PowerSteering: 2017 Honda Accord Review
In life, there are winners and there are losers. The 2017 Honda Accord is both at the same time, the king of the midsize sedan segment in terms of sales to retail customers, and the monarch of a car class suffering a steep decline in popularity.
Undoubtedly, Americans are increasingly adopting the crossover SUV as their favorite vehicle of choice, leaving the aging but still excellent Accord to collect a bit of unusual dust on dealership lots. It comes in 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan body styles; with a 4-cylinder, a V-6, or a gas-electric hybrid powertrain; and in a wide variety of trim levels ranging from basic to plush.
For this review, our expert evaluated a 2017 Honda Accord Touring sedan, which is the top-of-the-line version. Pre-packaged with equipment and unavailable with options aside from dealer-installed accessories, the price came to $35,665, including the $835 destination charge.
What Owners Say
Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2017 Accord, it is helpful to understand who bought the previous version of this midsize car and what they liked most and least about it.
According to J.D. Power research data, men are drawn to the Honda Accord more often than women, with 68% of buyers needing to regularly shave their face, compared with 61% for the Midsize Car segment. Accord buyers are also slightly more affluent, earning a median annual household income of $93,393, compared with $86,876 segment average. Generationally, Accord buyers align with the overall segment.
Given that this is a Honda, albeit one built in Ohio, Accord owners naturally disagree that they prefer to buy a car from a U.S. company (62% vs. 46% for the segment). They strongly agree that they avoid vehicles they think will have high maintenance costs (74% vs. 68%); they strongly agree that their first consideration in choosing a vehicle is quality of workmanship (55% vs. 48%); and they strongly agree than their first consideration in choosing a vehicle is reliability (71% vs. 63%).
Conversely, Accord buyers are more likely to disagree that they like a vehicle that stands out from the crowd, compared with segment average (36% vs. 29%). Otherwise, Accord buyers share buying and ownership sentiments that are similar to other midsize car owners.
Buyers say their favorite things about the Accord are (in descending order) the exterior styling, visibility and safety, engine/transmission, interior design, and driving dynamics. Buyers indicate their least favorite things about the Accord are (in descending order) the infotainment system, fuel economy, the climate control system, storage and space, and the seats.
What Our Expert Says
In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own assessment of how the 2017 Accord performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM
Thanks to its most recent styling update, rolled out for the 2016 model year, the Accord has a more upscale appearance. A shiny Acura-style grille, available 19-in. aluminum wheels, and fancier design details create a slightly overdone look, as though the car has caked on extra makeup in order to hide its age. Nevertheless, in Sport, Sport Special Edition, and Touring trims, the Accord conveys greater presence than ever.
Like the car’s exterior, the interior borders on busy as far as detailing is concerned. In fact, in bright late-summer sun lighting conditions, various parts of the cabin produced significant amounts of unwelcome glare. Generally speaking, though, materials, textures, and tones are nicely executed, exuding quality and refinement. As is expected for a vehicle in this segment and at this price point, there is evidence of costs kept in check.
The test car’s gray interior contrasted nicely with a black dashboard and carpets for a luxurious two-tone appearance. Greater mix-and-match variety with regard to exterior paint and interior colors would be appreciated, though. Honda purposely limits availability to make it easier to produce the Accord, at the same time possibly aggravating potential buyers who cannot get the paint color they want with the interior hue they prefer.
Clear instrumentation and logically located controls make the Accord easy to drive, but the car’s infotainment system design and layout is not ideal.
Most Accords have a 10-way power driver’s seat, and it is a wonderful place to spend time. Still, the leather gets hot, so a seat ventilation system would be a nice addition, especially on the top Touring trim. Also, both the door and center console armrests need thicker or denser padding to improve comfort levels.
Unfortunately, Honda doesn’t pay as close attention to front passenger comfort, as the seat lacks height adjustment. It does, however, sit high enough off of the floor to make this is a minor rather than a major source of irritation.
Few people might complain about the Accord’s rear seats. The doors open wide; there is lots of legroom; and the cushion sits up high with excellent thigh support and a terrific view out of the car. Air vents supply heating and air conditioning, and the Touring version even includes heated outboard cushions. Softly padded front seat backs are kind to knees and shins, but it is highly unlikely any but the tallest passengers might benefit from this detail.
Climate Control System/Infotainment System
Climate Control System
Temperatures were unseasonably warm during the week I tested the Accord. Nevertheless, the car’s climate control system quickly cooled the cabin. Furthermore, the controls are perfection, comprised of large and clearly marked buttons in a contrast finish to make them even easier to find and use.
Honda would do well to take a similar approach with its infotainment system.
