We recently got a chance to check out the 2013 Honda Accord Touring, which is the newly redesigned sedan's top-shelf luxury model. Like all Accord Touring models, it features a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Since one of our long-term cars is a 4-cylinder Accord EX-L, this made for some very interesting comparisons in the office.
Not surprisingly, everyone agreed the V6 offers far more grunt than our long-term EX-L's 4-cylinder. But most of us also concluded the extra power wasn't needed. After all, the EX-L's 4-cylinder makes 185 hp and reaches 60 mph in less than eight seconds. That's no slouch, especially for a midsize sedan.
Beyond its engine, the Accord Touring's transmission didn't leave us satisfied. Four-cylinder models use a CVT, while all V6 Accords use a 6-speed automatic. We felt the CVT was smoother. That's interesting, as it proves that once-maligned CVTs have made substantial leaps in refinement over the years. In the Accord, it's the 6-speed automatic that seems to hunt for the right engine speed.
Of course, we were still impressed by the 2013 Honda Accord Touring. It offers everything that's always made the Accord great. For instance, the interior is roomy and comfortable, with seats capable of handling long drives. Styling is restrained -- or, as one tester put it, "not wildly overstyled." There are many luxury features. And the cabin consists of high-quality materials.
We also like the touchscreen radio controls, though some drivers complained that the system's angle washes out the screen in light from the sunroof. And we wish you could see the name of the song or radio station with the navigation screen selected. Still, those are minor gripes considering the Accord's positive attributes.
But most of our praise of the Accord Touring could be given to our long-term Accord EX-L, as well. And the EX-L is far cheaper, with a base price of less than $29,000 with shipping (or $2,000 more including navigation) to the Touring's $34,000 price tag. That's a big gap, and one that's hard to justify -- especially since the Touring still lacks some upscale equipment, such as automatic wipers.
That's not to say we didn't enjoy the amenities in the Touring. In addition to the powerful V6, it adds automatic LED headlights and adaptive cruise control, which worked well. But most drivers don't need adaptive cruise. And in addition to its slow-witted transmission, the V6 is punishing at the gas pump. Indeed, it returns an EPA-rated 21 miles per gallon city to the 4-cylinder's 27 mpg. That's a decline of more than 20 percent.
Even though we enjoyed the Accord Touring, our advice is to save your money and stick with an EX-L -- unless you really want the V6's extra power. Even then, you can get an EX-L with a V6 for some $1,400 less than a Touring, and you only have to give up adaptive cruise control.