The 2013 Accord EX-L V6 coupe isn't the Accord only your mother could love. Its 278hp, 3.5L six-cylinder engine blesses everyone with more torque than even the NSX ever did and pulls the 3,400lb sled through the quarter-mile about as fast as an engine-swapped hatchback, making sure it's the one that you want-even if you aren't a mother.
But this is no K-swapped hatchback. Honda's ninth-generation Accord is more refined than any of that and it does so without putting on any more beef than last generation's model. There's always room for improvement, though, and in the case of Honda's latest Accord, that comes in the form of the company's limited edition HFP package. HFP-Honda Factory Performance-picks up where the assembly line workers left off, offering subtle performance upgrades to Accord V6 buyers all under the watchful eye of Honda's engineers and all protected under the car's original warranty.
The 2013 Accord's HFP upgrades are arguably few, but are thorough nonetheless. At its core lies a moderately reworked suspension that lowers the unibody exactly 15 mm by means of shorter and slightly stiffer coil springs and reworked dampers. It doesn't sound like much, but the difference is marked. Better are both the car's overall handling balance and driver confidence while at the limit, and drive Honda's all-new HFP Accord to the limit we did. Ditching the factory-supplied all-season rubber for Continental Sport Contact tires, which aren't included in the kit, is partially to blame. The plus-sized 235/40R19 summer tires wrap themselves around 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels that feature what Honda refers to as a specialized, diamond-cut finish, also from HFP.
Make no mistake; faults within the 2013 Accord's suspension are few. Gone is last year's double-wishbone layout and in is its all-new MacPherson strut frontend. And it isn't at all as bad as the anti-MacPherson finger-pointers would have you believe. According to Honda, the components are lighter, and according to us, MacPherson strut or not, the 2013 coupe is about the best-handling Accord that we can remember driving. Hydro-compliance bushings reduce the typical movement associated with conventional rubber bushings, ensuring that suspension geometry remains consistent, and are also responsible for the Accord's reactive and predictable handling. Stronger and better reinforced attachment points for the suspension's components are also evident. The results are all sorts of things that would make your mother want this Accord, like improved crash performance, but also all sorts of things that make you want it, like a more noticeably rigid chassis. Up front, strut bars are standard on nearly every trim level, as are anti-sway bars at each end, the V6 coupe's being the burliest of the clan: 19 mm up front and 16 mm in the rear. Overall handling and steering feel is also better because of an all-new electric power steering system. Unlike last year's hydraulic rack, the new electric motor assist reduces steering effort dramatically, yielding a better feel and improved stability. The steering column itself is even larger in diameter, resulting in a stiffer configuration and an overall better, more confident sensibility.
The Accord's weight is kept in check partly because of an all-new, lightweight subframe up front that cradles the engine, transmission, and lower suspension together and that's put together in a very unorthodox sort of way. Here, Honda makes use of friction-stir welding to attach aluminum to steel. Until recently, the idea of welding aluminum and steel together was nothing more than crazy talk, but friction-stir welding changes all of that. Instead of heating, melting, and ultimately joining metal like with traditional MIG- or TIG-welding processes, friction-stir welding softens the material into a clay-like state through mechanical pressure, allowing it to bond to one another. Engineers also made use of unprecedented higher-grade and higher-tensile steel, resulting in less chassis flex and less weight.
Of course, the Accord's skin was also refreshed. Its rakish look lends itself to the V6 model's performance but does more than just look pretty. The coupe's large lower radiator opening is aggressive-looking but functional. The same cannot be said of its faux brake scoops, though, of which do nothing more than house a pair of fog lights. Elsewhere, low aerodynamic drag wasn't forgotten. Engineers designed large front wheel arches that transition along the doors and then to the rear fenders, directing airflow around the rear tires for reduced drag. When it comes to the coupe, all lines lead to the rear decklid. The Accord's teardrop shape isn't the only thing helping improve aero. Near-flush windshield glass, carefully shaped A-pillars, flush-mounted windshield wipers, and a series of underbody covers all help orchestrate airflow appropriately. Every Accord features a pair of underbody deflectors in front of and behind the engine as well as at the rear wheels and trunk, but only V6 models are fitted with two additional covers, located underneath the driver-side and passenger-side floorboards. Ground clearance is also at a minimum just in front of the rear wheels, creating a low-pressure realm that allows air to flow around the wheels instead of across them. Once again, HFP picks up where the assembly line left off, fitting the Accord with a rear decklid spoiler as well as front, side, and rear underbody spoilers that add to the car's aggressive-looking nature and also improve aerodynamics, helping redirect airflow appropriately (albeit only at high speeds).
HFP left the Accord's 60-degree engine alone-a sin that's nearly forgivable considering the J-series engine's already impressive power curve that's evident from throttle tip-in all the way to its 6,200-rpm peak. Choose the six-speed manual model that's exclusive to coupes and say goodbye to Honda's two-stage Variable Cylinder Management system that cuts off ignition within selected cylinders when maximum power's not needed for increased fuel economy. Speaking of earth loving, every Accord in Honda's lineup now includes Eco Assist, which also yields moderately better fuel consumption at the expense of all 278 hp. Were we to actually try it, we'd have been happy to tell you how well it works, but when Honda gives you 278 hp, you take every bit of it. Unlike the Accord's latest four-cylinder engine, V6 models are not direct injected but do include a number of impressive features that make it the most powerful Accord engine ever but without sacrificing fuel efficiency or the ability to refuel using regular unleaded, despite the engine's 10.5:1 compression ratio. Redesigned, belt-driven SOHC cylinder heads with revised intake and exhaust ports and a remapped i-VTEC system allows all of this to happen. Honda's tumble-port design along with the seemingly dreaded integrated exhaust manifold are both responsible for the 7hp jump when compared to last year's engine-a good thing, even considering the hindrance integrated exhaust manifolds place upon tuners. Honda also addressed engine cooling issues and friction coefficients internally. What the company refers to as a cooling control spacer is positioned within the engine's water jacket, surrounding the cylinders, which allows for more consistent operating temperatures and tolerances. An all-new plateau-honing process is also applied to the cylinders, creating an unprecedented smooth finish, reduced friction, and the potential for increased engine longevity. The two-stage machining operation uses two different grinding processes as opposed to the more conventional, one-step hone.
Gearbox-wise, little's changed. In fact, Honda's recycled its last model's six-speed for use in the 2013. And that's okay. The lightweight aluminum transaxle with its hollow gearshafts mated to a dual-mass flywheel and self-adjusting, compact clutch is perhaps the best-feeling gearbox to come from Honda ever-V6-compatible or not.
Introduced at the 2012 SEMA show and available to consumers as of mid-July, 2013, according to Honda, only 500 Accord HFP kits will be made, with retail pricing set to be $4,620, not including installation. HFP's additions are subtle yet purposeful and are just enough to make what many are claiming to be Honda's best Accord ever even better.
HFP Kit Includes:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Rear decklid spoiler
- Sport Sport suspension
- Front, side, rear underbody spoilers
- Red interior illumination
- Red floor mats
- HFP badges
- Three-year/36,000-mile warranty when installed at time of vehicle purchase