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2014 Honda Accord 2.4VTi-L Review – The Car That Changed the Game

REVIEW BUYER'S GUIDE
Daniel Wong September 21, 2014 10:00

You could say that expectations were flying low when Honda unveiled their ninth-generation Honda Accord in 2013. It wasn’t that the Accord name was sullied in any way, it was just that prospects of the Japanese D-segment market wasn’t looking too bright back then. There was very little innovation or change seen in the genre. For years it had seemed that the Japanese D-segment was stuck in a rut. Its major players knocking out the same old upsized versions of their family cars, offering little more than having more legroom and comfier seats.  

The Accord was no different. Its predecessor felt like a bigger Civic with more rear legroom rather than Hondas for the executive who wants a bit more class and sophistication. And judging by the Mexican standoff its Japanese counterparts were having, it seemed that there was no reason to believe that the next Accord would turn out to be anything different. How wrong that assumption turned out to be, especially when it came to the range topping 2.4VTi-L. 

Honda Accord 2.4VTi-L Specifications
Price: RM173,055 (OTR incl. GST without insurance)

Engine: 2,356cc 4-cylinder i-VTEC, petrol
Power: 175hp @ 6,200rpm
Torque: 225Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: 5-Speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Safety Features: 6 airbags (Sept 2014MY-onwards), 4 airbags (2013-2014MY), stability control, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Honda LaneWatch
Origin: Locally-Assembled in Melaka

Exterior – Subtle Class

When initial pictures of the ninth-generation Accord appeared, many were left with an underwhelming impression. Unlike its predecessor, its styling was more evolutionary and wasn’t quite as adventurous as before. However in the flesh the Accord does look the part of a big and proper executive express, its elegant lines serves to accentuate its length and proportions giving it a graceful shape.

Interior – Rethinking Practicality

Although Honda’s engineers had reduced the Accord’s length by 75mm and wheelbase by 25mm compared to its predecessor, their engineers had managed to carve in an additional 15mm in knee room around the back. With further tinkering in the door panel design, Honda was able to expand shoulder room and usable space in the cabin, and as a result the Accord’s interior is big, with acres of rear legroom and generous amounts of shoulder room for all passengers.

Space is also in excess when it comes to storage compartments, with plenty of bins around the cabin that is within accessible reach for you to keep your essentials away from prying eyes.

While the interior feels well built, Honda had put good effort into making it feel a little classier on this new Accord with the addition of dark wood trim on the dashboard, and a large expanse of dark wood trim fitted to the centre console of the 2.4VTi-L. While wood trim has generally been a visual eyesore in this end of the market, the Accord’s glossy fixtures look and feel more presentable than they sound.

Instead of following the pack and settling for a conventional touchscreen infotainment system, Honda had gone the extra mile and developed an ingenious i-MID Control. Rather than having drivers stretch their hands and divert their attention to operate a conventional touchscreen system, a smaller touchscreen is fitted between the front centre air conditioning vents, which allows drivers to easily operate audio and infotainment functions without having to stretch their hands too far from the steering wheel, or divert their attention for long. This interface is complemented by the use of a physical control knob located underneath the air conditioning control panel, which grants access to the infotainment systems other non-audio related functions and menus.

Though first-time users might find the controls confusing, with two different points and methods of navigation in one system, we managed to accustom ourselves to its interface after a few days of usage. Next to Mazda’s intuitive MZD Connect system, the i-MID Control two tier system is one of the most intuitive systems for drivers to use, especially when you are on the move.  

How Does It Drive?

For a big and plush executive sedan the Accord drives like a car that is smaller and lighter than it actually is. Its sharp and quick electric steering system gives drivers the impression that they are at the helm of a nimble family car rather than a barge for the upper management to lazily waft around in. Luckily the Accord’s suspension tuning has been done right to back up that impression with excellent body control for a car of its size, and a darty front end.

The 2.4-litre i-VTEC unit is an all-new powertrain which has 175hp and 225Nm of torque at its disposal, both of which are delivered at a rather high 6,200rpm and 4,000rpm respectively. Not that it is much of an issue as the engine revs quickly and its low-end torque is sufficient to punt the Accord around comfortably.

Its 5-speed automatic transmission on the other hand delivers smooth upshifts and snappy downshifts, and is fitted with the right ratios to facilitate a quick pick-up off the line and effortless high-speed cruising. This being the top of the range model, the 2.4VTi-L comes equipped with plenty of amenities for the driver such as cruise control, paddle shifters, keyless ignition, and steering mounted controls for the Bluetooth hands-free system. 

