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2020 Honda Accord Test Drive Review

As the 2020 Honda Accord approaches middle age in car years, it remains one of the best family sedans money can buy.

8.3 /10
Overall Score

Mary Walton’s “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace” details the development of the 1996 Ford Taurus from sketch to series production. The car was a legendary flop, a collage of compromise. Walton’s book explains why, and in juicy detail.

Bringing a new or redesigned vehicle to market isn’t easy, even if Honda makes it look that way. The 2020 Honda Accord Touring is the family sedan perfected, from its rakish good looks and delightful driving dynamics to its huge back seat and giant trunk. The 2020 Honda Accord also boasts plenty of tech, including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and adaptive cruise control.

Sure, you can quibble with a few things related to the 2020 Accord. After all, no car is perfect. But the Honda Accord Touring sure does come close in so many of the ways that matter most, from usability to mpg.

Look and Feel

9/ 10

Recognizing that some people may not dig the front styling, and others might not like the rounded roof line, you cannot help but appreciate this car as one of the most stylish Honda Accords in history. Remember, this is supposed to be a mainstream family sedan, not a downright sexy fastback with an upscale appearance.

This is especially true when the Accord is wearing the 19-inch wheels that come with the Sport and Touring trim levels. Other versions of the Accord have 17-inch wheels in various designs and finishes, and they don’t lend the sleek four-door sedan as much visual presence. But 17-inch tires are less expensive than 19-inch tires when replacement time comes, so from a long-term value perspective, they’re the smarter if less appealing choice.

Honda offers the 2020 Accord in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels. An Accord Hybrid version based on the LX trim is also available, and the hybrid powertrain is an option with EX, EX-L, and Touring trim. Prices start at $24,270 and range up to $36,400 MSRP. Our 2020 Honda Accord Touring test car was priced at $37,355 MSRP, including a destination charge of $955.

With Radiant Red paint, the only interior color for the Accord Touring is Ivory. Thanks to sharp contrast with the black dashboard and carpets, it looks fantastic, giving the Accord Touring a convincingly luxurious look and feel. All primary touch points are soft, the leather feels good, and the matte-finish simulated wood looks like the real deal. Quality rules inside of a 2020 Honda Accord, that’s for sure.

Performance

8/ 10

In a nod to mpg, most Accords have a standard turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 192 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 192 lb-ft of torque between 1,600 rpm and 5,000 rpm. It uses a continuously variable transmission with front-wheel drive. This year will be the last one that Honda offers an optional 6-speed manual gearbox with Sport trim.

While the standard engine is adequate for the task at hand, people seeking maximum fuel economy will love the Accord’s 212-horsepower hybrid powertrain. It’s really impressive and during examination earlier this year it averaged 42.6 mpg during a week of driving.

Speed freaks, however, are going to want the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission, it generates 252 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 rpm and 4,000 rpm. Economy and Sport driving modes, as well as a set of paddle shifters on the steering wheel, help to adjust powertrain calibration to personal preferences. And if you hurry, you might still be able to find a Sport 2.0T with a six-speed manual transmission in dealer stock. But once they’re gone, they’re gone.

If we had to summarize the Accord 2.0T’s drivetrain in a single word, it would be “whoosh!” This is a quick car, and it could really use an optional all-wheel-drive system because the front tires have trouble getting all of the power to the ground when you’re really standing on the accelerator pedal. That's often a problem with powerful front-wheel drive cars.

Use the Economy driving mode, and the Accord 2.0T turbo is actually pretty relaxed as it focuses on maximizing mpg. Switching to Sport mode makes a significant difference in terms of powertrain response, making the Accord even more pleasurable to pilot. During testing on the driving loop, we used both modes and wound up getting 27.4 mpg. That’s better than the EPA’s fuel economy estimate of 26 mpg in combined driving.

In addition to being quick, the Honda Accord Touring is plenty of fun to drive. Most Hondas are, even if people don’t buy them primarily for that reason.

Equipped with a segment-exclusive adaptive dampers, the Honda Accord Touring beautifully controls body roll, dive, and squat, and the sticky 19-inch tires bite hard in corners and, with judicious use of the accelerator pedal, pull the car around and out in thrilling fashion.

At the same time, the ride is compliant over pavement undulations, soaking up pavement heaves and dips. This softness, though, forces a driver to limit velocity over speed humps. The Accord could travel no faster than 20 mph over the ones running past a local elementary school.

