"“While the engine’s power is ample and can be a lot of fun to tap into, most of the time it feels ill-suited to the car it’s stuck in.”"
Our 2014 Honda Accord coupe made a quick trip to New York in early July, with associate online editor Eric Weiner behind the wheel. Two weeks later, he drove it back to Michigan. With lots of seat time, Eric comments as follows:
“Excellent, excellent highway car. So much power everywhere. Comfortable seat, and what’s that there? Adjustable lumbar support in an Accord? That’ll do just fine, thank you.
“I did have a few beefs about the Accord during my drive out to New York and back. First of all, while the tank is pretty large, 30 mpg on the highway just doesn’t cut it for a midsize car. I also had trouble getting the right seating position. The seat was plenty comfortable, but it seemed like whenever I got it in the right place relative to the steering wheel, the wheel rim blocked the top of the speedometer.
“While the engine’s power is ample and can be a lot of fun to tap into, most of the time it feels ill-suited to the car it’s stuck in. The V-6 easily overwhelms the front tires and the chassis, and the result is frequent wheel spin, torque steer, and a squirrely front end while trying to accelerate through turns. The front end also wiggles quite a bit under hard braking. The clutch is communicative, but the take-up is extremely low and sudden. The Accord seems like it should be a lot more exciting, with a big V-6 and a six-speed manual, but the pieces just don’t add up. It’s the wrong version of the right car.
“I say it’s the right car because there’s a lot to love about the Accord. It has a compliant ride and a quiet cabin. There’s also a ton of space, even if folding the one-piece rear seatback is a two-person job when really it should be a one-person affair (you can’t pull the release latch and fold the seat at the same time unless you use a broom or some sort of long pole to push the seat-back).
“Technology-wise it is very well equipped, although the total price tag is steep for this class. Still, my passengers were impressed with Lane-Watch. They thought it was pretty cool that it was a Honda-only tech. The only time it disappointed me was in a heavy rainstorm, when water collected in the little camera opening underneath the side mirror, completely obscuring the Lane-Watch feed.
“By far the most annoying thing, though, is a quirk in the Bluetooth programming. When you voice-activate a contact in your phonebook, Honda recommends another person from your phonebook that you could also call. So right below where it says, ‘Calling Isaac’ (my friend) it says in even bigger, yellow letters “You can also say ‘Call Tony R’” (my ex-girlfriend’s dad). The suggestion is totally random each time, which is bizarre and really throws you off.”
While on the East Coast, the Accord was in the care of New York Bureau Chief Jamie Kitman, who had this to say: “It had been forever since I drove an Accord coupe. And while I was never a big fan of the models through the years, I was hopeful, based largely upon the unexpectedly excellent view I took of the new Accord Hybrid sedan, which I drove for the first time just the other month. But raised expectations may not have done the coupe any favors.
“It doesn't look like much, in my view, inoffensive but neither sporty nor alluring (although, in fairness, one might ask, has any Accord ever?). The more serious buzz-killer is that it seemed to have terrible steering, with torque steer like I haven't experienced since the first front-wheel-drive Cadillac STS broke cover one hundred years ago. To counter the torque steer it appears that Honda dialed out steering feel. Again, I have to go back to motoring antiquity to find steering so over-boosted that the slightest corrections became sloppier and more vexing than I could've expected. The problem with the steering is compounded by a chassis that just doesn't want to play—excessive body motions and poor body control made our coupe seem less sporty than the Accord Hybrid four-door and less sporty than just about anything that can make it through the chicane without making you sick.
“It's a shame, too, as the V-6 engine is a delightful powerhouse of serious potency and sophistication, something Alfa Romeo would be proud to put its name on. The six-speed manual box is relatively joyous to use, working well with the honking mill. Put it all together right and it's a fast and capable car, but the way it is it usually feels like a fast car let down by its chassis.”
This is a familiar refrain: A great engine, but too much engine for this chassis. Upon the Accord’s return to Michigan, it was repeated again.
“At lunch today, I just about torque-steered myself into a Cadillac in the next lane as I accelerated out of Kalamata Greek Grill onto Woodward Avenue in the Accord coupe,” noted deputy editor Joe DeMatio. But, tell us Joe, what was the real highlight of that lunch? “On a happier note, I’m pretty sure Detroit Red Wing goalkeeper Jonas Gustavsson was standing in front of me in line, clutching the key to his black Porsche Panamera GTS that was parked out front.”