My Previous Encounter with the Honda Accord
The allure of large sedans is unquestionable. Unlike booted hatch or compact sedans with their weird looks to aide with practicality, large sedans do not need to sacrifice its looks for usability. Their strong muscular lines flows coherently from the front all the way to the back without needing to sacrifice interior space. Added with wide low track hugging the road, their commanding presence could not be replicated by vehicles of other classes.
My father had a 5th generation facelifted champagne gold Honda Accord. He was not the first owner, but he had it for almost 18 years of its life. And the thing was built like a tank. It was long, wide, low and with 2.2 litre V-TEC engine under the hood, it reaches 200km/h easily at times. It was (somewhat) comfortable for 5. And it had a huge boot.
Since then, I'd tell myself that I am going to get an Accord (or any other Japanese D segment) when the time comes.
A Dream Fulfilled
Back in 2016, I've just returned back to peninsular after serving rural Sarawak for more than 2 years. I brought my manual savvy there and back again. That car was in its 11th year and I was about to turn 30 in a few months. My new workplace is right inside the city and manual transmission was just not going to cut it. It was time to get a new car.
A close friend of mine had a used Perdana V6 then upgraded to a used Volvo S80. He likes big sedans and told me it is better to buy used as the price drops a lot within the first two years. He was lucky enough to get good deals. He once dissuade me from buying a new Ford Focus. He told me that "it is not your dream car, you are neither here nor there."
After seeing the spyshots, unveiling reading reviews from local publications and abroad. Watching videos of shootouts of the D-segments. I decided to get a white Honda Accord. I want the 2.4 liter version because it was a full spec car. It has the LED headlamps (which was a novelty back then). And in white because my neighbor has one and it looks graceful and elegant. It was not easy to find one without all the body kits online. Most of the listings are kitted up cars or with washed out interiors.
Then I came across two postings online of the car met my criteria. I had some free time on a Saturday but it was already 5pm and was already raining. I called the first shop along MRR2 but they told me they are closing early. And then I called another shop which was along Old Klang road. They told me they'd wait for me to come and see the car. It was a dark rainy Saturday evening and I reached the shop with my friend around 6:45pm. They patiently waited. I waited under the huge tent for them to bring the car in. I still remembered the way the LED headlamps highlighted the rain. The salesperson showed me in and out of the car, the engine bay everything. Apart from few tiny scratches it was practically brand new. It was 20 months old with 30k on the odometer. Full Honda service record. And it was 50k cheaper than new. I didn't hesitate, I paid the booking fees and within 3 days my loan was confirmed. The salesperson told me they just got the car 3 days before I came. The Sarawak double digit number was still intact on the body but not legally anymore as the original owner took it back. Which means I got myself a 2016 federal number plate, along with JPJ's new certificate.
I've had it for 4 years now. It has been great so far. I struggled with the sheer size of the thing when I first got it (this coming from a guy who drove a savvy for 10 years). But the EPS was light and easy to operate. The car feels lighter and more nimble than the savvy with its hydraulic power steering setup. After a month driving the Accord, my old savvy felt heavy. Like driving a go-kart.
I had my first (and many) dates with my now wife in this car. My friend chauffeured me to my wedding reception with it (he used his Volvo S80 for his). So many fond memories.
A big sedan like this isn't for everyone, so let me list down the pros and cons of this car.
- The Design
It is not flamboyant, but will age gracefully. I just love the way it looks. The best angle is definitely the rear ¾. Honda really combined all the elements of previous Accords to make this one. The 18-inch rims fills the tire walls neatly. It has the right mixture of masculinity and elegance. I hope the design will age well as long as its loan tenure, if not more.
- The Interior
The main selling point of the Honda Accord for me is the interior. It was ahead of its class when it first came out. And it is even more spacious than the latest Honda Accord too. With a quiet plush interior, it creates a serene ambience for all of us. There are no blank buttons to be found inside. The double cowl mimics the old Mercedes-Benz E-class. The dual zone air conditioning is something I can't live without now. You sit low inside the car, and it take sometime for me to get used to. The power seats comes in handy to find that sweet driving position.
- The Ergonomics
The dashboard is bespoke to the Honda Accord and the same switchgears won't be found in other models. Everything you need is within reach (apart from the glovebox because it is too wide) and easy to operate. The center infotaiment toggle is intuitive. The resistive touchscreen audio not so much tho.
- The Infotainment
My main source of music now is Spotify through my phone. And it connects automatically via Bluetooth after the initial setup. I can control it using the steering wheel buttons too which is awesome for me because I listen to a lot of music during my commute. Factory standard 4 speakers, 2 tweeters and one subwoofer completes the setup. I can activate google assistant via voice command and set destinations.
The interior and boot space is huge. You can technically ferry 6 people in discomfort (4 at the back ) with 6 cabin sized luggage in the back. You can put a full size umbrella on the sides of the seats too. Both front occupants can rest their elbows on the arm rest. The door cards could fit tissues and 500ml water bottles.
