It is one of the most sought after segments in the automotive world, one segment where every other manufacturer would like to have a winner; it is the mid-size sedan range. These cars are popular with a good chunk of car buyers due to their practicality for everyday life. The rules are simple – spacious, fuel-up-and-go, wallet-friendly service and reliability – these factors necessarily govern the selection of mid-size sedans. Creature comforts and the looks of the car are just an added bonus. The segment is essentially dominated by the Japanese in this part of the world with a sprinkling of Korean and American flavor.
My car for the weekend was one of the best mid-size sedans, the 2017 Honda Accord sedan 3.5-liter V6 Sport. It’s a refreshed version of the previous model with cosmetic updates mostly. At first glance, the car is instantly recognizable with its familiar contours and dimensions, but feels revived. Up front, major rework has gone into the redesigned bumpers and headlight unit. The bumper now feels much more sculpted and athletic with huge inserts for the fog lamp units compared to the previous model. The next thing that catches your attention is the new grille design, which is a ‘La Civic’ chrome-finished single bar adorning the Honda logo instead of the multiple horizontal slats of its predecessor. The headlights have also undergone some rework and look great, especially with the LED headlights option on our top-of-the-range 3.5-liter V6 Sport model. DRLs are standard across the range now and go pretty well with the LED fog lights that replace the classic round ones on the previous model. The crease lines on the hood have also been redesigned for a sleeker look. From the A-pillar onwards, the car remains akin to the yesteryear model. The only major update then, is the LED light bar taillight unit (which looks clean) and the absence of a rear diffuser. So, now you actually get to see the twin tailpipes which are at least a 100 times better than having a diffuser with some octagonal-shaped faux exhaust tip. An integrated lip spoiler and chrome lining on the lower part of the rear bumper complete the updates on the new Honda Accord sedan exterior.
Stepping into the new Accord is quick and easy, thanks to the wide doors. The interior is finished in a combination of ivory and black with carbon fiber accents in places. From the driver’s seat you are greeted by a set of no-nonsense dials that show all the necessary info. Leather wrapped steering feels solid and is flanked by a pair of gear shifting paddles. The 7.0-inch touchscreen on the center console can be used to control the various audio, telephone, navigation and vehicle settings. Previous Accord owners will have no problem settling into the new car. I still prefer the physical volume control knob.
Seats are comfortable with ample support and are finished in good quality leather upholstery ready to take on the day-to-day thrashing. The driver seat is an eight-way adjustable unit with lumbar support and two memory settings, while the front passenger gets a four-way adjustable seat. The air conditioner features vents on the front and rear as standard across the range with a dual-zone climate control feature on the 3.5-liter V6 model. This ensures that rear passengers are equally comfortable, especially during the super hot summer months. Rear windows feature sunshades to keep your dear ones safe from the harsh sunlight. Additional features include a remote starter system, a smart entry system and a push button start which enhances the sporty car feel.
Pressing the push button brings the V6 to life, which settles into a smooth idle, typical of Honda V6 engines. The 3.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine pumps out a healthy 278-hp at 6,200 rpm transferred to the front wheels through a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.
Braking is taken care of by ventilated discs up front and solid discs on the rear coupled with ABS and EBD. The configuration is standard across the Accord model range, which emphasizes Honda’s stress on safety. The disc brakes are flaunted by 18-inch alloy wheels with a new design and are shod with 235/45 section tires. This combination of brakes and tires provide confident brake feel with a progressive bite even in emergency situations. Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson struts in the front and an independent multi-link coil spring with stabilizer for the rear passengers. The suspension setup is more comfort-oriented, but is stiffer compared to the four-cylinder siblings.
The 3.5-liter V6 is not made to be thrashed around, but rather taken smoothly around the roads. Power builds up swiftly without any hints of strain and this is one engine that loves high rpms. Quick directional changes can induce a slight wallow, but doesn’t unsettle the car. The car handles well for a front-wheel drive mid-size sedan weighing around 1.6 tons. The cabin felt noise-free and the gear switch was seamless (it’s not a CVT!!).
One handy feature on the V6 Accord models is the auto side mirror tilt down when reverse gear is engaged. The Accord V6 models come equipped with ‘Honda Sensing’, which is a list of features that complement driver safety. This includes ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) which is an improved cruise control mechanism that helps maintain distance between the vehicle in front without manual acceleration or deceleration, CMBS (Collision Mitigation Braking System) which automatically applies brakes if the car detects a potential crash, LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) which gently corrects the steering if the car changes lanes without turn signals – thereby reducing driver fatigue, and RDM (Road Departure Mitigation) system which alerts the driver through signals and steering vibrations if the car drifts to the side of the roadway without turn signals. Standard safety features include HSA (Hill Start Assist), TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), Rear Parking Sensors and all-around airbags.
On the whole, the updated Honda Accord 3.5-liter V6 Sport is one of the most practical sedans in the market today with enough sporty elements. The customers can be guaranteed of bulletproof Honda reliability with great fuel figures ticking around 10.5 liters per 100 km in stop-and-go traffic. You get a decent amount of kit, roomy cabin, refinement and a great performing engine, which is the ideal combination for a Middle East winner.
Pros: Decent handling, responsive throttle, spacious interior, ride quality, fuel efficiency
Cons: The top of the range EX Sport is too expensive, audio volume soft control is no better than a physical control knob
Rivals: Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, Volkswagen Passat, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Malibu
Engine: 3.5L V6, 278 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 342 Nm @ 4,900 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 7.5 sec, top speed: 208 km/h, 10.5 L/100 km
Weight: 1,640 kg
one word: pursued