by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on December 30, 2015
At the 2016 Malibu press event a few weeks ago, Chevy was kind enough to supply a base 2016 Honda Accord LX for comparison drives. We rarely get base-model test cars at the home office — they just don't exist in most press fleets — so it was a rare opportunity to put a stripped-down midsize sedan through its paces.
Except that this particular base Accord wasn't stripped-down at all. For an MSRP of $22,105, Honda provides alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and a USB port. There's also a 7.7-inch central infotainment screen that looks and operates much like the one in our long-term 2015 Acura TLX.
Of course, our TLX SH-AWD Advance packs a bunch more gewgaws and doohickeys than the Accord LX. But it had better, because you could have two base Accords for this TLX's $45,720 asking price.
I'm focusing on Honda's midsizer here because in case you weren't aware, the TLX is essentially a luxe-ified Accord. As we point out in our model review, the cars share a 109.3-inch wheelbase and even offer roughly the same engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. Sure, the four-cylinder TLX comes with an exclusive eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that does fun things, but the Accord's remarkably responsive CVT is a gem in its own right. It's the first CVT I've genuinely enjoyed operating.
We were talking about the Accord LX versus the TLX SH-AWD Advance, though, which means four-cylinder/CVT versus V6/9-speed. Oh, and front-wheel drive versus all-wheel drive. If you want the latter, the Accord (like most mainstream sedans) can't oblige.
But I have to tell you, I never found myself wanting more power in that Accord LX. Once the CVT "downshifts" on the highway, you're good to go. Plenty of scoot. And having grown up in Maine driving only two-wheel-drive vehicles, without a single scar to show for it, I personally don't see the need for AWD in a passenger car, especially with modern stability and traction control systems in the mix.
I guess if you drive it like Brent did, you might enjoy the performance benefits of SH-AWD, but tell me: Are those fleeting moments worth the extra cash, not to mention paying to service the differential every 7,500-15,000 miles?
Hey, I get it. Luxury goods are nice. You look around from the TLX's driver seat and you see more style on the dashboard, more contours on the front seatbacks, just more flair overall. Plus, those Accord LX wheels hurt my eyes. The differences are real.
But I'm reminded of a time when I was driving in Boston and got lost in a particularly tony section of Cambridge. Huge houses, big gates in front, the whole deal. I saw multiple late-model Accords parked behind those gates.
To me, that's smart money.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor