2016 Honda Accord Sedan Touring
I’ve been reviewing the Accord as long as I’ve been covering the automotive industry, the first one almost exactly 15 years ago in December of 1999. It was a 2000 model, and after singing its praises I followed that up with yet more positive remarks about a 2002, 2003, 2008 (I was editor for numerous 2004 through 2007 models in between), 2010 (after editing yet more again), 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and now this 2016 model, and these are just the four-door Accord sedans, not the many two-door Accord Coupes I’ve covered and edited as well, plus of course various four-door Accord Hybrid models. With each and every test drive and all of the reviews that followed I responded in similar two-thumbs-way-up fashion, my most recent Accord Sedan Touring model eliciting my most enthusiastic notes yet, which I will expand on now.
First off, just look at those headlights. They’re really stunning, my top-line Touring tester boasting the most intricately detailed, incredibly complex full LED headlamps to have ever graced the front of a Honda product. They’re automotive jewelry at a level normally only found on a premium branded car like Acura’s TLX, although these are different than the now trademark lenses offered by Honda’s luxury line. Last year’s Accord Touring LED headlamps were closer to those on the Acura, but these brilliantly dazzling new ones leave the oldies in the past where they belong. They’re joined by LED turn signals integrated within the side mirror housings from EX trim and above, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lamps upgraded from second-rung Sport trim, and LED taillights standard across the entire Accord Sedan line.
It all comes as part of an extensive mid-cycle update for 2016, the Touring model I tested last year attractive but nowhere near as intriguing. All Honda did was recreate the front clip, adding styling cues from its new tech-inspired design language awkwardly dubbed “Exciting H Design!!!” (no really, I couldn’t make stuff like this up, exclamation marks included!!!) with its chromed “Solid Wing Face” up front and center. I can’t say I’m a big fan of this styling direction as used on some of the Japanese brand’s models, but I like it with the Accord. Along with the grille’s chromed strikethrough that bends upwards at both ends similarly to a wing, those headlights I went into detail describing earlier and the rest of the car’s frontal design that’s a great deal more interesting the lower it goes, Honda’s relationship with McLaren F1 at least paying off when it comes to aerodynamic “front wing” styling, additional changes include a reshaped hood that’s now made from aluminum, rocker extensions down each side, and a much more subtle reworking of its backside with the standard LED taillights mentioned earlier displaying new lenses plus a more sophisticated lower fascia, while a very sporting set of machine-finished twinned five-spoke alloys with black painted pockets on 235/40R19s now rounds out the design.
Honda doesn’t hold back with the chrome on the Touring model either, with two narrow pieces visually supporting the grille’s “solid wing”, a thin strip straddling the center engine vent down below, more adorning the bezels surrounding the fog lamps, yet more wrapping all the way around the greenhouse, plus four chromed door handles, an especially thick piece of brightwork finishing off the trunk lid garnish, an additional long, narrow strand of the shiny stuff across the lower portion of the rear bumper, that final bit resting above an elaborate diffuser-style lower valance incorporating twin rear fogs, a black mesh insert and a body-color portion in between, not to mention two large chromed exhaust finishers. Honda also finishes off the Touring’s deck lid with a sporty rear spoiler, an appropriate complement to the refreshed four-door’s stylish new lines. All in all it’s a great looking mid-size family sedan that, in my opinion at least, is a lot more appealing than a number of premium sport-luxury sedans.
It’s all complemented by a very upscale looking interior, which like the exterior design is also more sophisticated than a number of its peers. Either finished in solid black or a two-tone black with gray or ivory (more of a beige), the dash top and door uppers are always dark graphite, while one of the colors or yet more black diagonally slashes halfway through those door uppers with padded soft-touch leatherette. It’s a great look, combining well with the tasteful use of faux woodgrain. The wood is obviously fake, but in my tester they finished it in a glossy gray so that it didn’t stand out quite as much as natural wood tones would, yet it still looks classy, while the solidity of this “photo-synthesized” plastic is much better than some others in the class, particularly the Toyota Camry.
I’m also impressed with the updated Accord’s analog electronics, specifically the primary gauges that are absolutely stunning. The speedometer seems to hover overtop the rest of the dials in a layered relief look, and when you’re driving efficiently its circumference brightens with an apropos green glow. In Sport mode it glows red, nothing particularly innovative or creative about this, but still pleasing to the eye. Within that speedometer is a large high-resolution color TFT trip computer filled with loads of useful functions, but it’s nowhere near is complete as the two much larger displays atop dash central and the center stack.
The top screen is recessed considerably and filled with yet more trip info, driving data like current and average mpg (mine sitting at 21 throughout most of my week), audio settings, a compass, digital clock, turn-by-turn directions, incoming calls, SMS text messages, parking sensor alerts, the backup camera’s display, and my favorite Honda feature, the LaneWatch blind spot video system that uses a rearward facing camera on the passenger-side mirror to project a live feed of the blind spot when activating the right turn signal, this feature available in EX trim and above. This 7.7-inch upper screen is actually an intelligent multi-information display (i-MID), what most other manufacturers house within their primary set of gauges, while like those it’s also controlled by steering wheel-mounted switchgear.
