honda accord v6 l road test
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the honda accord v6l is a refined, smooth performer that offers great passenger space in a luxurious cabin and an enviable roll-call of safety electronics. but, at $52,590 (plus on-road costs), it is an expensive competitor in a surprisingly extensive rollcall of competitors.
honda’s accord is an underserving insignificance in the medium-large passenger car segments.
underserving because its existence so far as a competent if somewhat pricey large-class competitor has been overshadowed by its smaller but more dynamic (and discontinued) accord euro sibling. and insignificant because, well, the buying public hasn’t actually rallied around to support it.
on the sales carts, the accord barely registers a blip compared to other contenders such as subaru liberty, toyota aurion, mazda 6 – or the ford falcon and holden commodore.
preconceptions about what the “full-size” accord actually is have not done it any favours. in the past it’s been relegated into stodge status, mainly because the dynamic and highly thought-of euro (rightfully so) captured all the plaudits.
today the accord bears the standard as honda’s only medium-size four-door sedan and those who always reckoned the euro stood head and shoulders over it don’t seem to have budged from that view.
and fair enough. the accord, even in its vastly improved ninth generation (introduced locally as long ago as 2013) is no euro. but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad, or not a decent competitor for its liberty, aurion, mazda 6, falcon and commodore rivals.
in $52,590 (plus on-road costs) v6l form, the accord is a bit of a leap of faith in customer preparedness to spend big – regardless of the depth of safety tech, quality and capability – on a honda sedan.
sure, it’s got pretty much everything you’d expect: as well as a swag of safety technology including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, auto high-beam, multi-angle reversing camera and six airbags it also comes with (low-beam-only) led headlights featuring auto high beam and see-around-the-corner capability, leather trim, dual eight-way power front seats, a sunroof, sunshades for rear and side windows and active noise control that uses the sound system’s speakers to counteract intrusive frequencies when on the move.
powertrain is an appropriate description of the engine. the normally aspirated 3.5-litre v6 pumps out a solid 206kw/339nm, which are pretty strong figures for its size and add up to a favourable power-weight ratio of 123w/kg, which is better than all its six-cylinder rivals apart from the holden commodore sv6 and toyota aurion.
honda’s v6l accord is the strong, silent type. the creamy single-camshaft-per-head i-vtec engine, though a bit reliant on revs to produce both kw and nm, works well with the grade logic control six-speed auto transmission – complete with shift paddles – to impart a nicely effortless gait that is complemented by the composed ride and the low sound levels contributed to by the active noise control.
that said, the honda is not impressive for its ability to hold speed, or operate consistently when the active cruise control is switched on. there’s little of the precision evident in euro cars using similar systems. in fact some euros using just a regular cruise control system are lot better at holding a chosen speed through judicious, autonomous brake application. more refinement please, honda.
with its strut front and multi-link rear suspension, the accord v6l steers well, too, though there’s never any suggestion it’s a slightly overblown euro. of course the v6l weighs 90kg or so more than the similarly-equipped vti-l four-cylinder equivalent, mostly concentrated on the front end, so there’s an inherent tendency to push a little more than its lighter sibling in corners.
but put it up against any of its front-drive v6 rivals and it’s not left wanting. it points with reasonable accuracy, grips well with its 235/45-series tyres and the four-wheel disc brakes are up to the task.
we thought the electrically-assisted steering was pretty well weighted, if a little slow, but were less than impressed with the 11.8m turning circle (11.4m for four-cylinder variants). it always seemed like a lot more.
the v6l’s variable cylinder management (vcm) system shuts down the front three cylinders when they’re not contributing anything to power output, with the intention of helping fuel economy. it operates in a way that – unlike, say, the shut-down strategy used in chrysler v8s – is imperceptible to driver or passengers.
what vcm actually contributes to fuel economy isn’t detailed by honda, although we were pretty impressed that our test car returned better than the officially claimed 9.3l/100km average over a week of driving (admittedly including a fair bit of freeway travelling) with a figure of exactly 9.0l. adding icing to the cake, the v6l is happy to accept regular unleaded fuel.
passenger space is a strongpoint. behind the comfy eight-way adjustable power front seats – with two-position memory on the driver’s side – there’s heaps of rear-cabin stretching room for legs, shoulders and heads. access to the average-size 457-litre boot is by a single fold-down mechanism only, which means that if you need to augment the load space there’s no possibility of still carrying even one rear-seat passenger. on the credit side, a full-size alloy spare wheel sits under the boot floor.
the accord’s instrument panel is both neatly styled, and generally intuitive – apart from the touch-screen functions – with a logical, easily-understood control layout. bluetooth connections are quickly made and functions are clearly illuminated at night.
we did like the v6l’s enhanced passenger-side rear-view camera that came into play when the left-hand indicator was activated, and the multi-view possibilities (narrow, wide and top-down) offered by the reversing camera. we didn’t think so favourably, in this age of electronically-operated systems, of the honda’s foot-operated parking brake, though.
so is the accord a car you’d only recommend for your grandfather?
well, given the easy driving, stretchy interior space and generous safety equipment, there’s still no reason you wouldn’t. at the same time, though, the v6’s effortless performance, neat handling, comfy ride and verging-on-sumptuous interior are enticing elements that add up to a much more complete package than has ever been offered in accords past.
no, it’s not a euro, but with its sweet 3.5-litre v6 it makes a pretty good fist of being a car that even a keen driver could come to love.
and if that’s not the case, there is a new, tenth-generation accord on the way, which should help ensure the so-far anonymous honda’s existence into the future.
2016 honda accord v6 l pricing and specifications:
price: $52,590 (plus on-road costs)
engine: 3.5-litre six-cylinder petrol
transmission: six-speed automatic
fuel: 9.3l/100km (adr combined)
co2: 216g/km (adr combined)
safety rating: five-star ancap
>> subaru liberty 3.6r (from $42,490 plus orcs)
>> toyota aurion presara (from $50,440 plus orcs)
>> nissan altima ti-s (from $45,490 plus orcs)