The Honda Accord lineup covers a wide swath of midsize aspirations, offering coupes and sedans, four-banger and V6 engines, with all models available in every imaginable trim level, from base level to luxuriously loaded.Actually, the base level got a little less “base” this year, thanks to a new special edition SE model that replaces last year’s low end LX. The SE adds new standard features that include an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar support, alloy wheels, premium audio with a subwoofer and XM satellite radio, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, automatic headlights, a security system and more.
The added equipment and the raised standards of the new SE starting point mark how this mid-life makeover has been designed to evolve the eighth-generation Accord.
Of course, if you walk around the Accord SE sedan’s exterior, you’d probably be hard pressed to make out the modifications for 2011 that, according to Honda’s promotional bumpf “are designed to express a more upscale and powerful presence.”
This latest 2011 version boasts new styling for the front grille, front bumper and rear deck lid, along with a new wheel design.
The exterior changes have smoothed the Accord’s aerodynamics that, along with reduced engine friction and transmission tweaks to the gear ratios, have combined to fuel economy improvements.
The official fuel-economy ratings for my as-tested Accord SE four-cylinder sedan with automatic transmission have improved to 8.8/5.8L/100Km (city/hwy) which works out to seven per cent better city and 11 percent better highway than the comparable 2010 model.
The SE harnesses the least powerful engine in the lineup, a 2.4-litre, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that makes a mere 177 hp @ 6500 rpm with 161 lb/ft of torque peaking at 4300 rpm.
But the Accord is well balanced, light and lively, with the nimble maneuvering feel of a smaller compact car.
It’s a pleasure to drive. The Accord SE comes with a standard five-speed manual transmission for $24,790. My tester came with the 5-speed automatic transmission (AT) with Grade Logic Control, which bumped the price up by $1,200 to $25,990.
Any customer craving more power can move up in the Accord lineup to a tweaked 190 hp version of the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, standard in the Accord EX and EX-L sedans.
An available 271 hp 3.5-litre, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC V6 is the top-of-the-line engine. And even with the big bump up in power, this V6 optimizes fuel economy with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology that can deactivate up to half of the cylinders under light load cruising. The V6 bumps the price by about $3,600 in most trim levels but it is a bit of a bargain in EX trim, adding only $2,700 to the price.
Inside, Accord SE styling stresses “attainable luxury” even at this base model level, with standard equipment that includes front, side impact and side curtain airbags; tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls; air conditioning; power group; console storage; Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS); Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control (VSA); 270-watt AM/FM/6CD Premium audio system with MP3/Windows Media Audio playback capability and 7 speakers including subwoofer. These standards, along with the new equipment mentioned at the beginning of the story, give even the base level SE an all-inclusive feel and flavour.
Also new for 2011, Honda designers moved the most frequently used climate-control buttons to the left side of the control stack, closer to the driver.
The 2011 Honda Accord, with a new SE starting point that offers more technology and more standard equipment, while holding the line at last year’s starting price of $24,790, continues to be a sedan that balances family practicalities with performance and value.