Although they look friendly enough, the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion are the toughest kids on the block. In terms of market appeal and sheer competitiveness, neither gives up an inch, as sales figures confirm. Toyota's Camry is up here, too, but the Honda and Ford are all-new this year and primed for battle like never before. Let's get ready to rumble.
After generations of incremental upsizing, the Accord reverses course this year with a learner body and improved driving dynamics. It's markedly more athletic than its predecessor, with crisp handling and a medium-firm suspension that make the Accord feel smaller than it is.
Despite this renewed emphasis on performance, the Accord keeps its family-car virtues. There's more rear legroom and trunk space than before, and the engines have been tweaked for better fuel economy.
Where Ford Shines
The Fusion enjoys bold new styling that only a class leader could get away with in this conservative segment. The unique look seems appropriate for a car that is indeed a standout by virtue of its advanced technology and spirited performance.
On the road, the Ford always manages to be quiet and composed, imparting the feel of an entry-level luxury car. There are no V6 engines available anymore, but a 2-liter turbo provides similar performance while using less fuel -- and can be paired with all-wheel drive.
Can There Be A Winner?
When two models do so much so well, any staunch critic is on thin ice. Both the Accord and Fusion deserve the hefty market shares they get. The Accord also deserves its decades-old reputation for providing long-lasting value and a rewarding driving experience.
By comparison, the Fusion is a newcomer with more to prove, and does so with each year on the market. It's no longer just a highly competitive sedan, but a benchmark in its own right. The Fusion has been a game-changer for Ford, on par with the original Taurus and Mustang.
Our Verdict: Honda Accord
By virtue of its return to sportiness and fine pedigree, we give the Accord the title in this highly contested bout.