2018 Honda Accord Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2018 Honda Accord Long-Term Road Test

Wrap-Up


 

What We Got
The Honda Accord has been a stalwart of the midsize sedan class for over 40 years, during which time it often led the segment in terms of innovation and driving dynamics. That's why, even as customer preferences have shifted to crossovers, the launch of a new Accord is a major event.

An argument for adding an Accord to our long-term fleet could have been made on its significance alone, but the Accord earned a spot the old-fashioned way — by its merits. In short, we drove it, loved it, and rated it an 8.3 out of 10, making it the highest-ranked car in its class. We reached out to Honda to secure a loaner.

We based our rating on a Touring model with the 1.5-liter turbo engine but worried that its specific equipment — namely, the larger wheels and adaptive dampers — would color aspects of the car that would make our test irrelevant to shoppers not considering this trim. We also felt its asking price of around $35,000, including destination charges, was out of reach for many buyers. At the same time, we wanted a few luxuries to give the car a fair shake.

With all this in mind, we settled on an Accord EX-L. While the EX trim is undoubtedly more popular, we thought the $2,230 upgrade for leather seats, a premium audio system and other odds and ends was worth it. We skipped the optional navigation system, bringing our Accord's retail price to $30,865.

Fast forward to today. While our editors all found things to like and dislike, our overall impression is that the Accord is still at the top of its game. Read on to learn what our editors thought after 12 months with Honda's flagship sedan.

Performance

  • "As far as I'm concerned, this Accord is the benchmark for small-engine CVT automatic drivetrains. Honda's setup responds quickly and naturally, so I never feel like I'm stuck in the sucky part of the powerband and waiting for the system to catch up to driving conditions. It also doesn't have awkwardly artificial 'shift points' programmed in. The Accord embraces the CVT automatic and makes it work, and it's not just competent, it's good." — Will Kaufman, content strategist & news editor


  • "I continue to chug the CVT automatic haterade, but I will admit that not all CVT automatics are equally disappointing. Trouble is, the Accord's CVT automatic is on the wrong end of this spectrum in one key respect: When you stomp the gas from a stop for a quick getaway, there's a noticeable delay before anything happens. This is not the case, for example, in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross that came through the garage recently. Subaru, too, has mastered the art of serving up quick CVT automatic throttle response from rest. But in the Accord — or the Civic or the CR-V — you have to wait that extra beat. And I don't like to wait." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy


  • "I recently drove the Accord Sport 2.0 variant with the 10-speed automatic transmission and it has spoiled our long-term Accord for me. The standard 1.5-liter four-cylinder with the CVT is no match for the Sport's refinement or driving experience. As CVTs go, I think our Accord's is pretty good, especially when you drop it into S mode; it seems to hook up a lot quicker, there's more power down low and less acceleration delay.

    "That said, the CVT just has too many of those moments where it winds out horribly and engine speed just climbs, and climbs, and climbs some more before initiating a 'shift.' You can learn to drive it in a way that minimizes such episodes, but why bother? The Accord costs more with the 10-speed auto, but it would really be the only version I'd consider." — Dan Frio, reviews editor


  • "I just drove our new Accord up Route 18 from San Bernardino to Lake Arrowhead (elevation: 5,174 feet), and it was delightful. Turn-in was sharp, body roll was minimal, and even on all-season tires, the car felt so athletic and composed that it reminded me of my old 1993 and 2001 Preludes — only better. Yes, you read that right. I'm telling you that Honda's family sedan of today handles better than its top-line sport coupe of yesteryear. Think of it as a Prelude with an upgraded suspension, a humongous back seat and, oh yeah, torque.

    "By the way, the brakes felt plenty powerful and never once complained on the way back down the mountain. Remember when Honda brakes used to fall apart during spirited use? Not anymore. From a vehicle dynamics perspective, this car is a home run. Wow." —Josh Sadlier

MPG

  • "I logged our Accord's best fuel economy fill so far: 35.8 mpg [Editor's note: This ended up being the Accord's best single-tank fuel economy of the yearlong test]. It's a small victory — our previous record was 35.2 mpg — but I'll take it. The result came during a round-trip drive from Fresno to Los Angeles. My cruising speed was typically 70-plus mph, so I think there's an opportunity to get closer to the EPA's estimate of 38 mpg if I did it again at a lower speed. But as Josh noted a couple of months ago, it seems like 35 mpg is our Accord's upper limit for fuel economy for the way we typically drive." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content

Comfort

  • "I'm still enjoying our Accord for long-distance drives. In our September update, I wrote that I was comfortable 'for a five-hour drive, no problem,' and that it 'rides smoothly on the highway without being overly soft.' Well, I doubled that [seat] time this month and the commentary still holds up." — Brent Romans


