2014 Honda Accord Coupe Review: Handbook or Manual?

2014 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

Honda’s Accord V6 Coupe supplies both grace and pace. Courtesy Honda

The appeal of a coupe is anything but intrinsic. On some platforms shared with a more conventional 4-door the coupe absolutely shines, to the point you wonder why they’re not all done that way. And in just as many instances one wonders why the design and product teams bother at all. With typically longish doors and a cramped backseat the practical sacrifices made in the name of coupe ‘style’ can be foreboding, especially if that backseat is accessed on a daily basis by someone other than a contortionist. Given the many perceived negatives, ‘Accord’ and ‘coupe’ should combine into one very real oxymoron, but we – after a week of careful evaluation – have decided we rather like it.

Today’s Accord, now in its second model year, doesn’t miss a beat in appealing to Mainstream America. Tidied up in its 2013 redesign, the Accord remains almost large in its footprint. The current sheetmetal, though, seems to embody a tad more athleticism than the previous gen, a perception that was underscored by a chassis with more sweetness than a midsize buyer would typically ask for – or get. That sweetness was clearly evident in an earlier drive of a 2013 Accord Sport 4-door with a 4-cylinder and CVT, and equally obvious while behind the wheel of our V6-equipped Coupe equipped with a 6-speed manual trans.

2014 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

Coupe is visually tight, lithe. Courtesy Honda

From virtually any angle the Coupe appears tight, light and lithe. Of course, while an Accord’s platform remains substantial the Coupe’s slightly shorter wheelbase (107.3 inches vs. 109.3 for the sedan), more steeply raked windshield and smaller greenhouse combine to create a visual feel that, if not exactly small, isn’t exaggerated. While wishing the front overhang was less overhung, we like the way this new Accord sits, with its wide track, wheels doing a credible job of filling the wheelwells, and a backside both expansive and (mildly) expressive. We wish the Civic Coupe were as visually likable, from our relatively narrow, biased and don’t-like-fussy perspective.

Inside, a logical, visible (without ‘readers’) instrument panel is supplemented by an 8-inch Multi-Information Display (i-MID), which we found almost as intuitive as these things are gonna’ get. Of course, a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink phone interface is there, along with Pandora internet radio and an SMS text messaging feature. The steering wheel (once you get back to driving) is nicely shaped, and while the cockpit isn’t as driver-centric as it could be, things fall readily to hand. And in the right hand you’ll find Honda’s 6-speed manual transmission if, of course, you’re brave enough to spec it.

Honda’s press fleet team spec’d it, and we couldn’t be happier with the choice. While there are admittedly few manuals with which to compare, the Accord stick absolutely shines, offering real connectivity while not suffering the ‘notchiness’ that befalls  so many. And the clutch is as progressive as you’d hope. In short, it supplies just the right amount of immediacy and engagement – pun intended – that an enthusiast might ask for.

Honda Accord 6-Speed Manual

Accord’s 6-speed manual is – today – an aberration.

The same can be said for the Honda V6, while wishing it was a titch more visceral. With 278 horsepower @ 6200 rpm, and supplying 252 lb-ft of torque at 4900 rpm, the Coupe can absolutely sing for its supper – when so inclined. Of course, when you want to disengage from the driving process a manual really doesn’t allow it; we’ll guess you call a cab…

On the road the Accord is buttoned down (and up!) as if engineered for the Autobahn. The all-independent platform offers MacPherson struts up front and a multilink arrangement out back; of course, so does everybody except – maybe – Jeep’s Wrangler (but it’s probably coming…). The team at Honda knows how to blend the specs into something approaching genuine satisfaction, with just enough stiffness to be precise, along with enough compliance to be comfortable. In fact, the only limiting factor to your expressive exuberance may be the Coupe’s leather-covered bucket, which we found too flat for either aggressive turning or braking.

The Accord Coupe is available in both 4-cylinder and V6 guise. Opt for a manual with either powerplant and you’re limited to LX-S and EX trims in the four and EX-L in the V6. And perhaps but one color, a decision Honda’s product team makes for production rationalization but we don’t begin to understand. We drove a Crystal Black press car during a mild Dallas March; had we been driving it during a typical Dallas August the time spent wouldn’t have been nearly as pleasant.

At an investment of roughly $33K a V6-equipped Coupe isn’t inexpensive, but the content is there, and its resale legendary. We’d probably opt for the 4-cylinder EX, throw on a more wide-open intake and exhaust, and go looking for a winding road. Before taking off, of course, read the handbook or manual…

Others to consider:

At one point both Toyota and Nissan offered coupe variants of their established midsize offerings. Toyota produced the Camry-based Solara, and Nissan built the inspired-by-Infiniti Altima 2-door. Both were reasonably expressive, and reasonably well received in the marketplace. That was then…this is now. Only Honda continues to offer a 2-door version of its 4-door midsize. And newer entries from Ford (Fusion) or GM (Malibu and Regal) haven’t filled in the gap; those models – at present – are 4-door only.

Adding to the scarcity are few alternatives from other carmakers. Hyundai does an increasingly credible job with its Genesis coupe, VW’s Passat CC is part of the ever-expanding 4-door ‘coupe’ category, and BMW makes a play in the low $30s with its new 2-Series. And there’s the ranks of the certified pre-owned, with BMW’s 3-Series and Infiniti’s G37 deserving your attention. With that, the argument for a 4-cylinder Accord Coupe in the mid-$20s is pretty damn compelling.

Specifications continued on next page…