With its most recent redesign, the Honda Accord went from blandly competent to truly impressive, earning an AUTOMOBILE All-Star award in the process. And when we gathered the latest crop of midsize sedans, the Accord came out on top. Based on all the accolades, we decided that the new Accord had earned itself a long-term stay with us.
But when it came time to spec our Accord, we wavered. Rather than getting a four-cylinder Accord sedan, the Accord everybody buys, we started thinking about going for something more offbeat, more enthusiast-oriented, more interesting. For instance, while V-6 engines have pretty much disappeared from mainstream midsize cars, Honda still offers one in the Accord. Not only that, but you can pair it with a six-speed manual transmission in the Accord coupe. So we turned our backs completely on the mainstream and went the full iconoclast route: a two-door EX-L with a V-6 and a stick. But would we regret our choice of an outlier Accord?
Despite our racy red Honda’s two-door bodywork, there is plenty of practicality here. The trunk, for example, is quite large and can swallow a mountain bike once you fold the rear seatbacks—the only trick is reaching in and flicking the lever while simultaneously giving the seatbacks a shove. The front seats are spacious (although tall drivers noticed a dearth of headroom), and the rear seat, while not as limo-like as the sedan’s, is pretty good as coupes go; the front seats slide forward with one touch to ease access. The interior generally won friends for its tasteful materials, clear switchgear, and evident quality. Associate Web editor Joey Capparella said, “There’s no nonsense here, as you’d expect from an Accord.” Well, there’s no nonsense except maybe for the two-screen navigation/audio system interface, which is bizarre and confusing with its redundant controls. “Despite how much digital real estate is on offer,” associate Web editor Jake Holmes noted, “there doesn’t seem to be much information displayed.”
No nonsense: The interior generally won friends for its tasteful materials, clear switchgear, and evident quality.
In happier tech news, everybody loved Honda’s LaneWatch system, in which a camera located in the right-hand side-view mirror projects an image onto the navigation screen when you flick the right turn signal. Its usefulness blossomed when spring filled our many local bike lanes.
Staffers groused that the 28-mpg EPA highway figure, confirmed in our own road-trip experience, was pretty lame for a midsize car.
As for the V-6 engine, the 278-hp 3.5-liter definitely earned our respect. “The V-6 is really thrilling at high revs,” Capparella said after a 1,900-mile round trip in the 2014 Honda Accord to Ohio and Tennessee, “but also has plenty of torque (252 lb-ft at 4,900 rpm) for highway passing in sixth gear.” Senior editor David Zenlea praised the engine’s sound quality as “growly and mechanical without being raspy. Very Honda.” And New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman called the V-6 “a delightful powerhouse of serious potency and sophistication, something Alfa Romeo would be proud to put its name on.” Meanwhile, the six-speed manual charmed with its light, precise shift action. “The stubby shifter works with a mechanical precision that satisfies those of us who like sports cars,” Holmes said, “yet it’s light and easy enough that the average driver won’t balk at it.”
Achilles’ wheels: The Accord’s front tires frequently failed to put the V-6’s power to the ground. An optional summer tire and sport suspension package (not shown) didn’t help calm torque steer.
But doubts started to surface. Staffers groused that the 28-mpg EPA highway figure, confirmed in our own road-trip experience, was pretty lame for a midsize car (a fact that was driven home when the 2014 Honda Accord shared time in our Four Seasons parking lot with the 460-hp Chevrolet Corvette, with its 29-mpg highway rating). Honda doesn’t offer cylinder deactivation for the V-6 when it’s paired with the manual gearbox—only with the automatic, which nets 32 mpg highway.
More so than fuel economy, though, the issue was that the 2014 Honda Accord had a very hard time getting its swell powertrain’s output to the ground. During the season’s first snowfall, Zenlea noted that the prevalence of wheelspin made first gear pretty much useless, but then he amended that thought: “Actually, first gear is pretty useless no matter what the road conditions—the big six is just too much for the front tires.” It was a sentiment echoed often in the logbook: The engine overwhelms the front tires.
And when it does hook up, the resulting torque steer upsets the chassis, giving the impression of poor body control. “To counter the torque steer, it seems Honda dialed out steering feel,” Kitman added. “I’d have to go back to motoring antiquity to find steering so overboosted.” Holmes summarized: “This is a great, heroic powertrain let down by soggy steering and a limp chassis.”