The seven-inch lower touchscreen is surrounded in beautiful brushed aluminum-look trim and contains the majority of infotainment features such as navigation (available in EX-L and standard in Touring), audio, car info, the usual settings, HondaLink Assist (e911 included in EX trim and above), aha, HD Radio (EX trim and above), phone, and an even more advanced smartphone section. Most interestingly it’s one of the industry’s first applications of both Apple CarPlay (with Siri Eyes Free compatibility) and Android Auto (EX trim and above), the capacitive touchscreen allowing swipe, tap and pinch capability as also used with smartphones and tablets. The optional navigation system is smartphone-linked, incidentally, and includes voice recognition, Honda HD Digital Traffic, and Song by Voice, while Bluetooth audio streaming is joined by voice controlled SMS text/email messaging, and more across the line.
Additional upgrades include satellite radio in EX trim, a better 360-watt and subwoofer-enhanced audio system in EX-L trim. I should also mention that a $290 dealer-installed wireless charging pad doubles as a place to stow your cellphone at the very base of the center stack, very techie stuff for the Accord.
Additional features that are exclusive to $34,580 Touring trim include those LED headlamps mentioned in the beginning, plus auto high beam headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and heatable rear outboard seats, while the 19-inch alloys, extended rocker garnishes, and rear deck lid spoiler are shared with the Sport model.
Of course there’s a lot of other impressive kit that comes standard with the Touring yet pulled up from lower trims such as remote start, proximity entry with pushbutton ignition, variable intermittent wipers, heatable powered side mirrors, a leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel with illuminated controls, one-touch turn signals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone auto climate control, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, a sunglasses holder, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with powered lumbar support and memory, a four-way powered passenger’s seat, perforated leather upholstery, heatable front seats, a one-touch powered moonroof, active noise cancellation, a security alarm, and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks that expand on a large 15.5 cubic-foot trunk, plus of course a sizable safety suite including ABS-enhanced four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, vehicle stability assist with traction control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response, and all the usual airbags.
My Touring tester also included the Honda Sensing package as standard equipment, which adds Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Collision Mitigation Braking (CMBS), plus a favorite road trip accessory, adaptive cruise control, upon inclusion gives the Accord an IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating, whereas all Accord Sedans achieve a 5-Star crash test rating from the NHTSA. This impressive load of active safety and convenience features is only available with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) or as-tested six-speed automatic, however, but this seemingly negative fact might just be unusually good news to those who prioritize performance, as the CVT’s optional status means there’s a much more engaging six-speed manual gearbox standard. Normally DIY shifters are relegated to lowly base trim or completely eliminated from mid-size offerings, but Honda hasn’t forgotten its sporting roots and therefore continues to offer it up to EX trim.
Base models feature Honda’s 16-valve, DOHC, direct-injection 2.4-liter four, capable of 185 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 181 lb-ft of torque at 3,900 rpm, a peppy powerplant that’s not going to win many stoplight wars but is feisty enough for an enjoyable off-the-line sprint and plenty of high-speed action on the freeway. As just noted it comes standard with a six-speed manual, but no doubt most will opt for the fuel-efficient CVT. This transmission features a Sport mode that, while a bit peaky, adds a little more engagement to the performance equation, but not as much as Touring trim’s standard six-speed automatic, this more direct-shifting autobox mated solely to the top-line 278 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with 252 lb-ft of torque. While not yet upgraded with direct-injection and auto start/stop like the new Pilot, the Accord’s carryover 3.5 certainly delivers a lot more get-up-and-go than the four-cylinder, suiting the Touring model well, but we need to question Honda as to why it doesn’t offer its top-line trim with the four and CVT as done in other markets, as it only makes sense that a significant number of buyers would want all the features and added style of the Touring model without the extra initial and ongoing expense of the V6. After all, not Accord buyers take advantage of its sporting potential.
The CVT does a lot to benefit fuel economy, the latest Accord achieving an EPA claimed rating of 27 mpg city, 37 highway and 31 combined with its Eco Assist system engaged (the big green button on the dash), while the four with the manual achieves 23 city, 34 highway and 27 combined, both very good sets of numbers for the mid-size class. The V6, on the other hand, is rated at 21 city, 34 highway and 26 combined.
The Accord’s fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension setup provided a thoroughly comfortable ride that remained very planted in its lane, while stabilizer bars at both ends and even a front strut tower brace (Sport and above) resulted in decent road-holding through fast-paced curves, no doubt aided by those optional 19s noted earlier.
So like I said at the beginning of this review, do your best to mentally block out the advice of know-it-all blowhards, unless one of those blowhards is an auto journalist, the majority of which agree with my assessment of the Honda Accord. It’s not only a much more compelling car than any previous example from a visual standpoint, coming close to premium-level detailing while surpassing many with lofty brand names, but it’s also one of the most technologically advanced cars currently available, that happens to drive very well. You can do a lot worse than a Honda Accord, but you can’t get much better.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press Photo credits: Honda Copyright: American Auto Press