Best Family Sedan: Honda Accord

The family sedan segment has seen some great innovation and revitalization as automakers have amped up their family sedan game to make these practical vehicles stand out in an industry dominated by crossovers and SUVs.

Take the Honda Accord, for example, which autoTRADER.ca’s panel of more than 20 automotive experts have voted as the Best Family Sedan for 2020.

To come to that conclusion, our jury judged the Accord against 12 criteria, including design, technology/features, value, efficiency, safety, and performance measures that are most important to family car buyers. The jury also had to consider how the Accord looked through lenses of user-friendliness, quality, driver satisfaction, innovation, and engineering excellence. Those 11 touchstones all lead to the 12th, which is a vehicle’s overall excellence.

As if standing up to those dozen yardsticks wasn’t enough of a challenge, the Accord also beat out five other family car finalists that our jury voted to shortlist – the Mazda6, Kia Stinger, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Subaru Legacy – for the top spot.

The Accord offers a choice of 1.5L and 2.0L turbocharged engines making 192 hp and 252 hp, respectively. Notably, Honda offers both motors with a six-speed manual transmission, an option that has otherwise disappeared in this segment. Most Accords are optioned with the 1.5L’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) or the 2.0L’s 10-speed automatic.

For 2020, Honda Accord pricing starts at $28,490 in LX trim; the poshest 1.5L model is the $37,190 Touring, a trim that breaks the $40,000 barrier when optioned with the 2.0L engine.

Most of the other finalists wear more conservative styling. We’re sure Honda was nervous about taking chances with the design of such a well-known model – the chrome unibrow on the front end is polarizing – but we’re happy to finally see an Accord that can turn some heads. Despite its slick roofline, the latest Accord preserves the car’s traditionally roomy back seat and trunk.

In the technology and features department, all Accord trims are standard with passive keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats with 12-way electric adjustments for the driver. Honda also offers a head-up display to present basic information to the driver.

Bluetooth and smartphone integration are expected in today’s family cars, but Honda boosts the Accord’s user-friendliness with near-field communication for super simple phone pairing in all but the entry-level LX. The Accord also has straightforward infotainment and climate controls; the stereo’s volume knob corrects the ergonomic faux-pas committed by the Civic in 2016; and the available head-up display, unlike many such setups, is visible through polarized sunglasses.

The Honda Accord’s interior is a real highlight, with autoTRADER.ca’s Peter Bleakney writing that “it is logically laid out with good ergonomics and all the controls work with a precision that shows heartwarming attention to detail.” (https://www.autotrader.ca/expert/20190425/test-drive-2019-honda-accord-touring-cvt/ )

A few standard items are alloy wheels, an eight-speaker stereo, a configurable digital gauge cluster display, and all-LED exterior lighting. Those items help contribute to the car’s strong value.

The placements of performance and efficiency in an Accord buyer’s decision tree depend on which of the two engines that driver is interested in. At 7.9 and 6.3 L/100 km (city/highway), a 1.5L Accord with the CVT challenges some compact cars’ fuel economy promises. The 2.0L gives up some efficiency for power, with its 273 lb-ft of torque peaking between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm and lending the Accord serious punch when the accelerator goes down.

But even the 1.5L engine’s more modest 192 lb-ft comes on at a low 1,600 rpm, which, when matched with the CVT, creates a powertrain that’s far less intrusive than we expected, operating in a smooth and silent manner.

Every Honda Accord’s standard safety package includes automatic high beams, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, tire pressure monitoring, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, and adaptive cruise control. Optional blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems complete the suite. Those items helped the car earn the car the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick rating.

The Accord has long been a champ among family cars for its high levels of driver satisfaction, and the 10th-gen model doesn’t deviate. Bleakney called the Accord’s structure “as solid as the Brooklyn Bridge,” and contributor Justin Pritchard described it as feeling “incredibly strong and rigid, dense, and durable.” That stiff body lets the suspension – which Bleakney and Pritchard both described as firm but without hard edges – do the job of absorbing impacts from broken pavement.

Honda’s engineering excellence shines through in its well-sorted powertrains and a suspension that delivers on-road refinement despite the big 19-inch wheels standard in four of six Accord trims, which typically kill ride quality in cars with less capable chassis.

Honda helps push family-car innovation forward with the 2.0L Touring model’s adjustable suspension and 10-speed automatic transmission.

Finally, if the opinions of autoTRADER.ca’s experts and reviewers aren’t enough to convince you of the 10th-gen Honda Accord’s overall excellence, consider this: Shortly after the car’s 2018 launch, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) named the Accord its Canadian Car of the Year, a prize voted on by this country’s foremost auto industry specialists.

The complete package 1/20/2020 12:00:00 AM