There are two different display screens associated with the Accord’s infotainment system, and while this arrangement isn’t as confusing as it has been in the past, the results of the APEAL Study clearly indicate that Honda needs to redesign this setup.
The top screen is a set-it-and-forget-it affair, largely responsible for communicating basic information and for displaying the images from the car’s reversing camera and LaneWatch camera. Thanks to music controls on the steering wheel and related information shown on the top screen, the bottom screen is used primarily to show the navigation system’s map. The tablet-style bottom screen is solely equipped with virtual touch-sensitive buttons and features capacitive touch control.
Flaws with this arrangement and technology include:
1) Zooming and swiping on the map display produces inaccurate results, creating frustration for the user, and it is difficult to tell if upcoming traffic backups are on your side of the road or on the other side.
2) While drivers can easily retrain themselves to use the steering wheel controls to adjust stereo volume, cycle through radio station pre-sets, or change tracks, nothing beats a power/volume knob and a tuning knob for simplicity, accuracy, and intuitive ease of use without looking away from the road.
3) HondaLink subscription service does not offer safe teen driver functions, such as speed alerts, curfew alerts, or a geographic boundary alert. Adding these, and more, would make the Accord more appealing to parents of teenage drivers.
Standard infotainment features for all 2017 Accords include Bluetooth, Pandora access, and text-messaging support. HondaLink requires purchase of the EX, EX-L, or Touring trim, and when activated does supply an automatic collision-notification service. Wireless inductive smartphone charging is a dealer-installed option.
Storage and Space
Measuring 15.5 cu. ft., the Accord Touring’s trunk is of average size, and the trunk floor is oddly shaped rather than perfectly flat. Space between the wheel wells is narrow, too, and Honda does not supply a handle inside of the lid to assist with closing. This omission results in dirty fingertips.
Inside the cabin, Honda provides lots of places to stash your things, including a big glove box, a good-size center storage bin, and a covered bin forward of the transmission shifter with a quick-charge USB port.
Visibility and Safety
Thin roof pillars, big side mirrors, and large expanses of glass make for clear outward visibility in all directions. The standard reversing camera offers three different vantage points, too, and the Touring version includes automatic high-beam headlights and rear park-assist sensors.
Honda could further improve both visibility and safety by dropping its camera-based LaneWatch system, which only works for the right side of the Accord, and replacing it with a traditional blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, which would work on both sides of the car.
To its credit, Honda does ensure that every version of the 2017 Accord can be fitted with important driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technologies. They include a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning system with lane-keeping assist, and something called Road Departure Prevention that intends to prevent the car from running off of the pavement.
The 2017 Honda Accord received a “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and 5 stars (out of 5) from the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Most 2017 Accords come with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 185 or 189 horsepower, depending on the trim level. It is connected to a continuously variable transmission. Honda also relaunched its thrifty Accord Hybrid model for 2017, EPA-rated to get 48 mpg in combined driving. However, at the time of testing, only the Accord Touring with its V-6 engine was available for evaluation.
Displacing 3.5 liters, the V-6 makes 278 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission with a Sport mode is standard, feeding the power to the car’s front wheels. A cylinder-deactivation system allows the engine to operate on fewer cylinders in order to help improve gas mileage.
Powerful and refined, the V-6 engine supplies robust acceleration and the automatic transmission is always in the right gear at the right time. Because the Accord Touring is so much fun to drive, it really deserves a set of paddle shifters to make best use of the transmission’s Sport mode.
The EPA says that the 2017 Accord Touring should get 24 mpg in combined driving, and the test car returned 23.8 mpg on the official test loop. It appears that official fuel-economy estimates are accurate.
Overall, the Accord Touring is a joy to drive. Entertaining, engaging, and downright fast with the V-6 engine, this is one fun family car.
Naturally, the Touring’s large 19-in. wheels and 235/40 tires lend themselves to impressive handling, and while the car rides stiffer and louder than several other trim levels, this is not particularly bothersome. Impressively, the Accord feels better balanced than it is, light, responsive, and athletic, displaying little of the nose-heavy understeer that is normally associated with a front-drive layout.
An absolute delight, the steering goes a long way toward making the Accord a genuine thrill. Unfortunately, the brakes were unable to resist fade under repeated duress, though even when hot they were ultimately capable of executing a panic stop within a reasonable distance.
Honda dominates the midsize sedan sales chart for a good reason. The Accord is a simple, practical, dependable, and safe car that combines appealing design with impressive comfort and utility. The fact that it is also fun to drive, especially when equipped with the V-6 engine, serves as an added bonus.
American Honda Motor Company supplied the vehicle used for this 2017 Honda Accord review.
For more information about our test driver and our methodology, please see our reviewer profile.