One and Done: The Best Midsize Sedan in America

The best midsize sedan in America, and four other cars.

By Jason Davis | Photos By Jason Davis | February 26, 2013

Honda Harmony

There is one place, and only one, that the all-new Accord is not significantly better than the car it replaced: The center stack. And that's it. In fact, even the center stack is an improvement compared to the 2012 Accord, just not significantly.
The 2013 Honda Accord is technically a redesign, but not much is actually new. Sure, its 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine now has a continuously variable transmission and it now conforms to the latest craze in advanced injection technology, both as measures to improve fuel economy, but a lot of the actual bones of the car are carryover. More stuff does not equal better, except when it's actually better stuff. So how did something so middle-of-the-road become something so great? We asked Honda about that, and they gave us a very PR-like answer. Except that it's also true: "The engineering team's goal was to build a car that simply excels in all areas, including fuel economy, ride and handling, passenger and cargo space, cabin quietness, driver and passenger visibility, and the seat-of-the-pants fun quotient that over 11 million past Accord buyers have come to expect. Anyone who drives Accord should clearly see that it's definitely not a one-trick pony." The new Accord is better looking; at 30/27/36 mpg on the city/mixed/highway fuel economy scale, the new Accord is more fuel efficient; with the same engine, and the best CVT in the game, the new Accord is quicker and quieter; with a new suspension and electrical steering, it's easier to drive around town and more fun to drive on a mountain road; it retains the same class-leading rear interior passenger space, and an impressive trunk; the dash is still cluttered with redundant buttons and layout, but it's toned down from before; the audio is cleaner and clearer sounding; and if the right-turn lever's blindspot camera isn't an industry standard by 2014, it will be by 2015. In fact, all of these things, minus the center stack and infotainment layout, are pretty much the best in segment. Which is pretty impressive considering the modest price increase in most Accord models amounts to about an average of $200. "The Accord was an able city cruiser, but it's also an overwhelmingly capable driver's car," wrote Bachelor #1. And that's the difference between the Accord and everything else in this class. No other car felt so clean, so cocky and nimble and smooth around town, and then duplicated it -- to our surprise -- when the roads got narrower and bendy-er. "It handled the mountain roads with the finesse and ease of a sports car," he continued. "Ignore every gadget, every scrap of leather, every electronic bauble, and this is still the best car, simply because of the way it drives," gushed Married Guy #1. "The steering is linear, and nicely weighted... the suspension is extremely well sorted, and in the mountains, it moved predictably." "It's a huge leap forward," beamed Might As Well Be Married Guy. And, "in terms of appeal and value, the Accord is at the top of the class," said Bachelor #1. That's pretty high praise for what many have long considered a dull front-wheel drive family car. After all, it's not a sport sedan, though it is the sportiest in class -- when you want it to be. But don't get us wrong, it can drive Miss Daisy, if that's your thing. And we suspect many Accord owners will never discover its backcountry charm, begging the question: Is it still the best, without an appreciation for its sophisticated engineering? Yes, and by a long shot. Take any car in this comparison for a test drive, then drive the Accord afterward. It doesn't take an enthusiast or a racecar driver to feel and experience the difference. The 2017 Accord is going to have very, very large shoes to fill.
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"What's the best car?" It's a question we get asked constantly, and it's a question we ask ourselves, too. The only way to find out is to get them together, put them head-to-head, and pick a winner. That's what we'll do, but with a twist. We won't tell you which minivan is faster around a racetrack, or which economy car is quicker from 0-60 mph. Instead, we'll tell you which is best in the real, day-to-day world of high-speed highways, low-speed commuting, and the rest of the daily grind we all live in.
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7 comments
DRJJJ
DRJJJ

The Accord is the best looking, but the Camry is the best choice if you're looking for reliability! The Camry has the traditional engine/drivetrain config-no direct injection and no cvt tranny like the accord auto! Read forums, these two features are over sold and may just lead to very expensive repairs down the road! I'm guessing manufacturers will regret DI and CVTs! These two features have not delivered as promise in the mpg department either as promised! All the cars are good looking outside and competition is tightening, but this should be known to the buying public! The chevy and chrysler engine/drivetrain is still sub par too ( I rent them), but getting better! Thanks, picky EngineerĀ 

Audi Love
Audi Love

The Fusion is the best of them all, honey! ^^^^^

Gregory Smitherman
Gregory Smitherman

I'm chevy all the way, both the Honda and Chevy Malibu looks the best.

Automotive.com
Automotive.com

It takes a little coercing to get our staff photographer (and talented writer if you haven't read the story yet) out of the dark dungeon known as our cubicle-walled office. But when he gets out, he does a great job. -Jacob

Alex Brown
Alex Brown

This is a great picture.... If the fusion was in a different color, I'd give it the best grill award. Def goes to Honda tho! :)