The 2018 Toyota Camry has been radically overhauled, but Honda isn’t about to let its chief rival hog the midsize sedan spotlight. We expect the 2018 Honda Accord to be completely redesigned, which should make for an exciting and renewed sales battle—one the Camry has won for 15 consecutive years when counting both retail and fleet sales. So if you’ve watched the Accord’s evolution since it made its debut as a compact hatchback in the 1970s or if you’re thinking of upgrading to a new car, keep reading for our best guesses on what to expect for the 2018 Accord midsize sedan. (2017 Hondas are shown in this article.)
A Replacement for Displacement
With the 2017 Honda CR-V crossover and 2016–2017 Civic variants, we’ve seen the capabilities of the automaker’s 1.5-liter turbo-four engine. Versions of the engine are available on both cars, and that will almost certainly be the case with the 2018 Accord. In the 2017 CR-V, the engine produces 190 hp at 5,600 rpm and 179 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm. We’ve tested an all-wheel-drive CR-V accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, a quick time for a crossover of that size. As with the CR-V, the 2018 Accord might offer the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated I-4 as a carryover engine strictly on the base model.
Sticking with Six?
The powertrain picture becomes less clear when determining the Accord’s highest-performing nonhybrid engine upgrade. For years, that engine has been a V-6, and we’ve tested a 2017 Accord Touring with a 278-hp 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 and six-speed automatic reaching 60 mph in a very respectable 5.7 seconds. For a midsize sedan that might attract a slightly older buyer than the less expensive Civic, we wonder if Honda will stick with the V-6 but fit its new 10-speed automatic from the top-trim 2018 Odyssey. A 2.0 liter turbo-four with around 270 hp is also a possibility: Which option would you rather have on an Accord midsize sedan?
Where’s the Manual Transmission?
Some drivers appreciate a good manual because it makes them feel more engaged in the driving experience, but the transmission also serves to lower a car’s overall base price in ads. Will Honda leave the low-volume manual-transmission midsize sedan segment to Mazda? Will the option become available exclusively on a Sport trim? Most buyers will stick with an automatic transmission, which will likely remain a smooth-performing CVT on the volume-oriented trims. On the 2017 Accord, the automatic-transmission four-cylinder models with CVTs have noticeably better EPA-rated fuel economy (26–27/34–36 mpg) than the six-speed manual model (23/32 mpg). A slightly lighter-weight 2018 Accord should increase those figures marginally.
A Volume Leader
After hearing complaints about some of its vehicles lacking volume knobs, Honda will probably bring one back to the 2018 Accord. As a driver, I prefer to keep my hands on the steering wheel, but the volume knob can be helpful if your front passenger is serving as automotive DJ. Aside from the return of a volume knob, expect Honda’s neat steering wheel volume control to appear on the Accord—we’re talking about the control that can be activated with a swipe of your left thumb or a traditional button press on the top or bottom to raise or lower volume, respectively. Whether the dual-screen center-stack layout returns is not yet clear, though I’m hoping it does. (The Pilot and 2018 Odyssey go without this layout.)
The 2017 Honda Accord performs well in safety tests—the coupe and sedan get five-star overall ratings from the NHTSA and the sedan is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. (The coupe is just a Top Safety Pick because of its lower headlight score.) Those high marks are shared by a handful of other competitors, and we expect Honda to target the same ratings for the new 2018 model. (A 2013 model undergoing a crash test is shown here.) Active safety tech, which includes a system that can apply the brakes if it senses a potential collision ahead and another that can prevent the car from veering out of its lane, should be standard on most trims.
Not So Safe Styling
Honda found great success with the boldly styled 2016 Civic sedan, and we’d be surprised if the 2018 Accord didn’t take a few styling cues from that compact, including its fastback look. (The Civic is shown above and the Accord below.) With the CR-V now the automaker’s best-selling vehicle, perhaps that will leave Honda room to make the Accord a little bolder. Even so, many already like the outgoing Accord’s attractive and timeless conservative looks, and we aren’t expecting a complete “Civic XL” look for the larger sedan without a few design differences to distinguish the two. Nineteen-inch wheels should make a return to the Accord lineup on select models, with 16-inch alloy wheels remaining as the base model’s choice.
What About the Hybrid?
The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is not only incredibly efficient at 49/47 mpg city/highway, but it’s also decently quick. We’ve tested 2017 Accord Hybrid Touring models accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 and 6.9 seconds, which is good for a vehicle that spacious and efficient. Honda has already announced plans for a dedicated hybrid to fight the Prius, but just as the Prius has less passenger volume than the Camry, Honda’s new hybrid entry might still leave room for an Accord hybrid to continue competing with Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai midsize sedan hybrids. Above the Accord in price will be the Clarity Plug-In, which can compete with plug-in midsize sedans from Ford, Hyundai, and Kia.
Most or all 2018 Honda Accords will likely offer an electric parking brake that automatically holds the brakes at long red lights, releasing them when you touch the accelerator pedal. It’s a helpful feature we’ve seen from other automakers as well on Hondas such as the Civic, HR-V, and new Odyssey. Top-trim models might offer ventilated front seats, like the Pilot and 2018 Odyssey, and an instrument cluster with a large color screen in the center, like the CR-V, which is pictured here.
Yes, But How Will it Drive?
Opinions on the outgoing Honda Accord’s driving performance varied during Motor Trend’s 2017 Car of the Year testing, with some suggesting the Honda magic that led the Civic to win a compact-car Big Test comparison was gone and another describing it as “a relatively crisp-handling everyman’s sedan that’s made well.” With the 2018 Accord moving to a platform shared by the Civic and CR-V—another recent Honda we really like—we’re looking forward to seeing how the new midsize sedan drives.
Tell us what you think
What do you want to see from the 2018 Honda Accord? Check out our reviews of recent Accords here: