2014 Honda Accord 2.0 VTi-L: Is Good Still Good Enough?

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2014 Honda Accord 2.0 VTi-L: Is Good Still Good Enough?

For nearly two decades, the D-segment has been dominated by the Toyota Camry. But all that changed with the current generation all-new 2014 Honda Accord, which has since been consistently outselling the Camry,  - something which all of its predecessors tried hard to do, but could not achieve. For every one Camry sold, Honda sells three Accords (2014, manufacturer's data).

Buyer's Guide: Should You Buy One

To understand what made this generation's Honda Accord so successful, we sampled the mid-range 2.0 VTi-L model, which is what most Accord buyers often choose.

For differences between the 2.4 VTi-L and 2.0 VTi-L, read our launch story here.

From the outside, we reckoned that the Accord's exterior has hit the sweet spot. It is a moving example that the best designs are not those that 'wow' you at first sight, but those that grow on you and age well. When Honda first previewed the all-new Accord in the US, there was a lot of criticism for its bland looks, but look at how well received it is today.

Compared to its predecessors, the all-new Accord is a far more refined car, and we will go as far as to say that it even has the best interior in the segment.

Driving a 2014 Honda Accord: Highways yes, trunk roads no

In urban traffic, the Accord's good ergonomics, thin A-pillars, and low dashboard makes it easy to live with everyday. Out on the open roads and at higher speeds however, it is just average.


Like many recent Honda models, its throttle has this odd characteristic of being overly sensitive in the initial pedal travel, resulting in a lot of jackrabbit-like standing starts. Pressing the ECON switch solves this, as it numbs the sensitivity of the throttle slightly and reduces the power consumption of the air-conditioning, all in the interest of improving fuel economy.

After driving nearly 600 km of mostly highway routes, with some heavy urban traffic, the Accord's trip computer was reading 12.4 km/litre, which in our opinion is positively average for a car in its class.

The five-speed automatic transmission may be dated against the six-speed automatics (Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata and Mazda 6), CVTs (Nissan Teana) and dual-clutch transmissions (Volkswagen Passat) that the competition offers, but it is smooth enough and has a proven record for durability, making it something we’d hesitate to trade for anything fancier.

Kickdowns are fast and are initiated without requiring the driver to stomp the throttle hard while upshifts are intelligently timed so it holds the gear when you are accelerating along a corner,  climbing an incline or descending a slope.

When paired with this base engine's 155 PS of power and 190 Nm of torque, the mid-range Accord variant is sufficiently powerful enough for all your highway duties. “Sufficient” being the key word here.


Despite its Honda pedigree, the Accord has never been impressive on twisty bits of tarmac. This model is no different. In fact, the steering wheel is so devoid of feel that if you don't scrub off enough speed before entering a corner, the experience can be very alarming!  

Having said that, body roll is kept in check quite well by the front MacPherson struts and independent multi-link arms in the rear. The chassis appears to have quite a fair bit of potential, but the steering rack is a letdown.

Comfort: Excellent Cabin, Average Ride

While the Accord is clearly inferior to a Volkswagen Passat or a Mazda 6 in terms of handling, its cabin is one-class above the rest. Honda is the industry's leader in vehicle packaging and their expertise shows in the Accord.

The Accord's centre console is a personal favourite, with a soft-opening lid that elegantly flips up and disappears away to reveal a deep utility box, and no useless cup holders in the way, just an empty box for you to clear out your pockets into.

The centre stack and dashboard feels good enough for a luxury brand, and is much better than anything else the competition has to offer. Where the Camry's wood trim looks overly lacquered and tacky, the Accord's dark wood trim looks good enough for high-end furniture. The metallic accent inlays give it a nice contrast, without creating too much glare when driving under the hot afternoon sun.

Fit and finish is excellent, and although the Accord is a locally-assembled model, its interior feels much better put together than the fully-imported Volkswagen Passat (then) and the Mazda 6.

The dashboard is another highlight of the Accord. Dashboard height is kept low, and together with the relatively thin A-pillars, gives the driver very good round outward visibility.

High-grade leather also lines the areas where your body and hands commonly touch.

Where the Accord's interior could use some improvement is on its rather plain looking instrument panel, which looks poorer than that fitted in the Honda City.

The two-tier displays on the centre stack may appear confusing, but it actually works very well in real-world driving conditions.

Honda says the Accord is fitted with Active Noise Control and Active Sound Control as standard, which works to reduce noise intrusion into the cabin. Frankly, we didn't notice much of an advantage from it. A common weak point for Accords several generations back is to do with a noisy cabin, and this all-new model is not much different. While it is definitely quieter than before, it is still not as quiet as the all-new Nissan Teana.

