The Honda Accord has solidified its position as the second-most popular midsize sedan in the U.S. behind the Toyota Camry, but the competition is becoming more ambitious. The 2011 model year brought a series of minor improvements to the Accord sedan and coupe, which are now more efficient yet still use the same engines as in the 2010 model year cars. The question potential buyers must ask is whether the Accord's strengths like reliability and resale value are enough to overlook new models like the Hyundai Sonata and, coming soon, a redesigned Toyota Camry.
As before, the 2011 Accord offers a choice of three engines and three transmissions. A 177-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 161 pound-feet of torque is standard on the LX, LX-P, and new SE trim, along with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. A more powerful version of that four-cylinder engine, making 190 horsepower, is under the hood of the more expensive EX and EX-L trims.
If you want more power, Honda is happy to oblige with a V-6 powered Accord. The six-cylinder engine produces 271 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 engine is only available with the five-speed automatic transmission on the sedan. Enthusiasts might be pleased to know that the V-6 / six-speed manual combination is still sold on the coupe.
Whether you choose the Accord sedan or coupe, the lineup receives a few styling tweaks for the 2011 model year. The sedan has a new grille, front bumper, and rear deck lid. Even with the EX sedan's new wheels it's safe to say there are still much more attractive midsize sedans. The 2011 Accord coupe is a bit more stylish and adds a bold wheel design on V-6 models. Front and rear fascias on the Accord coupe have been altered.
Joining the lineup this year is the SE trim, with leather, heated front seats, driver's side power lumbar support, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. All 2011 Accords have slightly easier-to-use interior controls-an important consideration since some complain of the car's button-heavy interior. The cloth seat fabrics are new and, Honda says, there are more refined accents throughout the cabin. Motor Trend magazine noted in a midsize sedan comparison test that the 2010 Accord was among the noisier cars tested.
MP3 player users, rejoice: all Accord coupes and EX sedans now come with a USB audio interface. Rounding out the changes to the Accord lineup are auto on/off headlights, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (on the Accord EX-L V-6 coupe), two-position driver's seat memory and a rear-view camera on cars with the navigation system.
In a recent Motor Trend seven-car comparison test, a pre-refresh Accord was deemed most comfortable on a winding road. The 2010 Accord EX Motor Trend tested had light and linear steering and "an eagerness to change directions that belies its exterior size." While perhaps not as fun to drive as previous-generation Accords, the large 2011 Accord should still remain in the top half of the pack in terms of driving enjoyment. Acceleration from 0-60 mph at 8.9 seconds on a 2010 model isn't a strong point of the Accord, though most buyers of the four-cylinder engine aren't in a big hurry, anyway. Motor Trend also suggested that the five-speed automatic - serving in the Accord while most others use a six-speed automatic - is in need of improvement.
Overall length is another area in which the Accord differs from the competition. The 2011 Accord sedan is long, at 194.9 inches. Cargo space is a respectable 14.7 cubic feet. The turning radius on the sedans is 37.7 feet.
Fuel economy for the 2011 Accord jumps considerably over the 2010 car's numbers. Four-cylinder Accords with an automatic transmission have EPA-rated fuel economy that's up 2 mpg in the city and 3 mpg on the highway from last year's model, to 23/34 mpg city/highway.
The Accord is a safe car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the government's now-stricter safety tests, the 2011 Accord received five stars (out of a possible five stars) in the front, side, and rollover crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Accord "good" in front and side impact tests, and "acceptable" in its roof strength test.
So the Accord is safe, mildly enjoyable to drive, and efficient. If you can handle the road noise at speed and odd styling, this Honda is still a good bet.