2013 Honda Accord Sedan V-6

2013 Honda Accord Sedan V-6 2013 Honda Accord Sedan V-6
Instrumented Test

Despite recent adoptions of 2.0-liter turbo fours as the top-spec engine for the Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, and Chevrolet Malibu—the idea being to combine maximum hustle and ostensibly improved economy—Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter V-6 remains as the upgrade engine in the new 2013 Accord. Although the mid-size sedan’s official fuel-economy ratings do get a bump over last year’s figures, the modest updates to the V-6 combined with the tidier package of the new Accord result in one of the quickest front-wheel-drive four-doors we’ve ever tested.

Hammer Down

As in the previous-gen Accord, the single-overhead-cam V-6 displaces 3471 cc and features port fuel injection, cylinder deactivation, and i-VTEC variable valve timing. Notable changes for 2013 include lighter components, revised heads, reduced-friction internals, and updated electronic controls. Horsepower rises modestly from 271 to 278, and although torque drops 2 lb-ft to 252, the grunt is spread over a wider power band, improving drivability.

Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) is standard on V-6 sedans and now also works over a wider range of engine loads to improve efficiency; when it’s active, it silences three cylinders. (The previous version could deactivate two or three cylinders.) EPA city/highway ratings increase from 20/30 mpg to 21/34; we averaged 23, due to a heavier-than-usual helping of lead feet. In less-frenetic driving, the car might improve on the 27-mpg average of our most recent Accord V-6 test subject.

Honda’s six-speed automatic transmission finally migrates for 2013 from the Odyssey and various Acuras to V-6 Accords, replacing the old five-speed, and now includes a sport mode that holds gears longer and delivers responsive downshifts. (The V-6 with six-speed manual combo remains exclusive to the coupe.) With less weight to haul around—3552 pounds versus 3607 for the last V-6 sedan we tested—our Touring example sprinted to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and tripped the quarter-mile lights in 14.1 seconds at 101 mph. Those figures put it solidly ahead of all its competitors and into sports-sedan territory; the Accord ties our long-term, six-speed-manual BMW 328i to 60 and trumps that car in the quarter by 0.2 second and 1 mph.

Comfort and Control

Despite wearing Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 all-season rubber on 17-inch wheels, the Accord V-6 was entertaining around our 10Best handling loop near C/D HQ. The steering is light and responsive, and the engine is willing to put up a fight with the traction control exiting a tight bend. Heavy throttle stabs in low gears initiate torque steer, but more weight up front helps keep the steering-wheel tug well below that exhibited by hot hatches such as the Mini Cooper S and Ford Focus ST. The extra pounds over the front axle extract a price, however small, as this V-6 car feels slightly less agile and balanced than the lighter four-cylinder Accord. It nevertheless still feels highly composed, and with the six-pot, has sufficient power to make on-ramp blasts a hoot. Compared with last year’s V-6 model, maximum skidpad grip increases from 0.79 g to 0.82, and a 178-foot stop from 70 mph is 12 feet shorter than before.

As with all new-gen Accords, the V-6 sedan delivers smooth shifts, an excellent balance of ride and body control, and good isolation from the road. The VCM system kicks in frequently when cruising, but active engine mounts and a noise-cancellation system make it nearly impossible to detect that three cylinders are snoozing.

The new Accord looks familiar, yes, but the styling is cleaner and less fussy. Inside, the materials are much nicer, and the designers appear to have paid more attention to detail and usability. Bilevel displays in the center stack break up the audio and navigation data and take some getting used to, but there are approximately a billion fewer buttons than before. The front seats are more comfortable, thankfully eschewing the permanent lumbar support that made so many of us hate the previous car’s thrones. Rear-seat space is again vast; six-footers have plenty of room. Outward visibility is great, and the LaneWatch blind-spot camera in the right exterior mirror is a clever and useful feature; it displays a live readout on the main screen when a button on the turn-signal stalk is depressed. It can also be set to come on automatically whenever the right blinker is activated.

Although the Accord four-cylinder sedan and coupe made our 10Best list last year, the V-6 models weren’t included; we felt fresher competitors, such as the six-cylinder Volkswagen Passat, delivered a superior premium family-car experience. With this ninth-generation Accord, though, the V-6 serves up the kind of refinement and driving enjoyment we expect to see from the class benchmarks.

Quick but Not Wise

Pricing begins at $22,470 for a base LX four-cylinder model with the six-speed manual. V-6 Accord sedans start with the leather-clad EX-L at $30,860 and go up to the $34,220 Touring model tested here. A new-for-2013 trim, the Touring adds LED headlights and adaptive cruise control to the $32,860 Accord EX-L with navigation, and its standard kit includes the LaneWatch camera, 17-inch wheels, a cocoon of airbags, lane-departure and forward-collision warning, stability control, heated front seats, a rearview camera, and a power sunroof.

The well-appointed Accord V-6 Touring is quick and relatively luxurious and delivers the well-sorted feel we expect from a Honda approaching Acura price levels. The throaty V-6 sounds great compared with the competition’s hissing turbo fours, but practical shoppers might better appreciate the comparably equipped EX-L four-cylinder that is better balanced, less thirsty, and costs less. And we really like the four-cylinder Sport model and its available six-speed manual. But we—and those sensible folks—would be left in the V-6’s wake.