2018 Honda Accord First Drive, see the wonderful experience

The 2018 Honda Accord..despite the badge, few vehicles feel as wholly American as the Honda Accord. Since 1982, Honda's self-described flagship has been built in Ohio, not too far from the U.S. auto manufacturing Mecca that is Detroit. 

The car was embraced by Americans for its practicality and reliability. Americans have bought more than 13 million over nearly 40 years on the market. Crossovers may be moving, but the Accord sells more cars every year than all of Dodge, Mazda and Volkswagen. Still, despite strong sales, something has been missing from Hondas in the past few years.

From the moment the cover was pulled off this new model, there's been quite a stir from Honda enthusiasts. What seemed to cause the greatest fuss was the move to an entirely turbocharged lineup. The days of high-revving naturally aspirated Honda engines is nearly gone, replaced by turbocharged engines with lots of torque and less stratospheric redlines. Pitchforks were raised over the loss of the V6. Some people seem to have given up on Honda. Those kneejerk reactions were all misplaced. This is the best Accord Honda has ever built.
The 2018 Accord is available with either a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four making 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque or a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four making 252 horsepower and a very un-Honda 273 pound-feet of torque. The latter replaces the 3.5-liter V6 that's been in Hondas for more than 20 years. It's based off of and built alongside the 2.0-liter turbo engine found in the new Honda Civic Type R. These two turbocharged engines don't feel like Hondas of old, with sky-high redlines and anemic low-end power. If anything, these torquey engines lose some steam up top. Still even the base engine feels more than adequate in most situations.
The 1.5T comes paired with one of the best CVTs around. It doesn't have the loose, band-like power delivery of other CVTs. The 2.0T cars come with an all-new 10-speed automatic that's light-years better than the old six-speed automatic in the old model or the nine-speed auto in some other Hondas and Acuras. It acts like a short-ratio six-speed with four long overdrive gears. It doesn't feel busy or confused like some other transmissions with similar gear counts. Mostly, it's forgettable in a good way.
A manual transmission is available on the Sport trim with both engines, something Honda should be commended for. The Accord Sport 2.0T with the manual is a genuine blast to drive. The shifter is short and precise, though not quite as slick as the one on the Civic. The pedals are placed perfectly for heel-toe shifting, and the entire driving position makes moving from the wheel to the shifter quick and easy. Honda really nails it with the seating and steering position.

The new Accord rides and handles well too, especially with the Touring model's adaptive dampers. The ride is a little firm with the larger wheels, but it's not terrible. I'd like to get it back home on Michigan roads to really see how it handles rough pavement. For the most part, it soaks up bumps and cracks with grace, sending muted vibrations to let you know what the wheels and suspension are up to. Even the fixed suspension is better than the last Accord. The steering is fine, but nothing to write home about. It's numb but has good weight. Really, it's only as good as it needs to be and isn't so devoid of life that it sucks out some fun.

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