  • "A very good car for long trips (aside from the adaptive cruise). It has a pleasant ride [and] plenty of space and is comfortable. One ding is that the road noise is excessive. Not awful, but out of step with the decidedly premium vibe this car otherwise conveys very well." — Jason Kavanagh, senior vehicle test engineer


  • "I'm pretty impressed with the Accord's climate control. Not all climate control systems are created equal, and the Accord's is one of the better ones I've experienced. We've had a run of chilly weather recently and the first thing I noticed when stepping into the Accord on a 40-degree morning was how quickly the seats light up. The heat isn't distributed very evenly — it's more back than bottom — but it is strong.

    "Cabin heat, too, comes on quickly and effectively, even with a cold engine. There's also this great detail where a translucent ring around the temp dial glows red or blue, depending which way you turn the dial. Very small but very cool detail that makes you appreciate other small details within the car." — Dan Frio

Cargo Space

  • "The Accord's trunk is huge. On the spec sheet, it's listed at 16.7 cubic feet. I recently went grocery shopping and lined up six bags inside the trunk without issue. There are a couple of negatives, though. The first one is that the trunklid's 'gooseneck' hinges impinge on the cargo area. Try to close the lid after you've totally loaded up on suitcases and you'll find yourself crushing your stuff. Most midsize sedans have a similar hinge design, but it's worth pointing out.

    "Also, there's no interior grab handle to close the trunklid. The only way to close it is by grabbing the lid from the outside. Here in California (where Edmunds is located), that's not normally a problem. But if you live in a state that has real weather, the outside of your Accord's trunklid will probably be covered in dirt or muck during the winter months." — Brent Romans


  • "My wife and child do an extended stay in the wife's home country every year, and the wife is an expert at knowing just how much baggage and weight she can get away with taking on the plane. And it's a lot. When it comes to airport taxi service, I always try to borrow the largest SUV or truck in our fleet. No luck this time though, and the Accord was the only thing available. I was skeptical, but in the end, I couldn't believe it all fit. Mind you, this luggage haul consumed the trunk and one rear passenger seat, so it was a three-passenger ride. Pretty impressive nonetheless." — Dan Frio


  • "Even though I just took the Accord to go home and come back, I appreciated its plethora of storage options. The center console has a deep well with a removable shelf, and it's also perfect for plugging in and tucking away a smartphone since there's a USB port in there. The doors have places to store two water bottles. The cubby forward of the shifter was mighty impressive for how deep it is — I could fit my sunglasses case longways in there and still be able to close the little door. And there was more than enough room left over for my smartphone, which, again, can be plugged in and tucked away thanks to that cubby's additional USB port. All the nooks and crannies make the Accord an ideal road-trip vehicle. Think of all the snacks, plugged-in devices, and thirst quenchers you can store readily at hand." — Caroline Pardilla, senior copy editor

Interior

  • "I used to rail against fake wood inlays. Automakers should either pony up the cheddar for real wood and charge accordingly, I thought, or skip the pretense altogether and just use shiny black plastic or cheap fabric-wrapped inlay. Even some kinds of cheap mahogany or poplar with a nice stain, even bamboo, would look better than plastic made to look like wood grain.

    "But I've changed my mind since sitting in the Accord. Its printed wood-look plastic is pretty convincing. It's got a nice (fake) grain and reminds me of an ebony guitar fretboard. It also does a good job of visually separating the instrument panel. I've come around to the idea too, especially when you see how convincing the printed textures on laminate home flooring have become. Sign of the times.

    "Anyway, this is an Accord, not a Bentley. Wood in a car seems strange when you think about it, but when it's done right, it's one of those fine details that make you smile. Even though it's not wood, the Accord's trim is a small detail that classes up the cabin a bit." — Dan Frio


  • "Why is the Accord's automatic shift lever about 4 inches taller than it needs to be? What is this, a tall-shifter kit from the factory? Calling the new Accord a Japanese Audi A7 is less hyperbolic than you might think but, man, this dorky shifter has got to go before I push that analogy any further. I think we can all agree that if the driver's arm is resting on the center armrest, the shift lever should fall readily to hand. In the Accord, I have to put my forearm at what feels like a 45-degree angle to reach the shift knob. How incongruous in such an urbane and sporty car." — Josh Sadlier


  • "I'm pretty comfortable when taking our Accord on long drives. When I first took the keys, I had to fiddle with the Accord's driver's seat and steering wheel positioning more than I thought I would. But once I got it dialed in, I was good for a five-hour drive, no problem. The car rides smoothly on the highway without being overly soft. It's kind of what you expect from a Honda, right? The only issue might be wind and tire noise, which seems to be a bit louder than on some other sedans." — Brent Romans

