Honda debuted a redesigned 2018 Accord that hits the market as demand for midsize sedans continues to fall. The 10th-generation Accord will face stiff competition from an all-new Toyota Camry and redesigned Hyundai Sonata that roll into showrooms this summer.
The latest Accord, which had its global debut at a rare July reveal inside Detroit’s Garden Theater and by livestream on YouTube, has a sportier face with a long hood and a longer wheelbase. Overall, it’s lower, wider and shorter than the current generation in showrooms. It will be available with a choice of two new turbocharged engines, as well as a hybrid version.
Production begins in a few months and it will be in showrooms this fall.
Honda said the Accord will offer new 1.5-liter and 2-liter direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engines paired with a Honda-developed 10-speed automatic, CVT transmission or six-speed manual, depending on the car. It’s the first 10-speed automatic transmission for a front-wheel drive car, Honda says.
Honda also has an updated two-motor hybrid powertrain that will roll out with the Accord Hybrid this winter, said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of the automobile division of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
Analysts are split whether the new Accord will help boost sales of the car for the Japanese automaker, though some think it will help maintain its strong showing in the segment which is led by the Camry. Honda’s Civic and CR-V outsell the Accord.
“They’re at the top of the game and so what it appears to me is they’ve upped that game,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader. “It’ll be another success. The problem is the segment is in decline. But I anticipate they’ll still maintain their market share and still do well with this.”
Conrad said not all buyers want an SUV and Honda believes it may be able to slow the shrinking midsize segment with its new Accord offering.
“In the sedan segment, midsize segment, they’re haven’t really been any new entries in a number of years,” he said. “We’re coming to market when just some other competitors are coming to market. Frankly, we think we have a better mousetrap. But we think this addition of new product is going to make people stop and take a look.”
The company for the 2018 model year is eliminating the V-6 engine option for Accord and a coupe body-style that represented just 4 percent of Accord sales. But Conrad said Honda is keeping a manual transmission. The sport trims for the 1.5-liter and 2-liter engines are available with a manual.
Honda says the Accord has improved hip, shoulder and head room and rear-seat leg room. An eight-inch infotainment system screen that has volume and tuning knobs.
Loyalty to sedans has fallen in recent years, according to IHS Markit. A study released earlier this week found consumers who opted to buy another sedan when returning to the market dropped 7.6 percentage points to 48.6 percent through April this year, compared to 56.2 percent in 2012. IHS Markit found that during the first four months this year, two-thirds of sedan owners returning to the market opted to buy an SUV or crossover.
Accord sales are down 5.5 percent through June this year compared to the first half of 2016. But the car remains a top seller in the segment and among vehicles across the industry. June Accord sales were up 3.4 percent over June 2016.
Last year, Honda sold 345,225 Accords in the U.S., down 2.9 percent from 2015 totals.
Pricing and fuel economy estimates were not yet available. The car starts now at about $23,000. The Accord is produced at Honda’s plant in Marysville, Ohio, with production of the Accord Hybrid shifting from Japan to Ohio.