LOS ANGELES, California — “This is one of the rare vehicles that would probably be more enjoyable as an automatic instead of a stick,” said online editor Ed Tahaney while testing a manual-equipped 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Sport during our 2018 All-Stars competition. While the Accord came away with a well-earned All-Stars trophy, it’s no secret that even middling manual transmissions garner bonus points from the likes of us. But some time spent with an automatic Accord indicates Tahaney may have been onto something.
The automatic Accord in question is a Modern Steel 2.0T Touring with a $36,695 price tag. This is the top-of-the-range Accord, and aside from the powertrain upgrade from the 1.5-liter turbo-four and its CVT to the 2.0-liter turbo-four and its 10-speed automatic, it offers zero options. Not just on our tester, but period. Everything offered on the Accord is standard on the Touring, including Honda’s full range of driver-assist and automation systems, wireless phone charging, and a head-up display.
The 10-speed auto proved itself well in multiple flavors of Los Angeles traffic, always remaining smooth and never hunting for the right gear. Response to throttle application in normal mode is a bit delayed and there’s often a slight bit of lag while the engine spools up—despite its 273 lb-ft torque-peak beginning at 1,500 rpm (peak output of 252 hp is reached at 6,500 rpm), but it is completely reasonable for normal driving. When more response is needed, hitting the Sport button heightens the throttle’s response, quickens shifts, and stiffens steering.
Once the engine, which is a smooth operator as well, wakes up, things move quickly. During testing, our colleagues at Motor Trend hit 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds. Yes, you read that right—this family sedan is a 14-second car. It’s even quicker in a straight line than a Volkswagen GTI. And it doesn’t chug gas in the process, earning an EPA mileage rating of 22/32 mpg city/highway.
It doesn’t hurt that this new Accord has a balanced chassis, either. It would be a stretch to describe this luxury-spec Accord as fun, but it is certainly enjoyable to drive, and the excellence in its overall execution is satisfying. Despite offering a sportier suspension setup than the average midsize sedan, the 2018 Accord was no less comfortable on the truck-pounded and poorly maintained pavement of Interstates 5 and 605 through Los Angeles county, absorbing impacts with luxury-car levels of composure. Road noise was contained surprisingly well, too.
One place Honda succeeded here after a few years of stumbling is the interior controls’ layout. For starters, there’s only one screen, a high-resolution 8.0-inch unit, instead of two. Second, the infotainment system features the volume and tuning knobs that Honda was widely panned for removing in much of its lineup. Third, the overall user interface is improved considerably as well, and it now features large, colorful icons along with physical buttons for key functions. Fourth, climate control, er, controls, receive temperature and fan speed knobs instead of buttons. Not only is it all easier to use, it looks better, too.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included for the phone-connecting set along with a host of other apps. Converting the data of the streaming audio into sound is a premium audio system that divides 450 watts of power across 10 speakers, including a subwoofer. It’s not the punchiest setup in the world, but the overall sound fidelity is solid.
Space for humans and their cargo alike is, unsurprisingly, excellent. The 2018 Accord provides more than 37 inches of headroom and more than 40 inches of legroom for both rows, so space is not a premium unless three full-size adults are shoehorned into the backseat. Even then, that middle seat might be more comfortable than its equivalent in economy class. As for cargo volume, the spacious trunk offers 16.7 cubic feet of space, and the 60/40-split rear seats fold easily, with the 40-percent piece conveniently located on the driver’s side.
Odd details include the Acura-sourced push-button shifter and the mostly-but-not-entirely digital gauge cluster, which retains an analog speedometer. Speaking of Acura, the 2018 Accord Touring is equipped well-enough to make the TLX, which is based on the outgoing Accord and uses the older car’s engines, a rather pointless exercise unless you need all-wheel drive or can’t live without Alcantara. You’d do well to consider this Honda if you’re looking at Audi A4s as well. It’s a better value and a more memorable drive.
As an enthusiast and manual fanatic, I’d still sacrifice some of the fancy bits and go for the 2.0T Sport with the stick. But those of you that want to avoid the three-pedal dance in heavy traffic will come away extremely pleased with the 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Touring and its 10-speed automatic. The manual Accord might be a better sports sedan, but the automatic version is a much better daily driver.
2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Touring Specifications
|PRICE||$36,695 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/273 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 252 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||22/32 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||192.2 x 73.3 x 57.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.7 sec|
|TOP SPEED||124 mph|