Audio and Technology

  • "Honda's new infotainment system is a massive improvement over its previous one. The dedicated hard buttons on the sides of the screen are useful, overall performance is faster and more responsive, and [Apple] CarPlay is more reliable (it wouldn't recognize my phone half the time on the prior system). I use CarPlay on many vehicles to bypass a subpar infotainment system, but the one in the Accord is so good I didn't really feel the need to plug in my phone as often. One cool feature is the shortcut buttons at the top of the screen. With one button press, you can be in the phone menu, FM radio, Bluetooth or XM. It would be nice to have a one-button shortcut to Apple CarPlay when your phone is connected. But even still, that's only two button presses away." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor


  • "It happened in our long-term 2016 Civic, and it's happening again in the Accord. I like music with a little bass behind it, and the rear decks in these cars simply cannot handle it. Turn up the volume even partway, and that deck gets to rattling something fierce. It's especially disappointing in the Accord because I can tell the sound quality is pretty good. The rear deck just isn't bolted in firmly enough to let those speakers shine. It's one of those seemingly minor annoyances that's actually a pretty big deal." — Josh Sadlier


  • "Our EX-L has what Honda calls a '450-watt premium audio system with 10 speakers.' Although 10 speakers and 450 watts it may have, calling it premium is generous. It's not bad or anything. It can get loud enough while remaining clean and free of distortion as you crank the volume, and it seems to reproduce frequencies pretty accurately. There's not quite enough bass, for my taste anyway, even though there is a subwoofer level control. An additional 100 watts would go a long way here.

    "As I was sitting in the back listening to some music, I noticed I couldn't hear the vocals from the rear speakers. I could hear them present in the front speakers, but not loud enough to discern the lyrics, for example. And while I couldn't hear the vocals, I could hear other instruments. Surely the Accord didn't have a surround system, did it? Turns out the Accord has a neural surround function, which is just a fancy way of digitally processing a two-channel stereo signal to approximate a five-channel feature (i.e., 5.1 surround).

    "I disabled it and the sound improved. More bass, more definition, more focus. It's a decent enough effect for listening to podcasts and spoken-word material since it can sound more like a room with slight reverberation rather than an enclosed cage of steel and glass. But turn it off when you want to strike up some tunes." — Dan Frio


  • "The adaptive cruise control in our Accord could use a retune. It takes just a bit too long to react to slowing traffic, resulting in an abrupt application of the brakes. In a lot of ways, it reacts like an inattentive driver who was caught off guard. In dense traffic, it feels as though it's brake-checking the driver behind you. Other systems, Subaru's in particular, do it much better." — Mark Takahashi, senior reviews editor


  • "This Accord seems less prone to the false driver safety alerts that plagued our old Civic long-termer and continue to haunt our current CR-V to some degree. The Accord seems to allow a bit more assertive driving and more margin in closing speeds and braking distance before it sounds the alarms. I experienced a couple of instances when the Civic just panicked when I still had plenty of room for safe braking, deciding on its own to apply a hard stop. It was unsettling.

    "Haven't noticed that at all yet in the Accord. It's flashed a few BRAKE! warnings at me in the driver display, but hasn't intervened like its predecessors did. I've also noticed that the adaptive cruise is more forgiving of cars that slip in front of you. Perhaps Honda is using improved cameras, sensors or radar, or maybe the calibrations have improved. Whatever it is seems to have worked." — Dan Frio

Maintenance

  • "Touching the keyless-entry sensor on either front door handle of our new Accord should auto-unlock all four doors. But it's only working on three. The driver-side rear remains locked until I press the inside door-panel-mounted unlock button." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations


  • "Right as we left to visit the family for Thanksgiving, the Accord flashed its 'Service Due' warning light. Service A1 is an oil change, tire rotation and a visual inspection. I found a local Honda dealer who was able to service the car on Black Friday, which provided a convenient excuse to avoid the shopping madness that day. The service adviser noted that our car was due for a software update, but he was unable to perform it, as the techs had misplaced the thumb drive needed to make the update. Instead of waiting another hour for a tech to get a new thumb drive and load it with the correct software, I opted to have the A1 service performed so I could be on my way. Total cost was just under $100." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content

Miscellaneous

  • "I came away from Labor Day weekend pretty hot on the Toyota Camry. Thinking it'd be a good idea to double-check my feelings, I signed out the Accord for a few nights. While I still think the Camry is a solid choice, the difference between it and the Accord is immediately obvious. The Accord feels larger inside, its entertainment system works better, and its engine is punchier. There's also this lingering sense that the Accord is a nicer, more premium-feeling car. I can't quite point to one reason why, but that's the feeling I get from behind the wheel. I still won't fault anyone for choosing the Camry, but the Accord is the one to get." — Carlos Lago


