Honda Accord tests Big Thompson, plains

The 2018 Honda Accord Touring at Drake in the Big Thompson Canyon. (Bud Wells photos)

A comfortable, roomy interior, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and smooth, 10-speed automatic transmission highlighted the 2018 Honda Accord through a 350-miles circle drive to Wray, Sterling and back to Greeley on Memorial Day weekend 2018.

In its 10th-generation restyling, the Accord sits in a low, wide, sporty stance, 2 inches longer in wheelbase and 160 pounds lighter in curb weight.

Honda has shelved the long-popular V-6 power for the Accord; available are the 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 1.5-liter turbo 4.

Green fields south of Holyoke add to impression of the Honda Accord’s white pearl finish.

Earlier in the week, I tested the Accord’s new power setup in a descent of Big Thompson Canyon from Estes Park to Loveland. Overall fuel-mileage average for the circle drive and the canyon descent was 29.5.

Switching into sport mode and using paddle shifters for the drive down the Thompson, I locked the Honda into 4th gear and seldom touched the bakes all the way to the Dam Store. Only surprise in both drives was an occasional bit of surge at low-speed acceleration.

The smoothness of the 10-speed was good, an improvement in performance over the previous continuously variable transmission. My first exposure to Honda’s 10-speed came last fall, when Jan and I flew from Phoenix into DIA, where awaiting us was a Honda Odyssey minivan with the first 10-speed automatic in a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

A delight in the weekend drive was an overnight stay at Sterling’s new Holiday Inn Express, four-stories tall with our room overlooking the South Platte River and its lush, green trees and foliage.

This is perhaps the finest looking and best-performing Accord, yet like other midsize sedans, the Accord has suffered a sales decline thus far this year, as consumers look more and more toward the popular SUVs and crossovers.

The cabin is of soft-touch finish, contrasted with leather seats and door inserts and wood trim on the dash. Legroom has been increased in the rear seating area and trunk space is a roomy 16.7 cubic feet. A disappointment was that the extended width of the center stack intruded on the driver’s knee space.

The ’18 Accord Touring I drove is priced at $36,690 and includes safety packages of collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor. Other items include push-button shifter, navigation, premium audio, Bluetooth, CarPlay/Android Auto integration, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, head-up display, power moonroof and front and rear parking sensors.

Cheapest trim level for the Accord is the LX, and most luxurious is the Touring, which I drove. Others are the Sport, EX, EX-L and Hybrid.