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Dashboards: New Honda Accord is Doin’ it Well

Kamil Kaluski December 18, 2017 All Things Hoon 8 Comments

Most of us judge vehicles’ looks by their exteriors. But I was always a bit different. For me, it was always the interior design and its ergonomics that were more important. When I was a little kid I would break apart toy cars just to see what’s inside. I’d sit in the driver’s seat of real cars and carefully press each button, flip each stalk, and turn each knob. I’d draw dash layouts and not whole cars like kids tend to. Perhaps I was weird. Or perhaps I realized early on that most driving time is spent inside the car. 

One of the things I disliked about recent Honda and Acura vehicles were their dashboard designs. At first there were way too many buttons. Then there was a change and there were two screens stacked on top of each other, which was one too many. Those screens had complex and unintuitive menus. And more buttons, everywhere. And then there was a revolution – one screen and no buttons or knobs at all. There were just flat surfaces that reacted to touch. It was maddening. 

We two years ago I met a Honda interior design engineer. Before I was even done with my first sentence he had an answer for me “knobs, there will be knobs, soon…”

Soon is now. Above is the dashboard of a 2018 Honda Accord. Not only are there knobs, there are fewer buttons and just one screen. And the buttons are real buttons, ones you can feel with your finger. My hope in humanity is restored. Or at least my hope in Honda. 

Three knobs and five buttons for HVAC controls, and this is a fancy-ish dual-zone system, too. Most people won’t use the buttons frequently because they’re likely to just press ‘auto’ and fugetaboutit. There are heated seat buttons in top corners of that panel as those are likely to get the most use. That’s it. This should never be any more complicated than that. 

Moving up is the touchscreen. It’s of the “perched iPad” design, which I don’t love but it’s not bad. Surrounding it are two big knobs and four buttons on each side. The home screen has large soft-buttons and a status bar on top. It could use some cleaning up. Those of use who are married to our smartphones won’t likely use them on daily basis as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are built-in and do most of the day-to-day stuff better: phone calls, text messages, music, navigation. 

The dash in the new Accord is a happy medium. It is cleaner than the Ford designs which have a lot of everything and better than the one large screen of Tesla designs. I found the Accord dashboard to be intuitive and easy to use while driving. Its refreshing simplicity and great ergonomics directly translate into comfort and safety. 

  • Fred

    I still measure cars by my 2007 Audi A3. Except for the lack of a nice varnished piece of plywood it lacks nothing. Well bluetooth would of been better than using a cassette adaper.

  • JayP

    Slightly off the topic but the new Accord has my attention.
    Both engine choices are offered with the manual transmission.
    Who else offers a mid-sized sedan with a manual?
    Mazda?

    • Zentropy

      I agree, that got my attention, too. It’s not enough to make up for the FWD layout, but I would much rather drive the new Sport’s 4cyl/manual combo than the outgoing Sport’s V6/auto.

      • I’m driving one now and I think… it’s really really really good. There isn’t much I don’t like about it. The 2.0T engine has no lag, there is no delay in power delivery. The streering is nice and quick, too. It’s really really good. Review soon.

        • Zentropy

          For those of us who wouldn’t drive a Civic Type R without a bag over our heads, it’s a nice alternative.

  • Harry Callahan

    The only “knob” that has ever truly mattered to me was the one threaded onto the the gear lever. My interest in cars is really focused on the drivetrain—exterior and interior design languish at the end of the line–behind engine configuration, gearbox type, drive type, induction system, etc.

    • cap’n fast

      what with the plethora of electronic whiz bang crap in front of the “driving”{or is that the systems management} position all i need to know is where the off switch for all that crap is located. i learned long ago how nice it is to turn off annoying stuff.

  • MattC

    Overall, I like the new dashboard. I find it ironic that Kia/Hyundai seems to be the leaders in well executed/simplistic dashboards now and others are rushing to catch up.

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