How will the 2019 Honda Accord defend its claim as America’s unsurpassed new-car value?

2019 Honda Accord

2019 Honda Accord

What changes will make the 2019 Honda Accord different?

Maybe a new color or two, hopefully a more liberal distribution of safety features, almost certainly higher prices, definitely tougher competition. Coming off a complete model-year-2018 redesign, Honda’s four-door sedan will largely stand pat for 2019 as it defends its entirely credible claim as, dollar-for-dollar, the best car you can buy. Trouble is, fewer people are buying cars.

Indeed, the midsize-car class, once America’s dominant automotive segment, is suffering as buyers reposition the crossover SUV as the nation’s favorite family vehicle. Sales fell 16 percent in 2017 and dropped another 17 percent through May 2018. The ranks are thinning, too. Chrysler and Dodge have killed their entries and Ford’s going to stop selling cars except for the sporty Mustang and a Focus-based compact crossover.

That’ll cull the Fusion from Accord’s competitive set. In the meantime, though, it’ll have to contend with the rejuvenated Toyota Camry, one of only two cars in the class whose sales are up, and fend off the 2019 Nissan Altima, fully redesigned for 2019 and newly available with all-wheel drive. For its part, Accord still trails only the Camry in sales, even in the midst of a 14-percent decrease in demand during its model-year-2018 change over.

Why should I wait for the 2019?

If you like the 2018, you probably shouldn’t. Prices will surely increase for the ’19, even though it’ll be a virtual mirror image of the 2018 Accord. It’ll retain the sleek new styling, upgraded features, and trio of new engines that came with the redesign. Honda could expand available color choices, but don’t expect it to alter much else – though we’d urge it to extend blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection to the least expensive trim levels. That driver assist was included on all other 2018 Accords, bolstering the laudable array of safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, that will remain standard on every ’19 model.

Otherwise, the ’19 Accord should repeat as a front-wheel-drive four-door five-seater available with a choice of three powertrains — two turbocharged four-cylinder engines and a high-mileage hybrid. Look for trim levels to again begin with the base LX grade and ascend through Sport, EX, EX-L, EX-L with navigation, and top-line Touring trims. The 2019 Accord Sport models should remain – along with the entry-level Mazda 6 – the only cars in the segment available with manual transmission.

Should I buy a 2018 model instead?

Yes, if you among those resistant to the crossover clarion and want to experience the cutting-edge in 21st-century affordable-sedan design. The all-new 10th-generation 2018 Accord adopted Honda’s brilliant new vehicle architecture, a remarkably rigid, space-efficient, and sporty-driving platform worthy of cars with premium-class credentials. Honda dropped the two-door-coupe body style and gave the surviving sedan an aggressive new shell that’s smaller on the outside yet roomier inside.

It also killed the V-6 engine option and jumped aboard the all-four-cylinder trend sweeping the segment. Among 2018 rivals, only the Camry, Fusion, Nissan Altima and Maxima, Subaru Legacy, and Volkswagen Passat offered six-cylinder engines. That cohort will continue to shrink as automakers phase out or redesign their midsize cars over the next few years. Buying a 2018 Accord not only saves you a few bucks on an essentially unchanged car but extends your time with styling that won’t be tweaked until at least model-year 2021.

Will the styling be different?

No; the 2019 Accord will be a mirror image of the 2018. It’ll retain the raked profile, sharply creased bodywork, and bolder nose and tail that came on line with the ’18 redesign. To the 2013-2017 Accord, Honda added 2.1 inches of wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) and trimmed 0.39 inches of body length, giving the new car briefer sheetmetal overhangs that, combined with a slight increase in width and a half-inch reduction in height, created a fresh, athletic presence.

Visual distinctions among model grades will remain minimal, with the LX and EX-level trims identified by 17-inch alloy wheels instead of the 19-inch alloys of the other Accords. All but the LX should again come with fog lamps while LED headlamps and chrome instead of body-colored door handles stay exclusive to the Touring. All will again feature the largest trunk in the class, a 16.7-cubic-foot hold compromised only by goose-neck lid hinges that cleave into cargo placed in their path.

Benefitting from that wheelbase stretch, the ’19 Accord’s cabin will remain among the roomiest in the class overall. There’s notably generous legroom front and rear, but the low-slung styling places the seats quite near floor-level. That gives this sedan a decidedly sporty character but can’t quite overcome the rear-seat headroom squeeze put on tall passengers with long torsos. The quality and fit and finish of interior materials, the crisply defined instrument and control markings, the precision movement of every button and knob will again elevate the 2019 Accord’s interior to class-above standards. All models will reprise a tablet-like central dashboard screen of 7-inch diameter on the LX and 8 inches on the others.

Any mechanical changes?

No. All 2019 Accord trim levels will again come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that should again have 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Accord models with this engine carry a 1.5T suffix. Expect Sport 1.5Ts to again be available with a six-speed manual transmission; optional there and standard otherwise will be a continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT.

Again available on all but the LX and the basic EX will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four of 252 horses and 273 pound-feet. Triggering the 2.0T suffix, this engine should again be available with a six-speed manual in the Sport trim; optional there and standard otherwise will be a conventional 10-speed automatic. CVT and automatic-equipped Sport and Touring models come with steering-wheel paddle shifters.

