As more and more people move to SUVs as their go-to family hauler, fewer people are shopping for family Sedans. But that doesn’t mean the market’s dead. Meet two leading contenders, the brand new 2018 Accord as well as the refreshed 2018 Hyundai Sonata.
The Accord is brand new from the bottom up with a new powertrain to boast. Shared a bit with the Civic Type-R the Accord is much more than your average family sedan. On the other side, the Sonata has been around since 2010 with small changes. For 2018 they revised the styling with more angular shapes and a much larger grille than before. Both of these cars offer a coupe-like profile with the sloping rear roofline, and they both have a love it or hate-it face. One’s blunt, and the other resembles a gaping mouth. While styling is always up to the buyer the Accord with its more conservative shape does look like it will age better.
The interior cabin is visually appealing, but the materials on the doors and dash seem to be made from lower quality plastics. It’s just too cheap for a vehicle at this price point.
Infotainment wise the Sonata has an easy to use system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a built-in Navigation that works well. The touchscreen is responsive, but the UI just leaves little to be desired. Nothing is wrong without, but it just doesn’t stand out.
Similar to the HVAC controls, toggle buttons stretch the centre dash for all the climate needs. Once again simple but nothing outstanding.
For the occupants, the sedan does have plenty of head and leg room. With the panoramic roof, it does slightly cut into the rear headroom, but it’s nothing to complain about. Four out of five seats are heated with the front two having ventilated abilities as well.
The panoramic roof is a fantastic feature in the Sonata; it lets in tons of light into the cabin making it airier than the Accord. An oddity for the rear passenger is behind the driver’s seat it lacks the back seat pocket that’s found on the passenger side.
Inside the Accord is entirely different, the overall look is modern with the tablet like infotainment display and minimalistic button layout. Materials throughout the inside of the Accord is made of the utmost quality comparing to its rivals. The dull wood trim that stretches the dash has just the right amount of sheen to stand out without being in your face.
The infotainment system is beautiful with the physical buttons on the sides making navigating the menus easier. The buttons on the far side is a bit of a reach for shorter drivers, but it’s still one of the better systems to use. Below the Honda’s HVAC controls feature three distinct dials. As the temperature knob is turned up the rings will illuminate red while cooler will illuminate blue, a very subtle but neat quirk.
Regarding items that stand out, one of those would be the shifter. Or the lack of one, like a few Honda and Acura vehicles the new Accord uses this push button layout to change gears. Surprisingly it’s very intuitive to use, and it lowers the overall height of the centre console.
The second item that stands out is the cluster. By looking at it, it would appear that there are two physical dials. However from the middle to the left that’s a digital display. Able to change the configuration between Tachometer, fuel consumption, navigation and a few more. This clean layout creates a perfect balance between analog gauges to full-on digital displays.
For the occupants, there’s even more space in the Accord than the Sonata due to the lack of a full glass roof. Above the rear seats, the roofline while sloped has a budge in the headliner for their heads creating vast amounts of headroom even for taller passengers. As it is in the Sonata, all outboard seats are heated, and the front seats are cooled for that extra taste in luxury.
When it comes to powertrain both are very similar. They both have 2L turbocharged 4 cylinder engines rather than V6 of the past. The Sonata makes 245hp and 260lb-ft of torque from 1350 RPM while the Accord makes a bit more at 252hp and 273lb-ft at 1500. The numbers suggest that the difference is small, but in practice, the Accord is quite a bit faster. Reaching 60mph in 5.5 seconds comparing the Sonata at 6.7. The numbers don’t lie. The Accord does pull stronger and harder throughout all 10 of its gears while the Sonata makes due with 8.
Being a family sedan an area of concern would be fuel efficiency, both of these vehicles return the same mileage on paper however in real-world testing it requires a bit more throttle on the Sonata to get it up and running thus consuming a bit more fuel. Rated at 10.4L/100km in the city and 7.4L/100km on the highway, during the week the Accord returned 11.8 while the Sonata returned 12.2. These numbers are inflated due to snow, colder weather as well as bumper to bumper traffic during the commute. Both vehicles were able to reach the claimed 7.4L/100km on a short highway run.
Dynamically the two cars are entirely different as well. The Sonata is more plush and soft, thanks to the 18″ wheels and bigger sidewalls it’s the more comfortable of the two. Comfort does come with a trade-off as the Accord does handle better, especially in Sports mode. The Accord when equipped with the 2L engine in the Touring trim, comes with adjustable dampers which help stiffen up the ride. It’s not harsh but slightly more composed than the standard counterpart. In dips and turns the Accord has less lean and dive making the experience much more pleasurable.
As for the chassis, the Sonata falls short. During hard acceleration, the Sonata often hops the front wheels causing massive strain to the front axles and shock to its occupants. Even if the vehicle has grip, it’s mainly on one side causing unwanted torque steer.
The Accord, on the other hand, it pulls smoothly with little to no drama. Yes with the amount of torque that’s available to the front wheels the traction control light does flash all the way to third gear, but it doesn’t jerk or pull to a side making the vehicle more comfortable to drive.
The Accord in its top trim is priced at $39,000 while the Sonata is $2000 lower at $37,000. For the difference, the Sonata does return with a better warranty and also that gorgeous sunroof. The Accord other hand does give the driver and occupants a sense of better involvement as well as the feel of luxury that’s missing in the Sonata and that’s why in this comparison the Accord is the winner.
For those who wish to spend a little less, Honda does make the Accord in a Sports trim. At $33,000 the Sport will still deliver the driving experience minus some luxury features that may not be required resulting in one hell-of-a-bargain.
Big thanks to Honda Canada as well as Hyundai Canada for the two vehicles.