There’s a saying in the business world: You should never let a competitor take advantage of a situation. That’s why Honda is introducing the all-new 2018 Accord barely six months after Toyota unveiled the next-generation Camry in Detroit.
These two Japanese brands continue to share the top spots when it comes to midsize sedan sales in North America, so Honda couldn’t let its arch nemesis run away unchallenged. The stakes are huge and we’re about to witness a real battle of titans in completely revised and improved packages.
For the record, midsize sedans are nowhere near as popular in Canada as they are in the U.S. Here, where affordable and fuel-efficient small cars are kings, consumers prefer the Civic to the Accord by a long shot.
However, the tenth-generation 2018 Honda Accord should help revitalize a segment that’s being seriously affected by strong demand for SUVs. “It will be very difficult to stop this trend where SUVs like the CR-V and HR-V dominate, but the many strengths and attractive attributes of the new Accord will probably slow their progression and give a big boost to our midsize sedan,” commented Jeff Conrad, Senior Vice President, Automobile Division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Fresh new looks
Unveiled at the Garden Theater, another fully restored landmark in a Detroit downtown that’s undergoing a massive makeover, the 2018 Honda Accord really is all new, both mechanically and aesthetically. That being said, the new lines represent more of an evolution than a revolution.
First, Honda designers worked on a 4-door coupe profile with a fastback-type roofline, which is a body style that many car companies are adopting these days. The sloping hood and lowered windshield create a more aggressive look, while the thinner A-pillars improve visibility. And if you’re seeing similarities with the Acura NSX supercar up front, you’re not wrong.
By the way, the horizontal LED headlights have been stretched and the front fascia has been totally redesigned. One of the visual signatures on the new model is that chrome strip juxtaposed to the grille and decorated with the Honda logo.
The rear section of the 2018 Honda Accord has evolved, too, with modern, C-shaped taillights and a subtle rear spoiler integrated to the trunk lid. Let’s not forget the new, rectangular exhaust tips.
In order to give the car a more dynamic stance, designers widened the body by 9 mm and reduced overall height by 19 mm. They also increased the wheelbase by 54 mm, which also happens to result in a more spacious cabin. Rear-seat passengers in the new Accord will indeed have 38 mm of extra legroom. Meanwhile, trunk capacity amounts to 472.9 L.
The completely restyled dashboard drops the split-screen system on the centre stack in favour of a single 8” touchscreen, with another 7” display taking place behind the steering wheel. Select models will be available with head-up display, too. And great news for future Accord owners: the car has both a volume knob and a second physical knob for radio tuning and list scrolling.
Bye bye V6!
While the new Toyota Camry will continue to offer a V6, Honda instead opted for a pair of turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, insisting that customers will not be short-changed. The base 1.5L unit produces 192 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque via a standard CVT or an available 6-speed manual transmission (Sport models).
Alternatively, the 2018 Honda Accord comes with a 2.0L turbo derived from the powerful Civic Type R, albeit with more modest performance figures: 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Sure, the old V6 had more juice (26 hp to be exact), but the additional 21 lb-ft should make up for it under acceleration, especially since the new Accord is about 65-kg lighter. The bigger 4-pot is mated to Honda’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, the first of its kind for a front-wheel-drive car (once again, Sport models offer a 6-speed manual).
Some of the key changes you won’t see include all-new designs for the chassis, suspension and engine bay. What’s more, the use of high-quality, ultra-high strength steel results in improvements in torsional rigidity (32%) and bending rigidity (34%).
A new 2018 Accord Hybrid will hit dealerships next year with a similar look and interior to the other two models. Its 2.0L Atkinson-cycle engine will work with a battery pack mounted under the rear floor instead of inside the trunk, meaning you won’t lose any cargo room.
Made in USA
The tenth-generation Honda Accord will still be manufactured in Marysville, OH with engines and transmissions built at other Honda plants in the U.S. Like I said earlier, the stakes are huge. This new 2018 model arrives at a time when the Accord is leading midsize sedan sales in the U.S. and trails only the Civic in the entire Honda lineup.
With a formula that’s been completely revised and improved, though not radically so, it’s pretty safe to assume the 2018 Honda Accord will be a success in the market. Incidentally, the Accord Coupe will not return due to weak demand. And don’t count on the option of all-wheel drive, either.
Prices have yet to be announced, obviously. Look for the gasoline-powered Accord to go on sale mid-fall, with the hybrid model to follow in 2018.