Review: Honda Accord EL Turbo CVT

Published November 6, 2020, 10:06 AM

by Inigo Roces

Smaller engine, bigger gains

Written by Eric Tipan

The Honda Accord practically wrote the playbook on sporty executive sedans (in looks and performance). Now with a smaller-displacement engine, Honda Sensing, and a few other X’s and O’s, it looks like they’ve setup another slam dunk with the tenth-generation model.

Its current body is its widest, longest, and largest iteration, yet it also is its sportiest body to date with a fastback top and muscle-bound front end that packs its downsized but still potent engine.

Quite eye-catching is the long chrome bar that’s slim just above the full LED headlamps (with daytime running lamps). It looks like simple trim but turns wide and highly prominent along the middle as it makes up the top half of the grille. It’s a very subtle aesthetic addition but totally complements the Platinum White Pearl body color.

The front lip is integrated into the bumper and there are sideskirts as well. These automatically up the level of sportiness, plus it has an awesome, edgy design on the front fog lamps housing.

Highlights from the side include the thin chrome strips that stretch from the rocker panel all the way to the rear quarter panel of the bumper and the sloping rear roof à-la a fastback that sets this Accord apart from its predecessors. Bringing up the rear are LED taillights and dual exhaust pipes.

Befitting its status as a compact executive sedan, it uses a smart key that allows the driver to unlock the vehicle just by reaching for the door handle and to lock it just by tapping on the handle’s stripes. It also comes with a Push-to-Start system.

The cabin is very nicely put together: leather seats (power-adjustable in front and spacious in the rear), soft-touch dashboard with faux wood trim along the front, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel (with paddle shifters), dual-zone automatic climate control, and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and even iPod and iPhone connectivity.

Inside the instrument cluster is a large TFT screen that changes its display between a tachometer, trip computer, speed and range info, audio, phone, navigation, driver support, driver attention, maintenance, safety support and warnings by using a switch on the steering wheel.

One of Honda’s strengths is making cabin equipment easy to use and it is no different in the Accord. The operating systems, menu, and graphic user interfaces of both monitors are so intuitive and practically idiot-proof. The icons and typeface are large and legible enough so everything is clear and there’s no confusion. Pairing is quick and connected in just one try.

The cabin is spacious and feels highly premium with its plush appointments and high tech equipment. The headroom in the second row doesn’t appear to be affected by the new body shape and there’s a very comfortable amount of legroom as well even if the front seats are pushed back.

I would prefer an extra two speakers though and maybe even install a subwoofer because the eight-piece (four speakers and four tweeters) setup feels like it needs more oomph.

One of the newest features of the Accord is its small displacement engine, a 1.5L turbocharged VTEC four-banger with Earth Dreams technology that sends 187 HP and 260 Nm of torque to the wheels via an Earth Dreams technology CVT (continuously variable transmission). Small yet powerful, it can rapidly make its top speed of 260 kilometers per hour in Sport mode or more efficiently (albeit slowly) get there under the Econ setting.

Despite having an engine with a total capacity of just 1.5 liters, which is just equal to the size of the free cola you get with your pizza, it doesn’t lose any off the power associated with the Accord’s 2.5L or 2.0L engines of the past. Its pull is still exhilarating and it effortlessly handles its 1.5-ton curb weight.

But as great a drive as it is already, the Accord just got a lot safer with Honda Sensing that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keep Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Waring, and Low Speed Follow While most of these systems are self-explanatory, the latter is an Accord-exclusive. It lets the unit automatically follow the flow of slow vehicular movement and allows for zero throttle operation in when stuck in traffic.

At PhP 2.288 million, it comes with a little bit of everything: a gorgeous fastback body, great, sporty handling (despite the size), the cabin space of an executive sedan, luxurious interior appointments and equipment, fuel efficient but powerful engine (combined fuel consumption of 8.5 km/l), and best of all, advanced safety features from Honda Sense.

The Honda Accord may have gone small with the engine but it got back bigger gains, both literally and figuratively.