Still a beauty, but loses a unique powertrain. The 2021 Honda Accord looks incredible inside and out, but it competes in a class chock-full of surprisingly premium-looking sedans. It also has potent powertrain options, but so do many of its competitors.
The one thing that set the Accord apart from the crowd was its manual transmission. Sadly, this is gone in this year's Accord.
Potent turbocharged engines, RIP manual transmission. The Accord continues with its healthy allotment of turbocharged power, starting with the 192-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder and capping with the 252-hp 2.0-liter four-pot. These keep it in line with most competitors, but the Toyota Camry's optional 301-hp V6 leads the pack.
The star of the Accord's powertrain has long been its available six-speed manual transmission, an endangered species in this class. In 2021, the manual gearbox takes one more step toward extinction, as Honda drops it from the Accord. Buyers now get a continuously variable transmission with the base engine or a 10-speed automatic with the 2.0-liter.
Buyers in the Snowbelt who need all-wheel drive can skip the Accord, as it's available in front-wheel drive only. These buyers will prefer the optional AWD in the Nissan Altima or the Subaru Legacy, which gets it standard.
If a hybrid is in your future, the Accord Hybrid delivers 232 total hp and an EPA-estimated 48 miles per gallon combined. If you opt for the Accord Hybrid Touring, its larger wheels will cost a drop in fuel economy to 43 mpg combined.
These numbers are OK, but they're below the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid's up to 52 mpg combined. On the other side of the equation, the Sonata Hybrid has 40 fewer hp than the Accord Hybrid, and the Camry Hybrid is 24 hp short of the Accord Hybrid, so there are some trade-offs to consider.
Loads of space and features. Inside, the Honda Accord is a place to spend some serious time soaking in all the midsize class has to offer. Most of its competitors have comfy cabins with lots of room, but the Accord is something special.
The Accord can seat five with relative comfort, but it's best suited for four people. Rear-seat riders get front-seat comfort with plenty of support and 40.4 inches of leg room. This easily beats all the Accord's key competitors, as its closest rivals are the Camry at 38 inches, the Mazda Mazda6 at 38.7 inches, and the Legacy at 38.5 inches. The class' real sore spots are the Sonata (34.8 inches) and Altima (35.2 inches).
On top of its roomy back seat, the Accord also has a cavernous trunk with 16.7 cubic feet of space. Its nearest competitor is the 16-cubic-foot trunk in the Sonata. Every other midsize sedan comes up far short on trunk space, including the Legacy (15.1 cubic feet), Camry (15.1 cubic feet), Mazda6 (14.7 cubic feet), and Altima (15.4 cubic feet).
Features are also abundant in the Accord. Its base LX trim comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and dual-zone climate control, beating the Camry and Legacy's standard 7-inch screens and the Mazda6's lack of standard smartphone integration.
Mature styling inside and out. The Accord gained tons of fans in its last redesign, as it took a giant step toward a more mature look inside and out. Highlighting the exterior is the Accord's upright grille, LED headlights, clean body lines, shallow-raked C-pillars, and array of wheel options.
Inside, the Accord comes in various shades of tan and gray, offending not a single eye. The cabin also features an elegant design that punches well above its class.
Though it offends no one, the Accord's timid looks may bore more adventurous buyers. These shoppers can hit the polar opposite in styling with the wild Sonata or find a stylistic middle ground in the refined and sporty Mazda6.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Honda Accord has been a top seller for many years for good reasons. It has wonderful styling, a surprisingly upscale interior, loads of features, a cavernous cabin and trunk, and much more. But it's now got big-time competition from all angles, including the sudden surge of the stylish and well-equipped Hyundai Sonata.
Buyers who prefer a more daring design will find this in the Sonata or Mazda6. Want more power and a sportier drive? The Toyota Camry's V6 offers incredible straight-line acceleration, and its TRD model tosses in a sportier suspension and look.
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