Honda Accord V6 2011 Review

Honda Accord V6 2011 Review

Since the late 1970s the Honda Accord has been a bit of an institution on New Zealand roads. We have seen various numbers and variations of all eight generations of the Accord with the fifth instalment even being assembled locally in Nelson. But things have changed for the Accord over the years; it got larger, more powerful and is no longer the cost-conscious option it once was. Honda also doubled down with the Accord and split the model line into the more American market focused Accord V6 and the smaller, sharply packaged Accord Euro. So where does that leave NZ’s long serving Honda? Well it’s in good shape, sure it’s become a higher-priced mid/large luxury cruiser but it’s got loads of kit, an intelligent powertrain and for 2011 – an enhancing facelift. Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Accord V6 VL Sport to see exactly how far this mainstay has come.

Visually, the Accord’s athletic design has received a modest refresh. Changes include a new thickly chromed grille, restyled front bumper and modernised headlights. At the rear the two-piece taillights are also new and there’s some fresh detailing around the boot. Design and packaging are strengths of the Accord V6, and in tested Sport form it is one handsome devil. The Sport upgrade includes deeper front, rear and side skirting which really brings out the Accord’s aggressive, sleek lines and renders it long and low. The chrome work around the window line and through the grille is just enough bling to draw the eye, but not enough to spoil the low-key aesthetic. Finishing the look is chrome-tipped twin exhaust outlets and new 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/50 rubber.

Into the cabin and comfort levels are high with supportive front seats trimmed in a new for 2011 soft leather. The driver’s chair has eight-way adjustment for getting it just right, and memory settings for when you do. Both front seats are wide and cosseting and could match those found in more expensive euro competition. The rear pew is also very accommodating with acres of room, three adults could travel in comfort and two in luxury. The rear seat back is set at just the right angle, there’s generous headroom and a surprisingly large amount of legroom too. Backseats like the one on the Accord V6 can prevent any ‘shotgun’ arguments, it’s just a very nice place to be. Cargo is treated well too with a cavernous 450-litre boot, it goes so deep that you’ll need long arms to reach any loose items that have shifted to its front. It also houses a full-size alloy spare and only loses marks for having the older style large hinges that creep into the loading area.

The Accord dashboard has also received minor updates but remains a busy mix of buttons, dials and toggles. It’s not a very intuitive control area but like any switchgear layout it can be mastered in time. The flowing V shape of the dashboard and the mixture of black silver and faux wood grain trim is unique but has appeal in a very Japanese way. Materials are of a high standard and the build quality is solid but it can’t quite trouble the European brands.

The instrumentation is large and accurate, if not a little basic with a four-dial layout and small electronic displays. The main control screen is mounted in a great spot being high and recessed but has a dated digital look when many other brands have now moved to full-colour LCD systems. The leather wrapped steering wheel is thick to the touch, can be adjusted for reach and houses cruise and audio buttons.

A clever new jack-knife key can control the windows on the Accord and even open and close the sunroof when paired with the door lock activation function. Other standard kit includes a premium 7-speaker 6-disc CD sound system with subwoofer and auxiliary input. There’s also dual-zone air-conditioning, heated front seats and parking sensors front and back, but a reversing camera is notably absent.

Under the Accord’s bonnet lays the huge-for-Honda 3.5-litre V6 motor that sees no major changes with the facelift but there’s a slight improvement in fuel economy. Using the i-VTEC system the six pot produces a hefty 202kW of power and 340Nm of max torque. It’s a strong yet refined engine that delivers a wallop of grunt in a linear and predictable fashion. Shifting the gears is a five-speed auto box, which is a smooth operator and provides intuitive, quick shifts. The Accord V6 powertrain is perfectly settled when cruising but put your foot down and it can become a lively steer. While it’s not a performance car, per se, if you use the steering wheel paddles to shift down a gear or two and push the modern VTEC engine high in its rev range – it sure feels like one. Off the line the Accord moves briskly but it’s through the mid-range where it excels, making for rapid overtaking during open road jaunts.

Fuel economy is now rated at 9.9 litres per 100km during combined driving but this figure is conservative and treated gently it’s possible to be even thriftier. This is where Honda’s VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) system comes into play. It’s a high-tech unit that monitors various factors like throttle position and vehicle and engine speed to determine whether three, four or all six cylinders are needed for the current task. You always have full power waiting under your right foot but when the Accord is motorway cruising it will require only three cylinders. No driver input is needed to disengage the cylinders and it works seamlessly with the only clue being a dashboard ‘ECO’ light. It’s a clever system and gifts the Accord the rare ability to offer genuine V6 power with respectable fuel economy.

Dynamically the Accord is very capable, there is plenty of grip through the front driving wheels and once its nose is pointed into a corner the long body tracks around without issue. While the suspension is set for comfort it’s not overly soft and has enough firmness to tackle twisting roads in a spirited way. Stabiliser bars front and back keep it feeling tight and combined with the low exterior shape means there is minimal body roll. During daily suburban duties the Accord ride is excellent, it’s settled, supple and easily absorbs all but the cruellest bumps and dips in the road. The cabin is fairly tranquil, some tyre roar can enter but the engine stays quiet unless pushed hard and Honda’s ‘Active Noise Cancellation’ system reduces unwanted noises.

Safety bases are well covered on the Accord V6. Features include dual-stage front airbags, side airbags and full-length curtains. There are active headrests for the front seats and seatbelt pretensioners with load limitation. Electronic aides include stability and traction control systems, ABS brakes and emergency brake assist through ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes.

So what’s the verdict on the facelifted Accord V6? It’s a strong package that has just got a little stronger. The cosmetic updates have further modernised the shape, it’s a sleek and handsome saloon. The Accord is just a very easy car to like, it definitely has a luxury feel and specification but it’s still retained some of the everyman charm of its predecessors. The powertrain is smooth, technically advanced and Honda’s VCM system makes for guilt-free enjoyment rolling in a six-cylinder machine. Larger sedans aren’t a popular choice for buyers right now but the 2011 Accord V6 is one sedan that’s good enough to ask – why not?

Price: From $56,600 as tested Sport $59,670

What we like:

  • Powerful VTEC engine
  • Fuel economy through the VCM system
  • Spacious and very comfortable interior

What we don’t like:

  • Intrusive hinges on the boot
  • No reversing camera
  • Dashboard appearance and layout won’t suit all tastes

Who will buy this car? Possibly older executive types who want the benefits and comfort of a luxury sedan without going down the Euro route. But the Accord’s an all rounder so its appeal continues to be very broad.

Cool Factor: Strong, the Accord looks great it’s got enough power to show off and it’s got heritage here in NZ. Everyone has a brother, sister, father or mate that has owned an Accord at some point, it’s a respected ride.

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

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