Nearly every automaker sells a midsize sedan, the most popular type of car in America, and the 2014 Honda Accord is one of the best-selling models. In fact, if you ask Honda, the Accord is purchased more than the Toyota Camry when it comes to everyday consumers as compared to businesses and rental-car agencies.
Ford, however, is gaining ground on both of these segment leaders thanks to the success of the Fusion. Redesigned for the 2013 model year, the Fusion received several upgrades for 2014 that are intended to maintain the car's momentum among midsize sedans.
Our task is to determine whether the Fusion or the Accord is the superior car when assessed on the attributes that consumers claim are the most important to them when they select a new vehicle. First, though, let's see what changes have been made to each of these vehicles in 2014.
2014 Ford Fusion
In addition to new interior and exterior color choices and a handful of new options, the 2014 Fusion Hybrid is now offered in a lower-priced S trim level. Even bigger news is the arrival of a new turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine for the most popular Fusion SE models, replacing the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine from 2013.
2014 Honda Accord
Honda adds new seat fabric to the Accord LX model, but more importantly, it debuts two new hybrid versions of its family sedan. The new Accord Hybrid and Accord Plug-In Hybrid models are among the most fuel-efficient vehicles for sale in America.
Both the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord have enjoyed a long record of reliable and dependable service to their owners, with the Accord demonstrating slightly better overall ratings over a longer period (although the Fusion didn't debut until 2006).
It should be noted, however, that Ford provides a standard roadside assistance plan for the Fusion, providing a full 5 years or 60,000 miles of help should you get a flat tire, run out of gas or require towing. Honda doesn't provide similar services.
In terms of reliability and dependability, the Accord provides a slight edge, but the Fusion delivers added peace of mind.
Ford claims that its turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engines provide the power of a larger V6 engine combined with the fuel economy of a smaller 4-cylinder engine, but here's the thing: Honda's Earth Dreams family of engines is generally more powerful and more fuel efficient than what Ford is selling.
Let's compare the Fusion SE's standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine to the Accord LX's standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. The Ford engine generates 175 horsepower and gets 26 miles per gallon in combined driving, while the Honda engine makes 185 hp and gets 30 mpg in combined driving. Upgrade to the new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine in the Fusion, and those numbers are 181 hp and 29 mpg -- still short of the Honda.
The most powerful engine in the Fusion is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, making 240 hp on premium gas. Honda offers an optional 3.5-liter V6 engine for the Accord, capable of generating 278 hp on regular gas. The Honda is rated to get 26 mpg in combined driving, same as the Ford. The benefit to choosing the Fusion, then, would be more torque at lower rpm for a greater feeling of acceleration and responsiveness.
Switching gears to the hybrid models, Ford recently needed to restate its fuel economy ratings for the Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi. The Fusion Hybrid's new lower rating is 42 mpg in combined driving, while the Fusion Energi receives a new lower rating of 88 mpge.
The new Honda Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid models are superior to their Ford counterparts. The Accord Hybrid is rated 47 mpg in combined driving, and the Plug-In Hybrid enjoys a 115 mpge rating.
If it's fuel economy that you seek, the Honda delivers better than the Ford does.
Scan the crash-test ratings for the 2014 Ford Fusion and 2014 Honda Accord, and you might conclude that the cars are equally safe. Delve into the details, though, and a victor emerges.
Both cars get an overall rating of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Fusion achieves a 5-star rating for the driver in a frontal-impact collision while the Accord musters a 4-star rating for the same test.
When the impact occurs on the side of the vehicle, however, the Fusion protects its driver at a 3-star level while the Accord earns a 5-star rating. In tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Accord receives a Good rating in the small-overlap frontal-impact test while the Fusion gets an Acceptable rating.
Both of these cars are safe overall, but the Accord provides slightly better protection.
Unless you really want LED headlights or a hard-drive-based navigation system that's capable of storing 16 gigabytes of your favorite music, the Ford Fusion is the technologically superior midsize family sedan.
If you live someplace where the weather is foul much of the time, the Fusion is available with all-wheel drive, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats for muggy summer days. Honda doesn't offer these features on any version of the Accord.
Additionally, the Fusion is available with a wider variety of safety-related upgrades. For example, most versions of the Fusion are equipped with 911 Assist, a feature that automatically contacts emergency rescue personnel if the car's airbags deploy and a smartphone paired via SYNC Bluetooth is aboard the vehicle at the time of impact. Honda does offer similar HondaLink Assist technology on some of its models, but oddly enough, not for the Accord.
The Fusion's blind spot monitoring system is also more sophisticated than the Honda's LaneWatch technology. The Ford's system works on both sides of the Fusion, while the Accord's LaneWatch system works only for the right side of the car, not to mention that the Fusion has blind-spot mirror designs on both sides, while the Accord only gets a blind-spot mirror on the driver's side. The Fusion also includes a cross-traffic alert function, which is missing from the Accord.
Lane-departure warning systems are available on both models. Ford takes the Fusion's technology a step further, adding a lane-keeping system that's designed to automatically nudge the Fusion back into its lane. The Fusion can also be optioned with inflatable rear seat belts that cushion occupants against crash forces, and a driver-alert system that detects drowsy driving and recommends a rest stop.
Finally, an optional active park-assist system can steer the Fusion into a parallel parking spot while the driver operates the pedals and the transmission; this is one more feature that Honda doesn't make available on the Accord.
The Fusion might be the technologically superior vehicle, but the 2014 Honda Accord represents the best value. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) says that an Accord EX enjoys a 5-year cost-to-own rating of "better than most," while the Fusion SE earns an "average" rating in this regard. The 2014 Accord is expected to hold its value better too, earning KBB's resale-value award in the midsize-car segment.
When it comes to building a midsize family sedan, Honda doesn't mess around. As appealing as the latest Ford Fusion might be, the 2014 Accord is still the better car.