At higher speeds, there is quite a lot road noise intrusion into the cabin, less so with wind noise.

Keep it at around 120 km/h or less however, and the cabin remains very quiet, apart from rougher sections of the highway. For the record, our test car was fitted with 225/50 R17 Goodyear Excellence tyres.

As for the damping, the Accord's ride is rather stiff, but not as stiff as the Mazda 6. When driving over gaps on the road or poorer surfaces, there’s quite a fair bit of jolt and judder that's transferred to the cabin. The Nissan Teana is clearly a superior car in this aspect.

Living With A 2014 Honda Accord: The Best All-Rounder

As a car to use daily, the Accord is hard to beat. Yes, it may be lacking in terms handling, ride comfort and noise intrusion, but it makes up for it by having the best cabin and a very corporate looking exterior design.

It also has a very practical multi-angle reverse camera with guiding lines, which allows you to switch between three different views. On top of the standard view, there's another view that allows you to check for cross-traffic, and one more top-down view which is very useful when reversing towards uneven ground or drain gutters..

At RM149,815, the Accord 2.0 VTi-L presents very good value against its peers. It is bettered only by the Nissan Teana, which matches the Accord's price and yet comes with four more airbags.

Total servicing cost for the Accord 2.0 VTi-L over a five-year/100,000 km period is RM3,805 (based on information provided by Honda Malaysia).

Add in the cavernous boot, highly practical cabin, and the proven reputation that comes along with the Accord nameplate, you can't go wrong with buying the Accord.

Of course a 2.4 VTi-L is better, but we reckoned that your financial advisor will advise that you stick to the already very good 2.0 VTi-L and do something else with the rest of your money. We think so too.  

Competing With The 2014 Honda Accord

Toyota Camry 2.0G X (RM159,900 with insurance) - These days, the Camry and the Accord have swapped not just in terms of position on sales charts, but also in terms of character. Curiously it is this 'uncle's' Camry that is better to drive. The Camry's steering is much better weighted than the Accord's, with a better resolved ride. The four-speed automatic transmission is well past its lifecycle but it still shifts just as smooth as its peers.

However, the Camry is letdown by an unimpressive cabin, which not only feels poorer compared to the Accord's, but also feels a step backward from the previous model, which is still the best Camry model to date. Its significantly higher price (but little to show for value) also bumps it down our favourites list.

Mazda 6 2.0 (RM159,470 with insurance) - The grown up rice boy's favourite. While the Accord has grown mature enough to be a banker's car, the Mazda is what the Accord used to be. Its engine needs to be revved hard, just like old Hondas, and the ride isn't very comfortable, just like Accords of yore, but it is such a fun car to drive. You sit low, legs stretched out straight; almost as if you are in a go-kart, and it is the sharpest handling of the bunch.

For a D-segment car, there isn't a lot of space inside the Mazda. Despite its fully-imported from Japan status, interior build quality doesn't seem to be as good as the locally-assembled Accord, at least from our experience.

While the Mazda appears to compete in the same segment as the Accord, it has a very different character and Mazda never intended the sporty 6 to chase mainstream buyers anyway, so we don't think anyone should bother comparing between the two.

Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI (RM169,800 excluding insurance) - Like the Mazda, the Passat appeals to a different crowd. Effortless performance from the TSI engine is the main highlight, as is its handling and comfortable ride.

Weaknesses include poor build quality and the characteristic of its dual-clutch transmission in traffic, which just doesn't shift as smooth as a CVT or a torque converter automatic used by all of its Japanese peers, especially when driving in urban traffic conditions (applies to dual-clutch transmissions by all other brands too).

Rattling noises from the instrument panel were present in both our test cars - the fully-imported model as well as the locally assembled model. The latter even had loose fitting trims!!

Concerns about reliability of its DSG transmission have already been addressed by the latest recall, but convincing the customers about it is another matter. If reliability is your top priority, you shouldn't be looking at a German brand anyway.

Nissan Teana 2.0 XL (RM149,800 with insurance) - The only real competition for the Accord. The Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat appeals to a very different crowd who wouldn't seriously consider the Accord anyway, while the Toyota Camry today appears to be merely feeding off its past glory, leaving the all-new Teana as the Accord's only real competition.

It is much more comfortable than the Accord, and handles slightly better too. The Teana's longer list of safety features and its exclusive priority after-sales privileges are a major plus point.

Only weakness to the Teana is its unimpressively designed interior. Its lack of a GPS navigation feature is a contention for some, but personally that's not an issue at all as Waze and Google Maps works so much better and is already the primary navigation solution used by most drivers.  

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