All-New 2023 Honda Accord: Good Enough to Win Car of the Year?

By Karl Brauer
Forbes Contributor
https://www.karlbrauer.com

The all-new 2023 Honda Accord marks the 11th generation of Honda’s venerable family sedan, a model that first hit U.S. showrooms in 1976 as a compact car. Back then the Honda Accord was a small, three-door hatchback not much larger than its Civic sibling. But a sedan joined the next year and by 1982 the Accord was being produced in the U.S., fitting given it was also the best-selling Japanese car in the U.S.

Ten generations later and the latest Accord remains a top seller for all the same reasons that drew U.S. buyers 40+ years ago. It’s a solid value, it’s dependable, it looks good, and it drives great. Sure, sedan market share has shifted to SUVs over the past 20 years. But that just means only the strongest models featuring four doors and a trunk can survive. And the Honda Accord’s sales suggest it isn’t going anywhere. The new Accord is so good, in fact, that it’s a finalist for North American Car of the Year.

The big news for the new Accord is an improved hybrid drivetrain that includes one-pedal driving with paddle shifters to recapture energy when slowing down. Normally this feature is reserved for pure electric vehicles, giving the new Accord hybrid EV-like energy capture without range anxiety. The hybrid drivetrain offers 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque (15 more lb-ft than last year), and uses direct drive versus a traditional transmission. Fuel mileage is rated at 44 mpg combined for Sport, Sport-L, and Touring trims, 48 for the EX-L.

A conventional 1.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo is also offered on the base LX and mid-grade EX trims. This engine produces 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque and is connected to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). These CVTs are great for fuel efficiency…but not so good for driving enjoyment. To Honda’s credit, it offers the best CVTs in the industry, with faux “shift points” that minimize the droning acceleration most CVTs deliver.

The other big Honda Accord upgrade can be seen at first glance, with a smoother profile and premium grille and taillight treatments that give the Accord an upscale appearance. This is particularly impressive given the previous Honda Accord was also a looker. In fact, there’s never really been an unattractive Accord sedan, but the latest model looks better than ever, a real compliment given the car’s stylish history.

Things look good inside, too. A full-color 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster offers information on energy flow in the hybrid models and driver assist functions like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Much of this info migrates to a head up display that comes standard in the top-line Touring trim. A 12.3-inch central touchscreen adds to the information feed, with an intuitive interface augmented by built-in Google-powered apps like Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play on Touring models, that also feature wireless smartphone charging.

Honda continues the Accord’s tradition of being a driver’s car, with standard 19-inch wheels on the Sport, Sport-L, and Touring trims, along with intuitive steering, an ideal balance of sporty and comfortable ride quality, and an all-new seat designed for improved comfort and support. These traits combine for a placid atmosphere during relaxed driving, or plenty of driver engagement when the traffic thins and the road gets twisty.

Our test car was a top-line Touring model, making it the most luxurious — and expensive — version of the new Honda Accord. A base MSRP of $37,890 was bumped another $1,095 for destination and handling, for a total of $38,985. That number gets you every piece of advanced technology available, including the hybrid drivetrain, head-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 12-speaker Bose audio system, wireless charging, and Google-powered infotainment system.

But even a base Accord LX includes LED headlights and taillights, the 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, keyless entry, remote start, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the full suite of Honda Sensing driver assist tech. That means adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, traffic jam assist, and automatic high beams are included in the base Accord price of $28,390.

The Honda Accord’s history of providing an appealing blend of traits at a high-value price has kept it among the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. And, this year, made it one of three finalists for North American Car of the Year. The Hyundai Ionic 6 electric car and Toyota Prius hybrid are the also in the running. We’ll know the winner on January 4th.