The word “rocket ship” is rarely proffered on behalf of the Honda Accord, a fine car, to be sure, but known for reliability and practicality rather than sweaty-palm titillation.
Yet, more than one 10 Best Engines judge used that term to describe the 3.5L SOHC V-6 that powers the Accord coupe to its second consecutive 10 Best Engines award.
This 271-hp V-6 does so many things well. Its steady road manners might lull the driver into thinking this powerplant is sedate and timid.
But crack open the razor sharp throttle at any speed, and this engine, with Honda’s typical understated excellence, springs to life like a tiger hiding in the brush, pouncing on a hapless antelope.
This engineering masterpiece remains amazingly composed, even at the 6,800-rpm redline, without a hint of torque-steer in the front-wheel-drive Accord.
Channeling this power is a magnificently smooth-shifting 6-speed manual that cycles through every gear as if in complete harmony with the vehicle. The 1-2 shift satisfies with an ease and confidence unmatched by any production 3-pedal V-6.
The only reason for a buyer to bypass the manual is because Honda’s nifty 3-stage Variable Cylinder Management cylinder-deactivation system is limited to automatic-equipped Accords.
While most V-8s with cylinder deactivation can cut off fuel to half the combustion chambers, Honda’s system allows the 3.5L V-6 to function on six, four or three cylinders, depending on engine loads, saving even more fuel and creating a new level of performance.
Ward’s evaluated only the manual Accord for 10 Best Engines, which is no consolation prize, given the fatter power curve. Even without VCM, several judges managed 21 mpg (11.1 L/100 km) in spirited driving, better than other premium V-6s tested.
Honda’s 3.5L V-6 scores extra points for also being incredibly versatile, appearing in the Honda Odyssey minivan, Ridgeline pickup and Pilot cross/utility vehicle, as well as Acura luxury cars. Honda produces nearly all those engines in high volume at its plant in Anna, OH.
Ward’s judges eagerly heap praise on the Accord V-6.
“Plenty of power on hand,” writes Associate Editor Byron Pope on his score sheet. “I didn’t expect this much power in an Accord. Very impressive.”
Editor Drew Winter says the Honda powerplant “somehow seems faster and better than last year.”
A V-6 this good belongs in a car priced well above $30,000, but the Accord coupe can be had for $28,805.
This package totally speaks to the enthusiast buyer who wants practicality most of the time, but superior performance all of the time.
Ward’s 10 Best Engines is a copyright of Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Ward’s Automotive Group.