We theorized that a sportier suspension tune and grippier tires might be in order. As it happens, Honda offers just such a prescription in the form of the HFP (Honda Factory Performance) package. In addition to the expected visuals, the dealer-installed package for the Accord V-6 includes stiffer dampers, lowering springs, and larger 19-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin performance rubber. When an HFP-equipped Accord identical to our coupe arrived in the office, a back-to-back comparison showed that the package did indeed improve body control and calm wheelspin, but torque steer was as bad as ever. Most staffers felt that, for $4,200 plus installation, this package was not the magic pill.
Instead, it was the arrival of a different 2014 Honda Accord that showed us the error of our ways. The EX sedan was as unassuming as can be, with a four-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission, and a cloth interior. Naturally, it was beige. Nonetheless, it made clear that we had chosen the wrong version of the right car.
“An 800-mile round trip to Louisville reminded me what I find so attractive about the seriously unsexy Accord sedan,” said road test editor Chris Nelson, who then lavished praise on the sedan’s great visibility, its roomy cabin, its balanced chassis, and even its unobtrusive CVT. Here at last was the All-Star-winning Accord.
Beige beauty: Much as we wanted to champion the stick-shift, V-6 Accord, the truth is the four-cylinder, automatic sedan is a better car.
“By all accounts, the car enthusiast in me should prefer our red V-6, stick-shift coupe to the beige four-cylinder, CVT sedan,” said Capparella. “But I don’t. To me, the standard Accord sedan is a much better-executed vehicle than the coupe, which is trying too hard to be something it’s not.”
We love the fact that Honda still offers a V-6 engine, a manual transmission, and a coupe body for the Accord. But we can’t deny that our experience with that extreme-enthusiast’s specification was disappointing. The really great Accord is, no surprise, the one you see everywhere on the street. Turns out, the wisdom of the crowd proves pretty wise after all.
Pros & Cons
+ Powerful V-6
+ Slick six-speed stick
+ Honda reliability
– Torque steer
– Too thirsty
– Overboosted steering
7,903 mi: $60.34
17,467 mi: $252.71
5,068 mi: Purchase, mount, and balance Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tires, $1,407.40
1,627 mi: Purchase, mount, and balance Michelin X-Ice Xi3 winter tires, $1,052.34
1,627 mi: Purchase WeatherTech FloorLiner Digital mats (first and second row), $197.90
11,440 mi: Remove winter tires and reinstall OE tires, $100
11,386 mi: Remount OE tires, $100.00
EPA city/highway/combined 18/28 mpg
Observed 23.9 mpg
Cost Per Mile
(Fuel, service, winter tires) $0.23
($0.72 including depreciation)
- Our Test Results
- 0â60 mph 5.4 sec
- 60-0 mph 120 ft
- 1/4âmile 13.9 sec @ 101.4 mph
- Skidpad 0.83 g
- Body style 2-door coupe
- Accommodation 5-passenger
- Construction Steel unibody
- Base price (with dest.) $31,415
- As tested $33,190
- Engine 24-valve SOHC V-6
- Displacement 3.5 liters (212 cu in)
- Power 278 hp @ 6200 rpm
- Torque 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
- Transmission 6-speed manual
- Drive Front-wheel
- EPA Fuel Economy 18/28/22 (city/hwy/combined)
- Steering Electrically assisted
- Lock-to-lock 2.5 turns
- Turning circle 39.0 ft
- Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
- Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
- Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
- Wheels 18-inch aluminum
- Tires Michelin Primacy MXM4
- Tire size 235/45R-18 94V
- Headroom F/R 37.2/37.2 in
- Legroom F/R 42.2/33.7 in
- Shoulder room F/R 58.9/55.1 in
- Wheelbase 107.3 in
- Track F/R 62.4/62.4 in
- L x W x H 189.2 x 72.8 x 56.5 in
- Passenger capacity 93.1 cu-ft
- Cargo capacity 13.4 cu-ft
- Weight 3400 lb
- Weight dist. F/R N/A
- Fuel capacity 17.2 gal
- Est. fuel range 370 miles
- Fuel grade 87 octane (regular unleaded)
- 10-way power driver’s seat
- LED DRLs
- Chrome exhaust tips
- 18-inch aluminum wheels
- Paddle shifters
- Leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel
- Rearview camera
- 7-speaker audio system
- SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription
- Keyless entry and ignition
- Automatic dual-zone climate control
- Heated front seats
- Cruise control
- Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
- Auxiliary audio jack
- USB port
- Power sunroof
- Automatic headlights
- Heated exterior mirrors
- Rear spoiler
- Navigation package
- Steering wheel-mounted controls
- Song by voice
- 16GB audio hard drive