Date: January 06, 2012 13:42
The 12-month period spanning from mid-2011 to mid-2012 is huge for Honda, with their three top-selling models undergoing full model changes (FMCs). The 2012 Civic was first, followed by the 2012 CR-V, and soon it will be the Accord's turn. Honda will roll out the concept for the 2013 Accord Coupe early next week at the Detroit Auto Show, so we'll have our first look at the car's styling then. We have heard that the new designs are a little more aggressive, but one source that has seen this coupe concept indicates that it is somewhat of an evolution of the current design.
It should go without saying that Honda is feeling some pressure on nailing this new Accord: so far, the 2012 CR-V has been generally well received, but the 2012 Civic has taken an uncharacteristic beating by a chunk of the media (to the point that Honda has basically admitted the Civic's shortcomings and is working to address them for the 2013 model year). On top of that, the current Accord has trailed not only the Toyota Camry for the past few sales years, but the Nissan Altima even outsold the Accord by more than 33000 units in 2011.
So how does Honda plan on returning the Accord to a position of sales dominance? From what we've heard, the plan is to shrink the car's dimensions a little bit - we received the following tip from one of our sources:
|I have heard from suppliers that the vehicle will be on a shortened version of the current Accord platform, also a shorter wheel base, and overall length of 4-5 inches shorter than the current one. Width will be 1 inch less than current. Interior dimensions will be only slightly less than current|
On the powertrain front, we have heard several things there as well. Supposedly 6-speed automatics are coming to 6-cylinder Accord versions. We're told that the 6MTwill continue to be offered in the V6 coupe. On the 4-cylinder side, we're hearing there is the possibility of a 6-speed manual transmission as well a CVT. If the CVT materializes, our guess it will be the new CVT that Honda demonstrated during the week of the Tokyo Motor Show at Twin Ring Motegi as part of the "Earth Dreams Technology" family of powertrains. This CVT should deliver better fuel economy and better performance compared to the outgoing 5-speed automatic currently used in 4-cylinder Accords.
While I was in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show, I drove a prototype Accord model that was coupled to a new "earth dreams" direct-injection DOHC i-VTEC 2.4L 4-cylinder engine and was impressed not only by the engine's strong and broad torque curve, but by the responsive and direct feel of the new CVT design. I generally despise the lethargic and "laggy" feel of CVTs, but this new "Earth Dreams" CVT exhibited none of these annoying traits.
It seems logical that this combination will appear in the new Accords, though it's unclear whether or not the full "Earth Dreams" package will be ready in time for the 2013 Accord's launch later this year. If not, look for it in a mid-cycle product update for the Accord.
The Accord Hybrid is expected to return to the lineup, though there seems to be a little bit of confusion concerning which form it will take. Some of our sources seem to think it will not be a plugin model. Honda has stated that their new 2-motor hybrid technology will support both plug-in and standard hybrid configurations. Honda has announced that they expect a vehicle with the plug-in configuration to go into production in 2012, while the standard 2-motor hybrid configuration would not go into production until 2013. Reading between the lines, that means that if an Accord Hybrid is launched along with the rest of the lineup in 2012, then it will most likely carry the plug-in technology. If not, then it will probably be use a standard hybrid configuration. For what it's worth, one of our sources has told us that they had heard that the plug-in technology would be saved for a unique standalone model. Stay tuned...
During my time in Japan, I drove a prototype of the "PHEV" (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle). This uses Honda's new "2-motor" Hybrid setup with the so-called "e-CVT" transmission. The fact is, there is no real transmission - simply an electric traction motor, and a 2nd motor/generator connected directly to a gasoline engine that uses VTEC to operate in either an efficient Atkinson cycle or a more powerful Otto cycle when loads demand. At low speeds (below roughly 100kph), the electric traction motor handles all of the drive duties and either runs straight off of battery power, or when demands dictate, from electricity generated via the gasoline engine/generator combo. At high speeds, a clutch engages the gasoline engine directly to the drive motor, for a direct 1:1 drive through the wheels. The PHEV prototype worked quite well, delivering a good feel of smooth and torquey acceleration and keeping the car in pure EV mode wasn't difficult with smooth throttle operation. A sudden demand for full acceleration resulted in the gasoline engine suddenly firing up in order to meet the large demands for electrical current, but the maximum permitted speeds were so low on our driving loop I wasn't able to get a good feel for how this would translate to "real world" driving circumstances. As soon as I could get the engine to fire up I had to lift off the accelerator in order to not seriously breach our very low speed limits. Overall though, I came away impressed by the operation of the system, and if this is what ends up in the 9th generation Accords, it seems like it will be something that will impress many potential buyers, particularly if it lives up to Honda's "top of industry" fuel economy claims.
i-MID and other technology
Also, it almost goes without saying, but we're hearing that the new Accord will be getting the same technology features that were recently introduced on the 2012 CR-V. By these, we're referring to the color i-MID display with Pandora, SMS (text) integration, iPhone, etc. We have also heard that Honda was working on possibly adding a few more features to this integration suite, but with the recent NTSB developments concerning the possible ban of cell-phone usage in vehicles, they have backed off on these features for now.
Last edited by JeffX on
January 06, 2012 14:14