2020 Honda Accord Review

Liz Kim, Independent Expert | Aug 14, 2020

Introduction - Find the best Honda deals!

In the world of family sedans, there’s the Honda Accord, its archrival Toyota Camry, and then there’s everyone else. Although sedans have faced a reckoning during the past decade – they are not nearly as popular as they used to be – the Honda Accord remains one of the most popular, and influential, vehicles in the segment, as it traditionally sets and continually raises the bar for what a midsize car should be.

Honda introduced the current, 10th-generation Accord for the 2018 model year, and offers it in LX, Hybrid, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels. In addition to the fuel-sipping hybrid (also available with EX, EX-L, and Touring trim), two additional powertrain choices come in the form of a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder or a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. You can even get a manual transmission, a continuously variable transmission, or 10-speed automatic transmission, though the stick-shift is discontinued after the 2020 model year.

2020 Honda Accord Touring Red Front View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

For this review, J.D. Power evaluated a fully decked out Accord Touring equipped with standard features and no options. The price came to $37,355, including the $955 destination charge.

What Owners Say… - Find the best Honda deals!

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2020 Accord, it is helpful to understand who buys this midsize car, and what they like most and least about their vehicles.

According to J.D. Power data, 66% of Honda Accord owners are male (vs. 60% for the segment), and the median age of an Accord owner is 53 years (vs. 55).

Owners say their favorite things about the Accord are (in descending order) the exterior styling, driving feel, feeling of safety, fuel economy, and interior design. Specifically, these five things about the vehicle rank highest in comparison to the midsize car segment:

  • Power of engine/motor
  • Smoothness of engine/motor
  • Exterior styling
  • Vehicle protection
  • Getting vehicle set up

Owners indicate their least favorite things about the Accord are (in descending order) the powertrain, driving comfort in a tie with getting in and starting, getting in and out, and the infotainment system. Specifically, these five things about the vehicle rank lowest in comparison to the midsize car segment:

  • Audio system sound quality
  • Driver assistance systems
  • Safety systems
  • Quietness of cabin while driving in a tie with using navigation
  • Using navigation in a tie with quietness while driving

In the J.D Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, the Accord ranked 2nd out of 10 midsize cars.

What Our Expert Says… - Find the best Honda deals!

In the sections that follow, our expert provides her own perceptions about how the 2020 Honda Accord measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the APEAL Study.

Exterior

Family sedan design has progressed to the point where there are no truly unflattering examples, though individual tastes may still vary. And while the Mazda6 may take the top prize in the beauty pageant, the Honda Accord is quite appealing, with its domed hood, fastback roofline, flared fenders, and sculptured flanks. In fact, Accord owners tell J.D. Power the styling is their favorite thing about the car.

2020 Honda Accord Touring Red Rear View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Accord Touring’s bold 19-inch wheels burnish the visuals, although, because their edges stick out past the tire sidewall, the design will lead to some grief when the inevitable curb rash occurs.

Interior

Low and layered, the Accord’s dashboard design gives the cabin a modern, light, and airy look and feel, and especially with the test car’s Ivory-colored leather. Solid construction using quality materials makes the Accord seem worth the money paid, and in Touring trim even the simulated-wood looks convincingly real.

2020 Honda Accord Touring Ivory Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The control layout marks a return to the ergonomic excellence that once characterized all Hondas and the instrumentation is a model of clarity. Some might not like the electronic transmission controls on the center console, but they’re easy to acclimate to.

In-cabin storage space is decent, and there is a convenient, smartphone-sized bin under the center stack, where the test vehicle also included a wireless charging pad. The glove box and door panel bins are generously sized.

Getting In and Out

Once reason so many people have swapped sedans for SUVs is because higher-riding vehicles are easier to get into and out of, and that’s underscored by the low-slung Accord.

Featuring 12-way power adjustment, the driver’s seat raises higher if you prefer, which makes it easier to get into and out of the car. But Honda still does not offer a height-adjustable front passenger’s seat, forcing you to plop down into and hoist yourself out of this seating location.

Long rear doors ease entry-and exit, and the rear seat cushion sits high to help make this process easier. In tight parking, however, my kids had some trouble while trying hard not to ding the vehicles next to us.

A standout feature of the 2020 Honda Accord is its enormous trunk. At 16.7 cu.-ft., it’s the biggest trunk in the family sedan class, and can swallow all but the bulkiest of items. Optional accessories include both grocery bag hooks and a trunk-mounted drawer, each of which appear useful. Unfortunately, however, Honda does not provide a way to close the trunk without getting your hands dirty on the lid’s exterior.

Setting Up and Starting

There’s little to hinder a new driver from getting into an Accord and driving off, because calibrating the car for comfort and ease of use is fairly simple.

I quickly found a comfortable driving position, set the mirrors, paired my smartphone to the car’s Bluetooth, selected radio station pre-sets, and calibrated other system preferences without referencing the owner’s manual.

For the uninitiated, though, the row of buttons that comprise the transmission controls does take some getting used to if you’re more familiar with a traditional gear selector.

Infotainment System

Owners cite the Accord’s infotainment system as their least favorite thing about the car, but it’s certainly not for a lack of features.

The Accord Touring test car had a full roster of goodies, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The 8-inch touchscreen lets you swipe and scroll between screens and menu choices, and on the navigation map to pinch and spread to zoom in or out, just like a tablet computer or smartphone does.

