The spanking-new 2018 Honda Accord is finally being released into the wild. There’s no more V6 and no more two-door version of this car. But practically speaking, the new Accord’s most significant upgrades are not in its sheetmetal or under its hood.
We’re all attracted to good design, and some seem lukewarm on the new Accord’s. But regardless of how you feel about the look of the front bumper, you know new owners are going to spend much more time looking at the gauges, steering wheel and infotainment system than the exterior.
We talked at length about how the new Accord’s 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter VTEC Turbo (derived from the legendary Civic Type R’s engine) feel on the road. The short story is: both are damn good for everyday driving.
But the old Accord’s acceleration was never really a weak point. Its interior design and interface though, not so hot. Thankfully, the redesigned 2018 car significantly surpasses the 2017 car in this department. And that is a story in of itself
The outgoing 2017 Honda Accord’s primary gauge pod is legible and clean. What lets it down is that single-color LCD screen in the center, taking you right back to high school calculus and that enormous $80 calculator you had to buy for it.
It’s a little ugly at first, but it looks downright awful once your eyes have feasted on the high-resolution full-color customizable eye candy in the 2018 car.
With the click and roll of a smooth steering wheel-mounted control, the Accord’s tachometer can become multiple types of trip computer, feed you audio information, recall road signs, prompt you with maintenance warnings and report even more on the car’s status.
The new Accord’s main clocks are much nicer to look and easier to read than the ninth-gen’s, and that’s before you even think about using the new car’s heads-up display.
The optional HUD in the 2018 Accord can beam directions from the car’s navigation system, or other less-useful facts, straight to the driver’s line of sight. It’s hugely helpful when you’re working your way through a new city and don’t want to drag your eyes from the road to a screen or phone.
And speaking of screens, the new Accord’s interface only gets better as you move to the right to the middle of the dashboard.
We have been ragging on Honda’s absurd infotainment situation for years. I mean, two screens? Why. Why?
Between the convoluted redundancy, crippling ungainliness and the world’s least-useful volume control bar-graph thing I think it’s safe to call the old Accord’s infotainment interface as one of the weaker offerings on the market in 2017.
I can’t be the only one who thought so, because the 2018 Accord’s system has been completely remade with tidier hardware and prettier software.
Though the hardware is a little close to the “tacked-on-tablet” situation we grouse about in some Mercedes-Benzes and Mazdas, Honda’s screen seems to rise out of the dashboard in an inoffensive way. Gone is the goofy NASA command center multi-monitor configuration, and the new car seems to have the right mix of hard buttons for constant and immediate access to volume and climate while allocating the rest to in-software menus.
The whole system responds to commands with an appreciable improvement in quickness, and the skin is more “modern smartphone” than “old ATM.”
Phone pairing is easy, and significantly more comprehensive if you have an Android phone compatible with the Accord’s Near-Field Communication System. That basically allows you to mirror your phone’s operating system onto the car’s infotainment screen, which sounds really cool.
It didn’t work with my iPhone, but conceptually, it seems like a much more tenable future for car-phone relations than the somewhat limited AndroidAuto or Apple CarPlay.
Honda-specific apps for an Android or iOS phone are also available though, which can unlock, start or locate your car.
As I’ve indicated earlier, the old Accord was a good car. In fact, I think the outgoing shifter was a little nicer than the new one, even though the 2018 knob (black top, right) is connected to the gloriously snappy Civic Type R’s six-speed.
The 2017 Accord manual also had a manual parking brake, while the new one’s stuck with some electronically-activated bullshit that has to be “on” to start the car. And finally, the new Accord’s clutch pedal travel seemed a bit longer than its predecessors.
But if you really are about to own a new Accord, history overwhelmingly indicates you’re going to opt for the automatic or CVT transmission option anyway. The CVT, paired to the smaller 1.5-liter car, is shifted from park to drive or reverse with a traditional center-console stick. The 10-speed auto you get with the 2.0 has individual buttons for that.
I didn’t hate either one, and you can read more about how the feel in our first drive test.
But besides shifting between park, drive and reverse, the 2018 car is vastly ergonomically superior by virtue of a cleaner cabin, a svelter steering wheel and the much-improved infotainment situation and climate control system we already talked about.
And speaking of changing temperatures, look at the way the thermostat’s backlighting changes color white to blue or red as you turn it colder or hotter. I love little details like this, and it wasn’t that long ago you’d have to save up for an S-Class to get this kind of cutesy in a car.
The 2018 Honda Accord is no sport sedan, even in Sport trim or “Sport” mode. But it feels solid on the road and well-built in the right places.
Perhaps more importantly though, it’s a hell of a lot more intuitive and pleasant to use than its predecessor. And for a car that will most likely spend most of its life trotting gently through town traffic, that might be the best reason to replace an old Accord with a new one.