2013 Honda Accord vs. 2012 Toyota Camry Comparison Test

2013 Honda Accord Sedan

(2.4L 4-cyl. CVT Automatic)
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Picture

    2012 Toyota Camry Picture

    The Honda Accord is all-new for 2013, and the Camry was overhauled for 2012, so it's comparison test time. | September 11, 2012

66 Photos

Admit It. You Love This Rivalry

  • Comparison Test
  • 2013 Honda Accord Specs and Performance
  • 2012 Toyota Toyota Specs and Performance

We switch to a different coffee shop the same week that we drive the 2013 Honda Accord EX and 2012 Toyota Camry LE. Our new place serves up double ristretto espressos for the same price as the single shots at our old watering hole, and we swear the foamed milk is denser and more flavorful.

In reality, of course, we're patronizing two coffee chains that are serving up pretty much the same product. Likewise, Honda and Toyota are trying to sell you, me, your dad, your boss's niece and 300,000 other people similar family cars for a similar price.

As in our latte, though, it's the details in these midsize sedans that matter. Subtle things that an ordinary person might overlook are everything to a car guy with a commute.

Honda made dozens of small improvements to the Accord for 2013, and in our full test, we found that they really changed the car for the better. But we already own a 2012 Toyota Camry and enjoy driving it to work. Although we suspect these family sedans may still be the same cup of Folgers, we won't know for sure without a head-to-head taste test.

So You Want To Spend $25,000
Your typical midsize sedan shopper envisions spending $25,000 before tax. That target necessitates a four-cylinder engine rather than a V6, and some self control when optioning the car.

Our 2013 Honda Accord EX has no extras other than a continuously variable transmission (CVT), an $800 option over the standard six-speed manual gearbox, resulting in a total price with destination of $26,195.

That's $320 more than the 2012 Accord EX from our last midsize sedan comparison test ($25,875) and there are more amenities here. Finally, we can make a hands-free call without an aftermarket earpiece, plus we can start the car with the key fob in our pocket (yes, it has a keyless ignition). We don't mind the standard back-up camera, either, even with the Accord's good sight lines, and having another tiny camera on the passenger-side mirror to help us check our blind spot is useful, too.

Tracking down a 2012 Toyota Camry (the 2013 model isn't out yet) that matches the 2013 Accord EX's equipment list proves to be a fool's errand, however. Actually, such a car does exist — it would be an SE model with the optional Convenience package, moonroof, power driver seat and floor mats, and a theoretical price tag of $26,755. Toyota doesn't have such a car to lend us, though, and our own navigation-equipped Camry SE is too expensive ($28,658). Instead, we settle on a Camry LE with the power driver seat ($440) and an as-tested price of $23,925. We would have taken a moonroof ($915) and 17-inch alloy wheels ($799), but it isn't to be.

Apart from its lack of cameras, though, the Camry LE has you covered in the key areas. True, there's no dual-zone climate control like there is in the Accord (as Toyota limits this luxury to the XLE model), but our interpersonal relationship with a significant other perseveres nevertheless, as we are able to negotiate a mutually acceptable fan speed with our better half. We don't have the Honda's trial XM subscription or Pandora integration either, but we can still stream Bluetooth audio or hook up to the Camry's USB port. Poor man's AM radio comes in fine in both cabins, though Dodgers announcer Vin Scully sounds more lifelike through the Accord's speakers.

One Is Quicker and More Efficient
Usually, our friends chuckle when we start describing the adequate acceleration of four-cylinder midsize sedans.

Nevertheless, there's plenty going on between the 2013 Honda Accord and 2012 Toyota Camry. See, Honda has replaced its usual automatic with a CVT. But you won't dread this one. Oh, the revs climb when we floor the throttle on the on-ramps, but as soon as we lift, our desired speed achieved, the engine rpm drops back without the usual CVT springiness as if we've just gotten an upshift from a conventional automatic. Also, Honda's new direct-injected, 2.4-liter four-cylinder has a smooth power delivery, and although its sound is unmemorable, it's not unpleasant.

And while this Honda Accord EX is only rated at 185 horsepower — 5 fewer horses than the last EX we tested — it feels stronger. Torque is the reason, as the 2013 EX's inline-4 is rated at 181 pound-feet at 3,900 rpm versus 162 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm for the 2012 version. This makes the 2013 Accord one of the quickest four-cylinder models in the class (non-turbocharged) with its 7.8-second 0-60-mph time and quarter-mile of 15.8 seconds at 91.2 mph.

Meanwhile, the Camry's 178-hp, port-injected 2.5-liter engine provides more off-the-line grunt in spite of its lower torque rating of 170 lb-ft at 4,100 rpm. But move out for a pass on the freeway or some back road and the six-speed automatic makes you wait around for downshifts. This is a well-tuned automatic, mind you, but it's up against Honda's unexpectedly good CVT, which is quicker at processing requests. The Camry LE reaches 60 mph in 8.4 seconds (8.0 with a foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and the quarter-mile in 16.1 seconds at 88.2 mph.

