With buyers stampeding to crossovers and SUVs, one might be tempted to think the traditional midsize sedan is on its last set of tires.
Not so. There’s still a healthy market for four-door family haulers sporting a trunk, and with all-new entrants from Kia and Hyundai, the game is on. Of course, there’s still the 2020 Honda Accord that, when finished in Touring trim, continues to shine with its fine blend of comfort, efficiency, slick styling, and engaging dynamics.
This tester’s rather bland grey paint notwithstanding, the Accord Touring looks rakish and resolved, showing a dramatic fastback profile and blade-like 19-inch alloys. It’s a classy design accentuated by tapered accent lines along the car’s flanks, nice chrome detailing, and a grille treatment that, by today’s standards, is almost reserved. Redesigned for 2018, this latest generation Accord has a quiet elegance that makes it appear more expensive than it is.
The Accord comes with a comprehensive suite of advanced safety systems and driver aids – blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and assist, parking sensors, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, and traffic sign recognition. The collision warning and lane-departure assist are too eager at times, with the latter annoyingly nudging the steering wheel just a bit too much; a button on the lower left dash can turn it off.
The head-up display that comes equipped in the Touring trim shows the posted speed limit and vehicle speed, along with a selectable section that cycles between a compass with current street name, tachometer, turn-by-turn navigation instructions, lane-departure alert, and incoming call info. The auto-dimming LED headlights, meanwhile, proved very effective during nighttime rural driving.
Despite having a fastback roofline, the Accord is a mighty roomy sedan with NBA-grade rear legroom and good headroom. The trunk opening is large with a low liftover height, and with a capacity of 473 L the Accord’s trunk beats out the Toyota Camry (427 L), Hyundai Sonata (461 L) Mazda6 (416 L), Nissan Altima (436 L), and Chevrolet Malibu (447 L) – though only marginally so. Fold down the 60/40-split rear bench and the Accord will take home your IKEA haul with ease.
Up front there’s plenty of useful storage; large door pockets with bottle holders, a storage/phone charge cubby ahead of the shifter, and a generous bin between the seats.
User Friendliness: 9/10
The 2020 Accord gets high marks for logical ergonomics and easy familiarity. A trio of large rotary knobs – still the best layout – control HVAC functions, and the dash-mounted touchscreen sports both volume and tuning dials. The menu structure of Honda’s infotainment system is clear and intuitive, although accessing some basic radio functions is still a bit fussy. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work well and pairing a phone is a breeze.
Similarly, the navigation graphics are sharp and it’s easy to program in a destination. We like the clear, easy-to-read backlit gauge cluster. Another handy feature is the capless fuel filler.
This being the top-tier trim, the Accord Touring is not wanting for much. Soft leather abounds, and the front seats are both heated and ventilated. Rear outboard passengers get seat heat as well, and, of course, the steering wheel is heated. We like the open-pore wood trim, quality stitching, and soft-touch surfaces. The interior design is not as dramatic as the Toyota Camry’s, but its relatively simple horizontal architecture is elegant and will age well.
The comprehensive head-up display is a nice premium feature. Also included with the Touring are navigation with bilingual voice recognition, wireless phone changing, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multi-angle rear-view camera, sunroof, and proximity key with push-button start. The only real disappointment is the audio system whose so-so sound does not live up to the level of the Accord’s other attributes.
Doing duty here is Honda’s ubiquitous turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder engine, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This is a sweet little engine that operates with linearity and smoothness, and while the Accord Touring is no rocket off the line, there’s always an eager midrange urge that gives the sedan great flexibility. It works well with the CVT, and unless you’re driving with your foot to the floor (highway merging sometimes necessitates this) the powertrain avoids the engine drone sometimes associated with this type of gearless transmission.
Select sport mode via a button on the console and the transmission switches to a more aggressive program, keeping the revs higher and accentuating six steps that mimic real gears. Using the paddles shifter is satisfying, too, as they call up these virtual gears instantly. Those requiring more power can opt for the Accord Touring 2.0, which performed admirably when we compared it to the Subaru Legacy.
Combine the Accord’s rock solid-structure with all the Touring’s amenities and you arrive at a convincing near-luxury experience. It’s an impressively hushed cabin, with very little wind and road noise intruding at highway speeds. The ride leans towards the sporty side, being firm and well controlled, but it’s far from jarring or uncomfortable. The only fly in the ointment would be the 19-inch wheels that occasionally send shudders into the cabin over sharp impacts.
Some might wish for more supportive front seats as these are wide and not particularly well bolstered, but they score points for long-distance comfort. As noted earlier, back seat passengers enjoy massive legroom and only the tallest will find the roofline too low.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
As with most Honda products, you get the feeling the engineers who designed and tuned this sedan care about the marque’s reputation for driver engagement and sporty dynamics. Sure, you can cruise around in near-limo-like comfort all day, but find an on-ramp and set a quick pace, and it rewards with quick steering, flat cornering, and accurate path control. If you want to unravel a snaking section of backroad, the Accord Touring is certainly up for a bit of a romp. A minor gripe is the steering that is a bit numb on centre.
Under all circumstances, this roomy sedan always feels refined, secure, and yes, highly engineered. Maybe Honda didn’t have to go the extra mile – er, kilometre – to build such a satisfying family hauler, but we’re glad the automaker did.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
Having reviewed an Accord Touring with the same 1.5L engine a couple of years ago, it warmed your author’s heart by returning 6.7 L/100 km over a week of mixed driving. And darned if this 2020 model didn’t do the same. Granted, I wasn’t doing a lot of in-town stop-and-go driving, but that is still mighty parsimonious fuel-sipping for a roomy, decently quick, and luxuriously equipped large sedan wearing stylish 19-inch wheels. The official fuel economy numbers are 8.2 L/100 km in the city, 6.8 on the highway, and 7.6 combined, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
The base price of $37,405 for this 2020 Accord Touring represents good value for such a well-crafted, fine driving, and generously equipped family sedan. However, recent pressure from Hyundai in the form of the all-new Sonata is not good news for any automaker in this segment. The 2021 Sonata Luxury at $36,149 is fresher, faster, uber-stylish, and very comprehensively equipped.
If you’re in the market for family sedan, we can highly recommend the 2020 Honda Accord Touring with the 1.5L turbo engine. This 10th generation Accord, introduced for 2018, was a winner right out of the box, and in upscale Touring trim it excels, combining sportiness, long-distance comfort, and excellent build quality while offering plenty of room and an impressive list of premium kit.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||192 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||192 lb-ft @ 1,600–5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||8.2/6.8/7.6 L/100 km city/hwy/comb|
|Cargo Space||473 L|
|Model Tested||2020 Honda Accord Touring|
|Price as Tested||$39,175|