Compare and Contrast These Two Popular Models From Honda & Toyota
By Isaac Bouchard
Ironic that Honda and Toyota would produce the finest sports sedans in their history just as such vehicles are falling out of favor, but such is the nature of development in the automotive sector, where time to market from planning is over five years. But if any cars are going to make consumers take another look at this class of vehicles, it’s ones as good as the Accord Touring 2.0T and Camry XSE V6.
Both look really good, with the Camry being the more radical departure from its humdrum predecessor and the Accord perhaps the more cohesive design, in an Audi A7 mold. Inside these are the best cockpits the two companies have done in ages; they help banish the shivers invoked by the cheap, plasticky interiors of the past decade’s Hondas and Toyotas. The Accord ’s very spacious nature is enhanced by the emphasis on long sweeps of horizontal forms—again like something from a recent Ingolstadt product—and the intuitive, upright presentation of its infotainment interface is typically Honda-logical. There’s gobs of equipment, including heated and ventilated seats with driver’s side memory, an easy ingress/egress feature, remote start, HondaSense Level 2 autonomous safety aids and more. The Toyota is not as well equipped for its slightly higher price, lacking a heated steering wheel, ventilated seats and other items the Accord offers. It counterpunch seems limited to a panoramic roof, but it too feels very well made of high quality materials. Its interior design is more expressive, and it too has a full suite of standard driver aids, labeled as Toyota Safety Sense. They all work well, though the minimum gap the active cruise control insists you maintain to a car in front is apparently just large enough to be enticing to other cars, which dart into it on a regular basis.
Both are very accomplished dynamically for mainstreams sedans, with accurate, well-weighted steering, composed handling and excellently judged ride quality. The Accord’s tire profile looks like something you’d see on a kid’s tuner car, but the Touring handles bumps with aplomb, partially due to the superb damping characteristics of its adjustable shocks. It tracks flat through corners and does a commendable job of shrinking around the driver when pressing on. The Camry is slightly less nimble when driven in extremis, but up to the limit there’s little to choose. The XSE also smothers road noise more than the Honda, and has a very mature, grown up sense of solidity to the way it proceeds down the road, something all other vehicles they’ve built on this Toyota New Global Architecture likewise share.
The two use very different engines to achieve similar performance; the Honda’s turbocharged 2.0-liter exhibits a bit of lag off the line, then hustles in a refined and hushed (if anodyne) manner to redline, ably abetted by a 10-speed automatic, whose shift strategies and smoothness are well matched to the engine’s characteristics. The Toyota’s big-cube answer is an updated, direct-injection version of the company’s superb 3.5-liter V6, which punches hard right from the off and sounds cultured yet sporty. Its 8-speed auto cant match the Accord’s for responsiveness, but the engine’s deep reserves of power and torque fill in adequately. The Honda, though only rated at 252hp, hits 60mph in 5.5 seconds in independent testing, while the Toyota’s 301 horses accelerate its extra 200 pounds to the same speed about three tenths of a second later. These are sports car times from only a decade ago; any teenagers who actually still like cars should be begging to take them out for a spin.
Both the Accord Touring and Camry XSE are much more rewarding to drive than most any crossover or SUV. They’re faster and they get better fuel economy, too. But since they don’t offer the upright visibility, hatchback practicality nor optional all wheel drive that said machines serve up, their sales numbers are going to be limited. Which is a real shame, since they also offer superb value. Both sticker right at the average transaction price of all cars and trucks, and offer substantially more in the way of goodies and good times behind the wheel than crossovers of the same cost.
EPA ratings: Accord-22/32/26mpg; Camry-22/32/26mpg
0-60mph: Accord-5.5sec; Camry-5.8sec
Price as tested: Accord-$34,695; Camry-$38,220
Accord: 4.5 Stars / Camry: 4.5 Stars
Contact Isaac Bouchard for help saving time, money and hassle when buying or leasing one at [email protected]
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