Behind the Wheel

2021 Honda Accord Review: Doesn't cost a lot to make this sedan sporty

The 2021 Honda Accord Sport is a budget-friendly model with a lot of pep.

Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Critics and buyers have loved the Honda Accord for a few decades now. Though it's frequently compared to the Toyota Camry, there's some models in its class that are giving the Accord a run for its money - the Mazda Mazda6, Subaru Legacy, Kia K5, and the Hyundai Sonata just to name a few.

Where the Accord wins versus the competition isn't on price or features, styling or appointments, tech or drivetrain. It wins because it's a whole package, especially as tested in the 2021 Accord Sport variety.

For the new model year, Honda has focused on updating the fascia and improving the tech in the Accord. They're all good gains.

2021 Honda Accord Sport The car's wheels help elevate the sporty profile of the car.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

For the 2021 model year, Honda sells the Accord in six trim levels: LX, Sport 1.5T, Sport Special Edition (SE), EX-L, Sport 2.0T, and Touring. Honda leant the Sport 2.0T, which has an upgraded powerful 2.0-liter turbo-four is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and produces 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It's available in Accord Sport 2.0T and Touring grades. The 2.0-liter is far more fun to drive than the base 1.5-liter four-pot.

Honda has done a good job differentiating the Accord from the Acura lineup, making its drive dynamics not nearly as athletic as the TLX's but still engaging, while allowing for pointed steering and easy maneuverability. Acceleration won't knock anyone's socks off, but that's not a reason to ignore the Accord. The Accord Sport has paddle shifters, which work better for mountain driving situations than they do for deriving true sport functionality, as you would get with a manual transmission.

Honda has also upgraded the braking system for 2021, designing it to engage more smoothly, especially at low speeds. The result is measured performance that is neither grabby nor soft.

Honda upholsters the Accord Sport with cloth seats but nice finishes elsewhere. While a lot of attention is given to leather upholstery, there's actually nothing wrong with the cloth seats. The ones in the Accord Sport are not only attractive but don't draw the heat of the sun or cold of the clouds and snow into them like leather does.

2021 Honda Accord Sport The interior of the Accord Sport is well appointed.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Buyers can spec their Accord Sport with a number of options, including appearance and weather protection packages. But, with the 2.0-liter powertrain, it already comes loaded with most of the desirable features buyers want including an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen, 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, eight-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a leather shift knob, rear spoiler, sport pedals, chrome exhaust finishers, fog lights, moonroof, heated front seats, remote keyless entry and engine start, and a wireless device charger.

The Honda Accord Sport starts at $27,430. Upgrading the engine adds $4,530 to that price tag, but also gets you the moonroof, heated seats, power-adjustable driver's seat, remote functionality, and device charger. That brings the MSRP of the Sport 2.0T to near $32,000. Knock a few bucks off in dealership negotiations and you're sitting quite pretty for under $30,000.

In the Sport trim level, the Accord is just as nice as Mazdas, nicer than the K5, and on-par with the Sonata. The Mazda is equally as engaging to drive but its infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired.

2021 Honda Accord Sport Honda's steering wheel makes operation of radio, cruise control, and driver assist features easy.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

2021 Honda Accord Sport

Subaru offers all-wheel drive standard on the Legacy, something the Accord does not. But, it's not as powerful nor is its infotainment system as nicely designed. The Sonata also isn't as powerful and the sporty Sonata N Line grade takes track-readiness a step too far, ruining ride quality. The K5 might end up being the Accord's closest competitor with plenty of power, but the interior is more parts bin than is optimal.

But what about the Camry? The Toyota, now with available all-wheel drive, does offer a lot to its customer base, but it's aging quickly, especially the interior. Other models offer just as good dependability and for a lower price. They're also more fun to drive.

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The 11th-generaiton Honda Civic Sedan has broken cover.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co.

Marie was a little bit country and Donny was a little bit rock and roll. The design of the redesigned 2022 Honda Civic Sedan looks a little bit modern and a little bit vintage - and it's all a heck of a lot less polarizing than the previous generation.

Today Honda has offered the first official fully lighted glimpse of the 11th-generation Civic, which is set to officially debut April 28. The design of the model was previewed last year with the Civic Prototype.

2022 Honda Civic Prototype The 2022 Honda Civic Prototype showed off a nearly production-ready design late last year. Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda openly admits that the look of the new Civic was inspired by the last. Head into the trove of internet photos of the fourth- and fifth-generation Civic to see parallels in design. Honda said that designers upheld Honda's human-centric design philosophy in the new model while also increasing the safety.

The result is a car that looks very much like a sedan but still retains sporty attributes. It also looks more like the Accord in this generation than the last. In the photo provided by Honda, the new Civic is in Touring trim level form.

Honda said that the car's interior design, which they haven't shown photos of yet, is "uncluttered", has "simple ergonomics", and delivers "exceptional visibility".

The 2022 Civic will arrive on dealership lots this summer.

Also this summer, the Honda Civic Tour will return for its 20th season. There will be two stops on the virtual tour that will be livestreamed on the Honda Stage YouTube channel. The first event will start at 5:00 p.m. PT, on April 28. The virtual concert event on Twitch will also give Civic Tour fans a special first look at the all-new 2022 Honda Civic Sedan around 6:00 p.m. PT, leading into the performance.

As previously announced, the all-new Civic Hatchback will follow Civic Sedan production by several months. Details about Civic Hatchback, to be manufactured by Honda in the United States for the first time in its history, will follow later this year. The Civic Hatchback will be built at the company's Indiana auto plant.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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