"What midsize sedan should I buy?" The answer to this question has long been "Honda Accord." It's the instinctive response, like being asked your birthday or your dog's name. The Accord has been a top choice in the segment so consistently that recommending one has always been easy. Times are changing, however. With impressive new competitors, the 2011 Honda Accord now has more serious rivals to compete against.
The current-generation Accord (it debuted in 2008) is the biggest yet, offering the most accommodating interior in its class. Yet this super-sizing of the Accord also comes with a downside, because it no longer feels like the "right-size" choice in the family sedan class. While its steering remains responsive and tactile, the Accord has a tendency to feel super-sized when driven around corners. Its acceleration is also a bit underwhelming, with a five-speed automatic transmission doing duty here when most competing models now offer snappier six-speeds.
There is one bright spot for 2011, because the Accord's engines choices are now more frugal. Thanks to aerodynamic tweaks, engine friction reductions and revised transmission gearing, the four-cylinder Accord now has an EPA rating of 23 city/34 highway, a rise of about 2 mpg that takes the Accord to the top of the fuel economy chart for family sedans. The V6 is also a bit more efficient this year, too.
Unfortunately, the Accord's interior hasn't changed much for 2011. Compared to newer competitors like the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, the Accord's cabin looks and feels a bit down-market. The plastics aren't as nice and the look is rather drab -- especially if you opt for gray. Honda has made some slight changes to the convoluted climate controls found on navigation-equipped models this year, but the Accord's center stack continues to be plagued by far too many buttons.
Nevertheless, it's important to note that the 2011 Honda Accord remains a solid pick among family sedans. It's spacious, fuel-efficient and reliable and should hold its value well. The Accord also comes in a sporty coupe body style, something that few other automakers offer in their midsize models. So we still recommend the Accord. But choices like the 2011 Ford Fusion, 2011 Kia Optima, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2011 Mazda 6 and even the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi now outpace the Accord in many areas, so the answer to "What midsize sedan should I buy?" is now more muddled than it used to be.