“The Honda Accord is a great all-rounder with fine reliability and an excellent diesel engine.”
The latest Honda Accord is a strong rival to the more famous German saloon cars such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, and, thanks to some excellent build quality, a more upmarket interior and sleek dimensions, it has the air of a classier car than it actually. In reality, the Accord is something of a jack-of-all-trades in the UK market, not getting to the top of its class in any respect - a solid all-rounder rather than a high achiever. Honda's reputation for reliability goes without question, and the Accord doesn’t rock that boat, and while it's not going to be winning any prizes for style, spaciousness, practicality or efficiency, it does have plenty of safety features, and good equipment and accessory levels, and it's actually quite decent to drive. The Accord basically sits between mainstream saloons such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia at the lower end of the premium market. It only comes as a saloon or an estate – unlike the Mondeo and Insignia – but it does have that distinct whiff of quality about it, which makes it more appealing than it otherwise would be.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
This is a somewhat odd category for the Accord, with Honda seeming a bit off the pace in terms of efficiency and economy. The 2.4-litre petrol available only returns 33mpg in combined fuel economy, for example, with CO2 emissions of 199g/km, which puts it in tax band J and means a tax bill of more than £250 a year. Even the 2.0-litre model only manages to return 41mpg economy and emits 159g/km (band G - £175 per year), which is poor when you consider the likes Ford's EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engines proving you can make an engine that's fast, fun and frugal. Thankfully the diesels are a bit better, being the cheapest to run by a long way, with the 2.2 i-DTEC returning 53.3mpg combined and emitting 138g/km. However, Honda has a lot of catching up to do with its premium rivals, which are both better for your wallet and the environment – especially if you consider than no Honda cars currently have stop-start or turbo technology.
Interior & comfort
Only the entry-level Accord ES comes with a standard suspension set-up, as the rest of the range is fitted with sports suspension as standard. The ride can be a little firm, but it generally strikes an excellent balance of decent comfort and good handling. Inside, wind and road noise are barely audible, while the engines, the diesel especially, prove to be very quiet indeed, giving the interior a nicely chilled out, calm feel. The ride is also extremely calm and comfy when driving on the motorway, but that sports suspension can judder over uneven roads and rough surfaces. There's more room for passengers than in the previous Accord, with enough space for five adults to sit comfortably, but it still doesn’t match the class-leading spaciousness of the Ford Mondeo.
Practicality & boot space
Inside the Accord, all models come fitted with 60:40 split/fold rear seats as standard, which fold pretty easily, while there are deep door pockets in the front and a reasonably sized storage cubby in the front armrest. All passengers enjoy plenty of headroom, but passengers in the back will find the legroom somewhat cramped, certainly falling short of more mainstream rivals like the Skoda Superb. And, unfortunately, the dashboard controls are quite cluttered, so finding what you want quickly while driving can get a little confusing.
The biggest black mark against the Accord's practicality, though, is the lack of a hatchback. The saloon boot opening is pretty narrow, so it's more difficult to load big or bulky items than in many of the Accord's rivals. It's an also something of an odd shape, thanks to the rear suspension sticking out into the load area, so you really have to plan exactly what you’re loading where. Other than that, it continues its race to competency over excellence, with a boot that offers 467 litres of space with the rear seats in place – that's decent enough, but hardly threatens the best in class and offers only a marginal increase over the previous model. If you need more practicality, you can turn to the Honda Accord Tourer estate, which offers a maximum boot space of 1,183 litres.
Reliability & safety
The Accord secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, placing it among the safest cars in its class. All models come fitted with electronic stability control (ESP), six airbags and anti-whiplash front headrests as standard equipment. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and a collision warning system that sounds an alert and tugs the seatbelt to warn the driver about an impending impact before applying the brakes are also available as optional extras.
Honda is a rare consistent performer in customer satisfaction surveys, so held its sixth place ranking in the 2013 Driver Power poll's list of top manufacturers, issuing a confident statement about its cars’ overall reliability. The eighth-generation Accord, however, even managed to buck the usual downward trend in such surveys by actually climbing up from its 2012 ranking of 38th in the top 100 cars to come 25th in the 2013 survey. If that doesn’t give Accord buyers a healthy slab of peace of mind, nothing will. And it goes without saying that no major problems have yet been reported.
Engines, drive & performance
You get to choose between two petrol engines – a 154bhp 2.0-litre and a 198bhp 2.4-litre - or a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. The 2.0-litre petrol is particularly smooth, while the 2.4-litre offers faster performance. However, we’d recommend going for the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engine, because, frankly, it's still one of the best diesel engines on sale – you get plenty of power from it (148bhp), but it's also very quiet and smooth at the same time. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds, but never sacrifices decent economy figures. The six-speed manual gearbox is also pretty good, while the automatic model only comes in a five-speed version, so proves to be a bit ineffectual, especially at motorway speeds. The Accord is fairly agile on winding roads, as well, offering precise steering and a smooth ride that exhibits a minimum of body roll when driving through the corners. It's not as impressive to drive as some rivals, such the BMW 3 Series, but it's actually not a bad alternative, albeit never really going past a competent driving experience.
Price, value for money & options
The Accord pretty much falls between stalls, being higher spec than rivals such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series while undercutting them in price so looking like quite the premium bargain, but proving pretty expensive compared to more mainstream competition like the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo. However, the whole range comes well equipped, so you’re unlikely to feel short-changed if you do buy an Accord, with even the entry-level ES model coming fitted with automatic climate control, cruise control, electric windows, electric heated mirrors, a CD stereo with MP3 player connection and remote central locking as standard equipment. The interior quality is also high and where its premium aspirations are most on display, with soft-touch plastic used throughout. Also resale values in the used car market will be relatively strong, so it's not a bad long-term investment and one that should return some money when you do come to make a second-hand deal.