All but the Sport grade should again be available with a hybrid powertrain that pairs a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with battery-electric-motor power. Net output is 212 horsepower (Honda doesn’t quote a torque figure) and it’ll again mate with a CVT. This is not a plug-in hybrid and cannot travel for any significant distance on battery power alone. It relies primarily on the gas engine, with the motor assisting automatically. The battery is recharged via regenerative braking and coasting and via the engine’s capability as a generator.

Acceleration should remain more than adequate on 1.5T models and spirited on the 2.0Ts, with the caveat that there’s little off-boost power. Indeed, movement off the line can be disconcertingly weak – which you’ll need to compensate for when launching across a busy street. The CVT and conventional automatic are creditable examples of their type. The added engine control afforded by the manual transmission is a boon to acceleration with either engine, both off the line and especially in spirited driving. We haven’t yet tested a 10th-generation Accord Hybrid, but the near-identical powertrain in the slightly heavier 9th-generation provided surprisingly good performance with no notable compromise in driveability.

Compromised is the operative term for the toll taken on ride quality by the 19-inch wheels on Sport and Touring models. Their short-sidewall tires contribute to pounding over sharp bumps and ridges that erases the blissful blend of comfort and control provided by the stodgier but sensible 17-inchers. They generation more road noise, too, detracting from the car’s otherwise laudably quiet cabin. On the upside, the 20s hone to a fine edge Accord’s already exceptional steering response and cornering acumen. Bottom line: even the entry-level LX exhibits road manners that inspire confidence in any situation and stimulate the enthusiast impulse in every driver.

Will fuel economy improve?

With unaltered powertrains and no other changes, 2019 Accord EPA ratings should report those of the 2018 model. That would again place this sedan near the very top of the midsize-car segment.

In the 2019 Accord 1.5T line, expect the LX, EX, EX-L, and EX-L with navigation models with their standard CVT to again rate 30/38/33 mpg city/highway/combined and for the Touring and the CVT-equipped Sport to rate 29/35/31 mpg. With manual transmission, the 1.5T Sport should again rate 26/35/30 mpg city/highway combined.

In the 2.0T line, expect the EX and EX-L with navigation models with their standard 10-speed automatic transmission to again rate 23/34/27 mpg city/highway/combined and for the Touring and the automatic-equipped Sport to rate 22/32/26. With manual transmission, the 2.0.T Sport should again rate 22/32/26.

Repeating at 47/47/47 mpg city/highway/combined all model grades of the 2019 Accord Hybrid should continue to trail only Camry’s entry level LE-trim hybrid (51/53/52 mpg) for fuel-economy supremacy among midsize sedans. Expect Honda to continue recommend regular-grade 87-octane gasoline for all ’19 Accords.

Will it have new features?

Unlikely. The 2018 Accord was fully up to date in terms of driver-assistance, connectivity, and convenience features and there’s little to add for ’19 — although there’s some opportunity for feature-shuffling among trim levels.

All ’19 Accords will again come standard with the Honda Sensing suite, highlighted by forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking that can stop the car to prevent a frontal collision. Honda Sensing also includes lane-departure alert with automatic steering correction and adaptive cruise control that can maintain a set distance from traffic ahead, even in stop-and-go congestion. Rounding out the driver assists is blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection, which for 2018 was included on all Accords except the LX and Sport 1.5T models. We’d urge Honda to add it to those trims for ’19.

Equipment rosters should otherwise be unchanged and again follow the automaker’s policy of eschewing options in favor of a set collection of standard features for each model grade. Expect dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton ignition, and a multi-angle rearview camera to remain standard across the board. EX and 1.5T Sport should continue with remote engine start and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. The 2.0T Sport and all EX variants, hybrid included, will build on that with a power sunroof, power driver seat, heated front seats, blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection, and remote engine start.

The 2019 Accord EX-L will again add leather upholstery, memory driver seat, power front-passenger seat, upgraded audio system, and a built-in garage door transmitter. EX-L with navigation and the Touring grades will continue with an imbedded navigation system. In keeping with their flagship status, the Touring should continue as the sole 2019 Accord with a head-up instrument display, full LED headlights, HondaLink telematics with built-in WiFi hotspot, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, front- and rear-obstacle detection, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and wireless smartphone charging.

How will 2019 prices be different?

Count on some increase, although it should be modest, given wavering demand and more focused competition. Price estimates in this review include Honda’s destination fee, which was $890 on the 2018 Accord.

In the 1.5T line, estimated 2019 Accord prices are $24,900 for the LX, $26,900 for the Sport (with either transmission), $28,700 for the EX, $31,300 for EX-L, $32,300 for the EX-L with navigation, and $35,100 for the Touring.

In the 2019 Accord 2.0T line, estimated prices are $31,600 for the Sport (with either transmission), $33,100 for the EX-L, $34,100 for the EX-L with navigation, and $37,100 for the Touring. Expect 2019 Accord Hybrid prices to range from $26,400 for the LX model to $36,000 for the Touring trim.

When will it come out?

Release date for the 2019 Honda Accord is expected during the first half of calendar 2018.

Best competitors

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

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]