Looks like the days of “bumpers and headlights” mid-cycle refreshes are on their way out. Things happen fast in the world of the family sedan, and today, more updates come more often, and lately, more deeply, than ever.
Not long ago, a mid-cycle update consisted of new lights, bumpers, and a new piece of trim around the instrument cluster. In human terms, it was like changing your lipstick and shoes, or getting a shave and a haircut.
Today, mid-cycle updates are altering vehicle structural properties, suspension systems, chassis components, safety equipment, connectivity features and plenty more – and the latest Honda Accord is a rolling example of the trend.
The recent Canadian Car of the Year award winner and much-loved-by-many family sedan sales superstar has just gone under the knife. Lipstick and shoes be damned: 2016 sees the new Accord tweaked on the exterior with a new fascia, new taillamps and extended use of LED technology throughout. Sedans get a new hood that’s made of aluminum and sculpted for additional aerodynamically greasiness, saving 8 kg and a bit of fuel in the process. The fascia is more aggressive, changing its message from “Oh, hello, I’m a Honda Accord!” to “Move. Now.” when seen in another driver’s rearview.
The Accord’s structure is beefed up, reinforced where the suspension bolts to the body for a more precise foundation from which to tune ride and handling. New premium shock absorbers and higher-volume bushings work to fine-tune the ride on rough roads, while a revised steering knuckle design helps increase response as the wheel is first turned. That’s all dialed in against a new steering rack that’s heavier at speed, lighter during parking, and feels more polished and refined overall – even if Accord is still no pinnacle of steering feel or feedback.
The trick new steering system can even act on its own, self-steering slightly to neutralize the wheel-pull inherent when driving in a cross-wind, or on an uneven surface with lots of road crown. It even lets the new Honda Sensing system take control, slightly, if the car is leaving the roadway, lighting up an alert in the dash, and then providing a wriggle through the steering wheel to encourage the car back into the roadway via a slight and discreet amount of self-steering.
Other features of Honda Sensing include collision mitigation braking, lane departure alert and adaptive cruise control. Notably, Honda’s making this system available or standard on every non-manual Accord sold (that’s about 85 percent of them), marking the heaviest roll-out of advanced safety tech in this segment yet. Honda Sensing is available on models as low as the LX with automatic CVT transmission, and is standard on EX-L grade and higher.
Outbound: Test Drive: 2015 Honda Accord V6
Ultimately, though, your thirty-something tech-obsessed writer left most impressed with an update that’s taken place right in the Accord’s dashboard.
As advanced, next-level and high-tech as systems like Android Auto and Apple Car Play are, they operate with a polished simplicity, the first time you meet them. You pair your phone via Bluetooth, one time, in about eight seconds, with no lagging, waiting, or swearing. Then you plug in a USB cable, hit a button on the 7.0-inch nav screen, and (drumroll, please) your Apple iPhone or Android handset display is up-scaled into the dash.