Honda Accord VTi Review
Paul Murrell’s Honda Accord VTi review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
IN A NUTSHELL Persisting with running two Accords, one of Honda’s new Accords (this one, the one that isn’t a Euro. confusing) is conservative in its styling, is bristling with safety technology yet falls short of a five-star ANCAP rating and the four-cylinder model is ham-strung by a lazy gearbox.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS The Accord is a well-built, stylish car, affordable at the entry level but becoming pricey at the top end. It is more luxurious, more comfortable and more refined than the car it replaces, but we still prefer the better-resolved Accord Euro.
THE LATEST GENERATION OF THE HONDA ACCORD is an evolution rather than a revolution compared with its predecessor, and despite appearances to the contrary, the new Accord does not share a single panel with the previous model, although you’d have to stand them side by side to spot the differences. The body is 75mm shorter overall, 50mm coming from the shorter overhangs and the rest from platform modifications. Despite the slightly smaller external dimensions, the interior has remained virtually the same, even managing a little additional shoulder room. Externally, there’s a new face and an updated rear end. LED daytime running lamps are now standard across the range.
Where the Honda really shines is inside. Honda interiors have always, in this category at least, been a class act. At first glance the cabin does not look dramatically different to the previous Accord, but everything has a more premium feel to it. The soft-touch materials and high quality plastics create an inviting ambience. The seats provide an acceptable level of support and since press-on motoring is never on the agenda, the bolstering is sufficient. If the badge on the steering wheel was a tri-star, you wouldn’t feel it was out of place. The two screens are, initially, a little odd – you tend to think one would have sufficed – but as you spend more time with the car, you appreciate not having to toggle back and forth on a single screen.
Most Accords will be fitted with the four-cylinder engine and this is the one we tested (Accord VTi). The 2.4-litre four-cylinder (129kW and 225Nm) engine would rate considerably higher in our estimation if it was partnered with a better transmission. The five-speed auto is slow to change gears, and a bit of a slug. If the four-cylinder models were attached to the six-speed as fitted to the V6, they would be transformed.
It seems to have become standard in this class for cars to be tuned to American tastes, rather than Australian. While the Accord is by no means below standard, it certainly has not been tuned with enthusiastic drivers as the primary target. While the power steering is very direct and quite accurate, comfort has taken priority over feel and feedback. It is over-assisted and sometimes feels as if there is no communication between the front wheels and the steering wheel. Any attempt at spirited driving is quickly and firmly discouraged.
However, Americans are never going to accept anything less than the highest levels of ride comfort and the Accord does a wonderful job a damping all but the most intrusive bumps and poor surfaces. Even on loose dirt surfaces, the Accord felt assured, although the intrusion of stability and traction assistance was somewhat premature for our liking.
Honda is persevering with its confusing program of having two Accords, the Euro and the, um, the one that isn’t the Euro. The Honda Accord Euro is built in Japan, unlike this Accord that comes from a factory in Thailand. The Euro is slightly smaller and more overtly sporting to appeal to a younger buyer. We won’t be seeing a replacement for the Accord Euro for about 18 months.
When most manufacturers are crowing about reduced prices and more equipment, Honda has bucked the trend by increasing the price of the entry-level four-cylinder 2.4-litre Accord VTi. Despite having less power than before, the price has notched up by $3,300; you can no longer get into the Accord club for under $30,000. Even so, $31,490 represents good value in this category. The mid-spec VTi-S is $33,990 and the range-topping VTi-L will deplete your bank account to the tune of $41,490. V6 models easily crack the psychological $50,000 barrier and have increased by $4,700. Four cylinder models carry on with the dated five-speed auto transmission; the V6 gets a six-speed auto as standard.
Obvious additional features include the nine-inch full colour screen in every model. It includes a three-mode reversing camera. Inside the cabin are two microphones to detect low-frequency cabin and engine noise and send a cancelling frequency through the audio speakers. It’s a bit of high tech trickery that makes the interior of the Accord quietly relaxing.
One of the main selling points of the new Accord is its advanced safety package, available on the VTi-L for $3500 and standard on the V6L. Once again, it seems entry level buyers can look out for their own safety. The advanced driver assist system is state-of-the-art active safety technology. It includes lane assist, collision mitigation braking and adaptive cruise control, and a hi-res camera in the left-hand exterior mirror (pictured) that shows the driver how close cars in their blind-spot are in real-time. Honda must be fuming that despite the long list of safety equipment, the Accord failed to score the maximum five star ANCAP rating.