This Honda Accord comes with Honda's new Earth Dreams 2.4 litre V-TEC engine although without direct injection found in other countries. It is mated to a 5-speed auto gearbox. Smooth enough for daily driving, and the gearbox is smart enough to know when to shift down. You can override it via the paddle shifters but I rarely use them. I would say it is a lot more economical than my mother's preve 1.6 turbo. My average commute is probably less than 90 km per week. I use roughly around 50 Ringgit of fuel per week on average. 50 ringgit for 2 weeks during the first few weeks of MCO (I still needed to work like usual). There are light strips along the speedometer that glows green and greener if you are driving economically. It will glow green too while cruising at 140 km/h.
- Aftersale Services
Honda Aftersales is expensive compared to other workshop outside. However, they do keep records of every single parts and procedures to your car. And that record is accessible to all the dealers so you won't have to keep track of whatever has been done to it. I do change my brake pads elsewhere hahaha, but original honda parts.
- The Little Things
The car would actually tell you to fasten your seatbelts along with the usual warning rings. Auto dimming rear view mirror. Honda's lane watch which is awesome. Multi-angle rearview camera with steering guides (changes angle along with the steering). The previous owner also added original honda illuminated side sills and trunk tray. The car will tell you to change the battery inside the key fob too. Rear window screens and electric window screens complete the premium touches. The rear door cards comes with trash cans too.
Like all cars, nothing is perfect. So here are my gripes with my Honda Accord.
- Fuel Cap
I found out the hard way that the fuel cap was rusted within the first week of ownership. It needed two person to hold down the button and another to pull the cap out. I look silly each time I wanted to refill the car. I was surprised that this happened to a Honda which was supposed to be the very top model. Maybe that is why the previous owner let it go (he bought it with cash apparently). Honda service centers did not fix it. In the end, I wrapped all the contact parts with cellophane tape and sprayed WD40 on it and the hinge. Worked out well so far this past 4 years.
Also, a Shell Petrol pump attendant broke off the cap holder tether, I've yet to email Shell about the incident. You are not supposed to twist the whole cap, only the top part. I only found out about it a week later. Since then I don't allow any of them to touch my car.
- Brake Padel
Apparently, all the latest Hondas brake pedal is positioned higher than the accelerator. Which was annoying during traffic jams because you need to lift your foot higher to brake. The old Honda and the other cars we had positioned the pedals on the same level, if not lower. I was in agony during the first few months but later I got used to it. Honda claims it's a safety measure.
- Auto Sensing Windshield Wipers
During light drizzle, the sole sensor at the top of the windscreen is not sensitive enough. The light rain drops will slowly accumulate and impair my view until I have to either push up for a quick wipe or push down and make the cycle faster. Plus, the auto-wipers during a mix of light drizzle and downpour (from elevated highways constructions make the rhythm erratic which disturbs driving. And if I choose the faster cycle, the wipers would clean the screen quickly and it will start to squeak. I'd rather have a much slower cycle for light drizzle than auto wipers. At least, the slow rhythm won't get in the way of driving. Furthermore, the wipers doesn't clean all the way which leaves a thin strip of dirt at the end of the windscreen.
- Satellite Navigation
This issue I feel plagues all cars without google based sat-nav. My maps are not updated. And It will never have real time traffic update (hence the adoption of Apple carplay and android auto in newer cars). The best part was, when I went for service, I requested an update for the maps, either via updated firmware, or USB thumb drive etc. And the salesperson told me, the maps will automatically update itself via satellite. But anyway, like everyone else, I use either google maps or waze too.
It runs on 235/45 R18 and only Continental and Michellin make them. The other car in Malaysia that has the exact rim size is the Peugeot 508.
- Rear Bench
The rear bench folds forward but not completely. Unfortunately it doesn't come with 40:60 split folding.
Double screens, glowing lights, LED headlamps, illuminated side sills and foot well, Electric power steering, and my constant needs to charge my phone drains the battery quickly. And without a battery indicator, it will catch you off guard. Like the power steering becomes heavy while parking and the whole infotainment system shuts off and reboots. It is time to recharge or change battery then!, but you can't! You have to make an appointment with honda if you wish to replace it with the thai-made Panasonic battery. At least the Panasonic lasted for 3 years with multiple recharge until it can no longer sustain it. I used a different brand and it only lasted me 8 months.
- Missing Items
Although my Honda Accord comes with front corner sensors which is absolutely necessary, it does not come with front sensors. My dad's old accord at least had the antenna which rises up from the front bumper if you get too close. Also, Taiwan spec cars comes with curb warning which automatically tilts the side mirrors when you put in reverse. And I'm not sure if my 2014 car came with either 4 or 6 airbags. I hope I'd never need to find out.
- Foot Operated Parking Brake
It is not stylish, and I feel like driving an old man's car. Facelifted models in the US came with e-brake.
Quality & features 3/5
Ride comfort 5/5
Fuel economy 3/5
Total score 4/5
Overall, that is my honest review of the car. Sure, it is not perfect but driving it adds joy to my daily grind.
P.S. The fold down cup holder could only be seen by the passenger. I thought Honda didn't provide the car with cup holders until my wife pointed it out to me. I didn't know about it for 2 years.