This review was meant to be a full review of the 2013 Ford Escape. Fortunately for me, I have a girlfriend who is not only smart and has excellent taste, but also has no filter when it comes to calling me out on stupid ideas (Editor’s Note: True). I truly appreciate this. As I climbed into the escape, she said I looked like a soccer mom. I consummately leapt out and got into the Fusion and as we all know from my Fusion review, that did not go too well. It was not a good showing that day for Ford.
As we had time left in the day, I had suggested we go take a look at the new Honda Accord as a replacement test drive for the Escape. Kate agreed and off we went to Route 23 Honda in Pompton Plains, NJ. I hadn’t planned on looking at the Accord for a few reasons, but none of them were any good. I convinced myself that an Accord would be too familiar or the same old thing or another boring purchase that I wouldn’t appreciate. As you can see, my thought process was completely asinine. Especially since all my current Accord has done to warrant such disdain is be a problem free, well built, workhorse of a car that has never once failed me in any capacity. What a fool I was for not giving my car’s younger, more capable sibling a thorough once over.
Upon arriving at the dealership, without an appointment, we were greeted by the receptionist and waited only a few minutes before a nice salesman (Ron) came over. Ron was knowledgeable and didn’t push a car on me at any point during our visit. Actually, he was the only person I met with that followed up after the test drive, which was impressive since every other dealer said they would and did not.
I decided to test drive the Accord Sport since I really liked the look of that particular trim level. The slightly more aggressive look was very aesthetically pleasing as the base model of the new Accord is a bit plain. But then again, so are most Hondas. Honda is not in the business of making out-of-this-world cars. They make a quality product meant to last well into the decade-of-ownership range. The Accord Sport provides both a sleek and stylish look with a nicely appointed interior, 18” alloy rims, and 235/45/R18 tires. Which equates to, well, “sport” for a Honda.
The silver color was drab and dull, but then again so are all silver cars that are used for daily drivers. Silver is to today as yellow was to the 70s: EVERYWHERE. I would not get this, or any car, in silver. The new Accord is also not a looker, but it’s light-years ahead of the previous generation. However, once you stepped inside the car, everything changed. The interior was beautiful and this was especially apparent in the plastics. My current Accord 2-door coupé from 2006 has good plastics and they don’t feel cheap even to this day, but Honda has really stepped up their game since, at least in this model. I wanted to touch anything and everything. It felt well built and as if it was made out of Legos’ glued together; you were never going to break it and it dared you to pry them apart. The accent plastics were also high quality and gave a carbon fiber-esque look to the inside. The wheel, entertainment display, carpeting, seats (which provided excellent support), and everything else inside was very good. I would have liked leather in this model, but it is not offered. This trim is basic and functional, but nothing flashy like the heated front and rear seats on the Sonata. The Accord Sport does not come with heated front seats.
When we got on the road, I was a bit skeptical about the engine and for good reason; it only had 189hp. My current Accord has 166hp and has probably lost a few ponies in the 7 years of ownership. It was quite impressive what just 23 more hp can do. Even though it weights nearly 200 pounds more than it’s older brother, the 2013 packs much more punch. It’s no sports car, but it will propel you properly in the direction you want to go as well as get you out of any highway peril you may face. Power is not just for posturing.
Once we got going, I noticed we had to stop, quickly. Traffic had backed up at the first stoplight and the driver in front of me halted much quicker than I had anticipated (Editor’s Note: Greg requested the “LA Test Experience”). A great time to test out the brakes. And while they worked, I had to apply ample pressure. I’d say not as good as my current model. That extra weight showed in that portion of the test drive. But where the brakes were not as good, the Accord made up for it in other areas. It was nice inside and overall interior quality was high. I also noticed the Accord Sport had a nifty little button marked “Econ” in green just to the left of the steering wheel. I had actually seen the same button on a CRV that I was given as a loaner when I was in for routine service. The Econ button is nice because when you are driving you can press it and get even better fuel economy than you normally would. It will indicate this when a green ring emanates from around the speed-o. Thus, the already gas-frugal Accord will become a cross between a hybrid and a tourer, without all that hybrid battery nonsense adding even more weight. I clicked the button and at 55 mph, I was able to get 45 MPG. That’s Toyota Prius territory in a normal combustion engine. Points for the Accord in the keeping-my-wallet-fat test.
The ride quality in the Accord was simply astonishing. I was blown away by how smooth the suspension was and how easily it soaked up the bumps, especially by a model with the designation of “sport.” I drove right by my apartment complex and went over the annoyingly loud and hole-ridden train tracks. Currently, I need to slow down for them, but with this car I did not. It was like I was driving over pillows. If you’re looking for a car with a bit of spunk that rides like a much larger, much more expensive grand tourer, then this is your car.
Sadly, the Accord does have some downfalls. The handling was appropriate for the car, but I didn’t feel a sense of spirit. It will do its job, and do it properly, but on back roads or in a highway emergency situation, things might get a bit squirrely. Even with the wide tires and sport-tuned-suspension, I don’t think this was the car that could outdrive my current model. Also, the technology packages Honda offers cannot be saddled on just any car. There are only 2 models with sat-nav, and the Sport is not one of them. If you cannot live without sat-nav, you must purchase either the Accord EX-L w/CVT transmission (and I will never own one of those for as long as I live and will explain why in a future post) or manual transmission, or the EX-L V6 w/automatic transmission (no manual available). So basically, what Honda is saying is that “you will do it our way, or we don’t want your money.” In my opinion, this is ridiculous. Why won’t you take my money? I even asked if I could get the Accord Sport with sat-nav at extra cost and Ron said no. Unreal. Honda, bush league. That’s really bad marketing and it’s ultimately why I won’t be purchasing an Accord Sport. I would go with the V6 at 278 hp. It only gets 1 less MPG highway and city than the 4-cyl Sport. 1 less mpg! With 89 more hp! That’s a no brainer. Go for the V6 with this car. It’s as bulletproof an engine as you will find from any carmaker. Although if price is a concern, you’d be paying almost $8,000 more for the V6 with navigation. So basically you’d be paying that much more for a better engine and a nav.
Another negative tick mark for the Accord Sport was the sound system. It was ATROCIOUS. Like, trying to listen to a transistor radio through a paper towel tube atrocious. An upgraded unit would be 100% necessary. I did not fiddle with the equalizer at all, but even at stock levels, I could tell the speakers were not up to par. Currently, my car has 6 speakers in a 2-door. The Sport, with 4-doors only has 4 speakers. Problem found.
If you can deal with those few, and in the average commuter’s eyes, minor inconveniences, the Accort Sport is a great car. It does have a CVT, but once again, the average commuter won’t care. And you can get it with a manual transmission if you hate the CVT as much as I do. Even thought it’s supposed to give you better gas mileage, I don’t see it doing that as the V6 with a normal automatic, non-CVT transmission gets almost the exact same MPG. However, if you are shopping for a car that will last you for 10+ years, give you well over 100,000-200,000 miles in it’s lifetime, and get excellent MPG no matter what kind of tranny you have in there, this is the car for you. It’s not very fun or sexy, but the Accord never has been. It’s a well-honed tool and there’s no better built car on the road for the long haul.
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