Enough Oomph, Better Efficiency

The Accord's four-cylinder makes 177 horsepower in LX, LX-P and SE models. It's tuned for 190 hp in EX and EX-L sedans, and in all four-cylinder Accord coupes. The difference in tuning becomes apparent only when merging onto the highway or pushing the car hard on hilly terrain. Stop-and-go oomph is similar. Both engines are quick enough, although neither is as sprightly as the four-cylinders in the Nissan Altima or the Suzuki Kizashi.

A five-speed manual is standard. The optional five-speed automatic upshifts smoothly and doles out quick downshifts when you need them. I'll take that over an indecisive transmission, regardless of how many gears it has.

A 271-hp V-6 engine is optional. It musters smooth, confident passing power, but when compared with other V-6 family cars, it feels on the weaker side. The V-6 Altima and Camry, in particular, pack more power.

At least Honda's drivetrain is efficient: With a fuel-saving cylinder deactivation system, the V-6 Accord sedan gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in combined city/highway gas mileage. That's up 1 mpg over last year's V-6 Accord, and it's better than most six-cylinder family cars. (It bears mentioning that the Sonata and Optima both offer turbocharged four-cylinders with V-6-like acceleration and an impressive 26 mpg.)

The four-cylinder Accord gets a combined 27 mpg. That's up 2 mpg over last year's four-cylinder, and it ties the Optima and Altima for best fuel efficiency among four-cylinder family cars.

All V-6 Accord sedans get an automatic. Performance enthusiasts may prefer the coupe, which pairs the V-6 with an optional six-speed manual. The coupe's drivetrain loses cylinder deactivation — and its EPA mileage drops to 17/26 mpg — but it has strong acceleration at any rpm. The clutch is light, and the manual shifter has crisp, short throws, which you wouldn't expect given its tall height. On the whole, the setup does a lot to unlock the engine's potential, and it doesn't require premium gas.

Though its ride is softer than that of preceding generations, the current Accord still rides firmly for a family sedan. The Accord feels more controlled over major bumps than the Nissan Altima — whose suspension has all the cushioning of a $199 mattress — but sections of uneven highway still find their way subtly to your backside, and most bumps are met by loud suspension responses. Compounding this is road and wind noise, which are both loud. Quiet and comfy, the Accord is not.

The Sonata and Optima both fare better in that regard, but if a silent cabin and isolating ride are No. 1 concerns in your book, the Chevy Malibu and Toyota Camry remain tops. Conversely, the Accord has always been one of the more engaging family cars to drive. Some may find the steering wheel takes considerable effort to turn at low speeds — though I've found it lighter in LX and LX-P trims — but on curvy roads it offers quick precision and little vagueness. At highway speeds, the steering wheel's hefty weight is impressive.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard. The pedal delivers a confident, linear sensation that makes it easy to fine-tune your stops.

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