Honda Accord redesigned for 2013 with nifty features

As of my previous Cars &Me post, the plan was to review a series of recently-driven SUVs, but I’d like to sneak in the Honda Accord today because it’s completely redone for 2013 and has been turning up on quite a few “best” lists by the automotive press.

The Accord has been around for 37 years, and the 2013 version marks the ninth time it has been significantly redesigned. Built in Ohio using domestic as well as globally gleaned parts, the 2013 version also represents the 30th consecutive year of Accord being produced in the U.S.

Accord looks better for 2013, sleeker and more aerodynamic, but exterior design hasn’t changed so radically that 2012 buyers will be heartsick. The wheelbase and overall length have been shortened a little, but interior space has been increased.

As before, sedan and coupe versions are offered. Trim levels for the 2013 Accord Sedan are LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, EX-L V6, and Touring. For the Accord Coupe, the model lineup is LX-S, EX, EX-L, and EX-L V6. An all-new 2014 Plug-in Hybrid Sedan arrives early in 2013, and a conventional hybrid will be introduced in the summer.

Sedan and Coupe both offer a choice between an all-new 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a seriously updated version of the previous 3.5-liter V6, generating 278 horsepower. In the Sedan Sport model, the four-cylinder’s horsepower rating is 189.

My tester was a Coupe EX-L V6 with manual transmission. This is far from the volume seller for the midsize Accord, which in most minds is a family sedan. So this model will be in short supply. Driving enthusiasts will be fighting over it.

The V6 is more than just plain fast. It also produces a gratifying howl during acceleration. And the six-speed manual transmission is the engine’s perfect running mate, providing beautiful, precise, effortless shifts. I learned to scale my enthusiasm back a bit during launches when the front wheels once started to spin at a rainy intersection.

EPA ratings for the V6 with manual transmission are 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and Honda recommends regular-grade gasoline.

The tester’s standard equipment includes airbags all over the place and a generous array of comfort and convenience features, and braking, stability, audio and connectivity technology, but also Forward Collision and Lane Departure warning systems, a navigation system with voice recognition and rear multi-view camera, and a neat new thing called LaneWatch.

LaneWatch is a blind-spot monitoring system that uses a camera located below the passenger-side mirror to show an expanded rear view of the roadway on that side. The view is displayed on the multi-information screen located in the center of the dash. LaneWatch is also included on EX, EX-L and Touring versions of the Accord Sedan.

For a taste of the LaneWatch experience, scroll through the photos at the top of this review. The best use of LaneWatch is in traffic, of course, to give the driver a view of vehicles approaching from the right rear. But I didn’t dare try to grab a shot of the display screen with my Droid while driving, so the photo is just the shoulder of an empty road. But you’ll get the idea.

I made great use of the Accord’s rear multi-view camera when I had to back out of a long driveway in the dark. I can’t recall any car’s rear-view camera being such a help at night, delivering a long-distance view with enough clarity that I didn’t end up driving onto the lawn and hoping no one noticed. There’s also a shot of the rear camera’s display you can scroll to in the photos above, but be forewarned: It looks like a cross between a fetal ultrasound and footage from “The Blair Witch Project.”

Also on the subject of night driving, I didn’t think my Accord Coupe tester’s headlamps were bright enough on the dark rural roads we have so many of in Snohomish and Island counties. My night vision isn’t exactly the envy of every barn owl, but I do know the difference between headlights that really light up a road and those that don’t.

For 2013 Accord continues its glorious habit of having controls that are logically placed and easy to use. And I like that they’re large enough to be operated even while wearing winter gloves.

Seats have just the right amount of firmness and bolstering. And I like that the tester’s front seats were heated, and that the less warm of the two settings was still nice and toasty.

2013 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6

• Base price, including destination charge: $33,140

• Price as driven: $33,140

Mary Lowry is a free-lance automotive writer who has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. The cars are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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