Midsize Madness - Day Two

Patrick M Hoey

Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry

2013 Honda Accord Sport

The Honda Accord is a familiar player in the top rank of midsize sedans. It's a fan favorite that sold 331,872 examples in America during 2012, which made it the second-most-popular sedan in the country behind the Toyota Camry. Just like the Camry, the Accord builds its game on the core values of quality, durability, and reliability. And just as the Camry was comprehensively revised for 2012, the Accord comes onto the floor in 2013 thoroughly revised after some serious rethinking of its game.

Of course, we also remember the last-generation Accord, which changed its game plan from a handy-size international-style car to a fuller, more mature car for full-size Americans, and the reception from fans was mixed. Thankfully the 2013 Honda Accord plays the game in the light-footed style that we remember so fondly, both with a more expressive appearance and a livelier personality.

We particularly appreciate the fit and finish of the 2013 Honda Accord Sport's interior, which has a mature sophistication that's new to the brand. Almost everyone among us who has driven the 2013 Accord comments on the great look and feel of the cloth seat upholstery, which is in telling contrast to the impression made by the cloth upholstery of the 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV and 2012 Toyota Camry LE. And you can call us techno-phobic Luddites if you like, but we also pile praise on the knobs and buttons used to control the Accord's audio system, which are such a relief after a spell in the 2013 Ford Fusion with its MyFord Touch electronic interface.

The Accord earns high marks in powertrain refinement, too. While we're hardly fans of continuously variable automatic transmissions in general, we couldn't complain about this one. "The Accord's CVT really suits Honda's way of doing things and here at last it has refinement," West Coast editor Michael Jordan says. Copy editor Rusty Blackwell enjoys the characteristic smoothness with which the Honda's 189-hp, 2.4-liter in-line four makes power. Road test editor Christopher Nelson reports the engine's surprising responsiveness even in the middle range of the tachometer. Respectable EPA fuel-economy ratings of 26/35 mpg city/highway further confirm that the 2013 Accord has all the right moves when it comes to engine performance.

Driving the 2013 Honda Accord is hardly the dynamic revelation that this model was when the Accord was about the size of today's Honda Civic, yet its maker has made big strides in ride quality for 2013. Jordan applauds the well-damped suspension and surprisingly controlled body motions. Deputy editor Joe DeMatio is pleased with the accuracy of the electrically assisted steering. Although none of us would call the 2013 Accord the best-handling car in this group, it does deliver the best compromise between a smooth ride and responsive, fun-to-drive handling.

When you look to the box score, the 2013 Honda Accord Sport racks up more points than the competition with a surprisingly luxurious cabin, a very smooth and controlled ride, and an incredibly refined powertrain. It has every phase of its game in order. - Phil Floraday

2013 Honda Accord Sport
: $24,980/$24,980 (base/as tested)

16-valve DOHC I-4
Displacement: 2.4 liters (144 cu in)
Horsepower: 189 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 182 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
Transmission: Continuously variable
Drive: Front-wheel

Electrically assisted
Front suspension: Strut-type, coil springs
Rear suspension: Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented discs/discs, ABS
Tire size: 235/45R-18 94V
Tires: Michelin Primacy MXM4

L x W x H:
191.4 x 72.8 x 57.7 in
Wheelbase: 109.3 in
Track F/R: 62.4/62.4 in
Weight: 3342 lb
Headroom F/R: 39.1/37.5 in
Legroom F/R: 42.5/38.5 in
Passenger volume: 103.2 cu ft
Cargo volume: 15.8 cu ft
EPA mileage: 26/35/29 mpg city/highway/combined

2012 Toyota Camry LE

The Toyota Camry enters this tournament with a number-one ranking. After all, it's the top-selling sedan in the country. Some 405,000 examples of the Toyota Camry were sold to Americans last year, a number so prodigious that only the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks exceeded the Camry's sales success. This should be vindication for the complete makeover that the Camry had received for 2012, a rethink of style, equipment, and engineering to keep the car in the game with the improving competition.

But once its rivals show up, the Camry falls back on its old, familiar game plan. That is, QDR - quality, durability, and reliability. Beyond the laudable virtues of everyday utility, the 2012 Toyota Camry LE can't keep pace with the other cars in our test.

It might be the best-selling sedan in the country and one of the most important vehicles in our group, but the Camry just doesn't look that way. This innocuous silver Camry LE even led one of us to walk right by it when the cars were scattered in a parking lot during a stopover to switch drivers. Deputy editor Joe DeMatio declares that the exterior look of the Camry is as "exciting as a grocery cart." Managing editor Amy Skogstrom called the combination of silver paint and completely uninspired exterior styling "deadly."

There are also few words of praise for the Camry's interior. DeMatio approves of the above-average visibility, noting the slim A-pillars, but finds the fabric seat upholstery to be on par with "bad drapes from J. C. Penney, circa 1988." And even though this basic Camry LE test car's dash layout represents an effort to embrace the era of touchscreens and voice recognition, the buttons and knobs that remain look clunky and dated, though usable. Skogstrom speaks for us all when she says, "The interior needs some help."

