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2020 Honda Accord VTi-LX review (including hybrid)

IN A NUTSHELL: The 10th generation of a nameplate that stretches back 43 years (and 250,000 sales) in Australia, which is the main reason why it’s here. Honda believes there’s enough goodwill out there for the Accord brand, and enough pent-up demand from former Accord Euro owners, to justify importing a medium-sized, premium-priced sedan into a perpetually dwindling category.

Honda Accord Review

Racier on the outside, roomier on the inside, and massively more talented on the road, the 10th-generation Accord turfs the old model’s putrescent dynamics and all-pervading dullness for a far more exciting experience. But that’s a relative term. 

What does the Honda Accord cost and what do you get?

Honda is offering just two Accord models for 2020, both in the same range-topping VTi-LX specification.

2020 Honda Accord front close

Least expensive is the $47,990 (plus on-road costs) turbo-petrol model, with the hybrid version commanding a $2500 premium ($50,490 plus on-roads). The only differences between the two are badges, exhaust outlets (one for the hybrid, two for the petrol turbo), different instruments, a blue tinge in the hybrid’s headlights, and different tyres (Michelin Primacy for the petrol, Yokohama Advan on the hybrid, each 235/45R18 in size).

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels; LED headlights, tail-lights, fog lights, daytime running lights and cornering lights with high-beam assist; an electric sunroof; keyless entry and start; a 360-degree parking camera; auto-park assist; tyre-pressure monitoring; and a head up display (a first for an Accord).

2020 Honda Accord camera front

The cabin features black leather-faced upholstery with perforated centre sections; an ‘open-pore’ wood-veneer film across the dash and doors; electric heated front seats (12-way for the driver, including electric lumbar and two-position memory/four-way for the passenger); a leather steering wheel and configurable instrument displays. 

Indeed, the only available option is colour – Platinum White, Lunar Silver, Modern Steel, Crystal Black or Passion Red.

How much space is there in the Honda Accord?

The fastback-shaped new Accord is lower, wider and slightly shorter than the car it replaces, yet rides on a 55mm-longer wheelbase for much-improved cabin space – headlined by a 49mm increase in rear legroom. Back there, nestled into a supremely comfortable bench with superb vision in all directions, the new Accord seems a dead-cert for hire-car duties. It’s brilliant.

Up front, the new Accord isn’t quite so successful, though the driver definitely comes off best. The 12-way electrically adjustable and heated seat delivers decent support and a respectable view over the Accord’s low dashboard cowl and around its 20-percent-thinner A-pillars. The front passenger, on the other hand, cops simple four-way electric adjustment and a too-flat cushion for minimal under-thigh support. In a car that’s meant to be premium, this instantly feels cheap. 

The new Accord’s dash layout is far more cohesive than before, even though it fails to push any boundaries in terms of design or choice of materials. The best you could say is that it’s well built and inoffensive, though compared to the tactility and textural warmth of its best rivals, there isn’t a whole lot going on here. It does what it needs to do and nothing more. 

As for the Accord’s boot, it’s cavernous. At 570 litres, it’s almost 25 percent bigger than the old model’s, and can be expanded by either the fold-down rear backrests or a lockable ski port. When you take a good, hard look at the new Accord’s space, who honestly needs an SUV? 

What’s the Honda Accord’s infotainment like?

Multimedia begins with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation (with traffic updates), four USB ports (two front, two rear) and a 452-watt 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer.

202 Honda Accord infotainment

There’s wireless phone charging buried deep in the centre console, though this doesn’t include wireless smartphone integration. Honda’s graphics and all-round useability have improved considerably, but connecting Apple CarPlay seems to be a no-brainer – negating the need to push the touchscreen’s flimsy side buttons.

As for audio quality, it’s reasonably strong in terms of bass but too ‘bright’ in sound clarity. The new Accord’s no-name stereo may have the on-paper numbers, however, there are much stronger and sweeter set-ups available in most of its rivals.

What are the Honda Accord’s engines like?

The petrol Accord features a revised version of the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder from the Civic and CR-V, tied to an improved CVT automatic transmission.

Its 140kW power output is identical to the CR-V’s, though a new cylinder head, a different turbo and variable exhaust-valve timing gift the Accord’s 1.5 turbo an extra 20Nm of torque (now 260Nm) all the way from 1600-5000rpm. It makes a sizeable difference to the Accord’s driveability.

