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2013 Honda Accord Coupe review:

New Accord Coupe makes a sporty return to form

" data-image-credit="Josh Miller/CNET" data-image-alt-text="3.5-liter V-6" data-image-filename="2013HondaAccordCoupe04.jpg" data-image-date-created="2013/05/07">

The Accord Coupe features a green "Econ" button on its dashboard, much like that of the Honda Civic, that aims to help drivers to maximize fuel economy by adjusting (read: dulling) throttle response. I tested it to make sure that it worked, but largely drove the Coupe in its normal setup.

Also optional on the 2013 Accord Coupe EX-L V-6 is a six-speed automatic transmission. I'm being very specific with the model and trim level, because the EX-L V-6 is the only model that's available with a conventional, torque converter, gear-switching system, where the other four-cylinder models feature continuously variable transmissions.

Six-speed shifter

The V-6 Accord Coupe really shines when paired with the six-speed manual gearbox.

Josh Miller/CNET

Perhaps it's my inner car snob showing a bit, but after spending a week with the manual gearbox, I can't fathom why anyone would bother with either of the automatic options. But I digress.

As I stated earlier, the Accord's V-6 engine is a gem. It's quiet when idling and cruising at low engine speeds. Downshift and lay into the accelerator and the engine wakes up, filling the cabin with a deep sound that's urgent but not buzzy. Don't get me wrong, it's not muscle-car deep, but the Accord Coupe's induction sound was, to my ear, suitably aggressive for the sort of "sporty" driving that automakers always seem to claim their big, boring coupes are capable of.

However, in the case of the 2013 Accord Coupe V-6, this big, boring coupe actually is capable of sporty driving.

Push button starter

The Accord Coupe is far from being a sports car, but it does back up its sporty image with good performance.

Josh Miller/CNET

To call the V-6 engine "responsive" seems like a bit of an understatement. This hunk of metal feels alive, particularly when paired with the manual gearbox. Honda presents the driver with the killer combination of the blippable throttle, the smooth shifter with positive engagement at the end of every throw, and a shifter that's easy to modulate. The three pedals could be better placed for heel-toe downshifts, but rowing my own cogs feel like a pleasure and not a chore, even in heavy traffic in and around the city.

Not that the V-6 engine requires constant shifting and rowing of the driver. It's got enough torque to pull off passing maneuvers, even if you happen to find yourself a gear or two higher than is optimal.

What's more is that the Accord Coupe boasts handling that is also impressive for a car of its size.

Steering was responsive, with only a small enough dead spot around center to keep it from feeling twitchy at highway speed, but with decent enough turn-in to hustle an emergency lane change when I needed it to. When I aimed the Coupe around a fast bend, it settled in and went where it was told to with surprising ease and no drama. Toss the Coupe back and forth around an 'S' and it will hit apex after apex with nary a complaint.

2013 Honda Accord Coupe

The V-6 Coupe's performance constantly reminded me of the Honda Civic Si, only larger.

Josh Miller/CNET

That's not to say that Honda has built a sports car. The Accord Coupe has limits, but they are generous limits that are clearly defined. Come into a turn too fast and the Honda will respond with predictable understeer that is easily correctable. The Accord is easy to drive quickly, but doesn't punish its driver for exploring the limits of the car they bought. This is a very good thing.

On my first trip in the 2013 Accord Coupe EX-L V6 6MT, I immediately remarked that everything about the car, from the handling, to the acceleration, and the general behind-the-wheel experience reminded me of the Honda Civic Si, only larger. I think that's one of the highest compliments that I can pay Honda's engineers.

In sum
So I've established a few strong opinions in my mind at the end of my week with the latest Honda Accord Coupe. It's a gorgeous car with a sporty design, despite its size. Its dashboard tech makes a number of steps in the right direction but requires a lot of getting used to on the driver's part and a bit more polish on Honda's end. It's one of the best large, front-drive coupes that I've ever driven. I drive a lot of "meh" cars during the course of the year, but I really liked this 2013 Accord Coupe V-6 so much that I couldn't help gushing about it to my friends.

The Accord Coupe starts at $23,350 for the 185-horsepower LX-S entry model. For that price, the Accord is pretty spartan, lacking pretty much every feature that I praised in our tester. Working your way up through the trim levels adds driver safety tech, better cabin trim and infotainment tech, and -- at our EX-L V-6 trim level -- more power and performance. Add the optional navigation system and a $790 destination fee to reach an MSRP of $33,140. This is the Accord to get if you're looking at the Coupe. Manual or automatic, the EX-L V-6 is the same price, and there are no options at this trim level, so specing your car couldn't be easier.

2013 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6 6MT

I can't help but wonder if the V-6 Coupe is uniquely strong within the Accord lineup.

Josh Miller/CNET

But is this coupe a return to form for Honda, a reappearance of the brand's sporty driving dynamics and DNA ripe to spread through the brand? Well, that remains to be seen.

I personally haven't driven the four-cylinder, CVT-equipped Coupe and Sedan variants that share the Accord nameplate with our tester, but Senior Editor Wayne Cunningham has. When I asked him about these other variants, he told me that, aside from the dashboard tech that he disliked, they were largely unremarkable. So perhaps this 2013 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L 6MT is just an oasis of performance in a desert of dull. It's a step in the right direction, but just a single step. Does that diminish this specific trim level's impact? No, but it does give me a glimmer of hope.

Tech specs
Model2013 Honda Accord Coupe
Trim EX-L V-6 6MT with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System
Powertrain3.5-liter, V-6, 278 horsepower, FWD, six-speed manual transmission
EPA fuel economy21 city, 32 highway, 25 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy23.9 mpg
NavigationYes, HDD-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone supportYes with voice command
Disc playerSingle-slot CD
MP3 player supportAnalog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection
Other digital audioSiriusXM satellite radio, HondaLink with Aha Radio, Pandora app integration
Audio system360-watt premium audio with seven speakers, including subwoofer
Driver aidsLane departure warning, precollision warning, rear view camera, Honda LaneWatch camera
Base price$23,350
Price as tested$33,140

What you'll pay

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