Honda Accord — it's a name that's known to generations of Australians. The Accord name has been in the Australian marketplace since 1977 and has always been synonymous with build quality and reliability.
So, as the ninth generation of this car benefits from a facelift and new pricing, we hopped behind the wheel of the 2017 Honda Accord V6L to see whether it still had the goods to take on the competition in this segment.
Kicking off from $32,990 (plus on-road costs) for the VTi, the Accord represents great value for money considering its size and standard features. The range then continues with the VTi-L and caps off with the V6L, which sits atop the range with a starting price of $52,590 (plus on-road costs).
The latest styling update brings with it a stack of LED lights at the front end, including LED driving lights and headlights that improve visibility during night driving. Chrome highlights adorn the front, sides and rear, while a boot lip spoiler adds a bit of intent.
In terms of features, the top-specification V6L model is loaded to the hilt with gear. Some of the notable mentions include: adaptive cruise control, adaptive LED headlights, sunroof, automatic lights and wipers, heated front seats with electric adjustment, leather seats, keyless entry and start, satellite navigation with traffic updates, six-speaker stereo, DVD playback, electric rear window shade, dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Standard safety gear is also impressive. In addition to a five star ANCAP safety rating, the Accord V6L comes with a collision mitigation braking system, a lane keeping assistance system and road departure mitigation.
I've driven a number of Accords over the years and they all have a familiar, padded door thud. It doesn't feel cheap like some cars; it's confident and gives the impression of quality.
That impression is backed up when you get nestled within the driver's seat. All the driver's touch points are soft and nicely padded — including the door armrest.
The steering wheel features the vehicle's critical controls, while a second screen beneath the infotainment system controls the infotainment system and can also display satellite navigation. It's clever, allowing the driver to operate elements of the infotainment system while navigation remains active on the screen above.
Climate controls then sit below that screen, while the main navigation screen's controls then sit beneath that. It's simplified the explosion of buttons that once was the Accord. It looks neater now, but is still quite confusing considering there are now four tiers of controls and screens to take note of.
Attached to the indicator stalk is a clever button that engages a camera fitted to the passenger side wing mirror. The camera also automatically engages when the indicator is activated. The purpose of this camera is to highlight vehicles in the blind spot and is especially useful in the city and built-up areas where cyclists can often get lost between kerbs and cars.
One thing that's immediately obvious is just how comfortable the seats are. They are softly padded and you literally sink into them. They are the perfect companion for a long drive and really suit the demographic likely to purchase this car.
If you were ever yearning for a Commodore of Falcon replacement, the interior room on offer with the Accord wouldn't be far off the brief. Up front there is loads of legroom and ample headroom — although it is slightly compromised for taller passengers due to the inbuilt sunroof.
In the back there is literally stacks of leg and toe room. The second row is complemented by air vents and a wide entry aperture. It makes getting in and out quite easy. Three adults will fit abreast with a bit of pushing and shoving, but it's more a space ideal for two adults.
Fold the second row seats and a 497 litre boot is exposed. Under the boot floor is a full-size spare alloy wheel and jack, meaning you won't have to worry about a dinky space saver spare tyre.
The V6 Honda Accord has always been about its silky smooth V6 engine. Under the bonnet is a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine that produces 206kW of power and 339Nm of torque, consuming 9.3L/100km on the combined cycle.
That smooth engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that can be self-shifted using the steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters.
Around town this is a seriously slick machine. It rides beautifully over poor surfaces and Melbourne's iconic tram tracks, while soaking in the poorer surfaces with little fuss.
Steering feel at low speeds is great thanks to the electrically-assisted steering rack. It's easy to use and makes parking a breeze.
Likewise, visibility out the front and rear is excellent, with an added bonus of a decent rear-view camera with good visibility at night time.
A green 'Econ' button can be pressed to help reduce fuel consumption with early gearshifts and adjusting the air conditioning and heating system. A novel idea in theory, but you end up switching it off after driving a short distance because it limits the effectiveness of the cooling system and forces you to push the pedal harder to get moving at the same pace.
It falls apart somewhat on the open road where sharper bumps can unsettle the body, which occurs due to the 45 profile 18-inch alloy wheels. It can also get unsettled on continuous undulations at highway speeds — the type you'd find on a country B-road.
The sharp engine accelerates beautifully and smoothly through to its redline and has a pleasantly sonorous tone at the top end of the rev range. There's barely any torque steering and it manages its 200kW+ of power quite effectively.
Around corners it's competent, but nothing to write home about. There is a moderate amount of body roll that comes into play due to the softer suspension set-up.
Throw the Accord at some gravel roads in the country and it can be a little sloppy. It's not hard to see why this car was never a serious alternative to Commodore and Falcon buyers that predominantly spend their time outside of the big smoke.
On test, fuel economy settled to around the 11.5L/100km mark, which is pretty reasonable for a car with such a large engine.
In terms of running costs, the Accord comes with a fairly standard three-year, 100,000km warranty. There is also a six-monthly capped price servicing program, with the first three years of servicing coming in at a hefty $1741. It's also worth noting that every 24 months, you may be up for a valve clearance adjustment, which comes in at $556.
On face value, the Honda Accord V6L really strikes a chord. It's a good looking car that's well equipped and comes with a ripper six-cylinder engine.
But, at just under $53,000 (plus on-road costs), the Accord competes with some impressive metal from the likes of Skoda and Volkswagen — the all-wheel-drive Superb 206TSI is $50,990 (plus on-road costs), while the Passat can be had in its high-specification diesel trim for under $50,000. Those looking closer to home will also note that the Holden Calais V V6 sits at a little under $48,000.
So, while the Honda Accord is still an impressive car, it's let down by pricing and a raft of excellent competition in this segment.