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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Friday auction find

Is this the cleanest Honda Prelude left?

This 22-year-old Honda looks almost new.

Cars and Bids

It's Friday, which means we're rounding out the week by obsessing over sales listings and car auctions. It's a good time to be looking, if only from a distance, because there are cars like this 1999 Honda Prelude Type-SH just waiting for us to take them home.

We hear it all the time, but this is likely one of the cleanest remaining fifth-generation Preludes around today. No modifications have been performed, which alone makes this car rare, but the mileage takes the exclusivity a step further. With just 28,700 miles on the clock, this Prelude is nearly new.

The Prelude's 2.2-liter inline-four made 200 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque when new, and this one's mileage is low enough that those numbers are likely still close to accurate. A five-speed manual is on board here, and despite the fact that the car is front-wheel drive, Honda made numerous upgrades to the car that gave it sharp handling.


1999 Honda Prelude Type SH Manual transmission and patterned cloth seats. Does it get much better?Cars and Bids


The Prelude Type-SH was better than its standard counterpart in nearly every measurable way. It rode on 16-inch alloy wheels and lowered suspension that set it an inch lower than the normal car. It also features an active torque transfer system, which could transfer as much as 80 percent of drive power to the outside wheel during cornering. Independent front and rear suspension rounded out the package to make the Prelude Type-SH a quick and nimble front-drive car.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the nostalgia of these cars. After all, for many of us they bring back fond memories of our school years, when cars like the Prelude were new and unobtainable by most young drivers. Even so, it's important to remember that a 20-plus-year-old Honda won't provide a modern driving experience and won't be as sharp as you probably think it will. That's not enough to stop many people (us included) from wanting one, but it's worth noting.


1999 Honda Prelude Type SH The Type SH features many upgrades over the standard Prelude.Cars and Bids

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New compact car

Honda announces 2022 Civic Hatchback

The 2022 Civic Hatchback features a sweeping shape.

Honda

The new 2022 model year cars are coming. Earlier this month, the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan began arriving at dealerships across the country, but Honda isn't resting there. Instead, the automaker just announced the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback, which will come later in 2021 with European-inspired styling and enthusiast-friendly powertrains.

The Civic Hatchback takes much of its inspiration from the new Civic Sedan that has already begun hitting dealers' lots. The automaker says that the new Hatchback is designed for young, active buyers and notes that it will build the car in the United States for the first time. Production will begin later this year at Honda's Greensburg Indiana Plant.


2022 Honda Civic Hatchback The new Civic Hatchback will be offered with a manual transmission option.Honda


The Civic Hatchback takes its styling cues from European sportback cars. That means a smoother, more stretched-out profile instead of the abbreviated liftback shape typically seen in hatchbacks. The design makes the Civic Hatchback's wheelbase 1.4 inches longer and pushes its rear track width out by half an inch. At the same time, the car is 4.9 inches shorter than its Sedan counterpart.

Since it shares so much with the Civic Sedan, the Hatchback shares many of its counterpart's features. The list includes standard features such as:

  • A 7.0-inch color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Updated suspension and steering tuning
  • New front airbags designed to reduce traumatic brain and neck injuries during a crash
  • Updated Honda Sensing camera system with a new Traffic Jam Assist feature

Honda will also offer upgrades, such as a larger HD touchscreen and a Bose premium audio system for the Sport Touring trim.

Two engines will be offered in the Civic Hatchback, both of which can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission. The base LX and Sport trims come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. The EX-L and Sport Touring trims get a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque.

Buyers who don't want to shift their own gears can continuously variable transmission with either engine. However, buyers that do will be treated to a brand-new manual gearbox, at least in the Sport and Sport Touring models. Honda says it redesigned the transmission to provide a sportier feel. It has improved shift rigidity, shorter shift throws and features a new dual-mass flywheel that reduces noise and vibrations from the drivetrain.


2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Folding rear seats opens the Civic's cargo area for better storage.Honda


Honda has not detailed pricing or exact release date information yet but says that the new car will arrive later this year. Pricing for the 2022 Civic Sedan starts at $21,700 before destination and climbs to $28,300 at the top end.

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