The steering isn’t fast, but it is accurate and properly weighted if just a tad bit heavy in terms of effort level. It’s easy to place this car exactly where you want it.

Where Honda could improve the Accord is in the braking department. Brakes warmed up a bit and started to grumble as we came down the western slope of the mountains near Carpenteria, California. Otherwise, they were perfect, and they’re so expertly calibrated that, if you’re so inclined, you can actually use them to trail-brake and rotate the car as you enter a curve.

What’s great about the Honda Accord is that it's lots of fun to drive, if that’s the kind of a car you want, but it is also a docile daily driver.

Form and Function

9/ 10

For all intents and purposes, the 2020 Honda Accord is a full-size car. Especially when lined up against its nemesis, the Toyota Camry, the Accord supplies significantly more rear-seat legroom and cargo space. Of course, an argument could be made that a Toyota Avalon is just as spacious on the inside (if not the trunk) as an Accord, but the Avalon’s base price is nearly as high as a loaded Accord Touring.

In any case, the Accord Touring’s 12-way power driver’s seat is very comfortable, supplying plenty of thigh support, softly padded armrests, and both heating and ventilation. Sadly, the front passenger is not as lucky because Honda doesn’t provide a seat height adjuster on that side of the car.

The Accord’s back seat is exceptionally comfortable. Wide doors make it easy to get into and out of the car, the rear cushion and backrest adopt a natural seating angle, and thigh support is plentiful. With Touring trim, the outboard positions are heated and the Accord supplies rear air conditioning vents. Quick-charge USB ports are a dealer-installed option.

Trunk room measures an impressive 16.7 cubic feet. That’s enough that you can store full-size suitcases on their sides, making the Accord perfect for long family road trips. The only complaint here is that Honda doesn’t provide a handle or grip to use to swing the lid shut.

Inside the cabin, Honda provides plenty of storage space, the instrumentation is a model of clarity, and the controls represent the very definition of proper ergonomic design. The layered dashboard drops down and away from the windshield to make the car feel even bigger inside than it already is.

In short, the Accord’s interior is a great place to spend time. Unless you’re in front passenger seat.

Tech Level

9/ 10

Why Honda doesn’t use the Accord’s available 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in all of its vehicles is a genuine mystery. It is the best one they have, complete with volume and tuning knobs, easily accessed main menu shortcut buttons, lovely graphics, and sensible steering wheel controls.

Plus, it comes with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, as well as text-messaging support. A ten-speaker premium sound system is standard starting with EX-L trim, and if you upgrade to Touring trim you get HondaLink subscription services, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a navigation system, and wireless device charging.

Unfortunately, the Accord’s infotainment system does not support natural voice recognition. Instead, you must use specific prompts and pathways in order for it to recognize what you are saying and respond accurately. Do so and you’ll find success.

A head-up display is standard with and exclusive to Touring trim, and it remains visible even when you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. It is faint but visible. And speaking of visibility, the Accord is easy to see out of, helped by a reversing camera with multiple viewing angles.

Safety

8/ 10

Named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and five stars in every assessment conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2020 Honda Accord is an exceptionally safe car.

Furthermore, Honda includes its Honda Sensing collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) as standard equipment on every trim level. Honda Sensing equips the Accord with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-centering assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, and a traffic sign recognition system.

While this is commendable, Honda reserves what is arguably one of the most useful driving aids for the Sport 2.0T and EX trim levels or higher. We’re talking about blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, which studies have shown consumers appreciate more than other kinds of ADAS.

Also, Honda Sensing could use some added refinement. The adaptive cruise control could be smoother when reacting to changes in traffic ahead, and the forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems gave false alerts due to shadows and construction-zone lane modifications. The lane departure warning system also wobbles the car’s steering wheel to notify the driver, when a vibration would be a better solution.

Cost-Effectiveness

7/ 10

The 2020 Honda Accord isn’t the best deal in a new family car. Rebates and low-interest financing deals are relatively rare, and the standard warranty coverage is average at best. Lease payments are low because the car holds its value well, a bright spot in an otherwise dim cost-effectiveness picture.

But, at the same time, the 2020 Honda Accord demonstrates that perhaps such things are not the true measure of value. From the way it looks and feels to the way it drives and protects, the Accord is a car that immediately conveys that it can go the distance, providing a decade or more of faithful, useful, and enjoyable service. More than a mere appliance providing transportation, the Accord weaves itself into your life like a good dog that becomes an indispensable companion.

And there is plenty of value in that.

Updated by Christian Wardlaw

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