How Comfortable Is It?

Now Accords of old weren’t renowned for their ride quality, and instead of throwing their hands in the air and just going with its established reputation, Honda saw it as a place to start in shoehorning some major improvements into the formula. While its suspension is still firmer than its contemporaries, such as the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Teana, its damping is now better tuned to find the right balance in ride comfort and controlled body roll. Its ride quality is more pliant than its predecessor, especially when driven over potholes or bridge joints.

Ride quality aside, there has been major improvements done to the refinement levels in the Accord 2.4VTi-L. There is silicone gel in the Accord’s rear suspension mounting points to reduce vibrations, and active noise-cancelling electronics with the use of better placed sound proofing material to cut the intrusion of external noises. Put these small but significant changes together and the Accord isn’t just quiet on the move, but it is also noticeably more relaxing with one of the best levels of refinement in its class.

Besides being treated to the luxury of such features and its generous rear legroom, occupants to the Accord’s rear quarters are also treated to sunshades for both windows as well as a powered rear screen to keep away the sun, and rear-air conditioning vents.

How Economical Is It?

With a mix of driving on country roads and highways, we managed a fuel consumption figure of 10.6L/100km. Given that we subjected the car to a series of enthusiastic acceleration and hard braking, with three passengers and accompanying luggage on board, 10.6L/100km is a surprisingly good figure for a car with a 2.4-litre engine and 5-speed automatic.

In terms of ownership costs, the Accord comes covered by Honda Malaysia’s 5 Years Warranty with Unlimited Mileage, and has 10,000km service intervals. Thanks to its free labour charge under its Free Service programme at 1,000km, 10,000km, 30,000km, 50,000km, 70,000km, and 90,000km, the Accord’s total maintenance cost tallies up to RM4,201 over a 5-year/100,000km ownership period.

Safety Features

Although Honda says that the Accord boasts the best visibility in its class – when it was first unveiled in 2013 – that didn’t stop them from adding in extra features to eliminate all possible blind spots. Enter Honda’s LaneWatch camera, which made its debut on the 2.4VTi variant. Fitted to the left wing mirror, the LaneWatch camera grants drivers a view of their left flank, allowing them to see for themselves if there is anything hiding in their blind spot from the centre screen. The system is very intuitive to use and is activated at the flip of the left turn signal, or at the press of a button on the signal stalk.

Compared to traditional sonar-monitoring blind spot information systems, the LaneWatch camera is far more effective and reassures drivers by letting them see and judge for themselves what hazards maybe hiding in the Accord’s blind spot. Besides having an impressive all round visibility, forward visibility at night is also greatly improved with the addition of full LED headlights, a first in its class, which dispenses an impressively bright beam light.   

Originally when the Accord 2.4VTi-L was first introduced in 2013 it was only equipped with four airbags. However Honda Malaysia upped the car’s safety specification from September 2014 onwards with the addition of two curtain airbags in order to match the high safety specifications on the top of the range variants of their smaller models – namely the City and Jazz. In terms of passive safety, the 2.4VTi-L comes equipped with stability control, ABS, electronic brake distribution, and brake assist.  

Conclusion
On all counts the Accord wasn’t just a major improvement over its predecessor, but one that reenergised the whole Japanese D-segment market. With so many first-in-class features being packed into a car and sugar-coated with an attractive pricing at RM173,055, Honda’s move to up the Accord’s game had kicked up a storm in the market. Competitors of course took heed and started bringing more and more unique features to the market in order to challenge the precedence it set.

From the premium-looking 6, the zero-gravity seat equipped Teana, and rumours abound of a refreshed Camry with a hybrid powertrain in the pipeline, the Japanese D-segment players are hard at work bringing a unique aspect to their respective entrants. And yet the Accord with its improved refinement, balanced ride and handling, excellent space utilisation, and class-leading safety features, offers the best of everything that we would look for in a car of its class.

It isn’t every day that a game-changer would come along to shake up the order, and the Accord is that car. Unlike other cars that shook up the formula with a single defining USP, Honda’s new D-segment challenge didn’t turn out to be a flash in the pan with its comprehensive changes and improvements, which makes it the definitive choice today even till today.

About Daniel Wong

Born with a sizable cranium that is only humbled by Rubens Barrichello's, Daniel doesn't care much for numbers or figures but the immediate sensations and experiences one gets from a drive. To him a measure of a good car is one that does what it was set out to do well. A great car is one that draws a smile on your face with a quality that isn't quantifiable and keeps it there.

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