2017 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L review: The sound of science

2017 Hopnda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L

2017 Hopnda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L

The exhaust note of the 2017 Accord Coupe says it all. It’s not too loud, too aggressive, or too intrusive. Rather it’s sweet, smooth and subtle, and while perhaps our 2017 Honda Accord EX-L test vehicle isn’t a righteous hardcore sports coupe, it’s smart, sporty and proper transportation for two, and the occasional additional small and or limber passengers for the rear seat.

The coupe—or as Honda calls it on the window sticker, the 2D—two-door—is really a two-door version of the Honda Accord. Honda tightened it up a bit, with a 107.3 inch wheelbase instead of the sedan’s 109.3 inches. The result, not surprisingly, is more limited room in what passes as a back seat, not to mention the decreased headroom due to the coupe’s sportier roofline.

The range of powertrains is the same, however, with a choice of a 2.4-liter four and a 3.5-liter V-6. With fours frequently replacing sixes these days, it’s refreshing to see Honda staying with something they do so well. The V-6 is rated at 278 horsepower, completely sacking the 185-horse four, but here’s the really good part: The Coupe has the V-6 available with a six-speed manual transmission, but only in EX-L trim.

2017 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L

The Honda Accord Coupe got a new edgier–as in more edges–front end for 2016. (click to enlarge)

A six-speed automatic is optional with EX-L—it’s how our tester was equipped—while the top Touring trim makes the self-shifter mandatory. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters come with the automatic in either the EX-L or Touring. With the transmission I “D”, the paddles can be used to override the automatic’s programming temporarily, such as when downshifting for engine braking when going downhill. Shifting to “S” puts the transmission into “sport” mode, which allows full manual shifting. In keeping with the sporting mellow mood of the Honda Accord Coupe, however, shifts are smooth rather than abrupt, even when selecting ratios manually.

The ninth generation Honda Accord debuted in 2013, with a mid-generation update in 2016. The Accord—sedan and Coupe—are essentially unchanged for 2017 after last year’s major redo. For 2016, however, the changes started deep with, as Honda puts it, “multiple new stiffeners, a thicker front shock tower bar and sturdier rear bulkhead.” The coupe also got new “high performance” shock absorbers and one-inch larger 18-inch wheels.

The Touring trim Coupes get new high performance Amplitude Reactive Dampers. These shocks have a Ride Zone and a Handling Zone. Operating without electronics, the shocks have different compression and rebound valving that come into play based on input from the suspension movement. Alas, our test Accord Coupe was an EX-L, so we can’t report on the Touring’s shock absorbers, but the EX-L’s ride and handling is better described as sporty rather than sports.

The 2016 Honda Accord Coupe is easily distinguished from its predecessor by new front end styling. The grille is brighter and the fascia edgier…in that it has more edges. Literally. Not with as many edges as, say, a Lexus, but the Accord Coupe joins the styling shift away from rounded. The rear was tidied up as well.

Changes inside were more technology rather than styling. Although the Coupe LX-S getting piano black trim, all Accords EX and above now get seven-inch multi-information displays, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and HD Radio. Driver’s memory seat was added to EX-L and Touring Coupes, and automatic transmission-equipped models EX and above get remote engine start.

2017 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L interior

The 2017 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L has two multi-information displays, no waiting. (click to enlarge)

Honda Sensing technologies including Lane Keep Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCE) are available on all Honda Accord models, and our test 2017 Accord Coupe. We managed to set the forward collision warning off a few times—honest, we were watching—but didn’t get into collision mitigation braking—again, we were watching.

The lane keeping assist is subtle. It tugs on the steering wheel and nudges the car back in line, but not very strongly, and the car flashes a warning to keep your hands on the wheel. Well, OK, if I have to.

Our test 2017 Honda Accord Coupe had the Honda right side camera. Mounted under the right outside mirror, the camera provides a view down the side of the car when the right turn signal is activated, sort of visual blind spot monitor. No one else has it, not even Acura. It’s startling at first, but we like it.

The rearview camera has three modes: wide-angle, a more direct to the rear, and a third which looks at the ground immediately behind the car, good for checking whether there is, well, on the ground immediately behind the car.

The dash, incidentally, has two multi-information displays, one above the other, allowing two (or more) types of data to be displayed at one time. Counterintuitively perhaps, it reduces distraction by, for example, allowing audio and navigation information to be displayed at the same time. No more switching back and forth between the two. Ergo, less distraction.

2017 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L

2017 Honda Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L (click to enlarge)

Speaking of displays, the instrument panel has a large central speedometer, flanked on the left by a tachometer with a 180 degree sweep, and fuel and engine temperature gauges to the right. The speedo itself has two arcs of light on either side that are green in light throttle driving, but turn white during faster acceleration, or at idle. We suspect this is to encourage fuel efficient driving, but more likely it’s just because Honda can do it.

Our fuel mileage compared well to the EPA estimate. City/highway mpg respectively is 21/32—a wide spread—with an estimated combined of 24 mpg. We recorded 23.9 mpg, which is notably good because most of our driving was in a hilly area that’s not conducive to higher fuel mileage numbers. However, the Honda trip computer data includes previous trips, and earlier users had recorded 27.0 mpg, 25.8 mpg, and 27.8 mpg. As they say, your mileage will vary.