2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Automatic
Zen simplicity with a side of sportiness.
OCTOBER 2017 BY ANDREW WENDLER PHOTOS BY MICHAEL SIMARI
After our first exposure to the all-new 2018 Honda Accord, it was clear the inherent goodness that has landed the model on our 10Best Cars list a record 31 times not only remained intact but was elevated. With the latest Accord’s integrity confirmed, we now turn to even deeper exposures—including visits to the test track—with the various models in the lineup. First up: a top-spec Touring with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Loaded from the Start
The 2018 Accord Touring 2.0T represents the kitchen-sink approach to car buying: By opting for the Touring—at the top of the Accord lineup—you get the larger engine and 10-speed automatic transmission, adaptive dampers, and 19-inch wheels shod with 235/40R-19 Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires. Additional standard features include leather upholstery, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats and heated outboard rear seats, a head-up display, rain-sensing wipers, wireless phone charging, near-field device communication, and mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capability. Given that list of goods, it’s clear this Accord has some serious aspirations.
There’s a warm, cohesive quality to the Touring’s interior thanks to the neutral tones, attractive faux-wood trim, and quality materials. Attention to detail abounds, from the way the knurled metal knobs for the climate-control and infotainment systems travel through their detents to the brilliant colors of the low-glare, hi-res center display—taken together, these items give off the vibe of a high-end electronic component. The simplicity of the layout plays a part, too, as the 2018 Accord marks the arrival of a streamlined and easier-to-use infotainment system that once again incorporates traditional volume and tuning knobs. Drivers of all shapes and sizes will find it easy to arrive at the perfect seating position, and those on the larger end of the spectrum will welcome the surplus of head and shoulder room despite the presence of a sunroof. In that respect, it has a leg up on the 2018 Toyota Camry, in which the same drivers complained that the B-pillar and sunroof infringed on their personal space. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel and well-placed pedals add to an impression that the car was designed from the driver’s seat out.
Detuned for Your Pleasure
As Honda fans are likely aware, the turbocharged 2.0-liter in the Accord is a lower-output version of the 306-hp beast found in the Civic Type R. (Read more details on the two engines here.) Detuned to a still respectable 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque for Accord duty, the inline-four moves the sedan with authority. Full grunt is available at a low 1500 rpm, and the transmission wastes no time in downshifting to meet it at the sweet spot. Tire squeal is available on demand from a stop or a slow roll—and with only the faintest whiff of torque steer. Pushing the Sport button on the console triggers more aggressive throttle and transmission mapping, firms up the adaptive dampers, and quickens the response of the variable-ratio electrically assisted power steering. In this mode the Accord shines as an ideal urban companion in the fight against boring commutes, the 10-speed downshifting intuitively when braking for corners and upshifting transparently under acceleration.
Instrumented analysis at the test track revealed a 5.5-second zero-to-60-mph time and a 14.1-second quarter-mile with a trap speed of 102 mph. To put those numbers in perspective, both are 0.1 second quicker than those of the last-generation (and now-departed) Accord coupe V-6 with a six-speed automatic. It also blows away the Accord’s longtime nemesis, the Camry, as a 268-hp 2017 V-6 XSEexample of that Toyota lagged behind this Honda to 60 mph by 0.6 second and to the quarter-mile mark by 0.5 second. The 301-hp elephant in the room, however, is the all-new 2018 Camry V-6; expect a closer race when we get an opportunity to strap our test gear to one of those.
Ostensibly, Honda opted for the 2.0-liter turbo for reasons of fuel economy, not performance, but the company expects the new Accord Touring’s EPA ratings to come in at only 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway (versus the 1.5-liter’s 30/38-mpg EPA estimates with the CVT). That’s comparable with the best ratings for last year’s V-6 model, which were 21 mpg city and 33 highway. Indeed, in our highway fuel-economy loop running a steady 75 mph, the new car achieved 35 mpg, which is precisely what the last V-6–powered Accord managed.
Braking performance is par for the class, with the Accord Touring 2.0T consuming 170 feet to stop from 70 mph. That’s an improvement over the 178 feet required by the 2017 Accord sedan with the four-cylinder and continuously variable automatic (CVT) powertrain and just a smidge better than the 172-foot distance of a 2016 Accord coupe V-6. The last Mazda 6 we tested required 175 feet; a 2018 Camry SE with a 2.5-liter inline-four also required 175 feet. While brake feel underfoot is not its best quality, pedal travel and performance is consistent whether leaning on it hard or lightly scrubbing off speed. Grip is largely the same story, the Accord measuring 0.88 g on our skidpad while exhibiting only mild understeer. What the numbers don’t relate is the Honda’s precise turn-in, fluid directional changes, and level cornering that make it such a pleasure to drive.
The Price of Power
While the $36,675 base MSRP of the top-trim 2.0T 10-speed Accord Touring tested here is only $805 more than that of the previous-generation Accord Touring, it also approaches the points where the 2018 BMW 320i ($35,895 to start) and the 2018 Audi A4 ($36,075) begin. That said, the Accord Touring’s biggest competition comes from within. If you don’t mind giving up leather, navigation, and a few other niceties, you can snag an Accord Sport 2.0T for $31,185 with your choice of either the 10-speed auto or—our choice—the six-speed manual. Buyers looking to save even more can step down to an Accord with the turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four, which starts at $24,445 for the LX and peaks at $34,675 for the Touring. The sweet spot there again is the Sport, which pairs the 1.5T with the six-speed manual for $26,655. The manual is available as a no-cost option on the Sport; all other 1.5-liter Accords come paired with a CVT.
Judged by the numbers and its driving engagement, the 2018 Accord carries on the nameplate’s tradition of being affixed to a holistically developed, honest, and fun family vehicle. That’s impressive at any price.