2016 Honda Accord V6 Review: A Great Car Gets Even Better

wheel-to-wheel copy

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Telling someone you own a Honda Accord typically elicits the same reaction you would get if you told them you owned a Honda lawn mower. Oh, that’s nice. Not impressive, but nice. This is the same kind of feeling you would typically get when behind the wheel as well, because even in top trim the Accord is a great car, but typically people wouldn’t describe it as “impressive.”

I have been an Accord man for quite some time, and for many reasons. It’s reliable, safe, and inexpensive to own, repair, and insure. It’s also practical, fuel-efficient, and modifiable to well over 400 horsepower — even in four-cylinder trim. The Accord is a genuine representation of what every man’s sedan looks like on a large scale. But as a sedan, the Accord still is anything but exciting when compared to something like, say, the supercharged Jaguar XF. Granted, you can still get the Sport model of this car with an amazing six-speed manual gearbox (kudos to Honda for that by the way), but it still doesn’t make people go, “Holy crap Martha! Did you see that Accord?!”

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

So in an effort to turn a few heads, Honda has played with the Accord again for the 2016 model year, and this time around it has come up with a real winner — especially in V6 trim. The 2016 Honda Accord V6 Touring Sedan is the pinnacle of all the generations that have come before it, and I got a hold of one in order to see how it measured up against cars like the 2016 Kia Optima SX-L, a comparable sedan that impressed everyone out in Aspen, Colorado a few months prior.

After a few days of driving the Accord, it checked almost all of the right boxes. While it did show some frustrating tech and safety oversights, it was hard to ignore that this truly was a brilliant refresh in almost every way.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Exterior

Reviewing the stylistic attributes of a vehicle objectively is a tricky business because while drag coefficients and ground clearance are measurable, the lines of a car and its overall attractiveness are purely subjective. At the end of the day it’s 90% opinion bolstered by 10% fact. So, in my “honest opinion,” I think that the Touring version of the 2016 Accord looks stunning from every angle, and here is why I think it’s superior to older models.

LED headlights, fogs, tubed tails, and mirror markers all make for a striking appearance, and the sharper angles for the lenses emphasize that. Add in the Touring version’s standard decklid spoiler, those slick 19-inch wheels, and a well-proportioned dual port exhaust, and the car comes together nicely. Plus, the protruding ground effects and sharper forward-facing air dam make for a much more aggressive road presence. Just what the Accord needed.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Exterior pros and cons

+ The restyled Accord gets a lot of love in the LED department for a clean, modern appearance.

+ The ground effects and decklid spoiler on the Touring version are seriously sharp, while being just understated enough to not be obnoxious.

+ The Touring Accord’s split five-spoke 19-inch wheels might go into the books as a contender for OEM wheel of the year.

– Those 235/40 R19 all-season tires are pretty slim — it would be nice to have a little more meat to fill up the wheel wells and offer a more cushy ride.

– No power-folding mirrors or illuminated door handles cause the Accord to lose points relative to some other top-tier sedans in the same segment.

– While some people find Honda’s blunt-nosed approach to the Civic and Accord undesirable, it’s the plastic plate in the lower left side of the bottom grille that is an eyesore for me.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Powertrain

Honda has made more potent V6 engines in years past, most notably the 3.7-liter motor that came in the old Acura TL. But when you put this car in “S Mode” and choose to hammer on the throttle, the Accord doesn’t hesitate at all, offering the average driver more than enough responsiveness. Plus, putting it in “Eco Mode” really does return a respectable 34 miles per gallon thanks to Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), and trying to keep your center pod’s “halo” glowing green to insure the best efficiency numbers is a fun game to play.

The six-speed slushbox in the Touring edition is crisp, predictable, and efficient in its transferring your gear shifts (when in manual mode), and if there was one major complaint, it’s that there weren’t any paddle shifters available.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Powertrain pros and cons

+ Strong and silent, the 278-horsepower V6 in this car is a perfect complement to the chassis, balancing out the vehicle’s weight with just the right amount of power.

+ On the interstate I was able to consistently obtain fuel efficiency numbers that rivaled what Honda advertises. Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system is a real winner.

+ The six-speed automatic in this car feels like the perfect mate to the impassioned Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6, and not once did it feel clunky, indecisive, or out of touch with the rest of the drivetrain.

– You can’t opt for a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine and that fantastic CVT transmission that comes with it on the Touring trim.

– While having a “Sport Mode” that rewards you with solid results is great, not having paddle shifters means missing out on driver engagement, especially since this is the top-of-the-line model.

– The V6 is a prime candidate for some skunkworks tinkering. Ford upped the ante with a 325-horsepower, twin-turbo Fusion; Honda has a great foundation for a competitor.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Interior

One of the main reasons I have been an Accord man for so long is primarily the interior layout of these cars. Top trim models always have a level of refinement and purpose to them that just strikes me in the right way, and in the case of the 2016 Touring, things are better than they’ve ever been.

