All Honda Accord models got a mild styling makeover for 2011, and there are no significant changes for 2012. Known in the car business as a mid-cycle facelift, the 2011 changes are about as extensive as any car gets between complete redesigns. They re-emphasize the Accord's conservative, upscale appearance.
The current-generation Accord sedan was introduced as a 2008 model, and it's larger than any before it. Although it competes in the mid-size market segment, the sedan is classified a large car by the federal government, based on interior volume. The Accord is more than four inches longer that the Nissan Altima.
The two-door Accord coupe is smaller than the sedan, both visually and by exterior measurements. Every dimension, save width, is two to four inches shorter than the sedan. The coupe looks lighter, more lithe.
The 2011 styling updates for the sedan and coupe won't be obvious from across a parking lot, but they're noticeable in details at closer range. The sedan's front bumper and grille, wedged between angular, jewel-like light clusters were re-shaped. The effect is a slightly more pronounced snout than before. In back, the lip of the trunk lid and the taillights have been tweaked for a crisper, even more substantial look.
In general, the Accords maintain their contemporary yet notably conservative design, highlighted by a strong character line that slopes down and forward like that of the Acura TL, though the Hondas are much less angular than the Acuras. All Accord variants maintain the Honda hallmarks of narrow windshield pillars and a low cowl that promote good forward visibility. The sedan's rear door pillars have a pronounced kink popularized decades ago by BMW, and the four-door Accord might be mistaken from a distance as a BMW 5 Series or some other European luxury sedan.
Once seated, the Accord driver can see the hood and the top of the fenders where they meet the hood, but the forward edges of the car are not so visible. The swept-back headlight housings minimize protruding corners and ease maneuverability, though it takes some familiarity before the driver is certain exactly where the corners of the car are. Many of the Accord's design elements are a product of auto/pedestrian collision standards. The wiper arm mounts are designed to break away when hit, for example.
The Accord cabin is spacious, light and airy, with a thoughtful layout and plenty of elbow room. Everything you touch feels right for the price. Everything you need seems to be where you want it, and everyone on board will be comfortable.
Accord LX models deliver pleasing design and materials, with a variety of storage areas for modern conveniences like iPods and old-fashioned vices like a bottle of Coke. Stepping up to the Accord SE model adds leather upholstery and heated seats, but the basics like seat design and driver ergonomics are shared by all models.
The leather is high quality and perfectly tailored, and the driver's seat in most models has multiple power adjustments. There's good support for the long haul, but the seats are easy to slide in and out of during around-town errands. EX-L V6 models add a two-position memory for the driver's seat. Accord coupes make use of their longer front door panels by adding a return sweep and pull handle to the armrest trim.
Accord's standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel provides a good range of adjustment and compliments the driver's seat movement, so people of every size can find a good driving position. The shifter is right at hand, and the proper handbrake has short travel. The sunroof button, reading lights and a drop-down glasses holder are located in a mini-console above the rearview mirror.
There's a clear view of what's all around outside the Accord, and of the proven, extra-crisp dial-and-needle gauges inside. Accords equipped with the navigation system now come with a back-up camera, and it's valuable. The information display or navigation screen is inset under a shade at the same height as the gauges, so glare is controlled, and the screen can be viewed with polarized glasses.
Lights and wiper controls are stalks on the steering column. Honda's graphics for the variable intermittent wipers are among the simplest: Rather than bars, lines or dots of differing size, the Accord uses one raindrop for long interval and three raindrops for more frequent wiping.
Controls for audio and navigation sit below the navigation screen and center dash vents. On lower-line models, the big round knob controls volume; on others it is the interface through which you work through various menus. Even on fully equipped cars with navigation, the layout is less daunting than the number of buttons first suggests. One row of switches controls audio input (AM, XM, CD, etc.) and another row has six audio presets.
Climate controls are located to the sides of the center stack, so you needn't wait to approve the legal disclaimer on the screen before you can ask for heat or air conditioning. The climate switches were among the improvements made for 2011, with more frequently adjusted fan and temperature control positioned on the left side, closer to the driver, and less-frequently used buttons on the right side.
Convenience features aren't exclusive to high-trim models. The door locks, for example, have multiple functions on all models. With the key inserted, the lock cylinders can raise and lower the windows and open or close the sunroof by turning clockwise for up and counter-clockwise for down. The unlock button on the key fob will lower the power windows and open the moonroof when it's depressed for three seconds and then held. The available navigation system adds convenience with voice activation, which can handle a multitude of chores without a hand ever leaving the steering wheel.
Our complaints about the Accord cabin are minor: We wish there was more differentiation in the appearance of different types of controls (climate and audio, for example) for easier recognition while driving. The lumbar support on all front seats (regardless of power or upholstery) is stout, and several drivers wished for less of it. The front seats have lots of room around them, prompting some slender occupants to note that the door was too far away for a comfortable armrest or leg brace. To some extent, of course, this gripe is a function of a large interior space with room for large people. The width of the Accord translates directly into a wide cabin, especially in front. The center armrest is big enough for two adults to share.
Rear-seat passengers will have few complaints. Seat cushions and backrests carry right out to the door without wheelwell intrusion, and the rear doors offer easy ingress and egress. Six-footers can sit comfortably, even with one in the back seat behind one in the front seat. The center seat is well padded, and as such it loses a bit of headroom to the outer seats. There's nothing particularly fancy in the back of the Accord: adjustable air vents on the back end of the center console, decent cupholders, but no rear reading lamps.
Trunk space in the sedan is a class-average 14.7 cubic feet, in a fairly useful shape, and the contents need not be heaved waist-high to load in. The rear seatbacks fold for more cargo room, and there's a lock on the pass-through behind the armrest on some models. The navigation system's DVD-drive is remote mounted on the upper edge of the trunk, but it's protected by a stout steel band.
Honda's Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) comes standard in all Accord models except the base LX sedan, but we were hard-pressed to notice the noise difference between LX and EX. The Crosstour has an upgrade called Active Sound Control (ASC), which is more sophisticated than ANC, according to Honda. Whereas ANC deals specifically with the elimination of low decibel noise entering the cockpit, ASC has a much broader range, including the elimination of unwanted high frequency noise. We still weren't overwhelmed with the effect.
Vibration and engine buzz are minimal with the four-cylinder engine and negligible on the V6, so all Accords come across as very quiet. With everything off and the windows and roof closed, tire and road noise flow in first, but it's never anything more than background. Bottom line: The Accord is smooth and quiet with or without noise cancellation technology.