Honda has also gained the upper hand in fuel economy, as the 2013 Accord has a 30 mpg combined EPA rating to the Camry's 28 mpg combined rating. During our comparison test, the Accord averaged 26.3 mpg to the Camry's 24.9.

You Care About Handling
Handling still matters in a front-drive midsize sedan — if only because a well-damped ride and good steering feel will keep you from dozing off mid-commute.

And if that's the goal, the 2013 Honda Accord EX is the car to get. It's highly controlled as it goes down the freeway, and should you end up on a road with a bunch of turns, the Honda is actually kind of fun. Its new electric power steering might initially catch you off-guard with its light effort, but soon you realize the steering action is precise and also surprisingly informative.

In contrast, the Camry LE's electric steering isn't particularly accurate and has little to say. This is also true of our long-term Camry's steering, but our SE is otherwise amenable to cornering. Not so with this LE, which has a softer suspension calibration and smaller, all-season P205/65R16 Firestone Affinity Touring S4 tires. The car is slow to change heading and generally unhappy when the road isn't straight.

Slalom and skid pad performance reflect these differences. The 2013 Accord goes through the slalom at an impressive 65.5 mph, while the Camry is down at 61.0 mph. For reference, a four-cylinder Camry SE goes through the cones at 65 mph even. On the skid pad, the Accord manages 0.83g on its 215/55R17 Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires, while the Camry LE tops out at 0.77g.

Braking is a wash. The Toyota has a firmer pedal, which we like, but its 129-foot 60-0-mph stopping distance is long for this class. So is the Accord's 128-foot braking distance.

If you're fanatical about ride comfort, you'll prefer the Camry LE, which is noticeably more compliant than the Accord and our Camry SE. Like its predecessor, the Accord EX rides smoothly, but there's a firmness that your dad might not like. Cabin noise levels are comparable, as the Accord registers 62.0 decibels at 70 mph versus 62.5 in the Camry.

Same Cabin, Different Interior Decorators
On a functional level, the 2013 Honda Accord and 2012 Toyota Camry are equally good. They have the same wheelbase and track, and their passenger volume and trunk capacity are within 1 cubic foot of each other. They even have the same size gas tank. So if you're looking for gobs of rear legroom or an easy car seat installation, they've both got you covered.

Yet we'd rather sit in the 2013 Accord EX. Honda paid more attention to interior materials and design (particularly the center stack) in this latest redesign, and the result is a genuinely upscale ambience, even in a working man's Accord with cloth seats. The Honda's driver seat is better shaped and more supportive, too.

There's nothing seriously flawed about the Camry's design, but as in our SE, the mix of materials feels disjointed and some of the plastics aren't up to snuff for this class. The touchscreen audio interface isn't as slick, either, and we wish there were external AM and FM buttons for switching between sources.

A Matter of Taste
"Most automakers would kill for a car to feel this good at the beginning of its life cycle, and the Accord is at the end."

We wrote that in the logbook during our last midsize sedan comparison. And yes, the 2012 Accord was a good car. It handled well, its huge backseat accommodated 6-footers no questions asked, and its handsome, relaxed-fit sheet metal had a timeless appeal. But it was also slow for its class, and its drab interior had too few amenities to keep you busy during long commutes. So it didn't win that test.

Now the Honda Accord is back at the beginning, and it wins this test easily. As usual, it's the total package that makes this car special. The new four-cylinder engine and CVT work incredibly well together, providing usable performance and a real-world improvement in fuel consumption. Honda also improved the look and feel of the cabin, while adding the tech features that have become important in this class. In the midst of checking all those boxes, company executives didn't lose sight of details like handling and steering feel — key ingredients in the character of Accords past and present.

Next to the Accord, the 2012 Toyota Camry LE is down on flavor. It's every bit as useful as the Honda on the inside, but on the road, it's slower and wholly uninterested in doing anything other than taking you to work in comfort. For some, that's enough, especially given this LE model's competitive price tag.

