In the face of stiff competition in the midsize segment, Honda unveiled the ninth generation of its popular Accord in concept form at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It will take on the all-new Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and top-selling Toyota Camry when it goes on sale this fall.
Shown in coupe form, the new Accord retains the basic shape of the current car, but with a more aggressive front fascia that features a trio of lighting elements in the headlight clusters and stronger character lines along the sides of the car including pronounced rear fenders. Honda concepts are typically nearly identical to the production versions that follow them.
“We’re taking a great looking car, we’re enhancing it, making it a little bit better, but we’re packing it full of technology,” Honda VP of Marketing Mike Accavitti told FoxNews.com at the show.
Honda followed the same design strategy for its recently updated Civic compact and CR-V crossover, which both met with some criticism for playing it safe compared to head-turning models from rival automakers like Ford and Hyundai.
“The other guys, they have to stand out. They can’t match us in quality, they can’t match us in features, they can’t match us in value and so they have to take some risks,” Accavitti said.
The new Accord will be available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid boasting an all-electric range of between 10-15 miles per charge and a battery-powered top speed of 62 mph, similar to the Ford Fusion Energi that also debuted at the show. Conventional four and six cylinder engines will also be offered, and all Accords will come standard with Pandora radio and a hands-free phone system that can read text messages aloud over the vehicle's audio system.
Accord production and sales were stymied in 2011 due to supply chain disruptions in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan early in the year, causing the model to drop from its traditional #2 spot on U.S. sales charts. Honda says its operations are now back to normal and expects to be able to keep up with demand in the coming year.