One area where the Camry doesn't need any help is powertrain refinement. The engine and transmission perform with extreme smoothness. "The engine and transmission work with remarkable harmony, and this sets the car apart," says Jordan. Moreover, the Camry's chassis tuning also elicits overwhelmingly positive comments. Skogstrom discovered that the Camry soaks up bumps that send a Sonata skipping. DeMatio remarks upon an "overall feeling of competence," and he suggests that this is what comes of decades of experience in the creation of midsize sedans that meet the approval of a majority of Americans.

The 2012 Toyota Camry LE didn't win us over with its staid appearance, although we like its similarly traditional ride comfort and powertrain performance. In the end we'd recommend the Camry for friends and family who need reliable transportation, but this is not a car that plays the midsize-sedan game in the way that we personally prefer. - Phil Floraday

2012 Toyota Camry LE
$23,260/$23,700 (base/as tested)

16-valve DOHC I-4
Displacement: 2.5 liters (152 cu in)
Horsepower: 178 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel

Electrically assisted
Front suspension: Strut-type, coil springs
Rear suspension: Control arms, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented discs/discs, ABS
Tire size: 205/65R-16 94S
Tires: Firestone Affinity Touring S4

L x W x H:
189.2 x 71.1 x 57.9 in
Wheelbase: 109.3 in
Track F/R: 62.4/62.0 in
Weight: 3190 lb
Headroom F/R: 38.8/38.1 in
Legroom F/R: 41.6/38.9 in
Passenger volume: 102.7 cu ft
Cargo volume: 15.4 cu ft
EPA mileage: 25/35/28 mpg city/highway/combined

Winner: 2013 Honda Accord Sport. The Accord moves into the final four.

Tony Costa
Mazda 6!
The Optima is way better than the Passat, you people are really crazy.My choices are Optima and Fusion.
Carlos Cueto
Accord is the best in its class
Michael Lagadia
Simone Branchi
mazda ;)
Van K
It's as if they are penalizing the Fusion and 6 for having the effrontery to have the tiniest smidgeon of soul or performance attitude. This sounds more like CR's typical salute to blandness than an enthusiast's view.
Tundra Dweller
The reviewers comments are hysterical!  Altima -  "The mouse-fur upholstery looks like something you'd find in a 1970s custom van," says copy editor Rusty Blackwell. Camry -  Deputy editor Joe DeMatio declares that the exterior look of the Camry is as "exciting as a grocery cart."

Peter Perreira
Nick Ardito
Japan all the way Mazda makes the best!
Manuel Diaz
Manuel Diaz
Marc Hamady
Fusion all the way
Marc Hamady
VW is better
VW Passat over Kia Optima?!?!?!?! common guys, VW looks like a rental and the interiors are awful, I like your magazine, but it seems like you compared the Kia Optima with Hyundai Sonata, and the VW with nothing.
Gregory Easton
Ford - great design.
With the way that middling review of the Fusion went, I did not think it would be the one to advance!
And it's good that they recognize the irony in their own review. Just about every review of the Fusion that I've read says "finally, a sporty mid sized sedan that you'd actually want to drive on the weekends!". Now they say that it's a fault... Ok...
I wonder if I leaf forward to the Mazda6, will they have the same criticism? I doubt it. I bet they laud the sporty ride and would be surprised if it doesn't win the whole damn comparo.
Willian Dagua
los 2 paeswe
Willian Dagua
chevere parse
Jeff Schimetz
Ford all the way.
Dammy Onafowokan
Kevin Celeste
Alienx Trm
(}) Mazda6
Adel Amid
Adel Amid
Marcelo Brenes Hernandez
Weisler Dutes
(zoom zoom)
Erick Ople
Can't wait to see how the new 1.8 liter TSi engine would ante up the game for the Passat!
Erick Ople
John Hand
Whay is the 6 on snow tires?
Brennan Shanks
the interior of that Mazda is at home in a 1992 Oldsmobile.
Why winter tires on the Mazda?
Bruce Ballard
Geoff Ekenstam
Martin Meyer
Geoff Ekenstam
Andrew Cavett
The Altima is built in the U.S. Keep the American economy going
Tim Lucas
These are VERY similarly styled!
Tim Lucas
The Fusion is the most beautiful car in the bunch
Rodney Miranne
The 6 in a walk.
Brian Michael
Nissan with a V6 option for the win.
Brian Michael
Daanesh Chanduwadia
The 6 was on Blizzaks?!
Alsson Mata
Mazda obviously!
Jim Bur
Mazda all the way
Billy Crowe
Mazda 6, I purchased one 4 weeks ago and my dad purchased on about 2 weeks ago. Great car, love the way it drives! Mazda 6 all the way!
Faulkner Mazda
Ryan Merkl
Gimme the sonata here and the Mazda 6 overall
Alienx Trm
Mazda6 in final four as expected
Geoff Ekenstam
Pretty amazing that the Camry and Accord just "happened" to be pulled out of the hat and compared to each other!  

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