All-new ’18 Accord promises improvements to the benchmark midsize sedan, but here’s why some buyers shouldn’t wait for it

2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord

What changes will make the 2018 Honda Accord different?

A clean-sheet redesign bringing with new styling, fresh features, and the end of V-6 availability in favor of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Expect more aggressive-looking sheet metal as this midsize sedan becomes lighter and more fuel efficient while remaining roomy and dynamically sound.

One of the longest-running nameplates in the automotive industry will enter its 10th generation in model-year 2018. A blend of passenger and cargo space, driving satisfaction, and sky-high reliability and resale ratings have made this car a customer and critic’s favorite around the world for four decades.

The Accord has come a long way since its model-year 1976 introduction as a compact-sized two-door hatchback with a 68-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Today, it finds itself in a once-dominant vehicle segment in decline as buyers turn in droves to crossover SUVs. Sales of midsize cars have been in freefall for most of calendar 2016, down more than 10 percent through September. Not even the class bellwethers are immune: the top-selling Toyota Camry is down nearly 9 percent, the second-place Accord down about 2 percent. The only car in the competitive set with positive momentum is the Chevrolet Malibu; redesigned for 2016, its sales are up nearly 16 percent. Will the redesigned 2018 Accord achieve similar success?

Why should I wait for the 2018?

To get a midsize sedan expected to advance most everything that’s made the Accord great: packaging, performance, quality, and value. It’ll ride a stretched version of the platform that underpins Honda’s recently redesigned Civic compact. Two-door coupe and four-door sedan body styles should return, making this the only mainstream midsize car to offer buyers that choice. Exterior and interior dimensions aren’t liable to change much, with the sedan remaining one of the most spacious in the class.

Front-wheel-drive will be retained, but the available V-6 engine, a staple for years even as rivals have turned exclusively to four-cylinder power. The next-generation Accord is almost certain to follow, likely offering a pair of turbocharged fours, about which more below. The V-6 was is choice of only about 10 percent of current Accord buyers, however, so the new generation of turbocharged four-cylinder engines should furnish more than acceptable performance and mileage, particularly since the new car should be lighter and more aerodynamic.

Should I buy a 2017 model instead?

Yes, if you’re keen for a good deal on a great car, and especially if you’re among those who want the V-6. Despite a fairly old basic design — the outgoing Accord debuted for 2013 and was freshened for 2016 — the ‘17 remains very worthy of your consideration and should benefit from juicy clearance sales as the redesigned ‘18’s approach.

As with its Civic and its CR-V compact crossover SUV, Honda has its finger on the pulse of what consumers want. The Accord is refined and rides well while delivering an uncommonly sporty driving experience for a car that also excels as a family sedan. Drivers and front passengers get with ample room on very comfortable seats. Same goes for the rear seat on the sedan. Coupes are tighter in back, as you would expect, but they’re not overly cramped. The standard four-cylinder engine won’t accelerate your socks off but it won’t leave you wanting. The V-6 is smooth, strong, and is even available with a manual transmission in some coupe models, which qualify as a rather special driving experience.

The 2017 Accord may also be the only way to get a gas/electric Hybrid variant until at least 2019. Honda re-introduced the Accord Hybrid for the 2017 model year, and it’s entirely possible that the company will maintain production of this vehicle through at least ’18. We find it hard to believe that Honda would invest research and development dollars into a vehicle only to drop it from the lineup after a single model year.

Will the styling be different?

Yes. The freshened 2016 Accord adopted styling elements found in other recently revamped Hondas. The look should evolve for ’18, with shapes less conservative than before but with dimensions and packaging that preserve cabin and cargo space. The interior will likely borrow elements from the redesigned ’16 Civic, as well as some from the upcoming, redesigned 2017 CR-V. The outgoing Accord’s traditional analog instrument panel should be updated with digital LCD readouts. Expect all but the base trim level to include a large touchscreen infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto, and on higher trim levels, GPS navigation. Materials quality – already as selling point — should see a boost as well.

Any mechanical changes?

Yes, lots. Honda will jettison Accord’s naturally aspirated four- and six-cylinder engines for a pair of turbocharged fours. Expect the new standard engine to be the same 1.5-liter Honda uses for most versions of the CR-V and with output similar to the crossover’s 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque. Accord’s current base engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder has 185 and 181, respectively. A 2.0-liter turbo four with in the neighborhood of 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque would replace the V-6, which is rated at 278 and 252, respectively.