But we'll pay a bit more for the 2013 Honda Accord's tastier brew. For the moment, it's the car to have in the four-cylinder midsize sedan class.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Vehicle
Model year2013
MakeHonda
ModelAccord
StyleEX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
Year Make Model2013 Honda Accord EX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$26,195
As-tested MSRP$26,195
Assembly locationMarysville, Ohio
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,354/144
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)11.1
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)185 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)181 @ 3,900
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission typePulley-regulated continuously variable transmission with console shifter with sport/competition modes
Transmission ratios (x:1)4.123 - 0.631
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.238
Differential(s)Open
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)13.23
Tire make and modelMichelin Primacy MXV4
Tire typeAll-season front and rear
Tire size, front215/55R17
Tire size, rear215/55R17
Wheel size17-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialAluminum
Brakes, front11.5-inch one-piece ventilated rotors with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.1-inch one-piece rotors with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.4
0-45 mph (sec.)5.3
0-60 mph (sec.)7.8
0-75 mph (sec.)11.1
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.8 @ 91.2
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.5
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.5
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.4
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)7.9
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)11.2
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)15.8 @ 91.2
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.5
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)128
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)65.2
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON65.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.81
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.83
Sound level @ idle (dB)40.2
@ Full throttle (dB)70.2
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)62.0
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,000
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsBest launch with no brake torque. Feels weak off the line, but quickly makes the most of the new engine's power. Still, there's typical CVT behavior at WOT.
Braking commentsSoft pedal. Lots of ABS noise and feedback. Some lateral wander. Not the best in its class in this test, but distance is OK.
Handling commentsSkid pad: Light steering effort is obvious here, but steering still offers enough feedback to prudently guide the car. Good visibility makes placing it easy. Won't rotate off throttle, but what midsize sedan will? Slalom: Certainly not a sports car, but quite good for the segment. Feels light and changes directions readily. Excellent ESC tuning allows for rapid transitions without punishing driver.
Testing Conditions
Test date8/28/2012
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)84.3
Relative humidity (%)23.7
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.7
Wind (mph, direction)1.0, Tail/cross
Odometer (mi.)1,377
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)32/32
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)27 city/36 highway/30 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)26.3
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)17.2
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description160-watt, six speaker AM/FM/CD with WMA/MP3 audio system
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard iPod via USB jack, standard aux jack
Rear seat video and entertainmentNot available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Smart entry/StartStandard ignition and doors
Parking aidsStandard back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionStandard right-side camera (LaneWatch)
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,192 (LX trim)
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,320
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)61/39
Length (in.)191.4
Width (in.)72.8
Height (in.)57.7
Wheelbase (in.)109.3
Track, front (in.)62.8
Track, rear (in.)62.7
Legroom, front (in.)42.5
Legroom, rear (in.)38.5
Headroom, front (in.)39.1
Headroom, rear (in.)37.5
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.6
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.5
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)15.8
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/unlimited mileage
Roadside assistanceAvailable for purchase via Honda Care contract
Vehicle
Model year2012
MakeToyota
ModelToyota
StyleLE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
Year Make Model2012 Toyota Toyota LE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger sedan
Base MSRP$23,260
Options on test vehicleMagnetic Gray Metallic Paint ($0), Power Driver Seat ($440), Carpeted Floor Mats ($130)
As-tested MSRP$23,925
Assembly locationLafayette, Indiana
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, port-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,494/152
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)10.4
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)178 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)170 @ 4,100
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission typeSix-speed automatic
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 3.300; II = 1.900; III = 1.420 ; IV = 1.000; V = 0.713; VI = 0.608 R = 4.148
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.634
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)14.8
Tire make and modelFirestone Affinity Touring S4
Tire typeAll-season
Tire sizeP205/65R16 94S
Wheel size16-by-6.5 inches
Wheel materialSteel
Brakes, front11.6-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brakes, rear11.1-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.2
0-45 mph (sec.)5.4
0-60 mph (sec.)8.4
0-75 mph (sec.)12.1
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.1 @ 88.2
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.0
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.2
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.5
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)8.5
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)12.4
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)16.2 @ 87.2
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.1
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)129.0
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)61.0 (ESC cannot be disabled above 40 mph)
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON61.0
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.77
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.77
Sound level @ idle (dB)39.5
@ Full throttle (dB)69.2
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)62.5
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,000
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsBest run without brake torque, but in Sport mode using auto shifting. Camry has enough power to spin its tires off the line which seems to keep the engine from bogging. No real technique here.
Braking commentsVery solid, consistent pedal for a car in this class. Stops straight and confidently.
Handling commentsSkid pad: An exercise in understeer. Low-grip tires, minimal communication, lots of roll. Dynamic apathy at its best. (Note: "ESC off" disables at about 35-40 mph, so stability control can be fully off for skid pad, but not slalom.) Slalom: Camry LE is a very different car dynamically compared to its SE counterpart. Lots of body roll, minimal damping and slow responses make it a handful here.
Testing Conditions
Test date8/28/2012
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)81.7
Relative humidity (%)26.9
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.73
Wind (mph, direction)0.1, head/crosswind
Odometer (mi.)3,194
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)35/35
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)25 city/35 highway/28 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)24.9 (over 317.7 miles)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)17.0
Driving range (mi.)595
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/CD stereo with 6.1-inch touchscreen, 6 speakers
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard USB and auxiliary inputs
Satellite radioNot available
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Not available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard, includes audio streaming
Navigation systemNot available
Smart entry/StartNot available
Parking aidsNot available
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,190
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,167
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)61.6/38.4
Length (in.)189.2
Width (in.)71.7
Height (in.)57.9
Wheelbase (in.)109.3
Track, front (in.)62.4
Track, rear (in.)62.0
Turning circle (ft.)36.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.6
Legroom, rear (in.)38.9
Headroom, front (in.)38.8
Headroom, rear (in.)38.1
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.0
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.6
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)15.4
GVWR (lbs.)4,630
Ground clearance (in.)6.1
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance2 years/25,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance2 years/25,000 miles

Most Recommended Comments

By robocop1268
on 01/17/13
10:15 AM PST

Honestly it's down to the $24,900 Accord Sport and the $25,400 Fusion SE Turbo....the Accord is still a little faster and has the backup camera but the new Fusion is a fantastic driving car and has the Accord beat in looks, especially since Honda didnt do all that much to really change it.

Recommend  (2) (20)

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