One of the most important automotive unveilings of the year – at least for Honda fans – will take place next month, the automaker pulling the wraps an all-new version of the midsize Accord sedan on July 14th.
The Japanese automaker offered up a teaser image to substitute for hard details about the new model – though we did get a look at a heavily camouflaged version of the 2018 Honda Accord during a visit to the company’s Japanese proving grounds last month.
During that visit we got to drive an early prototype complete with the new turbocharged inline-four engine that will replace the familiar Honda V-6 in the tenth-generation Accord. The new model is new from the ground up and is also expected to feature a new suspension system similar to what was offered on a “mule” car we drove during the proving grounds visit.
While it was difficult to get a clear sense of what to expect visually from the camo’d car in Japan, the teaser image released today reveals that the 2018 Accord will adopt some of the basic design cues introduced on the latest-generation Civic line. Expect to see it offered with LED headlamps and daytime running lights – as an option, if not standard fare.
The teaser image intentionally hides most of the roofline, but the new model – which will be slightly larger than the outgoing Accord – appears to adopt a more coupe-like look than the outgoing sedan. The trapezoid grille is anchored by a subtle, lower splitter that should enhance highway aerodynamics and possibly create an air curtain around the front wheels.
The decision to abandon the Accord’s time-tested V-6 might initially disappoint some potential buyers and current owners but an initial drive suggested it was nothing but a step forward.
In its stead, the Japanese automaker has transplanted the fast-beating heart of the latest Honda Civic Type-R, the sizzling, turbo-four-powered hot hatch that is making its first appearance in the U.S. market for 2018. The 2.0-liter engine makes a screaming 316 horsepower in European and Asian trim, 306 in the American model.
Slipped under the hood of the next-gen Accord, the turbocharged powertrain “will have less” power than in the Type-R, cautioned Accord Chief Engineer Junji Yamano, after we climb out of the prototype. How much less, nobody at Honda is talking but, based upon our preliminary experience – and a few careful hints – we are expecting better numbers than the current Accord V-6’s 278 hp, though less than the 306 of the U.S.-spec Type-R.
(Click Here for a first drive of the 2017 Accord.)
It also will help that the 2018 Accord’s turbo package will include an all-new 10-speed automatic that has been wonderfully tuned to maximize low-end torque while also boosting fuel economy when you’re not mashing the throttle. Again, precise EPA numbers won’t be released until closer to the new Accord’s launch, but we’re confident of something measurably better than the 2018 V-6 numbers at 21 City and 33 Highway. And you will get there on regular unleaded, unlike the Civic hot hatch, which demands premium.
For those who are looking for even better mileage, or want something a little more affordable, Honda will have two other options for 2018 Accord buyers. They’ll have a base 1.5-liter inline-four, the same turbocharged package now found in the CR-V and Civic, here paired with either a CVT or a six-speed stick. Intriguingly, Honda is bucking current trends, that manual gearbox being offered as an option for the new 2.0-liter package, as well.
The shift to an all-four line-up is in line with broader industry trends – though Toyota is taking a different approach with the newly redesigned 2018 Camry which will retain its six.
(Click Here for a review of the 2017 Honda Civic Type-R.)
One of the benefits of this approach is that the entire vehicle could be designed around a smaller engine package. That holds down costs, but also eliminates some engineering compromises that can impact a variety of factors such as weight balance, center of gravity and vehicle stiffness.
While we can’t talk about Accord ride and handling based on the Japanese prototype, we can discuss the brief time we spent maneuvering a different Honda “mule” around the proving ground’s handling track earlier this month. That package delivered a much more confident ride, with pleasantly precise steering and only the most modest amount of body roll. Honda officials were tight-lipped when asked what model – or models – will benefit from the new suspension. We’ll wait to see if those updates appear in the 2018 Honda Accord.
For those who want to watch the important debut as it happens, check out the Honda Youtube channel which will go live from the Detroit debut site at 11:00 AM on July 14th.
(Toyota taking nothing for chance with launch of new Camry sedan. Click Here for the story.)