In the new Accord Sport, Honda has crafted a winning combination of family sedan and sporty-ish driving experience. If you’re the kind of person who purchased a Civic Si in 2000 to have a reliably raucous rev-happy fun car for the street, you’ve likely grown up a bit in the ensuing 17 years and need something a bit larger, a bit more comfortable, and with a bit more technology. The 10th Generation Honda Accord Sport 2.0T 6MT just might fit that bill for you. This 2-liter turbocharged engine is derived from the one in the current Civic Type R, though it’s been detuned a bit, and has been plopped into the engine bay of a car that feels decidedly more adult. If you’re a parent with a youthful fun side, or a business person with a desire for speed and comfort, the Accord Sport is ready for you. Follow on to find out more.
There are a variety of Accord variants, but the only one that really matters to Hooniverse readers is the Accord Sport, which is available as a very bare-bones 1.5T (Civic Si sourced) model for $25,780, or the slightly-better equipped and much faster 2.0T for the bargain price of $30,310. This is possibly the first time I’ve ever reviewed a brand new car and thought “You know, that sounds really reasonable for what you’re getting”. The 1.5T Sport is available with a CVT that you absolutely don’t want, and the 2.0T Sport can be had with a 10-speed automatic that is a vast improvement over the CVT, but still not what you want. Both cars can be ordered with a 6-speed manual transmission (The version on the 2.0T Sport is plucked straight from the CTR), and that’s absolutely the one to buy. Long live the manual trans sports sedan.
What do you need to know about the new Accord’s turbocharged engines? They’re good. The 1.5 liter makes 192 horsepower and 192 torques. That’s no slouch, for sure, as that kind of power typically wasn’t available in a regular sedan even 5 years ago, and especially not at this price point. Jumping up to the 2.0T nets you 252 horsepower and a massive 273 foot lubs – The most torque ever available in an Accord. As is the common theme among new small displacement turbo engines, Honda built both of these engines to provide torque at a very low engine speed, giving it a much more naturally aspirated feel than you’re used to in traditional turbo cars. There is not really much perceptible boost threshold lag and no big drops in power delivery between gear shifts. You’re almost always in the right rev range to put the throttle down and go zooming ahead. Using the wave of torque to execute a pass is simple and easy, so much so that you don’t really need to downshift to make the pass happen. Even better, both engines will still zing in traditional Honda fashion, up to 7,000 RPM pretty quickly.
If you really hit it, the 2.0T will give you a significant amount of tire spin in first gear, and will easly chirp second gear. The 1.5T will spin the front wheels up in first, but there’s nothing audible when engaging second. Thanks to high strength materials, Honda was able to make this new car significantly lighter than the 9th generation. Comparing the manual-trans Sport 2.0T to the lightest 9th generation V6 model (the EX-L), it’s down over 250 pounds, weighing in at a reasonable 3298 pounds. In any case, Motor Trend has tested both cars from 0-60 in exactly the same times as the outgoing V6 and 2.4 N/A models with the 2.0T netting a 5.7 second time and the 1.5T clocking up a 7.6 second run. That seems about right with our findings. Quick enough, for sure.
Honda hasn’t yet got their final fuel economy figures from the EPA, but you can figure somewhere around 38 MPG highway for the 1.5T and 35 MPG highway for the 2.0T. The problem with EPA numbers is that they don’t really figure into real world driving. If you drive like car test journalists do, you might see the incredibly low 15 MPG figure that our two-liter car displayed after a morning of flogging. We did see as high as 30 MPG in the 1.5 liter model on that same drive route. Stay out of the boost and you’ll likely match or beat the projected numbers – but where’s the fun in that?
The electrically-assisted power steering is actually quite good for a front-wheel-drive car. Typically I am not a fan of dynamic steering that gets more progressive as you turn it, but this particular system felt natural and easy to communicate with. The wheel itself was nice to hold, firm, yet comfortable.
