Thursday, April 11, 2013

Big-seller Honda Accord just gets better

Mark Glover's AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee's website – via the "GALLERY: Reviews of new cars" link at

This review originally appeared in the March 2013 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California – Just based on sales history alone, you kind of figure that the Honda Accord doesn’t need much help.  It sells like crazy, right?

But Honda’s engineers are rarely content to just sit back and relax.  For this ninth-generation Accord, they’ve raised the ante.  While the latest Accord does not scream sporty or sexy, it is a car to be desired.  Oh, let me count the ways.

My tester was the 2013 Accord EX sedan with a continuously variable transmission, starting at $25,405.  Like previous Accords, you know that it will run pretty much forever, trouble-free.  And the gas mileage numbers on the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine are pretty nice at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Fit and finish on this midsize model are, as usual, spot-on.

Five minutes into my test drive, I’m overwhelmed by totally unanticipated surprises.  Good ones.

For starters, the Accord was more than peppy.  It was downright robust, the 185-horsepower engine delivering seat-of-the-pants performance way beyond what the numbers would indicate.  I was ripping the tester around like a weekend racer teen in his first NASCAR ride.  Feels good?  Yeah, it does.

Based on my experience with the four-banger, I can only guess that the optional 3.5-liter V-6 must feel like a perpetual trip to Rip City.

Even so, the tester was thinking green.  When I was coasting with my foot off the gas or braking, green semicircles lit up around the speedometer to let me know I was driving in “eco” mode.  Yeah, that felt pretty good too.

So, I got the scare of my life the first time I flipped on the right-turn signal, and an exterior image of everything from my right-front passenger door on back to eternity flashed onto the video screen mounted center dash.

Might have helped if I’d read the owner’s manual first, but I later learned that this was Honda’s “LaneWatch Blind Spot Display,” basically a camera that negates the passenger-side blind spot by showing you what’s going on via the on-board screen.

It took me a little time to get used to this, but once I did, I was addicted to it.  It’s much easier and clearer to deal with than blinking lights and audio beeps.  It’s probably going to save the lives of hundreds of bike and motorcycle riders nationwide.

Why the system is not also installed on the left side of the car is a mystery to me.  I’m sure it’s the result of exhaustive research.

The only downer in my testing was an unmistakable squeak behind my left ear, a squeak that intensified on left turns for some reason.  I chalked it up to one of those things, but maybe I overlooked some left-side-warning code in the depths of the owner’s manual.  Who knows?

I know this: The Accord is as good as it has ever been.  Honda dealers, better figure on selling a few more zillion of ’em.

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