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Friday
Jul282017

Preview: 2018 Honda Accord

By Christopher A. Sawyer


Over the past nine generations, Honda’s Accord has gone from a 68-hp hatchback that weighed about 2,000 lb. ad cost $3,500, to the flagship sedan for the brand. That first car, which added a 72-hp sedan variant in 1977, had a five-speed manual or two-speed (upgraded to three speeds in 1980) automatic transmission, and — for the time — a generous list of standard equipment.


Fast forward 41 years, and the 10th generation Honda Accord goes back to its roots, eliminating the V6 and concentrating exclusively on four-cylinder power. This time, however, it comes via a pair of direct-injected and turbocharged engines, and the option of a hybrid powertrain. The 1.5-liter turbo produces 192 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 192 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500 to 5,000 rpm. That’s a noticeable increase over the 185 hp and 181 lb.-ft. produced by the outgoing naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine. In all but Sport trim this engine is mated to a CVT automatic, while those ordering the Sport trim level get a choice of either the CVT or a six-speed manual gearbox. Moving up to the 2.0-liter turbo motor, which shares much of its design with the engine in the Civic Type R, pumps the power up to 252 hp at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. Compared to the 3.5-liter V6 it replaces, the 2.0-liter turbo produces 26 fewer horsepower, but 21 more lb.-ft. of torque in a broader torque band. This torque band is well-suited to the new 10-speed automatic. An industry first for a front-drive vehicle, the 10-speed automatic is standard on all 2.0-liter 2018 Accords, though the Sport version also offers the option of a six-speed manual gearbox. Amazingly, the new automatic is 22 lb. lighter than the six-speed automatic it replaces.


The Accord Hybrid will be built in Marysville, OH, and features the third generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system mated to a naturally aspirated Atkinson cycle 2.0-liter inline four boasting a thermal efficiency rating above 40%. As before, there is no need for a conventional automatic transmission, and the new Honda-developed electric motors eliminate the need for rare earth metals. The power unit is more compact, and is mounted under the rear floor instead of in the trunk. Power and fuel economy numbers for this drivetrain will be released closer to launch.


When compared to the ninth generation Accord, the new car sits on a 2.16 in. longer wheelbase, is 0.59 in. lower, 0.39 in. wider, has wider front and rear tracks (0.20 in. and 0.79 in., respectively), and is 0.39 in. shorter overall. The front and rear seating positions have been lowered by 1.0 in. in front and 0.79 in. in the back, and overall passenger volume has increased by 2.5 ft.3. Trunk room also is greater, with the non-hybrid models gaining nearly one cubic foot, and the hybrid adding a total of 3.2 ft.3.


The 2018 Accord’s body structure is lighter and more rigid, employing 54.2% high-strength and 29% ultra-high-strength steel. Tempered tailored blanks are used in the rear frame members to improve crash energy absorption, Honda’s ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) front structure has been significantly revised with the addition of a crash-stroke frame, and structural adhesive use has increased significantly. Total vehicle weight is 110 to 176 lb. lower, depending on trim level, and torsional and bending rigidity are up 32% and 24%, respectively.


The front suspension is made up of MacPherson struts and L-shaped aluminum control arms attached to a new aluminum front subframe for greater isolation and improved handling. Out back, the new multi-link independent rear suspension is more space efficient, and mounted to a more rigid floating subframe with fluid-filled compliance bushings at each corner. All models are equipped with Honda’s Adaptive Damper System, which can adjust damping force every 1/500 of a second. In addition, every model features a Two-Mode Driving System with Normal and Sport settings that changes the response of the dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power steering, automatic transmission, throttle, dampers, and the Active Sound Control system.


Knowing that lighter often means louder, Honda engineers upgraded the Accord’s sound insulation package. There are full underbody covers, front and rear fender and engine compartment insulators, a Honda-proprietary resonator technology for the alloy wheels, a triple-microphone Active Noise Control system, sound-absorbing carpeting, an acoustic laminated windshield, and front acoustic door glass on the EX trim level and above.


The view forward is enhanced by a lower front cowl, and A-pillars that are both 20% narrower and located more rearward. The three-tier soft-touch instrument panel has a thinner profile, and is fitted with a slim 7.0-in. TFT driver’s display and an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-compatible 8.0-in. Display Audio touchscreen with physical volume and tuning knobs. The latest HondaLink telematics system adds new capabilities, including emergency roadside assistance, remote locking/unlocking and engine start, stolen vehicle tracking, remote diagnostics, geofencing, and speed tracking. The Touring trim level also features a 6.0-in head-up display with driver selectable information. Audio systems range from the four-speaker/160 watt unit on the LX, to the eight-speaker/180 watt unit available on Sport and EX models, and a 10-speaker/ 450 watt system on EX-L and Touring trim levels.


All 2018 model year Accords come standard with the full suite of Honda Sensing safety and driver-assist technologies. These include: Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Traffic Sign Recognition. Additional available driver-assistive technologies include Blind Spot Information, front and rear parking sensors, Cross Traffic Monitor and Driver Awareness Monitor. All models feature a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with dynamic guidelines.


Standard active and passive safety systems include Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), advanced front airbags, driver and front-passenger side airbags and new driver and front-passenger knee airbags. As expected, Honda has targeted top NCAP and IIHS collision safety ratings for the new Accord.

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