“The Honda Accord is a great all-rounder with fine reliability and an excellent diesel engine.”
The current Honda Accord is a worthy rival to the more established German saloons such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, thanks to excellent build quality and an upmarket interior. The Accord is something of a jack-of-all-trades in the UK market, not leading its class in any respect but being a solid all-rounder. Honda's reputation for reliability goes without saying, and the Accord is no exception, and it's hardly going to be win any prizes for style, spaciousness, practicality or efficiency, but it's got plenty of safety features and decent equipment levels, plus it's actually quite good to drive. The Accord essentially sits between mainstream saloons such as the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia and the lower end of the premium market. It's only available as a saloon or an estate – unlike the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia – but it does have an air of quality about it, which makes it quite appealing.
The Accord is fairly agile with precise steering and a smooth ride with a minimum of body roll. It's not as impressive as something like the BMW 3 Series to drive but it's actually not a bad alternative, albeit never going past a competent driving experience. You can 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 very smooth, while the 2.4-litre offers brisk performance. However, our choice is the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engine. Frankly, it's still one of the best diesel engines on sale – it had lots of power from its 148bhp, but it's very quiet and smooth at the same time. It goes from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds while never sacrificing decent economy figures. The six-speed manual gearbox is also competent, while the automatic only comes in a five-speed version, so is a bit ineffectual.
All but the basic Accord ES comes with sports suspension as standard, so the ride can be a little firm, but it generally strikes an excellent balance of good handling and decent comfort. Inside, virtually no wind or road noise is audible, while the engines, the diesel in particular, are very quiet, giving the interior a very chilled out, hushed feel. On the motorway the ride is extremely calm and comfy, but that sports suspension can judder over rough surfaces. There's more space for occupants than the previous Accord, with enough room for five adults to fit comfortably, but it doesn’t match the spaciousness of the Ford Mondeo.
Honda held its sixth place finish in the 2013 annual Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, making a confident statement about its cars’ consistent reliability. This eighth generation Accord, meanwhile, placed 25th out of the top 100 cars, up from 2012's 38th, which should give any Accord owner substantial peace of mind. No major problems have yet been reported. It also scored the full five-star crash safety rating from the Euro NCAP crash tests, making it one of the safest cars in its class. It comes equipped with electronic stability control, six airbags and anti-whiplash front headrests as standard. You can also get adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and a collision warning system that sounds a warning and tugs the seatbelt to alert the drive of an impending impact before applying the brakes.
The lack of a hatchback is a strike against the Accord's practicality right off the bat. Beyond that it continues its race to competency over excellence, with a boot offering 467 litres of space with the rear seats up – good, but again hardly best in class and only a marginal increase from the previous model. Plus, the boot opening is fairly narrow, too, so it's harder to load large or bulky items than in many of the Accord's rivals. It's an also an odd shape so you have to plan what you’re loading where. Inside, the rear seats split 60:40 and fold fairly easily, while there are large door pockets in the front and a decent storage cubby in the front armrest. Headroom is good for all passengers, but legroom in the back is a bit cramped and certainly falls short of more mainstream rivals like the Skoda Superb. Lastly, the dashboard controls are somewhat cluttered so can get a little confusing.
Value for money
On face value, the Accord looks like a premium bargain, it's higher spec undercutting its executive rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 but quite a chunk of change. However, it's pretty pricey compared to mainstream competitors like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. This means it can fall between the stalls when it comes to buyer appeal. Fortunately, resale values in the used car market are relatively strong, so it's not a bad long-term investment. The whole range is well equipped so you won’t feel short-changed if you do buy one, with even the entry-level ES model coming with automatic climate control, cruise control, electric windows, electric heated mirrors, a CD stereo with MP3 player connection and remote central locking. The interior quality is also high and where its premium aspirations are most on display, with soft-touch plastic used throughout.
Honda seem a bit off the pace in terms of economy and efficiency. The Accord's 2.4-litre petrol returns only 33mpg, for instance, with CO2 emissions of 199g/km incurring a tax bill of more than £200 a year. Even the 2.0-litre model only returns 41mpg and emits 159g/km, which is poor in the era of Ford's EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engines. Thankfully the diesel is a bit better, being by far the cheapest to run, returning 52mpg ad emitting 141g/km. However, if you consider than no Honda cars currently have stop-start or turbo technology, Honda has a lot of catching up to do when its premium rivals are both better for your wallet and the environment. Insurance premiums are average, ranging from groups 23 to 28.