I was on the phone with my college buddy, Ferdinand “Ferdie” Chan, when our conversation gravitated towards cars. He noticed some ads on Facebook Market Place where the prices of second-hand large and mid-sized luxury cars have considerably gone down. We both surmised that the pandemic economy and the rising fuel prices were the key factors that compelled owners to consider their luxury cars with large-displacement engines as irrelevant for today’s needs.
It was a mere coincidence that the day after our conversation, I was on the way to Aringay, La Union, some 250 kilometers north of Metro Manila, to look at an old luxury car with a 2.4-liter inline-6 engine that I found online. It was parked under a carport and was being sold at a reasonably low price. My wife Shawie and our kids, Vette and Chevy, decided to tag along for a change of scenery after being cooped up in the house for a long time. Coincidentally, our ride was another luxury car, a Platinum White Pearl 2021 Honda Accord 1.5 Turbo EL.
Whole New Era of Power
It used to be that large and mid-sized premium automobiles were powered by big engines with displacements not lower than 2.0 liters. But, thanks to turbocharging and advanced engine management systems, a transverse-mounted 1,498 cc inline 4-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts (DOHC), 16 valves, and Honda’s exclusive variable valve time and lift electronic control (VTEC) is more than enough to power this 1,476-kilogram luxury sedan.
On the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), our Accord’s 260 Newton-meter of torque provided it with smooth acceleration to reach the 100 km/h speed limit quite quickly. Even in Eco (economy) driving mode, the turbocharged 1.5-liter Earth Dreams Technology drivetrain effortlessly powered our Accord past slower vehicles with the confidence that there’s more of its 188 horsepower I have yet to tap.
Sporty Driving Demeanor
Despite being marketed as an upmarket premium luxury sedan, our Accord retained a rather sporty demeanor with paddle shifters controlling its multi-speed constantly variable transmission (Earth Dreams CVT). Sporty 5-spoke 18-inch two-tone aluminum alloy wheels, subtly hinting the blades of a turbocharger, wrapped in meaty 235/45R18 Michelin Primacy tires provide aggressive grip and a controlled yet luxurious ride. Its aerodynamic coupe-like fastback design makes our Accord slip through the wind for more speed using less fuel.
Our Accord’s svelte dimensions – 4.9-meter length and 1.9-meter width – makes it easy to drive around town. Its 1.5-meter height makes it look low and slick while its 131-millimeter ground clearance clears most road ruts and undulations. Its front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension works with the 2.8-meter wheelbase to provide a smooth, supple and comfortable ride. Its 56-liter fuel tank allowed us to drive to La Union and back – a distance of around 500 kilometers – without refilling.
Modern Luxurious Amenities
A modern yet spacious interior and luxurious leather seats provide a highly premium feel to our Accord’s cabin. Shawie and Vette felt pampered in the backseat with the folding center armrest, rear AC vent and the retractable privacy screens on the side windows while Chevy enjoyed riding shotgun, accessing the 8-inch infotainment touch screen, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Instead of tinkering with the touch screen extensively as he always does, Chevy decided to enjoy the rushing scenery of green fields and blue skies along the SCTEX and TPLEX toll ways.
As the designated driver, I enjoyed my pilot’s seat during the entire trip while gripping the leather-wrapped steering wheel with multiple control buttons for the infotainment system and the digital instrument cluster. Loaded to the gills with smart keyless entry, push button start/stop, auto-dimming rear view mirror, dual zone AC controls, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, and an electric parking brake with Brake Hold feature, our Accord makes driving long distances, as well as being chauffeured in, easy, pleasurable and fun.
Keen Sense of Safety
More than just a premium luxury sedan, our Accord also features a load of passive and active safety features. The LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and LED headlights are housed in a multi-reflector assembly that directs and distributes the light where they are needed. An auto-leveling and auto high beam system automatically dims down the high beams out of courtesy to and for the safety of oncoming traffic. High-intensity LED tail lamps provide excellent nighttime visibility to alert the drivers of vehicles cruising behind.
During our 6-hour drive north and back, I was able to experience the company’s exclusive Honda Sensing driver-assistive technology. The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF) allows semi-autonomous throttle control on long, straight portions of the toll ways up to 75 km/h while Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) nudges the steering wheel and guides it back when the system senses that I’m drifting out of lane or when I’m driving too closely near the edge of the road. Along with the Lane Departure Warning (LDW), these systems do not activate when I use the turn signals to change lanes.
Taking Active Safety One Step Further
Driving at 100 km/h over a crest near the toll exit in San Fernando, Pampanga, a car in front of us suddenly slowed down in the middle lane after failing to overtake a slower vehicle in the fast lane. Our Accord’s Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) took over and applied the brakes to give me time to steer clear of the potential accident ahead. I signaled to the right and the 8-inch touch screen display switched on to the camera on the passenger-side mirror to display a live feed that showed the right lane was clear for me to safely make a turn.
I found it reassuring that if and when all these alphabet soup of safety features – ACC, LSF, LKA, RDM, FCW, and CMBS – as well as the blind spot monitor – weren’t enough to help avoid an accident, our Accord’s six SRS airbags – two up front, two at the side, and another pair of side curtains – are ready to deploy in a millisecond to further guarantee the safety of the occupants. I think that the P2.35 Million price of this premium luxury Honda sedan is justified simply by just the sum of these safety features. After all, how much is your safety and the safety of your family worth?
Once we got home from our day-long drive, I thought about the conversation I had with my old college chum, Ferdie. I realized that while he and I were correct in assuming that mid-sized and large luxury land barges with big, gas-guzzling engines may no longer be relevant in today’s post-pandemic economy with spiraling fuel prices, the 2021 Honda Accord 1.5 Turbo EL has evolved with enough safety features, surprising fuel economy, modern conveniences, and expected luxurious comfort to prove us wrong.
Classification: 4-door premium luxury sedan
Engine type: Turbocharged liquid-cooled inline-4 DOHC VTEC 16V Earth Dreams Technology
Capacity: 1498 cc
Maximum power: 188 hp (190 PS) @ 5500 rpm
Maximum torque: 260 Nm @ 1600-5000 rpm
Transmission: CVT with Earth Dreams Technology
Suspension: Front MacPherson struts, rear multi-link
Brakes: Front ventilated discs, rear solid discs
Length: 4901 mm
Width: 1862 mm
Height: 1450 mm
Wheelbase: 2830 mm
Ground clearance: 131 mm
Curb weight: 1476 kg
Turning radius: 5.7 m
Wheel size: 18 x 8.0J two-tone alloy
Tire size: 235/45R18 94V
Fuel tank capacity: 56 liters
Trunk capacity: 573 liters
Seating Capacity: 5 Persons
Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI)
30/F, The Trade & Financial Tower, 7th Avenue corner 32nd Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 1634 Philippines
Tel: (632) 857-7200 to 19 / 1-800-1000-HONDA / 857-7240
Fax: (632) 857-7288