2020 Honda Accord engine

Gone is the ‘rubber band’ CVT feeling from the Civic and CR-V, as well as the engine’s induction harshness. Instead, the Accord proves pleasantly refined and sweet, and satisfyingly positive in its throttle response.

The turbo-petrol drivetrain’s only real flaw relates to the artificially stepped ratios that appear during full-throttle acceleration. Every time it shifts ‘gears’ you can feel the acceleration take a breather, which dents its otherwise-seamless demeanour. 

The Hybrid features a ‘third-generation’ development of the previous model’s Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system, combining a 107kW/175Nm 2.0-litre ‘Atkinson-cycle’ naturally aspirated four-cylinder with a pair of electric motors in the transmission, and a more compact 48-litre lithium-ion battery (was 71 litres) moved to beneath the rear seat of the car.

2020 Honda Accord hybrid engine

It’s a beautifully effective combination, hustling the Accord along swiftly and sweetly, and with a more consistent punch than the turbo-petrol. Thanks to total system outputs of 158kW from 5000-6000rpm and 315Nm from 0-2000rpm, the Accord Hybrid easily overcomes its 87kg weight penalty.

Honda Accord Hybrid fuel economy

The Hybrid is also the most economical, using 4.3L/100km on the ADR81/02 official combined fuel cycle compared to the petrol’s 6.5L/100km. Both are tuned for 91-octane regular unleaded.

What’s the Honda Accord like to drive?

Based on a development of Honda’s ‘Earth Dreams’ platform that underpins the latest Civic and CR-V, it’s probably no surprise that the Accord (mostly) drives like a more polished Civic.

Its steering, in particular, feels more consistent in its weighting, provides a clearer idea of what’s going on at road level and delivers much more progressive, more confidence-inspiring turn-in. There’s a fluency to the Accord’s handling that isn’t quite there in the firmer, sharper Civic, though Honda’s choice of low-friction tyres ultimately lets the side down as cornering forces increase.

2020 Honda Accord driving

The Accord also impresses with its quietness, both in terms of road rumble and wind noise, but its ride quality isn’t up to the same standard. It jostles on low-amplitude bumps and can bottom out over abrupt ones, pointing to a lack of compression damping that’s exposed by the vertical movement over most surfaces.

The Civic might be firmer, but its ride is both more level and better-damped.

How safe is the Honda Accord?

The new-gen Accord boasts a full suite of driver-assist and ‘Honda Sensing’ safety aids. 

These include forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control (with low-speed traffic-jam assist), driver fatigue detection, rear cross-traffic alert and rear collision mitigation.

2020 Honda Accord highway driving

The Accord also scores Honda’s unique lane-change camera when indicating left, that displays the side view on the centre screen, in lieu of blind-spot monitoring.

Honda Accord ANCAP rating

ANCAP is yet to test the 10th-gen Accord but in American NHTSA independent crash testing, the Accord was awarded five stars. 

What are the Honda Accord alternatives?

Mazda 6 Atenza, Toyota Camry SL Hybrid, Peugeot 508, Skoda Superb, Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo Titanium, Hyundai Sonata Premium. 

2020 Honda Accord rear

2020 Honda Accord Pricing and Specs

Price From $47,990 plus ORCs  Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engines 1.5L turbo-petrol 4cyl; 2.0L petrol-electric 4cyl Power 140kW at 5500rpm; 158kW at 5000-6000rpm Torque 260Nm at 1600-5000rpm; 315Nm at 0-2000rpm Transmission CVT automatic or e-CVT automatic Drive front-wheel drive Body 4904mm (l); 1862mm (w); 1450mm (h); 2830mm (w-b) Kerb weight 1504-1591kg Seats 5 Fuel tank 48.5-56 litres Spare Space saver

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Editor's Rating

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What the new-gen Accord amounts to is a more practical, more presentable and more sophisticated Civic sedan, rather than a revival of the long-dead Accord Euro’s beautifully well-rounded talents. Decent as the new Accord is, it’s still a comprehensive facelift and chassis retune away from approaching the class benchmarks.

Nathan Ponchard

Nathan Ponchard