Remember that part of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where they can't see the interior of a spaceship because it's black on black with black buttons that light up black to let you know when you've done something? If only gray were as sexy. We recently tested the new Honda Accord--the mainstay of fuel-efficient family sedans--and were just bored spitless by its gray on grayness with gray accents. Why should you keep reading about a car this mind-smashingly gray? Despite its spectacular grayness, it's a good car (and you can order it in a color). Honda has been making this $20,000 sedan for decades now, and the company is famous for reliability and fuel efficiency without requiring hybrid tech to achieve it. Read on to learn more about the Accord's Econ mode.
We wanted to know how the new Accord could stand up to competitors that are now much more advanced in their own efficiencies. And beyond its threat to put us to sleep at the wheel for sheer boredom, the Accord stood up fairly well. It does have an Econ button to nanny your driving for maximum fuel efficiency, but like many buttons of this kind we didn’t find it helpful. In fact we achieved better fuel economy with the button off, because in Econ mode the car required us to press the accelerator so much harder to get adequate acceleration. So the Econ button not so impressive, but the takeaway is that we were still easily able to achieve 33 mpg without any hybrid tech and without trying very hard. We bet hypermilers could push it closer to 40 mpg, easy. And the Accord, despite appearances, does have plenty of get up and go, so even 33 mpg is pretty good for the size of this car. And if you have more cash to drop, you can buy a plug-in hybrid version of the Accord for $39,000.
Honda has also kept up in interior fit and finish, trim (gray!), and has included XM radio and new features like heated seats and dual-zone climate control. The car even has blind spot cameras that show you what’s in your blind spot via the navigation screen every time you use your turn signal. Honda may have gotten a bit ahead of itself with the Forward Collision Warning system, however, which malfunctioned and startled us so badly while driving on a completely empty road that we nearly did have a collision. Maybe we’re not making a terribly good case for this car. Let’s try again. Yes, the electronic gizmos are inexplicably split between two screens, and the engine while muted retains a bit of that Honda outboard motor sound, but the car is quick, smooth, quiet, comfortable, and who cares if we couldn’t for the life of us figure out how to reset the preferred seat position controls to keep the driver’s seat from inexorably sliding backwards every time we got in the car?
Nobody wants to look like a clown getting in their car, but Honda has been making rock-solid dependable cars forever, and these things are like tortoises. Not in the slow kind of finish the race way, but in the manner in which their lives move so steadily that they will easily outlive you and your great aunt. We bet this new Honda Accord will go down for its awesome reliability, honest fuel efficiency figures, and steely (gray) gaze at the competition. It will get better mileage than you. Just order it in as many colors as they will let you.