This is a leather-encased, fine plastic-clad, roomy, quiet, completely contemporary example of the mid-sized sedan, and although there were some issues that warrant mentioning, the cabin felt more Acura-grade than Honda. The overall layout and roominess is top-notch in this generation, and long-gone are the days when trunk space was a limited affair.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Interior pros and cons

+ If you like high grade plastics, well-made buttons and switches, and brilliantly laid-out interiors, be sure to give the Touring version of the Accord a look. The materials and fit and finish alone in this car make it a top-notch contender.

+ Hello legroom! Even with the driver’s seat in “lounge mode” I had plenty of room to stretch out in the heated backseat, where the Accord typically fell a little short and didn’t have butt warmers.

+ Tightly drawn leather seats, a center stack that is stylish and functional, and contrasting metallic trim pieces in the right places are all winners here. Couple that with a perfectly crafted steering wheel that is button-rich yet not overwhelming, and you’ve got some great selling points.

– While those leather-wrapped seats are fantastic, after three hours of cruising you will start to notice that they aren’t nearly as comfortable as when you first started out. A grand tourer this is not.

– There are some touches from other Hondas/Acuras that surprisingly haven’t made it onto this flagship version of the Accord. Things like LED lighting, a heated steering wheel, performance pedals, ventilated seats, and a brushed metal push-button start being a few.

– For as snazzy and well laid-out as the dash and center stack is on the Accord, it still remains free of any leather-trimmed and stitched accent pieces, a modern soft touch staple that seems to be missing all together.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Tech and safety

On the bright side, the 2016 Honda Accord is a very safe vehicle: It has a five-star overall government safety rating that only gets better when you opt for it in Touring trim. Much like the Pilot we drove prior, this car came equipped with a Honda Sensing Package, so there’s a lot of cutting-edge safety equipment on hand. Honda’s passenger side Lane Watch camera was an especially nice touch (even though we feel it should be on both sides), and the sure-footed brakes were always a nice reminder that you were indeed in an Accord.

There were some notable tech drawbacks to this car too though; the most obvious included not having a digital speedometer reading in the MID, and even though Honda’s navigation maps are accurate and well-plotted, the “shadows” cast from things like mountains can get distracting.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Tech pros and cons

+ A mirror-mounted blind spot camera called “LaneWatch” on the passenger side activates every time you put on your right blinker or push a button on the end of the headlight/signal stalk. Images are shown on the information screen at the top of the dash and are pretty crisp, even at night.

+ The Honda Sensing Package comes standard on the Touring edition Accord, so expect things like collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, collision warnings, lane departure alarms, and road departure corrective steering.

+ This is a pretty tech-savvy sedan, so if you like apps, XM radio, a multi-view rearview camera, Pandora, a decent driver MID, and dual stacked info screens, Honda has you covered. The bottom of the two screens is an electrostatic seven-inch touchscreen, which we found to be pretty comprehensive.

– No blind spot monitoring, just that distracting “expanded view” driver’s side mirror and the aforementioned passenger side camera, which is nice up until road grime or heavy rain obfuscates any visual clarity it might offer.

– Honda won’t allow you to put in a destination in the navi while the car is moving, so even a passenger is left helpless — but things like XM radio, apps, and all other form of infotainment can be accessed while driving.

– When jumping from XM radio to the home screen, there’s a noticeable lag. This is also the case when jumping from other setting screens to various infotainment section.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

The drive

Behind the wheel, the Touring version of the Accord is a splendid place to be. The feeling you get when sliding into its well-crafted heated leather seats is one of familiarity and confidence. On the open road, the drivetrain is smooth and responsive, and in Sport Mode things really start to heat up under the hood even if steering inputs seem to stay unfazed. After several hours on the freeway, I can also attest that between the Accord’s adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation, it drove itself about 90% of the way and only needed a slight nudge every now and then in order to stay in its lane.

Handling is pretty equally balanced in the Accord Touring, balancing somewhere between taught and tranquil with traction only being an issue in heavy rain. There’s a hint of nose dive under heavy braking, and even though the MacPherson/Multi-Link suspension setup is by no means revolutionary, there was a reassuring sense of control when the road got twisty. Downsides included the total absence of being able to choose shift points, the ride harshness associated with thin tire sidewalls, a distracting driver’s “expanded view mirror,” and some noticeable seat discomfort after a few hours on the open road, though granted, this isn’t a Rolls.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Wrap up and review

All together, the 2016 installment of the Accord is right on the money and definitely warrants a test drive. It meets and exceeds so many expectations that you really have to experience it to believe it. Its few oversights are not make-or-break, and most shoppers probably won’t notice them in the first place.

As an avid Accord enthusiast, do I think that for $35,400 the Touring Accord is better than the equally priced Kia Optima SX-L?

In certain regards, yes, it is a superior product. Even though the Optima has more comfortable leather seats, a quieter cabin, paddle shifters, a panoramic sunroof, and a torquey turbocharged engine, the Touring Accord still holds the reigns with a V6 grasp, a nicer ride, and better-feeling brakes. So if you’re in the market for a nice sedan and want to keep it under $40,000, go out and test both of these cars back-to-back. Chances are you’ll find them both to be an absolute joy to drive, whether it be for fun or just for a grocery store run.

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