Test Drive: 2016 Honda Accord Sedan Touring

The 2016 Honda Accord Sedan has been given a host of changes this year to keep it up-to-date with current trends in vehicle communications and safety technology, styling, performance and fuel economy advancements. Notable changes include front and rear styling revisions, structural improvements to the body and platform, a new lightweight aluminum hood, steering and braking upgrades, new safety and infotainment upgrades, revised interior trim and fabrics, new split folding rear seatbacks, and larger 19-inch tires and alloy wheels on top models.

The 2016 Accord Sedan’s revised styling is a little bolder and flashier than last year but the car’s basic proportions and dimensions haven’t changed.

2016 Accord Sedans continued to be offered in LX, Sport, EX-L and Touring trim levels ranging in price from $24,150 to $35,790. 2016 MSRPs have risen between $100 and $800 depending on the trim level while the Freight/PDI charge remains steady at $1,695.

Powertrains haven’t changed for 2016: a 185 hp 2.4L four cylinder is offered in the LX, Sport, EX-L and Touring trims while a 278 hp 3.5L V6 is available in the EX-L and Touring trim levels. As before, four-cylinder Accords are available with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional continuously variable (automatic) transmission but V6-powered Accord Sedans come only with a regular six-speed automatic transmission. (The Accord Coupe V6 is also available with a manual transmission).

The Accord sedan is also available as a hybrid: here is our review of the 2015 model.

The 2016 Accord Sedan’s revised styling is a little bolder and flashier than last year but the car’s basic proportions and dimensions haven’t changed. Look closely and you’ll see more chrome in the grille, new LED daytime running lights, protruding lower lip, and a new hood design. At the rear are new LED tail lights and a revised bumper with a new chrome strip. Truthfully, the changes just seem to complicate the simplicity of the original 2013 design.

All 2016 Accord sedans have new-style alloy wheels: the EX has larger 18-inch wheels while the Sport and Touring trims come with larger 19-inch tires and wheels. Oh, and there’s a new colour available on LX and Sport trims: ‘Lunar Silver Metallic’.

Inside are new seat fabrics and improved side bolsters on leather seats, a new gloss black interior trim on LX and Sport trims, carbon-fibre look trim in the Sport trim, and wood-grain finish in the EX-L and Touring trims. A 7-inch touchscreen and rearview camera with a choice of three views: normal, wide and top-down - are now standard on all Accord sedans. As before, the rearview camera image is displayed in the upper 7.7-inch screen. The addition of split folding rear seatbacks, replacing the single folding rear seatback, is a change that was long overdue.

Auld Lang Syne: Comparison Test: 2015 Toyota Camry V6 vs 2015 Honda Accord V6

Also new for 2016 is the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the Accord’s infotainment system. By plugging into the system, drivers can operate their smartphones using the 7.0-inch touchscreen in the centre dash which permits swiping, pinching and tapping just like a smartphone or tablet. With Apple CarPlay, drivers can access radio stations, smartphone-linked navigation and apps such as Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and others using the touchscreen or by voice using Siri. Apple CarPlay is compatible with iOS 7.1, iOS 8.3 and later and iPhone 5 or later. Similarly, Android Auto can be used with features like Google Maps, messaging, music and numerous other apps. It’s compatible with Android OS 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher. The downside to these in-car smartphone functions is the cost of the data downloads, depending on your phone plan.

The Accord Touring also includes a new wireless smartphone charger on the lower console. It’s a great idea, but at the moment it only charges smartphones with Qi technology, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Note 5, Nexus 5 or Nexus 6. At the moment, it won’t charge iPhones, however aftermarket cases with Qi can be bought. Note: don’t put your wallet or credit cards on the wireless charger: it can erase the data.

Not all of the Accord’s improvements for 2016 are available in all trim levels: for example, new front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beams, and wireless cell phone charger are only available in the top Touring trim.

Honda’s safety and driver-assist technology package called “Honda Sensing” is now available on all 2016 Accords equipped with CVT or six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a $2,300 option on LX and Sport trims and standard on EX-L and Touring. The package includes Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Keeping Assist and adaptive Cruise Control, and Straight Driving Assist which automatically counter-steers to keep the car in its lane. These safety technologies are designed to warn the driver of an impending collision and/or automatically brake or steer to avoid potential collisions.

