Is a More ‘Rational’ Accord the Right Move for Honda?
Sedans have been slowly disappearing from the contemporary automotive market. Ford no longer makes sedans. Chevy has the Malibu, but not for long. Chrysler still makes the 300, alongside a few other automakers that offer limited sedans and a variety of SUVs and crossovers.
The Accord is one of the few sedans left standing. Its latest generation has received some pushback from automotive enthusiasts for dropping its performance-oriented engine option. Car and Driver argued that the 2023 Honda Accord’s lack of a powerful engine options are a necessary move for the beloved sedan’s longevity. Is a more “rational” Honda Accord the right move?
No More 2.0T for the Honda Accord
This is not the first time Honda has disappointed enthusiasts in recent years. Upon the release of the 10th generation Accord in 2018, journalists lamented the loss of the brawny J35 V6. Now we are grieving the demise of the 252 hp 2.0-liter turbo motor as well as the excellent 10-speed automatic it was paired with.
The latest Accord still offers the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in its LX and EX trims, but the hybrid powertrain now powers all other Accord trims. That powertrain in the Sport Hybrid, EX-L Hybrid, Sport-L Hybrid, and Touring Hybrid trims ostensibly replaces the 2.0T from the old Accord Hybrid.
What powers the new Honda Accord?
Powering the new Accord is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine and a hybrid drivetrain that includes two electric motors and a 1.1 kWh battery. Together you get 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, allowing the hybridized Honda to reach 60 mph in a respectable 6.6 seconds, reports Car and Driver.
Though it isn’t quite as fast as its predecessor, the new Accord Hybrid lineup retains the sporting spirit of past Accords. Car and Driver says the Accord, “Hit a challenging road, and body motions remain military—school disciplined, yet the ride never approaches harsh—qualities rarely found together even in heavier, higher-riding SUVs.” No doubt it has been praised the for being dynamically superior to its predecessor.
Though the car is down on power and outright speed, the Accord provides an even more pleasant and engaging driving experience than the outgoing model. So yes, even without a powerful engine option, it seems the Accord remains the more enjoyable driving experience than competitors like the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
The new Accord is targeting the masses
Though Car and Driver laments the loss of the Accord with a hot hatch heart, they find very little to complain about with this newest iteration. The styling is subjective, but despite being “unadorned” from certain angles, it was attractive from the perspective of the folks at Car and Driver. The car is quiet, comfortable, exceptionally well-equipped, and delivers an enjoyable driving experience despite the lack of grunt.
Car and Driver reported the tech as particularly refreshing, given its simplicity and functionality— something you can’t say about many modern cars. It also offers 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway when equipped with 17-inch wheels. The 19-inch wheels on the Touring Hybrid bring that down to a still impressive 46 mpg city and 44 mpg highway.
The package offered by Honda is one targeted at the average consumer. Sutton references the 2.0T Accord’s low take rates as a culprit in its demise. Honda likely recognizes the types of consumers who buy the Accord are usually looking for something other than a beefy engine. They typically seek a quiet, comfortable sedan with ample power and maybe some pizazz in the corners.
Is a “Rational” Honda Accord necessary?
The sedan market is dwindling, and power is likely not the path to continued strong sales. Sedans have two significant advantages over their SUV and crossover counterparts: handling and fuel economy. Honda has done their part to ensure the Accord is borderline fun in the twisties but has also ensured its continued existence by delivering phenomenal fuel economy. This level of fuel economy is third-generation Prius territory without the stigma and with 142 lb-ft of additional torque. Yes, we will miss the 2.0L engine, but hopefully, these changes mean that saying goodbye to the Accord is a long, long way off.