2011 Honda Accord SE Sedan – Quick Spin
What Is It?
Car. If aliens landed tomorrow and asked for our finest example of mainstream transportation, you’d probably point them toward one of these babies. You might also tell them that the Accord has snatched Car and Driver’s 10Best trophy a whopping 24 times, although they might look at you funny (we publish no interstellar editions). The 2011 model year brings a mid-cycle refresh.
This SE model, for one thing. It’s the fifth and middle trim level for the Accord sedan, essentially an LX-P that adds heated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power lumbar on the driver’s seat, and SE (Special Edition) badging. It is available only with the 177-hp version of Honda’s 2.4-liter iVTEC four-cylinder engine, mated to either a five-speed manual or automatic, and it will cost less than $24,000 when it goes on sale later this month. So this is clearly Honda’s Hyundai Sonata fighter, albeit with 21 fewer ponies.
The second big change is an across-the-board fuel-economy bump for all Accord models—sedan, coupe, inline-four, V-6—with no diminution in power. The auto-equipped four-cylinder sedans are the coffee achievers here, jumping 2 mpg in the city (to 23), 3 mpg on the highway (34), and 2 mpg combined, for a best-in-class blended rating of 27 mpg. In pursuit of these increments, Honda tweaked the front grille and bumper for better aero, lowered oil-ring tension, refined spark timing, and even dumped in lower-viscosity engine oil. But the change with the greatest mpg payoff is a taller fifth gear in all Accords. Careful observers and slushbox defenders will note that auto-trans Accords get better fuel economy than manual-equipped ones. That’s because Honda rightly amps up the gearing on its manual models for performance.
How Does It Drive?
No different from before, which is to say planted, communicative, and with a deftness belying its rather ample dimensions. The top-gear alteration is barely noticeable, at least with the automatic we drove, but we do wish this SE model came with the 190-hp version of the inline-four. Inside, the profusion of gray radio and climate buttons gets a bit easier to decipher, as the most-used HVAC buttons move to the left side of the center stack. Still takes a while to get used to, though. The car itself, however, remains a first-rate ambassador in the segment.