I found the audible warning sounds annoying at times because the systems can’t always tell whether a driver is deliberately drifting out of a lane or is just not paying attention; or whether a driver is approaching another car too quickly on purpose or has just failed to see another car in front brake too quickly. For Forward Collision Warning, it’s possible to manually adjust the following distance to suit your comfort level, and you can turn off Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keeping Assist if you want. But for the most part, the flashing warning lights and warning sounds usually don’t intervene unless you’ve made a driving error or a collision is imminent.

I wasn’t comfortable with the Lane Keeping Assist and Straight Driving Assist features which automatically steer the car back into its lane or keep it centred in the lane. In my opinion, if a driver is not able to keep the car in their own lane after loud beeps and flashing lights warn of a steering error, then they’re probably too drunk or too tired to drive and shouldn’t be driving at all.

As well, it’s surprisingly easy to start trusting the automatic steering to do the steering for you, thereby leading to a loss of concentration and responsibility. This could actually increase the chances of a collision rather than preventing one. If and when self-driving cars arrive and completely remove the responsibility of driving from the driver, it’s a different matter.

When parking, the Accord’s new front and rear parking sensors are a welcome addition to the standard rearview camera. When approaching an object too closely at the front or rear, a warning message appears in the upper screen along with a warning sound. And when backing up, the rearview camera offers three different views of the area behind the car: normal, wide and top-down. The latter allows the car to be reversed into a parking spot within a couple of inches of a solid wall. Combined, the parking sensors and rearview camera make it possible to park the Accord Sedan in tight spots without the worry of denting or scratching the Accord’s body-coloured plastic bumpers. Unfortunately, the parking sensors are only offered on the top Touring trim.

Another useful feature in the Accord Touring are the automatic high-beams: they dip automatically when another car approaches and raise again when it passes.

Though the Accord’s powertrains haven’t changed, its lighter aluminum hood and improved aerodynamics have improved its NRCan highway fuel consumption rating slightly to 6.4 L/100 km from 6.5 L/100 km. With the four-cylinder engine and CVT, the Accord Sedan rates 8.6 city/6.4 hwy/7.6 combined compared to the Accord V6 and six-speed automatic transmission with 11.3/7.0 /9.4 combined. However, according to the fuel consumption display in our four-cylinder Accord (which resets itself each time the car is started), the best we could do was 9.5 L/100 km in mixed freeway/city trips averaging about 30 km. Perhaps it was because our test car had less than 1,000 km on it and wasn’t properly broken in.

The Accord’s standard engine doesn’t have the neck-snapping acceleration of the V6, but it’s sufficient for everyday driving needs. When tested in 2013 by AJAC, the Accord Sedan four-cylinder/CVT did 0 to 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds - not fast, but faster than the four-cylinder Toyota Camry, Mazda6 and the Ford Fusion 1.6L EcoBoost. The Accord’s pushbutton ‘Econ’ mode helps provide better fuel economy by reducing throttle responsiveness but fortunately, it doesn’t make the Accord feel unduly underpowered. And to my ears, the four-cylinder engine in the 2016 Accord is quieter than in previous models, giving it a more luxurious feel. This is due in part to Active Sound Control (in Sport and Touring trims), a noise-cancelling device that sends out counter frequencies through the sound system’s speakers.

Though we’ve complained about continuously variable transmissions in the past, many have now improved to the point of acceptability. So it is with the 2016 Accord’s CVT which responds quickly from a standing start and rarely needs to spin the engine above 3,000 rpm to get the required acceleration. That means less droning and associated engine noise. At a steady 100 km/h, the engine spins at a leisurely 1,600 rpm with little noise or vibration. Lower engine revs means better fuel economy, one of the primary benefits of a continuously variable transmission. A pushbutton Sport mode on the CVT raises engine revs at any given speed to allow more immediate acceleration, but it also increases engine noise and fuel consumption.

