Honda Motor Co. today unveiled an Accord Coupe Concept that foreshadows the styling of the production car set to arrive this year against stiffening competition.
The concept, shown at the Detroit auto show, sports a creased beltline, muscular rear fender and aggressive lower fog lights. Powertrain improvements will be a key selling point for the 2013 Accord, Honda says.
After the Accord's 17% drop in U.S. sales last year, Honda is counting on the next Accord to take on freshly redesigned mid-sized rivals, including the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu.
The coupe will be the same size as the current model. But the sedan will have a smaller footprint than today's version, with a shorter wheelbase and lower curb weight for better handling and enhanced fuel economy.
Interior space will stay the same, Honda pledges.
The timing of the sedan's U.S. launch hasn't been released.
The Accord's U.S. sales decline last year, to 235,625, stemmed largely from supply shortages following Japan's March 11 earthquake.
That dropped it to 4th place in the segment, behind the Camry, Fusion and Altima. The Camry held onto its No. 1 spot despite dropping 6 percent to 308,510 units, also because of supply shortages after the earthquake.
Honda needs a strong showing from the Accord after its redesigned Civic small car received a chilly reception last year for what critics said was a cheap-looking interior.
American Honda's total U.S. sales fell 7% in a market that increased 10 percent.
The Accord will feature three new drivetrains.
The first will feature the initial U.S. use of the next-generation, direct-injection engine that Honda unveiled in late November at the Tokyo Motor Show. The so-called Earth Dreams engine, a 2.4-liter, 16-valve, DOHC i-VTEC 4 banger, will be combined with a new continuously variable transmission.
The engine delivers 181 hp and better fuel economy than the Accord's current base powerplant, an inline four. Honda did not release fuel-economy figures but said the engine aims to achieve class-leading mileage.
The 2nd drivetrain will consist of a re-engineered 3.5-liter, 24-valve, SOHC i-VTEC V-6 engine paired with either a new 6-speed automatic transmission or an existing 6-speed manual. The automatic will achieve better fuel economy and horsepower than the outgoing model, Honda says.
The final variant is the 1st use of Honda's two-motor, plug-in hybrid system. In all-electric mode, the system's lithium ion battery and motor can power the car for up to 15 miles of city driving at speeds as high as 62 mph. The battery can be fully recharged in 4 hours using a 120-volt outlet or in 90 minutes with a 240-volt charger, Honda says.
For longer drives, the hybrid operates in gasoline-electric mode, drawing from a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, Atkinson-cycle engine combined with a CVT. For high-speed cruising, the car can run in gasoline-only mode with the engine directly powering the front wheels.
The Accord Plug-in Hybrid will go on sale in the winter of 2012, Honda says.
Honda canceled the previous Accord hybrid at the end of its 2007 model year.
Honda says the next Accord also will sport several new safety features.
It will have Honda's first lane-departure warning system and 1st forward-crash warning technology. Both use cameras mounted behind the windshield to alert drivers of dangers.
It also will get Honda's 1st use of its LaneWatch blind spot display, which uses a camera mounted on the passenger mirror to keep tabs on that side of the car.
A multiangle rearview camera also will come standard.
Other new standard features in the next Accord:
• Bluetooth hands-free phone interface.
• Full color information display.
• An SMS texting function that reads messages aloud.
• iPhone-compatible Pandora Internet radio.