Test Drive: 2013 Honda Accord Sedan Touring car test drives honda
Test Drive: 2013 Honda Accord Sedan Touring car test drives honda
2013 Honda Accord Sedan Touring. Click image to enlarge
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Honda Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2013 Honda Accord Sedan Touring

When I first saw the Accord Coupe ‘Concept’ make the rounds at auto shows this past year, my initial reaction was “Huh? Is this the new car, or a body kit?”

When we published our First Drive of the 2013 Honda Accord, I combed through the pictures and wondered, “Umm, so what’s new?”

Well, I’m not wondering anymore. While I haven’t spent extensive amounts of time behind the wheels of previous Accords, I have driven examples of the past few generations at various times, but they were never as charming as the fourth-generation manual-transmission ’92 Accord DX my friend had that saw college-kid levels of abuse (from several college-age owners), many at my own hands, in my university days. In fact, the last one I drove, a brief trip across town in the 2012 Accord EX-L reviewed by Mike Schlee earlier this year seemed downright characterless.

There’s nothing like intense competition to bring out the best in some people and companies. The 2013 Honda Accord may not be a BRZ or a GTI, but the magic is back.

And I’m not talking about a Coupe V6 manual as we drove at AJAC’s TestFest, but a run-of-the-mill four-cylinder automatic Sedan. Okay, ‘automatic’ is a stretch, as the transmission in this sedan wasn’t one of Honda’s brilliant manual transmissions, nor was it their ubiquitous five-speed automatic but rather a vilified CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). We were discussing CVTs when returning cars the other day, and the prevalence of owners who really don’t care what connects the engine to the wheels so long as it doesn’t break. For most of them, any CVT will do.

Now, to completely simplify the technical side of CVTs, imagine them as heavy duty rubber bands wrapped around a pair of cones and the band rides up and down the cone instead of engaging larger and smaller gears. The advantage is that the gear ratios are theoretically infinite within the range and you can tune the transmission to run at its most efficient speed more often, but the effect is that the engine speeds tend to leap on throttle application, and the bands and cones make a brand of noise that few people appreciate.

Test Drive: 2013 Honda Accord Sedan Touring car test drives honda
2013 Honda Accord Sedan Touring. Click image to enlarge

I’m a proponent of CVTs done right and the advantages they offer, and feel that Nissan is on the right track with their Pathfinder/JX and Murano (Rogue and Versa, not so much), but this CVT goes beyond that. Honda’s CVT does the best impression of a typical automatic transmission that I have yet to drive. Actually, perhaps I am selling it short when I say “typical”, because this CVT imitates good automatic transmissions and leaves me wanting CVT. Acceleration is smooth, engine rpm changes are not too sudden but smooth and quick, there is no droning buzz or whine at (high) highway speeds, and the CVT balances peak efficiency and acceleration with natural engine response. According to Honda’s press materials: “The CVT features a G-Design Shift logic that is designed to offer more acceleration response than conventional automatics or other CVT designs, while offering a sporty driving experience exceeding all other CVTs.” I find it hard to argue with any of that.

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