Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Honda Accord Coupe a Luxurious Ride

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Accord-HDR-1-crop

 

 

By James Gaffney

   Mature Life Features

 

A friend who has driven nothing but Honda Accords for the past two decades has received no small amount of ribbing for her choice of what many argue is among the most vanilla cars on the market. Reliable as all get-go, but a plain-Jane in spades. I even held a one-person “intervention,” imploring her to buy something more stylish and fun when time came to trade in her beloved sedan.

However, my thinking shifted the moment I slid behind the wheel of the redesigned Accord EX-L coupe and feasted my eyes on the revamped cabin layout. “It doesn’t even look like an Accord,” my Honda-loving friend pointed out, almost cooing. When I laid into the accelerator and felt the powerful 3.5-liter V-6 ripping into some two-lane country blacktop, I almost couldn’t believe the ear-to-ear grin I glimpsed on my face in the rearview mirror.

Could it possibly be the Honda Accord is also – and at long last — fun to drive?

All I know for certain is this: the week I spent testing the ninth-generation Honda Accord coupe that’s drawing rave reviews from consumers and the automotive press alike forced me to rescind any unflattering descriptions I had heaped upon one of the consistently top-selling cars in the United States.

The high-tech gewgaw that caught my attention was Honda’s new LaneWatch feature. Every time the driver turns on the right-turn-signal indicator, a fisheye-lens camera mounted in the passenger’s side-view mirror shows any vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians in the driver’s right-side blind spot, which can be seen on a monitor on the cabin’s center stack. Initially, I wondered if this was a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Until the day I was making a right-hand turn in my neighborhood and might have run over or into a woman in an electric wheelchair – too low to the ground to be seen in my sideview mirror – had it not been for LaneWatch.

Now in its 38th year of production, Honda has helped set a new standard for what consumers could and should expect – no, demand – in terms of automotive reliability and gas mileage. It’s not uncommon for owners to log a minimum of 150,000 miles on a Honda Civic and Accord with only routine maintenance without a hiccup. All of which helps explain why nearly 332,000 of the vehicles were sold in the United States alone in 2012. But when it comes to dependability, Honda faces stiff competition from the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima. But if the boldly retooled 2013 Accord EX-L coupe is any indication, Honda is in it to win it.

While the new body lines are not a radical departure from previous Accords, the front fascia reveals subtle tweaks that better blend Honda’s signature honeycomb grille and sculpted hood lines while the coupe’s slightly sloping roofline profile adds a sporty appeal.

If the Accord truly has a new story to tell, it probably begins with its feisty powerplant that kicks at the stalls with 278 ponies and 252 pound-feet of torque, mated with a six-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters, depending on trim level), that humps down the road with unbridled gusto. When employing the paddle shifters in sport mode, where the tranny keeps the car in the lower four gears longer and locks out the sixth altogether, my Accord coupe demonstrated surprisingly quick, clean and robust accelerations.

Along with performance accolades, the new Accord really shines when it comes to comfort. Spacious leg and head room for both front and rear passengers makes the EX-L a worthy contender for best four-passenger, road-trip coupe.

Honda has learned over the years how to appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers with a phalanx of trim levels. For instance, the Accord is still available with a four-banger tranny in the entry-level LX, Sport, EX, EX-L and EX-L (with navigation) trims. Step up to the V-6 and the trim levels shrink to the EX-L, EX-L (with navigation) and Touring.

The base four-cylinder LX trim comes with 16-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, an eight-inch video display, Bluetooth, rearview camera, cruise control, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable manual driver’s seat, folding rear seat and four-speaker sound system with CD player, auxiliary jack, iPod/USB audio interface and Pandora.

Jump to the EX-L trim and you can add leather upholstery, eight-way power driver’s and four-way power passenger’s seat, 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler, heated mirrors and sunroof, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio and HondaLink’s smartphone app integration , navigation system with voice recognition, and Honda’s new LaneWatch blind-spot display. Jump to the Touring trim if you wish to add adaptive cruise control.

With a starting MSRP of $21,680 for the bare-bones 2.4-liter, manual-transmission, four-cylinder LX trim, the all-new Honda Accord is still within the price range of  most car buyers.My EX-L trim V-6 test car weighed in at a substantially higher $30,070.

(James Gaffney is the automotive editor at Seven men’s magazine and former automotive writer/photographer for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2014

 

 

 

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 30, 2014 at 9:10 am

Posted in Auto

Tagged with , , ,

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