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2018 Honda Accord vs. 2018 Mazda6: Which Is Better?

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2018 Honda Accord review, and the 2018 Mazda6 review.

Both the 2018 Honda Accord and the 2018 Mazda6 receive ample critical praise, but their sales are strikingly divergent. It’s comparable to the viewership differences between an Emmy-award winning show on a major network and one on a pay cable channel. Nevertheless, both are winners that deserve to be strongly considered by anyone in the market for a family sedan. That’s especially true since the 2018 Accord represents a completely redesigned model, and the 2018 Mazda6 represents one that was given a substantial update. They are both better than ever, but which might be better for you? Well, read on.

2018 Honda Accord

The all-new Accord is lower, wider and sleeker than the car it replaces with a brash face that’s a far cry from those of past conservative Accords. Its two available engines are now turbocharged, while a new 10-speed automatic transmission is joined by the return of a 6-speed manual. Inside, the huge cabin looks far better than before with elevated materials and an improved infotainment system. A standard allotment of accident-avoidance tech is a big addition as well. See the 2018 Honda Accord models for sale near you

2018 Mazda6

The current-generation 6 finally gets the option of an upgrade engine, a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. That’s the big news, but every trim level benefits from a wealth of smaller updates that improve comfort, handling, noise, interior quality and design, exterior styling and base engine fuel economy. These changes aren’t as revolutionary as those of the Accord, but they’re still significant. See the 2018 Mazda6 models for sale near you

Reliability

The 2018 Accord is too new to fairly comment about its reliability, but this nameplate has historically been one of the most reliable cars on the road. Reliability has also been strong for the Mazda6, including the past four years of the current generation. No major problem areas have been reported. We think you’re good either way.

Fuel Economy

Every Accord trim comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard, but a 6-speed manual can be added to the Sport trim with either engine as a no-cost option. Fuel economy with most trims and with the CVT is class-leading at 30 miles per gallon city/38 mpg highway/33 mpg combined. The Touring and Sport trims, regardless of transmission get 31 mpg combined.

The Accord’s upgrade engine is a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 good for 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. With its standard 10-speed automatic transmission, most trims get 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined — this would be as good as it gets.

The Mazda6 Sport and Touring trims come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder good for 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is standard on the Sport, and it returns 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. Those rise to 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined with the 6-speed automatic that’s optional on the Sport and standard on the Touring. Obviously, the base Accord is considerably more efficient.

The upgrade 6 engine, however, is comparable to the Accord’s in terms of efficiency. It gets 23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined from its 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that’s good for 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque when fed with premium fuel. It goes down to 227 hp with regular fuel. A 6-speed automatic is standard.

Driving Experience

If you love to drive, the Honda Accord and the Mazda6 have long been the two best places to start your family sedan search. That continues with these latest iterations, but the 6 is clearly the sharper, more engaging car to drive. Its steering comes alive in your hands, almost evoking a Porsche in its just-right effort and feedback. The 6 feels lighter on its feet than the Accord — despite literally weighing more — feeling more at home on a twisting mountain road. Its throttle and transmission response are impeccable, greeting the commands of your right foot with immediacy and intelligence. At the same time, efforts were made to improve the ride for 2018, and although it certainly errs on the side of sporty and firm, it is definitely comfortable, even on especially rough pavement.

The same can’t be said for every Accord, which unlike the 6, suffers when equipped with 19-inch wheels. There’s some impact harshness present even though the suspension features more rebound than the 6 and generally feels a bit softer when pavement is smooth. This isn’t a huge complaint, especially since those wheels aren’t included on the volume trim levels. The somewhat disconnected steering also isn’t a big deal, but when compared to the razor-sharp 6, it’s definitely a detriment. In general, the Accord should appeal to those who want to feel what their car is doing and feel that they’re involved in the act of driving but who also don’t need to actually have fun. It’s well-rounded and extremely confident, but if you’re looking for a good time, the Mazda6 is probably the better way to go.

Safety

The 2018 Accord and the 2018 Mazda6 are two of the safest cars on the road, turning in the best possible frontal and side crash-test ratings from both the government and the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Their forward-collision warning and automatic braking systems also received top marks from the IIHS.

One of the reasons for that is that they are widely available. They are joined by lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control as standard equipment on the Accord and every Mazda6 trim but the base Sport, where they are optional. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems are available on both sedans.

Passenger and Cargo Space

The Accord is considerably bigger. You can see it in the specs and when exploring back to back. A pair of 6-footers can fit with room to spare in the Accord, whereas those in the back of the 6 will likely find their knees grazing the front seats. You’ll also find more space for a rear-facing child seat in the Honda.

In terms of trunk space, the Accord’s 16.7 cu ft. is quite obviously greater than the Mazda‘s 14.7 cu ft. That works out to a noticeable difference in person as the Accord can fit at least one additional suitcase. Small-item storage is also better in the Honda, which features a deeper under-armrest bin and a handier bin for smartphones featuring a USB port and a cover.

Technology

The Accord is available with a few extra tech features, but none would be considered game-changers. The bigger difference is functionality. All but the base Accord trim comes with a new 8-in touchscreen interface that is quick to respond, easily understood and well within reach. The 6 relies on a knob-and-screen set-up similar to those found in an Audi or a BMW. There are things to like about it, especially the reduced attention it requires to accomplish a task, but there are some specific functionality hiccups (you can’t see radio presets and radio information at the same time), and its touchscreen functionality is only operable while the car is stopped.

On the other hand, Mazda’s safety tech is more trusting of its driver and less likely to produce false alarms. Its lane-keeping system is much better at identifying when you’re approaching a lane marker because you’re on a curvy road, while responding to actual lane departures with a subtle wheel vibration and natural steering input. The Accord is more of a sky-is-falling nag, with erroneous beeping and startling warnings of "BRAKE!" in moments where a collision is nowhere close to imminent.

Value

The 6 is the cheaper car, but not by much. If you’re OK shifting your own gears, the standard manual transmission basically saves you $1,000 off the Sport trim’s $23,000 base price. That itself is a few hundred dollars less than the base Accord. The two cars have roughly the same amount of feature content, though not the same items. As trim levels rise, the comparable Mazda will be pricier since it comes standard with the more powerful, turbocharged engine. Honda’s upgrade engine is optional and, when equipped, would pretty much equalize the price.

The Accord will likely have better resale value, which may ultimately be the biggest value differentiator.

Autotrader’s Advice

If you’re looking for a sport sedan at a lower price, the 2018 Mazda6 is the car you’re looking for. It offers plenty of fun, while not forgetting the family sedan requirements of function and comfort. The 2018 Honda Accord, however, is ultimately the more complete package that’ll likely appeal to the greater number of buyers. Find a Honda Accord for sale or Find a Mazda6 for sale

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