It’s impossible to overstate how radical the Honda Accord was when it hit U.S. dealerships in 1976. Fuel-efficient, peppy, and compact yet roomy, it (along with the Civic) did more to legitimize Japanese cars than any car that came before it.
With standard features, such as velour seats, intermittent windshield wipers, an AM/FM radio, and a digital clock, the little Honda offered more for thousands less than anything from Detroit automakers. It was built better than its rivals from Detroit, too. Within two years, dealers were marking up prices but still selling out of the cars. And with that, the Accord became a fixture on American roads.
But after four decades at the top of the automotive world, the Accord is in dangerous territory. Midsize sedans are a dying breed, as cheap gas and a perceived lack of versatility are sending more buyers to crossovers and SUVs than ever before. In 2017, midsize sedans, once the bread-and-butter of the industry, only account for around 10% of new car sales — and that includes fleet sales to rental car companies.
So the 2018 Accord is something of a make-or-break car for Honda. If it does well, the venerable nameplate might live on to see an 11th generation. If it doesn’t, then it could be curtains for the popular sedan. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Honda Accord.
1. It’s still the ultimate Camry fighter
It’s no coincidence the new Accord is arriving just as a new Toyota Camry is getting ready to hit the streets. With the Ford Taurus long vanquished, the midsize segment has been dominated by the Camry and Accord for decades. While the Camry has always been the inoffensive one, Toyota promises the latest car will be sportier to try to siphon some sales away from Honda. Only time will tell whether the gamble plays off, but from here it looks like the Camry will have some stiff competition.
Next: A sad farewell to a Honda fan favorite
2. Bye bye, coupe
In 1976, the first Accord was a coupe. In the 40-plus years since, Honda has always included a coupe version of its popular car. But if there’s anything that’s harder to sell than a midsize sedan in 2017, it’s a midsize coupe. For the past few years, the Accord Coupe has been without a direct competitor, though with an available big V6 and six-speed manual it almost feels like a luxury-focused muscle car. Unfortunately, it’s the end of the road for the coupe, essentially killing off the midsize coupe segment once and for all. Rest in peace.
Next: The Accord makes big changes by shrinking.
3. Leaner and meaner
While it firmly remains in the midsize category, the Accord is shorter, wider, and lower than the outgoing model, giving it a sportier look. According to Honda, it’s also 110 to 175 pounds lighter than the current car, depending on the model you choose.
Next: As the Accord shrinks, it grows.
4. It’s shrinking
Despite the smaller proportions, buyers aren’t going to sacrifice anything in the Accord. The wheelbase has been extended by over 2 inches, which will increase interior room and help make the ride smoother. Overall, the cabin sees an increase of 2.5 cubic feet. Trunk space grows, too.
Next: The Accord’s shape goes upscale.
5. Shades of Audi
In a move that suggests the classic three-box sedan body style is dead, the new Accord benefits from a sporty new fastback design. The coupe might be dead, but its spirit lives on in this sporty new body style, which reminds us of the fantastic (and significantly more expensive) Audi A7.
Next: In terms of power, there’s good news and bad news.
6. Power is down, but not out
In terms of powertrains, there’s good news and bad news for Honda fans. The bad news is the V6 is no longer offered in the Accord lineup, and power is down across the board. For 2018, the top engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four, which is down 26 horsepower from the outgoing V6. Now here’s good news: All engines come standard mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which should greatly increase fuel economy. And that 2.0 turbo is derived from the fire-breathing unit found in the new Civic Type R, so we can expect some intrepid owners to start modifying their cars as soon as they get them home.
Next: But wait, there’s more powertrain news.
7. You can row your own
Of the current Accord line, the V6-powered Accord Coupe EX-L is about as close as you can get to an old-school performance coupe. While the engine is a gem, its secret weapon is Honda’s fantastic six-speed manual transmission. For 2018, this gearbox is available as a no-cost option on Sport models. Without ever getting behind the wheel of one of these cars, we already have a favorite.
Next: Honda figures out less is more.
8. Cleaner, but more advanced
Since the beginning, Honda has made a name for itself offering more for less. The outgoing Accord was no exception, but its interior grew increasingly cluttered with an array of screens, buttons, and other controls. For 2018, there’s one infotainment screen, the gear shifter has been replaced with push buttons, and the troublesome haptic controls for the HVAC and radio systems have been replaced with analog controls. Not only does this give the interior a cleaner look, it’ll also make it easier for drivers to get used to.
Next: Don’t let the badge fool you.
9. It’s American-made
Despite its proud Japanese heritage, the new Accord will be made at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, plant, where Accords have been made since 1982. With over 4,200 American workers, Marysville is one of the largest automotive plants in the U.S. Needless to say, these workers are hoping this new Accord will be a hit with buyers.
Next: This Accord wants to do the hard work for you.
10. It helps you drive
Honda makes the car-buying process simple by offering a limited amount of options, relying instead on different trim levels. Over the past few years, its Honda Sensing safety suite has proven to be so popular that supplies on equipped cars started to dry up. That won’t be a problem with the new Accord. For 2018, every model will come standard with the safety features. With emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and road-sign recognition in every Accord, Honda will have one compelling, semi-autonomous car on its hands. Now, it just needs to find some buyers.