2018 Honda Accord drops mass, adds turbos and 10-speed

  • 14-Jul-2017 06:34 EDT
2018 Accord unveiled.jpg

Honda VP Jeff Conrad introduces the 2018 Accord line in Detroit on July 14, 2017. (Lindsay Brooke photo)

Honda unveiled its 10th generation Accord on July 14 in Detroit, showing four-door Sport, Touring and Hybrid versions of its franchise midsize nameplate that has sold over 13 million units since 1977. The all-new model will be available as a sedan only, according to Jeff Conrad, Senior VP of American Honda.

Designed in Japan with exterior surfacing finalized at Honda’s California studio, the 2018 Accord is up to 176 lb (89 kg) lighter than the outgoing model, depending on trim level. Key technical features include two new turbocharged gasoline engines, the first use of a 10-speed automatic transaxle (Honda’s own 10AT) in a front-drive sedan, and the return to the low-cowl/thin pillar body architecture that built the Accord’s reputation for superior cabin visibility and made it so easy and pleasant to drive.

The new Accord’s interior boasts 2.5 ft3 of additional passenger volume (105.7 ft3 total) and an additional cubic foot of trunk space (total 16.7 ft3) on non-hybrid models. The hybrid Accord now has its lithium battery pack located under the rear seat, expanding trunk space by 3.2 ft3.

The 2018 Accord is also claimed to be the first production vehicle with Near Field Communications capability.

Body and chassis changes

The steel-intensive body structure features 29% ultra-high-strength steel alloys with aluminum used in the hood and some chassis crossmembers, Jay Gazowski, Senior Manager for Product Planning, told Automotive Engineering. High-strength steels (above 440 MPa) are used in 54.2% of the structure, helping to reduce overall vehicle mass by 110 to 176 lb (50 to 89 kg). Extensive use of structural adhesives (also Honda’s first use beyond the Odyssey) boost body torsional rigidity by 32% and first-order bending by 24%, while improving cabin quietness, the company claims.

The latest generation of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure uses a crash-stroke front frame with “tailor-tempered” rear members for improved crash-energy absorption.

The new Accord rides on a 2.16-in (55-mm) longer wheelbase. While overall length and height are reduced by .39 in and .59 in (10 mm and 15 mm, respectively), the body is .39-in wider and track is widened by .20 in. front and .79 in. rear. There is increased front and rear-seat leg room (the latter by almost 2 in (50 mm). Combined with the lower cowl, front roof pillars that are 20% narrower and moved rearward relative to the driver's seating position enable greater driver visibility.

Lead exterior designer Tetsuji Morakawa said the new Accord’s center of gravity is 10 mm lower than that of the outgoing car; Cd of the base model is improved by about 3% he said. The Accord is a “front feeder,” with main air intake through the grill rather than under the front end. New headlamps include available 9-lamp full-LED units and LED fog lights.

Underpinning the body structure is a new Macpherson strut front suspension mounted to a solidly mounted aluminum front subframe. Rear suspension is a multi-link design mounted to an isolated subframe. Compliance bushings front and rear are fluid filled and an adaptive-damper system capable of adjusting shock absorber damping force every 1/500 s improves ride control and compliance, the company claims. All Accords feature an approximate 60/40 front/rear weight distribution.

Accord Sport drivers can tailor the car’s dynamic performance via a two-mode electronic control system that includes a new dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power steering (EPS).

New CVT and hybrid power

2018 Accord propulsion includes two turbo DI 4-cylinder gasoline engines and the latest 2-motor hybrid powertrain. The 10AT is paired with the 2.0-L turbo engine, SAE rated at 252 hp (188 kW) at 6500 rpm and 273 lb·ft (370 N·m) from 1500 to 4000 rpm. The 2.0-L is also available with Honda’s 6-speed manual gearbox. Accords can also be had with Honda’s 1.5-L turbo with dual Variable Timing Control valvegear, SAE rated at 192 hp (143 kW) at 5500 rpm and 192 lb·ft (260 N·m) from 1500 to 5000 rpm. It replaces the incumbent normally aspirated 2.4-L.

The 1.5-L engine is available with Honda’s CVT or 6-speed manual. The redesigned CVT has an 11% lower ratio compared to the outgoing unit for improved launch performance. The 10AT offers a 68% wider ratio spread with a 43% lower first gear and 17% taller top gear compared to the 2017 Accord's 6-speed automatic.

The new hybrid powertrain uses a 2.0-L Atkinson cycle engine with greater than 40% thermal efficiency (highest of any mass-produced Honda engine, the company claims) paired with the first electric motors on any production hybrid to use non-rare-earth magnets.

Inside the cabin

Inside the Accord’s cabin, it’s all new from seating to trim with attention paid to tactile materials quality and appearance, judging by AE’s brief time spent in the cars during the media introduction.

There’s an all-new HMI with 7-inch TFT driver's meter and 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. Jeff Conrad dramatically noted that Honda is reintroducing actual volume and tuning knobs to the audio system; their renewed presence is welcome—the absence of physical knobs (and Honda’s reliance on “slider” controls) has been a much-criticized point for the brand in recent years.

Both 1.5-L and 2.0-L Touring models feature a new 6-in driver's HUD (Head Up Display) with selectable information, including speed, engine rpm, turn-by-turn navigation, and Traffic Sign Recognition. Available connected-car technologies include wireless device charging, automatic Bluetooth phone pairing with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates.

Honda claims to be the first OEM to include an NFC tag in one of its products. NFC chips enable the user of Android Pay and Apple pay smartphones to simply tap the small NFC tag on the instrument panel (identified by a small "N") and the devices will instantly pair with the car's Bluetooth.

To make those phone conversations easier to hear, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in the new Accord is abated with a new sound-insulating package that includes full underbody covers, wheelhouse insulators, alloy wheels with Honda-proprietary resonator technology, sound-absorbing carpet, acoustic laminated windshield glass (front door acoustic glass on EX and above) and a new, three-microphone active noise control system.

All 2018 Accords feature the Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistance suite. SOP is later this summer at the Marysville, OH, complex.

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