Additionally, the voice recognition system worked well and the car included HondaLink connected services with a Wi-Fi hotspot. Better yet, unlike other Hondas, the Accord has both a stereo power and volume knob and a tuning knob. Why the automaker doesn’t install this same setup in its other vehicles is a mystery.

I also always appreciate a head-up display, which helps to keep your eyes on the road where they belong.

So, why do Accord owners rank the infotainment system as their least favorite thing? It might just be that, in general, there isn’t much to complain about with this car, so the onboard technology causes what little frustration there might be with the overall performance, design, and execution of this Honda.

Keeping You Safe

Honda includes its Honda Sensing collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) in every 2020 Accord. Honda Sensing includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed following capability (not available with manual gearbox), forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, a road-sign recognition system, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Honda Sensing also includes a Road Departure Mitigation technology designed to brake and steer away from the edge of a paved road. Additionally, you can get a blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning system on EX trim levels and higher, and also with Sport trim with the more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine.

In daily use, Honda Sensing is hit-and-miss with regard to its effectiveness. I found that shadowy roads could trigger the forward collision warning system, and that construction zones with altered lane markings could produce false lane departure notifications. The adaptive cruise could work with greater smoothness, too.

The 2020 Honda Accord gets top safety ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Powertrain

I couldn’t believe how lethargic the Accord Touring’s powertrain felt when I started my test loop. How, I thought to myself, can a turbocharged, 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine produce such glum response and performance?

Well, it turned out that I had the Eco driving mode activated, which adjusts throttle response to maximize fuel economy. By turning that off, and turning Sport mode on, the Accord 2.0T’s engine and transmission response was vastly improved, making the car feel much more spirited. Still, I miss the days when the Accord offered a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with its broad-shouldered power.

A slick-shifting 10-speed transmission is paired with the turbocharged 2.0-liter, sending power to the front wheels. Refined and smooth, the Accord’s powertrain may not raise your pulse rate, but it’s quiet and efficient operation will be music to most commuters’ ears.

Should your preferences lean toward rowing your own gears, the Accord’s got your back. You can get a 6-speed manual gearbox with Sport trim, but 2020 is the final year for this option so whatever’s left in dealership stock is all that remains available.

Also, if you live where snow is a regular occurrence, you should know that unlike with some of the Accord’s competitors, an all-wheel-drive system is not offered for this car.

Fuel Economy

The EPA states that you should expect about 23 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the open road, and 27 mpg in combined driving with the Accord Touring. My experience with the test car was pleasingly and exactly in accordance with this, averaging 27.4 mpg on a testing loop of mixed driving conditions. And remember, I had both Eco and Sport modes engaged at various times during the drive.

Based on this result, the Accord Touring offers a driving range of more than 400 miles. But, you’ll want to leave a cushion, meaning you’ll stop for gas every 365 miles or so.

Earlier this model year, I drove an Accord Hybrid, which should bet about 48 mpg in combined driving according to the EPA. My 41.2-mpg average fell far short of the EPA estimate, but it’s still such an impressive number that I highly recommend this version of the car.

Driving Comfort

With 12-way power adjustment for the plush-padded driver’s seat, the Accord is mighty comfortable if you’re sitting behind the steering wheel. If you’re relegated to the front passenger’s seat, it’s a different story.

Regardless of whether I’m driving or co-piloting, I prefer to sit up high in a car’s cabin enjoying proper thigh support and a good view out. Also, taller seating positions can help people with limited mobility to more easily enter and exit a vehicle. In the Accord, the front passenger’s seat is mounted very low, and when I sit there my legs are not properly supported. Even a manual adjuster would be better than none at all.

Slip into the rear seat and you will no doubt be amazed at the amount of leg room. For all intents and purposes, the Accord is actually a full-size car. Even with tall people sitting up front with the seats pushed back, rear passengers will enjoy plenty of space and smaller kids will still be able to stretch out their legs. Shoulder, foot and head room are plentiful, too, and the seats are mounted high enough to provide proper leg support.

Effective and easy to operate, the climate control system features clearly marked knobs and buttons. The Touring trim also includes heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and rear air conditioning vents. Curiously, rear USB charging ports are a dealer-installed option rather than standard equipment.

Driving Feel

Handling is one of the Accord’s trademark strengths; owners cite it as their second favorite aspect of owning an Accord. Indeed, the steering is responsive and accurate, the brakes are outstanding, and the handling is superb.

The adaptive dampers that come standard on the Accord Touring went a long way toward smoothing out any imperfections on the road, although there was a bit of body bobbing on the undulating freeway surfaces around Los Angeles. Also, this Accord transmitted a little more road noise than expected. The larger 19-inch wheels and tires are only partly to blame, as I’ve noticed this in other versions of the Accord.

But overall, this is one of the more fun to drive midsize sedans you can buy.

Final Impressions - Find the best Honda deals!

Family sedans used to be ubiquitous on American roads. Now, the tall station wagons called crossover SUVs are the popular form of family transport. If you’re thinking of bucking the trend by returning to the warm embrace of a sedan, the 2020 Honda Accord offers a top-flight driving character combined with comfort, efficiency, safety, and technology, all at a far more advantageous price than a similarly equipped SUV.

Liz Kim has been writing about cars for two decades, involved in road testing, analyzing, marketing, and pondering about all things automotive. But what she enjoys most is poking around the various corners of Southern California in various test vehicles with her family, the way cars were meant to be used.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2020 J.D. Power

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