I thought the car handed down to me in high school was going to be a late 1970s Chevy Nova. Due to unforeseen circumstances, that car was, instead, a 1981 Honda Accord hatchback.
The vehicle's most notable feature was the Colorado State University sorority sticker that had been placed over the rear defroster and didn’t seem worth the risk to try and remove.
The Accord had debuted five years earlier in hatchback form and, combined with the already popular Civic, reversed Honda’s automotive fortunes.
Honda nearly abandoned automobile manufacturing, but the Civic’s advanced combustion technology (which didn’t require a pricey catalytic converter) and reputation for efficiency and reliability paved the way for the slightly larger Accord.
The sedan and wagon versions of the Accord debuted in 1989, and the rest is history. The Honda Accord has been one of the best-selling cars in the U.S. every year since.
I was certain the 2018 version had grown larger than the previous generation — but it was only an illusion.
“Honda engineers worked a miracle where the wheels were pushed out toward the corners and the car looks and feels larger but is actually shorter and narrower on the outside than the prior car," said Ken Garff Honda Downtown sales manager Brandon Wilson.
The 2018 Accord Sport is the first Accord to ever offer a turbo-boosted engine and the first Accord Sport not to offer a V-6 power plant. The 2.0-liter engine, a variant on the screamer used in the Civic Type R, does not disappoint.
Turbo lag is very minimal, and the engine begs to be pushed to the 6,800 revolutions per minute redline. The past V-6 added 310 pounds to the car and the new Accord is more nimble than before.
The Accord Sport is also available with — wait for it — six-speed manual transmission, though I wasn't able to get my hands on one. As manual vehicles fall by the wayside, it restores my faith in humanity to learn that Honda is keeping the manual vehicle alive with a four-door family sedan.
The automatic I drove, however, was mated well to the engine and resisted the urge to hunt and peck for the correct gear whether I was shifting up or down.
The past couple of generations of the Accord had a penchant for extremely busy center consoles with a myriad of buttons and knobs that were anything but user-friendly. The simplicity of the layout on the 2018 model is impressive, though, and only the climate controls sit beneath a row of vents below the 8-inch touchscreen.
Now, all multimedia controls have been moved to the steering wheel and touchscreen where Honda designers made up for the lack of buttons on the console. The buttons and knobs provide shortcuts for media, phone and clock and are far less distracting than previous layouts.
The Accord also bolsters Honda’s reputation for interior quality. I was disappointed with the direction Honda’s interior materials were headed the past few years, but the new Ridgeline pickup and the Accord demonstrate that quality is back in style. The soft-touch plastics and elegant trim pieces are better than what most midsize family sedans offer.
The gear stick is now just a button and takes some getting used to. The button for reverse requires a slide toward the rear of the car that differs from the simple press for the rest.
I thought at first it was nice to not have the shift lever taking up space in the center console, but, in terms of usable space, the buttons likely take up more than the lever would.
There's also a lot of road noise. The interior is appointed nicely but not as quiet as I expected.
The Accord has a fastback, Grand Touring look about it from the rear and side. Alas, there's a traditional trunk deck rather than the hatchback that seems to be there. A Grand Touring opening would provide better access to the cargo area and would complete the look.
Overall the Accord looks nice, but in a safe way. Perhaps I thought a car available with a manual transmission would offer a bold surprise on the outside as well.
I’ve never been a fan of digital instrument clusters. The Accord Sport’s offers several design options including, thankfully for me, a traditional, analog-looking tachometer and speedo combo. In this configuration, the cluster is elegant, sporty and traditional.
While the rear seats are less visually appealing and comfortable than the front passenger seat, the room in back is expansive. Even taller adults have plenty of space to stretch out. The back seat makes the car feel bigger than prior models as does the length of the vehicle when you approach it in a parking lot.
All in all, the 2018 Accord Sport is fun to drive, tastefully appointed and roomy. How well this car performs seems undermined just a touch by the safe design choices.
The sales lead the Accord enjoys over rivals, however, is likely not in jeopardy.
Vehicle Type: front-wheel drive, front-engine, five-passenger, four-door sedan.
Engine: turbo-charged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline four-cylinder, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection.
Displacement: 122 cubic inch, 1996 cc.
Transmission: 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters and manual mode.
Power: 252 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque
Performance: zero-to-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, standing quarter mile 14.7 seconds at 98 mph
Wheelbase: 111.4 inches
Fuel economy: EPA est city/highway 22/32 miles per gallon
Price as tested: $31,200