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2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T review: The driving enthusiast's family sedan

Roadshow logo Roadshow 4/11/2019 Jake Holmes

a car parked in a parking lot

© Jake Holmes/Roadshow

It's a bit of a surprise to see a brand-new midsize sedan arrive with three pedals and a six-speed manual transmission, and even more so when those pieces are attached to a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with a not-insignificant 252 horsepower. But this unusual and unusually sporting version of the 2019 Honda Accord is an absolute delight to drive, one that'll satisfy your need for speed even if your life circumstances have moved you away from sport compacts and into midsize sedans.

Powertrain aside, the 2019 Honda Accord is a wonderful car in which to spend time. It nails the mission brief of a midsize sedan, delivering easy everyday livability that makes this car our top pick in its class.

The 2019 Honda Accord is stylish and sensible

About that engine

Of course, with "2.0T" right in the name, there's no way to avoid discussing the brisk acceleration enabled by that engine. A cousin to the 2.0-liter in the Civic Type R, the turbo mill endows the Accord with 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, the latter offered all the way from 1,500 through 4,000 rpm. That's quite a bit more verve than the 1.5-liter turbo engine in other Accords, which serves up a perfectly adequate 192 hp and 192 lb-ft and mates either to a manual or a continuously variable transmission.

Research the Honda Accord on MSN Autos | Find a Honda Accord near you

On boost, the engine whips the Goodyear Eagle Touring tires into a frenzy and pulls swiftly through the manual transmission's lower gears. It's quite exciting for what is, ultimately, an ordinary family sedan.

Fortunately the engine is not all about big boost, and operates smoothly and quietly in more quotidian driving situations. There's ample torque right off idle for spurting through city traffic and enough midrange punch you don't even need to worry if you forget to downshift before merging.

a close up of an engine: 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

Big credit also must go to the car's six-speed manual, which has to be among the loveliest gearshifts you can find in a new car today. Light enough to use with two fingers, direct enough that you never mistake one gate for another and paired with a just-right clutch pedal, it's the sort of stick-shift arrangement that takes no effort at all to drive -- even in stop-and-go city traffic. But I wouldn't fault anyone for buying this car with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission instead.

Daily driver extraordinaire

There's quite a lot of joy in the way the 2019 Honda Accord handles all aspects of driving, actually. With a great, commanding driving position and panopticon visibility in every direction, busy city streets are no chore at all. The Accord's steering is light but not without some sense of what the front tires are doing, the brake pedal reassuringly firm but not overly so. It's a car that feels like it was engineered by people who enjoy driving, and as a result, it's a car that is enjoyable to drive.

On the freeway, the Accord keeps wind and road noise remarkably hushed, while displaying well-mannered damping that keeps head-bobbing over dips and bumps to a minimum. However, those 19-inch wheels and low-profile (235/40 aspect ratio) tires struggle with cracked and brittle pavement. Impacts are both felt and heard in the cabin; other Accords ride more softly on 17-inch wheels with more tire sidewall, and that would be my preferred setup for daily-driving duty.

a close up of a car: 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

This Accord Sport model does benefit in terms of handling from a quicker steering ratio, upgraded anti-roll bars and wider tires than, say, the more common EX trim. But experience in other models suggests all Accords are equally as satisfying to drive as this sporty-ish model.

Business casual design

There's a lot to look about the stylish, modern design of the 2019 Honda Accord, which manages to be a whole lot less bland than the last-generation model. With a low nose and a curving roofline, the sedan has quite a sporty profile. I could do without the big chrome strip along the top of the windowline, but otherwise the Accord's jewelry, specifically the LED head- and taillights, nicely breaks up its big surfaces. Large 19-inch wheels, chromed dual exhausts and a trunklid spoiler are appreciated touches on this Sport model.

Functional interior

The cabin is equally pleasing to the eye, finished with high-quality materials that, despite the black-on-black color scheme, do not look in the least bit dour. Everything you touch, from plastics to switches to the teensy shift knob, feels nice, too. The two center cupholders are set deep into the console, so you can use taller coffee mugs or water bottles. The center console cubby itself is not enormous, though offers a USB and 12-volt power outlet to power gadgets. A cubby ahead of the shifter is home to another pair of outlets and can conceal a charging phone or iPod.

2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

In true Honda fashion, the interior is extremely functional, with big knobs for the climate control, easy-to-find flaps covering the USB ports, big switches on the steering wheel and a superlegible, semidigital instrument cluster. While the right-hand side of the cluster is an old-school analog speedometer, the left-hand side can serve as a virtual tachometer or a trip computer, or can offer up any number of data pages for things like vehicle status, safety-system operation, music and phone calling info and even service schedules.

A big range of adjustment for the front seats and steering wheel makes finding a comfortable driving position a cinch, and there's head- and legroom to spare for average-size adults. The same is true of the second row, where you won't believe how much space passengers have. Even with the roof's sloping profile, back-seat headroom is generous.

Nor will you believe how much stuff you can fit in the trunk, which has a low liftover height, a wide opening and the ability to swallow a class-leading 16.7 cubic feet of your belongings. The back seats fold down easily, too, for transporting larger items if necessary.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

Plentiful technology

All Accords save the base LX and the Hybrid use an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment that supports Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Built-in navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless phone charging are available on some models. It would be nice to have some USB ports in the back to keep the kids' tablets charged, too, though.

The touchscreen crams a lot of information onto its display, but its menu structure is simple to navigate and responses to inputs are near-instant. Redundant physical buttons surround the screen, making it easier to jump between options or to adjust settings by feel while driving.

Safety technology is in abundance and, best of all, most of it comes standard across all trim levels -- something that can't be said of all rivals. Standard equipment includes forward-collision warning automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, automatic headlights and adaptive cruise control. That ACC is offered even on a manual-transmission car is a rarity. Blind-spot monitoring is also offered on most trim levels.

a motorcycle parked on the side of a road: 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

Economy and pricing

One downside to electing the 2.0-liter engine is that fuel economy falls to 22 miles per gallon city and 32 mpg highway in this Sport model. While that's comparable to other high-powered midsize sedans -- the Toyota Camry XSE V6 also scores 22/32 mpg, for instance -- it's not too impressive by the standards of the class. Most shoppers will be more compelled by Accords equipped with the car's 1.5-liter turbo engine, which return up to 30/38 mpg in EPA testing. The Accord Hybrid, meanwhile, is rated for 47/47 mpg.

In terms of pricing, however, this Sport 2.0T falls right in the middle of the 2019 Accord range, at $31,630 as tested. The sedan's pricing structure largely mirrors its competition, with models powered by the base 1.5-liter engine running from $24,640 for an LX up to $31,040 for an EX-L. Opt for the 2.0-liter mill and you'll pay between $31,630 and $36,870.

This Accord Sport 2.0T is definitely the driving enthusiast's choice, what with its power and six-speed manual transmission. Yet spending a week behind the wheel of the Accord really just underlines how well-sorted the entire car is for whatever type of driving you like: City, suburb, or highway, the Accord handles it well. Plus, it's affordable, efficient, incredibly spacious and filled with technology that just plain works. With all that in mind, there's no midsize car we'd recommend more readily than the Honda Accord.

Research the Honda Accord on MSN Autos | Find a Honda Accord near you

This was originally published on Roadshow.

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