The seats in the “Sport” model featured a strange material in the inserts that felt a bit like the inner lining of a suit jacket, smooth and not particularly grippy. Aside from that they were quite comfortable and held me in place during even hard cornering. I’m a full 6’2″ tall and the rear seats felt perfectly comfortable to sit in, even with the sloping rear roofline. They added a ton of rear seat legroom with the 10th generation, and even with the front seat set to where I was comfortable, I was able to sit in the back of the car without my knees in the seatback (below).
The gearshift in normal driving was exactly where you want it to be, and easy enough to find the gears to slot it into. I found that the gearbox didn’t particularly want to be hurried through a shift, and the 2-3 shift bungled me up a few times. If you slow your hand motion just a little, you’ll find it easy, but if you’re trying to slam gears it’ll be a bit touchy. The clutch pedal is as light as you might expect for a Japanese-designed family sedan, that’s not to say it’s bad, but it does take a bit of getting used to. Clutch uptake is easy to modulate, and I never once had any issues getting the car moving.
The Sport models have this strange plastic insert in the doors and dashboard. I think it’s supposed to simulate carbon fiber, but it’s kind of a silvery metallic color that doesn’t jibe in my brain. It’s not particularly pretty, but it’s easy enough to overlook, I suppose. I prefer this to a piano black treatment as was popular a few years ago.
Below is a picture of the faux-wood dash and door insert treatment that the higher-end cars received. It’s no less cheap to the touch, but it looks much better to the eye.
In driving a 9th generation Accord back to back with the 10th generation car, the interior layout is phenomenally improved. The dashboard is nicer, the HVAC is simpler and better displayed, the digital tachometer (below) is a nice touch, and goes nicely with the gorgeous display at the top of the center stack.
Speaking of that center console display, it’s perhaps one of the best on the market. Reacting as quickly to touch as your phone does, and using bright and vibrant color display is key in today’s car market. I’ve previously lauded Volkswagen for the same. The huge news with this one, however, is the addition of quick-access buttons on either side of the screen (both sides easy to reach for the driver), and a pair of knobs – KNOBS! Can you believe it? – to control scrolling and volume, respectively. Neither model of Accord Sport is available with navigation, but all Accords have Apple Car Play and Android Auto as standard, allowing you to use a mapping app that way.
The inside of the car is much quieter than the outgoing car, partially due to the fact that the engine is turbocharged and naturally quieter, but also because Honda has made the car’s chassis much stiffer than the old one. They’ve also added little noise reduction pieces to the interior that works much like your headphones do, playing canceling tones to counteract road noise.
Is the Accord Sport a replacement for a Civic Si or a CTR? It’s nowhere near as sporty or as light or as tossable, but it’s damn good for a big sedan, really. It feels sporty, and allows you to have a reasonable modicum of fun.
If you feel like you have to ‘keep up appearances’ there’s really nothing better than a brand new Accord for looking like you’ve got your shit together. The price is good, and they’ll sell more of them than you can count, but how many Accord Sport 2.0T 6MT (or 1.5T 6MT for that matter) will be sold? We’re hoping that enough will be sold that Honda will make a case for bringing it back in the 11th generation. How many mid-size sedans are still available with a stick? It’s basically just this and the Mazda 6.
If you need a new car you could do a damn sight worse than a 2018 Honda Accord. Just buy the manual, eh? Oh, and contact me when your lease is up.
I like the price. Honda doesn’t really do options, so what you see is what you get.
An attractive design that looks much more expensive than it is.
Rev-happy engines that sound great above 4000 RPM
The blue and red colors are fabulous
Gorgeous LED daytime running lights
The weird seat material
The weird fake carbon trim
The back of the car looks like it was inspired just a bit too much by the old Accord CrossTour (gross)
Ugly twist wheels
The non-blue-and-red colors are boring
My takeaway is this: With a short-throw shifter (possibly a factory part lifted from the Civic Type R), a set of desperately needed lowering springs, wheels with stickier tires, and an ECU tune, you could have a real adult-oriented Accord Type R. Honda could easily dump a full-tune CTR 2.0T into the Accord and give it a sportier feel for an Accord Si that people would buy by the truckload.
In the interest of full disclosure, Honda flew me to New Hampshire, and provided a hotel room and food for the duration of my stay.