2012 Honda Accord Sedan - FROM $21,480
The 2012 Honda Accord still has a lot going for it, but we think astute shoppers will find that several of its competitors are now more compelling.
What's New for 2012
For 2012, a USB audio interface becomes standard on every Honda Accord.
Honda Accord Video Review
If you want to make a successful product, you have to know your audience. It's a maxim that Honda takes to heart. In many ways, the 2012 Honda Accord illustrates what a keen understanding the manufacturer has of shoppers in the family-sedan segment.
True to form, the Accord certainly delivers in the qualities that matter most in this segment. Its king-sized cabin dimensions mean that there's plenty of room, and indeed the Accord has one of the roomiest rear seats in the family sedan segment. If fuel economy is your thing, the Accord has got you covered with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine that delivers 34 mpg on the highway. Then there's reliability and resale, and these are areas in which Honda enjoys an excellent reputation.
At the same time, however, the Accord has some drawbacks that keep it from being the no-brainer choice it used to be. For one, the Accord no longer feels like the "right-size" choice in the family sedan class. While its steering remains responsive and tactile, the Accord has a tendency to feel super-sized when driven around corners or on tighter roads. Its acceleration is also a bit underwhelming, with a five-speed automatic transmission doing duty here when most competing models now offer snappier six-speeds. Overall interior quality also disappoints, as does the intrusive amount of road noise coming into the cabin at highway speeds.
The fact that the Accord is no longer the hands-down class leader it once was is testimony to how far family sedans have come in recent years. Choices like the Hyundai Sonata (and related Kia Optima) and Volkswagen Passat offer stylish, upscale cabins that make the Accord's look drab and low-rent in comparison. In terms of driving dynamics, the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima are more engaging to drive, while still providing plenty of practicality. Then there's the Accord's nemesis, the Toyota Camry, which is fully redesigned this year with a better interior and improved fuel economy.
Overall, we still think the 2012 Honda Accord is a good pick for a family sedan. But we certainly suggest shopping the competition before settling for this Honda icon.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Honda Accord is available as a midsize sedan and coupe. The sedan comes in LX, LX-P, SE, EX and EX-L trim levels, while the coupe comes in LX-S, EX and EX-L trims.
The base LX trim comes equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable manual driver seat and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The LX-P trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat. For the Accord SE, Honda adds leather upholstery, power-adjustable driver lumbar support and heated front seats. The EX adds to or supplants LX-P equipment with 17-inch alloys, automatic headlights, a more powerful four-cylinder engine, a sunroof, heated mirrors, upgraded interior trim and a six-CD changer.
The EX-L adds dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a front passenger seat with four-way power adjustment, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a seven-speaker upgraded sound system, satellite radio and the option of a navigation system with voice control and a rearview camera. A V6-equipped EX-L also gains driver seat memory settings.
The coupe's LX-S trim is equipped similarly to the LX sedan, but gets 17-inch wheels and a six-CD changer. The EX coupe adds the EX-L sedan's upgraded sound system without satellite radio. Both lumbar and satellite radio are added to the EX-L. Opting for the EX-L with a V6 also adds 18-inch wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Honda Accord LX, LX-P and SE sedan trims are powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine that produces 177 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. The LX-S coupe and all EX models have a modified version of this engine that produces 190 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Both versions come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while a five-speed automatic is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped LX-P sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds, which is on the slow side for this class. The EX version is a little quicker. With an automatic transmission, EPA-estimated fuel economy for four-cylinder sedans regardless of trim level is 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. The LX and EX coupes get 23/32/26. Getting the manual brings the highway number to 33 mpg regardless of body style.
The Accord EX and EX-L can be equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 good for 271 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque (251 with the manual-equipped coupe). A five-speed automatic is standard on both body styles, with the coupe getting shift paddles; the coupe can also be equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. In Edmunds performance testing, a V6 sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds, whereas a manual-equipped coupe did it in 6.3. The V6 sedan achieves an EPA-estimated 20/30/24, while the V6 coupe gets 19/29/23 with the automatic and 17/26/21 with the manual.
Every 2012 Honda Accord comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the various Accords we've tested over the years have stopped from 60 mph in about 130 feet -- on the long side for this class of car.
In government crash testing, the Accord earned a top overall rating of five stars, with five stars being awarded for both front-impact and side-impact protection as well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Accord a top score of "Good" for the car's performance in frontal-offset and side-impact collisions and a second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof-strength test.
Interior Design and Special Features
In years gone by, the Honda Accord's cabin set the standard for materials quality as well as fit and finish. This is no longer the case. These days, the car's interior features more hard plastics than you'll find in certain rivals, with construction quality that is a step down from the high bar set in previous generations. Design is also lacking; the cabin is rather plain, with an overabundance of buttons. The optional navigation system boosts the button tally further, but its voice commands, high-mounted screen and multipurpose knob are at least user-friendly.
The top-of-the-line leather seats generate responses on both ends of the spectrum. Some editors love their bold contours and firm support, while others complain of numbness after long trips and overly aggressive lumbar support. However, the backseat is universally praised. We've found it to be among the largest in the midsize class, with abundant leg- and headroom even for those taller than 6 feet. The 14-cubic-foot trunk is numerically on the small side, but it has a large opening and is thoughtfully shaped, making it seem usefully larger than it actually is. The coupe's backseat and trunk are obviously much smaller, but among coupes, the Accord is actually one of the most accommodating.
The 2012 Honda Accord's nicely weighted and communicative steering is one of its strong points. In other areas, though, driving dynamics are a bit disappointing. The sedan's large dimensions cause body roll in corners (the coupe fares a bit better), and the ride quality isn't as comfortable as what you'll get from other top sedans. The Accord's cabin also lets in a relatively ample amount of road noise. Other picks in this segment are quieter.
The base four-cylinder engine is unremarkable, providing leisurely and rather raucous acceleration, but the upgraded 190-hp version is more refined and offers the same fuel economy. In the past, Accords have featured V6s worth bragging about, but the one seen in this model lacks bottom-end torque and feels noticeably less powerful than comparable V6s offered by the competition.