This, my friends, is the end times. No, hang on, don't start painting the giant placards yet. And you there, setting fire to that large pile of money, stop that. Eh? You're a Maserati owner? Oh. Carry on then.
There are those for whom the V6-powered, premium-equipped, non-premium-brand car is simply the next logical progression up the ladder.
No, what I mean by end times, is an end for the family sedan, or at least certainly the V6 version of said people-mover. Families buy crossovers these days, plus maybe a hatchback. Maybe they'll lease an entry-level luxury car, assuming they can wrap their heads around the oxymoronic phrase “entry-level luxury.”
Fewer and fewer folks are turning to the four-door option, and when they do, it's not about how fast it can go with what's under the hood, but how far it will take you. Price point is important. Fuel economy, even in these times of cheap oil (which appears to have no affect on consumer gasoline prices: thanks, Illuminati), is paramount. Given that most four-cylinder engines are smoother than they've ever been, the average Canadian consumer looks at a V6 like a land-line. I mean, I guess you can make the case for one, but it's a little outdated, no?
However, there are those for whom the V6-powered, premium-equipped, non-premium-brand car is simply the next logical progression up the ladder. They owned a Civic in college. Another in post-grad. They raised their kids in a dependable Accord. Several of them. Now the offspring are launched and it's time to buy something nice for a change. An Acura? No thanks, I never did like kalamari.
Thus, the reason Honda produces its top-flight Accord not in a Sport trim, but a Touring one. This is a car for relaxing with, for touring wineries and wearing your sweater draped over your shoulders. It's made to cruise the country, taking in new sights and reveling in your newfound freedom. Yet happily, it just happens to drive very nicely indeed.
On first glance, the current Accord is not very interesting to look at. That, if you ask me, is just fine. Currently, the fashion among most car designers is to make their cars as interesting as possible – so interesting, perhaps, that it's like feeling a large splinter of chrome-dipped plastic piercing your eyeball and puncturing your retina.
The Accord has no such hyper-aggressive tendencies. Its single faux pas is the dots of LED accenting – even the CR-V has moved past this stage – but the rest makes up one of the more handsome cars on the market. Here, in Orchid White Pearl, it looks quite elegant. It's even better in black, if you don't mind washing your car every three days. Eighteen-inch polished-face alloys complete the package.
On the inside, that poise comes almost completely apart. You could live with the Accord; you could even grow to love it. You could not, however, claim that it had a cohesive interior design. There's just too much going on: dual screens and a multi-function control knob, lots of different plastic surfaces, plenty of buttons. And what, I ask you, are you supposed to use a dash-mounted HDMI interface for?
Having said that, the Accord is quite good from both a comfort and overall fit and finish standpoint. The sheer amount of cabin space will boggle the mind of anyone who owned an early Accord, with decently bolstered front seats and comfy rears. Um, comfy rear seats.
The trunk holds a respectable 439 L of stuff, but has the old-style exposed arms (in Honda's defense, these fail far less than gas-shocks). There's also a perfectly good pass through if you want to buy a dowel, or a towel-rod, or a flagpole or a single oar, or a hockey stick or an extra-large novelty pencil. I exaggerate of course, but not since the old Nissan Maxima has there been such a small opening – and no split-folding? Tsk tsk.
From a technology standpoint, the Accord is also a mixed bag. As we discovered on the launch of the new Honda Pilot, Honda is hamstrung a bit by the cost of their camera-based lane-watch system; it's really neat technology, but it also presents an either-or situation with regards to blind-spot monitoring. You can't have both in the Pilot, and in the Accord you only get a camera. The three-way backup cam is pretty great though.
Using the touchscreen interface is less wonderful, and there does seem to be a great deal of redundancy between the steering wheel controls, multi-function knob, regular buttons, and touchscreen. If we can again look to the Pilot as being ahead of the Honda curve on tech, its large and simplified screen could replace most of this – but leave the volume knob, please!
Press the Accord's deep-red starter button – the same colour as the one in an S2000 roadster – and you start getting the sense that there's something beyond the practical going on here. The console shifter is conventional, the steering wheel free of flappy-paddles, and yet once you're on the move, the Accord becomes quite delightful.
Honda's 3.5L V6 makes a brisk 278 hp at 6,200 rpm and 252 lb-ft at 4,900 rpm. That's certainly enough; when on the move it has the potential to prevent a WRX from getting in your way while merging. Thrust is straightforward and smooth, with a lovely little VTEC hiss at the end. The transmission is a conventional six-speed automatic, but it's well-tuned.
Start hustling the Accord through a few corners, and the real surprise shows up. While the lightweight double-wishbone magic is long-gone, this Accord can still hold it's own. Body roll won't have you mentally comparing it with lovely stuff like the old stick-shift SH-AWD TL, but it's more than competent. The all-seasons hold their grip through fairly vigorous steady-state cornering, and if you need to change direction quickly, the Accord is light on its feet.
Smooth things out on the highway, and the Honda is very well behaved. Fuel economy is good too, officially rated at an acceptable 11.0 L/100 km city and a pretty darn good 6.8 L/100 km highway. Official figures for mixed mileage split the difference at 9.5 L/100 km.
The V6 Touring would make for a lovely last grand tourer, before needs change and perhaps a happy little city runabout without a too-low hip-point becomes more practical. It's quick and lively enough to remind you of the H-badges of your youth, comfortable and efficient enough to go long distances without needing frequent breaks, and while the on-board tech is needlessly complex, it's soon mastered.
However, you might buy just a crossover instead: many people do. The sedan share of the market is shrinking, and our need for a V6 long-distance tourer shrinks with it.
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance
|Model Tested||2015 Honda Accord Touring V6|
|Price as Tested||$37,550|