It is appropriate that I finish this last column for The Washington Post on Christmas Eve. It is an ending and beginning — for me and, looking forward, for the global automobile industry.
The industry is changing in terms of products and function. Those shifts are represented in the subject of this week’s review, the all-new 2018 Honda Accord Touring, and in an important introduction to the 2018 Washington Auto Show: Mobility Talks International, Jan. 23 and 24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
I urge you to attend the Mobility Talks. You will get some notion of state, federal and worldwide policies being considered for the future of automotive transportation — especially autonomous driving (products, needed regulation and infrastructure, laws) and matters, such as constantly rising prices, affecting vehicle access and ownership.
I am happy to end this part of my literary journey with a review of a car that recognizes those changes are coming and are necessary, particularly the need to make automobiles as safe as possible and to price them in a way that keeps them accessible. It is the new midsize, front-wheel-drive Honda Accord sedan, the Touring trim model driven for this column — the direction I think the industry is going.
It is safe. Of course, you can crash and die in anything. But Honda makes it less likely in the 2018 Accord Touring. It offers as standard equipment advanced electronic safety items sold as costly options on other cars — blind-side monitoring, collision-mitigation braking, pedestrian-intervention braking, road-departure mitigation and more.
Honda has changed the overall physical structure of the new Accord to increase passenger comfort and crash safety. In exterior stance, it is smaller, lower in the rear and weighs less. Yet, it is physically stronger and smarter in design. (Yes! It has narrow A-pillars, front pillars, that don’t obstruct forward vision.)
The feel of the new Accord is solid without being heavy. The exterior look is attractive and efficient. The company uses technology such as laser brazing to achieve a smoother, more air-resistant roofline.
With the Accord Touring, Honda seems more interested in making a practical car that works for its buyers than it does in exploiting the ego for cash, and that does not mean the new Accord is in any way lackluster. It is the way forward.
The Touring trim level comes with a new engine — a turbocharged 2.0-liter, inline gasoline four-cylinder model that replaces a V-6. The new engine is powerful (252 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque).
Yet, it is reasonably fuel-efficient in delivering an average 35 miles per gallon on the highway using regular unleaded fuel.
I like this one. It gives me hope for the future of cars and automobile access. It is the perfect way to end this part of my journey.
Bottom line: Please try to make it to the Mobility Talks International forum Jan. 23-24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. It will give you a better understanding of the vehicles you are looking at on the convention floor — why and how they are changing, why it makes sense to consider buying — or not — what you are looking at.
Ride, acceleration and handling: All excellent.
Head-turning quotient: It is conservative but attractive, smaller than predecessor models on the outside with a more accommodating and upscale interior.
Body style/layout: The new Accord is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, midsize sedan completely redesigned for 2018. It is available in six trim levels — Sport, Hybrid, EX, EX-L, EX-L Navi, and Touring.
Capacities: Seating is for five people. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 16.7 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 14.8 gallons of gasoline. Regular unleaded works fine.
Experienced mileage: I averaged 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front and solid rear; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; traction and stability control; pre- and post-collision systems; advanced electronic safety systems; and side, head and knee air bags.
Pricing: The 2018 Honda Touring sedan starts at $35,800. The price as tested is $36,690, including an $890 factory-to-dealer transportation charge.