Revisions to the 2016 Accord’s electric steering have made it very easy to turn the wheel when parking while adding sufficient firmness at higher road speeds. And while the previous Accord offered decent handling, the 2016 Accord handles even better thanks to a stiffer body structure, a sturdier rear bulkhead, thicker front shock towers and improved shock absorbers. As well, the 2016 Accord EX receives larger 18-inch tires and wheels, the Sport and Touring trims have larger 19-inch tires and wheels, and the Touring also gets new reactive shocks and hydraulic subframe bushings to improve the ride.

The two-tone interior in our Touring model had an attractive blend of light grey leather upholstery, black upper dash, woodgrain trim on the dash, piano-black trim on the centre console, and silver and chrome borders on the dash and console. But with two screens and a multitude of buttons on the dash and steering wheel, the Accord’s instrument panel has a very busy appearance.

The Accord’s cabin is wide, comfortable and roomy with sufficient legroom, hiproom and headroom. However, rear headroom is not generous – I’m 5’9” and I had only an inch of headroom in the outboard seats. Centre rear passengers have even less.

Our top Touring model had leather seats with power lumbar on the driver’s seat but not on the front passenger seat. I liked the padded centre armrest, padded door armrests, and large pull-grips for the doors, and cell phones and iPods can be stored in a covered bin at the bottom of the centre stack where there is a USB outlet and a 12-volt charger. That’s where the wireless charger is too. As well, a storage bin under the centre armrest includes USB and 12-volt outlets.

Behind the leather-wrapped, tilt/telescopic steering wheel is a large round speedometer flanked by smaller tachometer and coolant/fuel gauges. I liked the fact that these gauges are illuminated all the time, even without the headlights on. That’s handy on cloudy days. I didn’t like the fact that the PRNDSL letters next to the shift lever and the headlight switch on the wiper stalk are not illuminated all the time. However, the headlight switch does have an Auto setting which turns the headlights on automatically at dusk.

In the centre dash, the upper 7.7-inch screen can display audio settings, time, date, compass, trip information such as average fuel economy, incoming calls and text messages when the car is stopped. It also displays a view of the area on the right side of the car when the right turn signal is activated (LaneWatch), views of the area behind the car when in Reverse gear (rearview camera), and parking sensor alerts.

Below that, the centre touchscreen displays audio, phone, navigation and settings functions as well as the HondaLink emergency contact feature (like OnStar) and the Aha app which requires a subscription. The navigation system is easy to use and includes a real-time Traffic Conditions map that shows which roads are congested or backed-up using colour-coded road colours. This can save you the trouble of being caught in a traffic jam.

Two screens might seem like one too many, but the benefit is simple: two functions can be displayed at the same time. For example, LaneWatch image on top and a navigation map below; or an incoming call on top and the audio display below. The ability to swipe, pinch and tap the touchscreen is handy, but like many other journalists, I didn’t like the sliding volume feature.

There’s another small screen in the centre of the speedometer which also displays abbreviated information such as fuel economy, range, navigation and warning alerts. These can be scrolled through using a button on the steering wheel.

The dual-zone automatic climate control has its own little screen for temperature, fan speed and ventilation, but the climate control system is independent of the touchscreen above it.

New for 2016, split-folding rear seatbacks are good news. Now you can transport one or two rear passengers at the same time as long cargo items like skis and hockey sticks.

All in all, the 2016 Accord Sedan with the four-cylinder engine and CVT is a nice package that provides decent fuel economy with acceptable performance with all the latest communications gadgets, safety features and luxury features at a competitive price. And the fact that it’s a Honda just adds to its perceived value.

The 2016 Honda Accord is built in Marysville, Ohio.

Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance

Competitors:
Buick Regal
Chevrolet Malibu
Dodge Avenger
Ford Fusion
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Mazda6
Nissan Altima
Subaru Legacy
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Passat

2016 Honda Accord Sedan Touring
2016 Honda Accord Sedan Touring
Base Price $32,990
Optional Equipment None
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,695
Price as Tested $34,785
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.2
7 Exterior Styling
7 Performance
7 Interior
8 Comfort
7 Fuel Economy