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Car Tech Video: 2013 Honda Accord EX

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Car Tech Video: 2013 Honda Accord EX

7:35 /

The new 2013 Accord breaks Honda's malaise.

Used to be that the Camry and the Accord pretty much divvied up the broad, boring middle of the auto business and didn't leave much to eat for anybody else. Now, they've got hungry, new competitors, Ford's Fusion, Nissan Ultima, Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata. They all want something to eat. Let's see if the new 2013 Honda Accord can get it done as we check the tech. I'll be honest. When I went in to pick this car down at the CNET garage, I couldn't find it for about a minute. Not that it was hidden. The garage was almost empty, but the car didn't stand out to me. It just looks like a car. Now, the Accord's got a lot of knocks for being kind of bland for a long time. But I must say, what they've done here, if not notable, is at least more luxurious and has more presence or gravitas. In general, the dimensions on this car, the exact same width as the outgoing Accord, 2 or 3 inches shorter. That's quite a bit of a difference, 50 to a 100 pounds lighter and several mpg better, city and highway. Now, the first thing you notice in the Accord, at least I did, is everything is really substantial. It's really grown up into a grown-up's car. Everything is sort of, you know, maturely elegant. Another thing I noticed that a lot of you have asked about is how's the headroom? This car actually has, I think, almost 2 inches less measured headroom than the outgoing 2012. But I don't feel it. In fact, when I got in this car, I thought it had amazing headroom. All Accord's now have that 8-inch screen. They call it the Honda i-MID. They've done this in various cars. This is the most elaborate version yet. It's standard as a way to get to things like media and also see some of your driving statistics or, if you want for some reason, just put the clock up there. Your main function's gonna be audio. You can option this guy up into nav, but to do that, you've gotta go to a higher trim level. The EX-L and above have nav. So, nav's not so much an option as it is a trim level feature spec. By the way, if you get nav, this whole button panel here gets replaced with a touch screen control panel. It's a little bit overkill from what I've seen. I haven't driven the car equipped that way yet. So, I'll hold off judgment for the EX Trim which you're likely to buy, this is what you've got. These buttons here, you have a turn and a push to enter on this guy. There's no jog wheel because there's nowhere to jog. You just rotate to go to places. All Accords have a rear camera to go with the fact that all Accords have that big screen. It's relatively advanced. You've got trajectory and distance in there. If you get a higher Trim Accord, you also get multi-angle views. Now, on the theme of driver assistance, you can also get forward collision warning on this car. That's packaged in with adaptive cruise control that use the same technology. You can get the lane departure warning system as well, but even our EX has this interesting technology. Check it out. I do a right-hand turn signal and the camera on the right wing mirror comes on. This is their version of blind spot tech. As supposed to a radar that warns you that something's back there, they just show you what's back there through that camera. On the other hand, it could be a little disorienting. Think about it. I'm looking at that screen, looking forward to see what's behind me and on the left side of the screen is what's on the right side of the car. Beyond that, there are no major surprises. AM, FM, no HD radio at this trim level. Your CD is this slot right here, still in there. We're about a year or two away from cars starting to drop that thing entirely. Auxiliary brings you a number of interesting choices. You've got Pandora. I've got the app on here. It locks out the phone screen and then puts it all there with good tagging. A little slow to respond, I find. Bluetooth streaming was a little dicy to pair and I'm almost never getting meta tags from at least my droid 4 with Android 4.04, put a USB stick in or an iPod, you get much better results in terms of how quickly things come up as well as the tag information reporting. The phone interface is really big, nice and clear in response, is nice and quick as well. My gripe with it is a lot of the options you wanna use lock out when you're moving. For example, when I'm driving, the phonebook on the screen cannot be accessed by any of these controls. Same thing goes for the dial pad. All new Accords have text message support. They'll read incoming messages to you when you're moving or lets you reply with a canned response but no free form text entry. Transmission on this car, 6 feet manual base up from a 5-speed base in the last year's model. But we have what'll be much more common, the CVT. Not a true cog automatic, but a continuously variable transmission. Now, upfront, we've got a rather radically new engine for Honda. This is a direct injection in line 4. The DI technology makes quite a difference and we'll see that on the road as well. It's got the unfortunate name of Earth Drains. What the hell does that mean? Direct Injection 2.4 leader and the usual IV tech variable valve timing tech. The numbers, a 185 horsepower on this car, 181 foot pounds of torque. Pretty good from what is a pretty big inline 4. Zero to 16 in about 7.6 seconds. That's a lot faster than the last Accord or down to 6.8, if you get the manual. The CVT is a little slower. 33/36 is the curb weight on this guy. So, it's a fairly substantial car, but not portly. And we're also looking at 27/36 as the mpg, several better than the outgoing accord on both counts. Okay, now. Driving the Accord, the first thing that I want to determine is that CVT, that continuously variable transmission, how variable is it? This one does not suffer that issue to any significant degree. It does tend to get caught up in high ratio which is the equivalent of seeking a top gear all the time, but what car today doesn't? So, you've got a coax it out of its slumber to get some good response. The sport mode down here helps that. And then, you're struck by how much really good power there is from this 4-zoner engine and the 4-zoners get a knock in larger cars like this. But this one's got good power especially when you really get into it and realize, wow. There's a nice, smooth powerful engine up there. The handling's actually quite good on this car. It never gets into that feeling of tubbiness or feeling as if it's starting to really yaw over one way or the other. They've gone to arguably cheaper and simpler MacPherson strut in the front end for this new generation, but the right quality and handling are good. It's a non-fatiguing car to drive, which I think, is one of the great attributes of a car in this category. And Jim, well, this new Accord is a nice play to sit while driving and it's got a more modern, crisper feel to the inside now than the past Accords that were pretty generic inside. Okay. Let's spice this 2013 Accord EX CNET style, which is a little tough because the EX doesn't really go CNET style. You can't option up much as I mentioned. That said, 25/4 is your base width delivery at 800 bucks for a CVT, which most buyers are going to get. So, we're 26/2. And that's about as far as you can go. Another $500 gets you backup bumper sensors, but you got a standard camera. Who cares? Now, the key for the CNET user is to go 1 notch higher to an EX-L. That unlocks navigation, that unique second touch screen and a variety of the advanced audio options. But no matter what Accord you buy, Honda still remains a step behind the industry in terms of connected services by Google integration and true app support.

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