Review: 2015 Honda Accord V6 Touring

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The Accord has been a sales volume leader in the midsize segment for many years now and it makes up for more than a quarter of Honda’s 1.5 million annual North American sales. So how does the latest fare?

The car we received from Honda was a top-of-the-line 2015 V6 Touring packed with all the bells and whistles Honda could throw at it. At an MSRP of $35,630 before destination the Touring is reasonably priced for a large, powerful, and fully loaded vehicle that, at least on paper, ticks many of the boxes buyers are looking for in a midsize sedan.

At the heart of the 9th generation V6 Accord is a familiar 3.5 litre J-series motor with single overhead cam roots dating back to the late 90’s. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds though as this latest “Earth Dreams” variant features cylinder deactivation and a healthy 278 hp that helps this almost 3600 lb sedan get to 100 km/h in under 6 seconds. 

Earth dreams. The stuff dreams are made of. Sorta.

Earth dreams. The stuff dreams are made of. Sorta.

It’s a powerful engine that can catch you off guard when you put your foot down depending on what mood the transmission is in, however at city speeds the accelerator is a tad touchy and you may find the wheels spinning more than you intended to.

Unlike the smooth J-series, the 6-speed automatic gearbox in all V6 accords does a poor job of hiding the fact that it’s a few generations behind. From a performance standpoint, it lacks the shiftable gate/paddles and intuitive response on most modern 8-speeds. However, jerky shifts compromise comfort and the gear ratios don’t do this car any favours in fuel economy. Around town a real world average of 12L/100km puts it in the ballpark of some more practical AWD crossovers, but the recommended regular grade gasoline does win it back some points. We’ve heard good things about the new CVT on the 4 cylinder Accord and were impressed by the 2.4 engine in the Acura TLX, so if you don’t mind losing a street race or two, the smaller motor has a much better fuel economy rating, saves $3k in MSRP, and might just be the better buy.

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We weren’t sure what to expect when it came to steering feel as the 4-wheel steering equipped TLX was one of the best electric power steering systems we’ve driven, but the Fit easily being the worst. The Accord fell much closer to the Fit and had the same vagueness that plagued that system. The chassis itself has the mechanical grip to corner at decently quick speeds but the lack of communication meant zero confidence and sadly made the Accord rather unrewarding to drive on a windy road. What matters more in a practical midsize sedan was comfort and the Accord does adequately with a compliant albeit noisy-at-times suspension. 

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Styling-wise the Accord is clean cut with a good combination of sport and luxury in its design whilst remaining fairly inoffensive and appealing to the masses (important if you’re trying to sell 400,000 a year in North America!). There were some chrome bits that didn’t look the greatest on our White Orchid Pearl press car, but would look quite sharp on a darker colour. When parked in a stall, there’s no hiding the massive 191.4” body which is longer than some SUV’s such as the Mercedes ML or BMW X5. I’ll be honest, it’s reasons like this that dissuade me from the large sedan format; parking is a bit of a chore yet lacks the practicality of cars with smaller footprints. A loaded version of Honda’s own CR-V is priced similarly to our tester (albeit with a 4-cylinder) but adds AWD, a significantly larger trunk/hatch area, and is a whole foot shorter than the Accord.

That being said, the heated rear seat of the Accord Touring is quite impressive with considerably better headroom and legroom than the similarly sized Mazda 6 which we reviewed a while back. From the driver’s seat, the Accord offers fair visibility which is improved quite a lot by Honda’s signature LaneWatch display is paired well to a high mounted 8” screen.

High mounted screen made viewing easy for the eyes, but the bottom screen and buttons made the center console rather busy to look at.

High mounted screen made viewing easy for the eyes, but the bottom screen and buttons made the center console rather busy to look at.

 

Front seat bolstering is minimal as expected in a car like this, but they’re supportive and comfortable on long highway drives. The interior wood trim is so dark it looked more like a brushed black aluminum piece and is used so sparingly in the cabin that we just didn’t see the point. Most controversial of all however was the multi-level HVAC/infotainment controls and multi-screen setup. We found this busy and ergonomically inferior to use while driving, the tilted screens are quite susceptible to glare and the dimly lit grey gauges offer poor daytime legibility.

We’ve ripped on Honda in the past for having the worst navigation system on the market, and unfortunately the Accord is no different. Voice command is a lost cause and controlling the infotainment using the awkwardly positioned dial just doesn’t compare to the experience on higher end German cars. The 360W 7-speaker sound system is tinny regardless of media source and it wasn’t particularly obvious what the steering wheel controls did when I first hopped in the car. Not helping the cause, the bluetooth took over 10 seconds to connect after the vehicle was started and lagged significantly whenever you wanted to use playback controls such as skipping a song. The gadgetry employed in this car was a bit disappointing meant to fit a spec sheet rather than designed to wow the user. 

At the end of the day, the 2015 Accord V6 Touring makes a lot of sense on paper and compared to our beloved Mazda 6 (review here), offers a significantly better back seat and almost an extra 100 horses at the same price point. However, the subpar engineering of the powertrain, chassis, and tech left us thoroughly unimpressed. Initial Canadian sales figures for this 9th generation Accord were roughly 20% lower than the 8th generation and we can see why. Unfortunately, without enough development it feels like the Accord is falling behind from what was once its throne. 

With CEO Takanobu Ito stepping down earlier this year, Honda hopes to recover their reputation for quality and engineering, so we’re excited to see what’s in the pipeline. While we can’t responsibly recommend the V6 Touring over any of its competitors, its cousin, the similarly priced Acura TLX is worth a look. While at the base model trim, the TLX may not tick off as many boxes as this loaded Accord, the overall product feels more substantial and better embodies the philosophies we used to associate with the Honda brand.

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