX-L and Touring trims. Dealers can install rear parking assist sensors.
I’m not a fan of Honda’s LaneWatch system. Essentially, this is a blind-spot monitoring system that works only for the right side of the car. Using a camera, the system displays an actual view of what is alongside the Accord on the dashboard monitor. While this is a unique approach, I’ve found it distracting in previous test-drives (the Accord Sport does not have this feature), because the driver is forced to focus on two reference points—the right mirror and the LaneWatch display—instead of one.
Instead of LaneWatch, I wish the Accord had a traditional blind-spot information system that worked on both sides and showed a warning light near the side mirrors and emitted a warning beep to indicate potential danger. Honda has this kind of system in its arsenal, but doesn’t offer it for the Accord no matter how much money you have to spend.
The good news is that the 2014 Accord gets excellent crash-test ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the car an overall rating of 5 stars, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls the Accord a Top Safety Pick + thanks to its top-rated Good performance in the difficult new small overlap frontal impact test.
Out of 10
As it does in every other section of this review, the 2014 Accord excels when it comes to cost effectiveness. The least favorable thing I can say about it is that during my testing, which included a mix of freeway, city, suburban and country driving, the Accord Sport returned 27.9 mpg. That’s 1.1 mpg short of the official EPA combined driving number of 29 mpg.
In other measures, the Accord proves itself worthy of left-brain consideration. Both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports predict that this Honda will prove better than average in terms of long-term dependability and reliability, while ALG gives the Accord a 5-star rating for holding its value over time. Add the fact that Kelley Blue Book says the Accord demonstrates the lowest cost of ownership over the first 5 years that it is parked in your driveway, and this car is even harder to pass up.
Better yet, because the Accord is a volume seller, dealers are almost always willing to make a deal. As this review is written, Honda is clearing out 2013 models using subsidized leases and low-interest financing. As soon as the old Accords are cleared from lots, this 2014 Accord will be eligible for the same kinds of deals.
Christian Wardlaw has nearly two decades of experience reviewing cars, and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, Autobytel, and J.D. Power and Associates. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.
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