  • "The Accord's TPMS system isn't great. When a tire is low, an alert pops up on the dash, but it doesn't tell you which tire needs air. Nowhere in the car can you see pressures for individual tires. So you pull up to a station, measure each tire, and top off as needed, just like how you'd do it five or 10 years ago. Problem is, once you resume driving, the Accord still displays the TPMS alert. It doesn't reset automatically. You have to stop, engage the parking brake, and dig into the infotainment system to reset the alert. Most cars in this price range do this automatically, so it's annoying that the Accord doesn't." — Carlos Lago


  • "I know that sedans are seemingly going the way of the dodo, so it's not a great time to be asking Honda for a major product modification. But I can't help but think that the Accord would be an even better package if it weren't quite so long. At 192.2 inches, the current Accord is virtually the same length as the Camry, but it looks longer due to its low-slung styling. And I'm pretty sure no one needs as much rear legroom as you get in this Honda. At 6-foot-1, I can slide the driver's seat all the way back to accommodate my legs and still have more than enough space to plop down in the second row.

    "I'd love to try an Accord in the 188-inch range, which is where it used to be from the late '90s to 2007. I bet there'd still be plenty of passenger space all around. And not only would it look tauter and more purposeful, but it'd also handle even better — without the sense you get now that you're pulling a whole lot of car behind you. File this one under 'Seemingly Sensible Ideas That'll Never Happen,' alongside the return of the truly compact pickup truck and other such strokes of genius." — Josh Sadlier

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Regular service intervals for the 2018 Honda Accord are every 7,500 miles. Although we put only 13,302 miles on our long-termer, we took it in for service a second time before we handed the keys back to Honda.

The first was an A1 service, consisting of an oil change (A) and a tire rotation (1). Carlos Lago was visiting family up north when the maintenance minder flashed in the instrument panel, so he stopped by AutoNation Honda Roseville to have the service performed. Total cost for this first service was $96.39.

Shortly before we sent the Accord back to Honda, resident south-OCer Dan Frio took the sedan to his nearby dealer, Rancho Santa Margarita Honda, for its B1 service, which consists of an oil change and visual inspection (B) along with a tire rotation. There was also an outstanding bulletin for an infotainment system update. Our B1 service set us back $100.68.

The total for both services was $197.07.

Service Campaigns:
We were informed of the infotainment system update at the first service, but the dealership was unable to locate the USB drive containing the update within a reasonable amount of time. We saved the update for our second service a few months later.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA rates the Honda Accord at 33 mpg combined (30 city/38 highway). We found these estimates difficult to achieve in real-world driving, but we averaged 35.8 mpg on our best fill, which isn't too far off the highway estimate.

Still, our overall average of 28.5 mpg was disappointing. There's no doubt that a few more road trips would have boosted the average to the city estimate, but the takeaway is that the Accord just isn't as efficient in day-to-day driving as you might think.

For the record, our long-term CR-V is also shy of its city estimate (though only by 0.5 mpg), while our long-term Civic's overall mpg landed between the city and combined ratings. Both of these Hondas were equipped with the same engine as the Accord.

Resale and Depreciation
Our 2018 Honda Accord EX-L stickered for $30,865, including destination. Over the course of a year, we added 13,302 miles to our odometer. In this condition, the Edmunds TMV Calculator valued the Accord at $23,815 based on a private-party sale.

That works out to 22.8% depreciation, which is slightly worse than the fleet average of 22% average. The depreciation level is even worse when you consider that the majority of our cars pass the 20,000-mile mark.

Summing Up

Pros:
The new Accord's larger cabin means that four adults will have no problem stretching out. We also like the new infotainment system, composed ride and spacious trunk.

Cons:
While we generally like the combo of the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder and CVT automatic in our Civic, the powertrain drew mixed reviews in the Accord. Real-world fuel economy fell short of estimates, and, as in other Hondas, the driver aids aren't fully baked.

Bottom Line:
Despite some of our editors' protestations about the powertrain, we think the Accord is the best midsize money can buy. It's the highest-ranked sedan in its class, and many of our editors have recommended the Accord to their friends.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $197.07 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: 0
Non-Warranty Repairs: 0
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 0
Days Out of Service: 0
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: 0
   
Best Fuel Economy: 35.8 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 16.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 28.5 mpg
Best Range: 429 miles
   
True Market Value at Service End: $23,815 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $7,050 (22.8% of paid price or original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 13,302 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


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