Honda Motor Co. (HMC) - Get Report unveiled the 10th generation of its Accord midsize family sedan in Detroit, an all-new model styled to emphasize flashy looks and perhaps bring attention to a model type that has been losing ground against crossovers and SUVs.
Last year, for the first time, Honda sold more CR-V crossovers than Accord or Civic sedans, symbolic of the growing consumer demand for multipurpose vehicles, which no longer compromise fuel efficiency and are styled more handsomely than ever. This year, Accord trails Toyota Motor Corp.'s (TM) - Get Report Camry in the U.S. even while Toyota also is bringing a new highly stylized Camry.
"The Accord is Honda," said Michelle Krebs, analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. Accord "was the building block for the company. The biggest challenge for the 10th generation Accord is that it is a midsize sedan. However, Accord likely will maintain its share in the shrinking segment." General Motors Co. (GM) - Get Report , Ford Motor Co. (F) - Get Report and Nissan Motor Corp. (NSANY) , all are searching for ways to tweak or refresh the appeal of their midsize sedans.
Honda executives aren't giving ground or apologizing for the new model's prospects when it goes on sale this fall. Jeff Conrad, a Honda senior vice president, said, "We all have this tendency to rush to one side of the boat and then back again as trends change. This is an exceptionally able vehicle."
In the world of venerable automotive nameplates, the Accord nameplate stands tall as reliable, high quality, fuel-efficient and durable. This time, the automaker's designers endeavored to make Accord eye-catching as well. The new vehicle is longer, lower and wider yet sheds a hundred or more pounds, depending on version, compared with its predecessor.
"The distinctive design of this all-new 2018 Honda Accord will help it appeal to both head and heart in equal measure," Conrad said.
Social media was abuzz with photo's the new ride:
For the first time, Accord will be available with two, four-cylinder turbo-charged engines, a 1.5-liter and a 2.0-liter, though the six-cylinder power plant has been discontinued. The smaller engine pairs with a continuously variable transmission or a six-speed manual, generating 192 horsepower; the larger engine with a new 10-speed transmission is rated at 252 hp. A gas-electric hybrid that Honda said is "more refined and efficient" also will be available, though its fuel-efficiency rating isn't ready yet to announce.
Slightly lowering the car's center of gravity has improved the handling, the company said. All of Honda's suite of driver assistance and safety technologies will come standard on the new model, with the exception of blind-spot alert, front and rear parking sensors, cross traffic monitor and driver awareness monitor, which are optional.
A perennial top 10 best vehicle by Car and Driver magazine, Accord likely will contend again for its share of awards. Consumers change their minds frequently, which means that Honda's new car could well exceed the company's expectations.
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Doron Levin is the host of "In the Driver Seat," broadcast on SiriusXM Insight 121, Saturday at noon, encore Sunday at 9 a.m.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.