Transmissions would trend toward continuously variable automatics, as used throughout the Civic and CR-V lineups and expected in an increasing number of Accord rivals. Seen as a boon to fuel economy, a CVT performs the duties of a conventional automatic transmission, but without stepped gear ratios. Expect it to replace the outgoing Accord’s six-speed automatic transmission. Honda has offered a six-speed manual transmission on lower-trim sedans and some versions of the coupe. It’ll likely continue that for the coupe, but we expect all the redesigned sedans to use a CVT.

An updated version of today’s Accord Hybrid is expected for model-year 2019, possibly as a plug-in hybrid that could travel 20 miles or so on electricity alone. Meantime, if Honda elects to carryover the current hybrid on the old body style, it would again pair a 2.0-liter non-turbo four-cylinder engine and CVT with a battery-powered electric motor to produce a combined 212 horsepower. It would continue to limit electric-only travel to a mile or so, instead running on one or both of its power sources to balance acceleration and fuel economy.

Will fuel economy improve?

Almost certainly. EPA fuel-economy ratings for the ’18 Accord were not released in time for this review. But Honda should easily improve upon ratings already among the best in class for four-cylinder Accords and class-competitive for the V-6. Here are the ratings it would aim to beat: with manual transmission, the ’17 Accord rates 23/32/26 mpg city/highway combined. This increases to 27/36/30 mpg with the CVT. The 1.5-liter turbo expected to power most ’18 models will likely boost these numbers by at least 2-3 mpg.

Today’s V-6 Accords rate 21/33/25 mpg city/highway/combined with automatic transmission. Geared for sporty performance, six-speed-manual V-6 coupes rate 18/28/21 mpg. Moving to a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder should increase these number substantially, as much as 5-6 mpg in all categories.

The Hybrid would remain one of the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans on the market with an EPA rating of 49/47/48 mpg city/highway/combined. Expect Honda to recommend regular-grade 87-octane gasoline for all models.

Will it have new features?

The 2018 Honda Accord may not have “new” features per-se, but rather items that were standard on top-line trim levels may filter down to less expensive models. The lineup will likely reprise base LX, sport-themed Sport, volume EX, upscale EX-L, and flagship Touring for the sedan. Coupes would offer LX-S, EX, EX-L, and Touring versions. Hybrids would reprise base, EX-L, and Touring.

Expect the Honda Sensing suite of active safety features, which is standard on the ’17 Touring and a $1,000 option on most other models, to become standard on EX and higher versions for ’18. Honda Sensing includes adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead; automatic steering correction should you wander from your lane; and autonomous emergency braking to mitigate a frontal collision. Honda Sensing-equipped ’17 Accords achieve Top Safety Pick+ status from the influential Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This industry-coveted status is something Honda will want to maintain on the redesigned model, which is why we expect it to be included on more models.

Otherwise, most of the outgoing Accord’s features will likely carry over, as these cars are quite well equipped out of the box. Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera will return as standard equipment across the board, probably along with keyless entry with pushbutton ignition. Sport models would have a spoiler, lower body kit, and unique alloy wheels, along with a power driver’s seat. EX versions would include a power sunroof, heated front seats, Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot camera, and CarPlay/Android Auto support.

EX-L versions would add leather upholstery and offer an optional navigation system. Said navigation would be standard on the Tourings along with full LED headlights, heated outboard rear seats, and more. Hybrid models would mirror their conventional siblings for equipment, with the base coming closest to the EX sedan. Per Honda tradition, there would be no factory standalone or packaged options. EX-Ls equipped with the available navigation system would be priced as separate models.

How will 2018 prices be different?

They’ll be higher — by how much depends in part on equipment Honda adds to each trim level. Should Honda Sensing become standard on EX and above, we expect those models to have a more significant price increase than the base LX.

For comparison, 2017 Accord sedans range in price from $23,190 for the LX to $35,665 for the Touring (prices here include Honda’s $835 destination fee). Coupes span $24,860 for the LX-S through $35,210 for the Touring. For 2018, figure on a base price of about $24,000 for the LX/LX-S; $25,000 for the Sport sedan; $27,000 for the EX; $30,000 for the EX-L; and $36,000 for the Touring.

Hybrid models run from $30,440-$36,790, and we expect Honda to hold the line here should they carry over for 2018.

When will it come out?

Release date for the 2018 Honda Accord is expected during the first half of calendar 2017.

Best competitors

Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat

What change would make it better?

Honda Sensing as standard equipment across the entire Accord lineup would be tops on our list. Toyota is doing something similar on several of its vehicles, including the Corolla compact car and RAV4 crossover. If the company can see fit to pair a manual transmission with the 2.0-liter turbo engine, at least on the coupe, that would be an appealing combination for enthusiasts, especially those who are turned off by the ostentatious styling of the upcoming 2017 Honda Civic Si, which would use a similar drivetrain.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]