The Accord is Honda's best-selling midsize car. Now in its ninth generation, the all-new 2013 Accord dazzles shoppers with a bewildering array of models, powertrains and new technology. It's better equipped than any model in Accord's 37-year history.

The 2013 Accord starts at $21,680 and is available in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, EX-L V6 and new Touring trim levels, while the 2-door Accord Coupe comes in LX-S, EX, EX-L and EX-L V6 trim levels. Standard features include Bluetooth HandsFreeLink with audio streaming, USB/iPod integration, rearview camera, an audio/information screen and an Eco Assist driving system.

The new body design is based on aerodynamic detailing including expanded use of under-covers that improve Accord's aerodynamic efficiency and fuel economy. Other advances include available LED headlights, LED DRLs, mirror-mounted turn signals, and a driver's side-view mirror that increases the driver's field of vision. For bedazzling elegance the 2013 EX-L and Touring Accord models have chrome door handles and trim on the rear panel.

Accord's base engine is an all-new direct-injected 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine producing 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft. of torque. It delivers 4 percent more horsepower and 12 percent more torque compared to its predecessor, while operating on regular fuel and meeting PZEV and ULEV-2 emissions standards. Its EPA fuel economy rating of 27 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway represents an improvement of 11 percent in combined driving at 30 mpg.

The available 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivers 278 horsepower (an increase of 7 horsepower) and 252 lb-ft. of torque. Accord V-6 models with an automatic have a new generation of variable displacement technology where the engine operates on three or all six cylinders to help boost fuel efficiency or power as needed.

The V-6 engine with the 6-speed automatic is rated at 21/34/25 mpg on regular fuel, for a 4 percent improvement. More compact and efficient than the 5-speed automatic it replaces, the 6-speed automatic improves acceleration and fuel efficiency.

The new MacPherson strut front suspension is lighter than the double-wishbone system it replaces, and provides better ride and handling qualities. New rear compliance bushings and a new independent multi-link rear suspension help reduce NVH.

An electric motor assists the rack-and-pinion steering rather than the hydraulic assist of the previous Accord. EPAS results in reduced steering effort, improved precision, feel and stability, and less power consumption.

On a 1,000-mile test drive, the V-6 powertrain in our test car was quick, smooth and silent, while getting 34.5 mpg at mostly 75 mph. Steering is well-weighted and precise with good on-center feel. However, ride and handling feel biased too far toward handling, producing an unnecessarily rough ride on less than perfect road surfaces.

Inside, all tactile surfaces and controls are pleasing to the touch and easy to operate. The upper instrument panel is now one seamless piece of soft-touch material. Cloth velour upholstery is standard, while the Accord EX-L and Touring grades have leather seating surfaces.

Accord's length has decreased over 3 inches and wheelbase is almost an inch shorter, but interior dimensions seem to have benefited. Accord's sleeker shape decreases headroom slightly, but rear legroom increases over an inch, both front and rear shoulder room increase, and trunk space is up over a cubic foot.

Accord can interface with the latest generation of compatible personal mobile electronics. A full-color 8-inch display (i-MID) controls Accord's many electronic functions. The screen displays the image from the backup camera, fuel economy information, audio functions and LaneWatch, which displays a view of the passenger side roadway.

A new audio touchscreen features a Pandora Internet radio interface, and a convenient SMS text messaging function that can read incoming texts aloud and allow the driver to respond.

The 2013 Accord offers available HondaLink technology, which works with the owner's compatible smartphone to connect with music and other media sources, internet apps, roadside assistance and more. Depending on the model, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control are available.

SPECIFICATIONS

2013 HONDA ACCORD EX-L

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan

BASE PRICE___________________ $30,070 (as tested: $30,860)

MOTOR TYPE__________________ 24-valve SOHV V-6 w/MPFI

DISPLACEMENT________________3.5-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 278 at 6200 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 252 at 4900 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 191.4 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___38.1 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3559 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY________________ 17.2 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 21 mpg city, 34 mpg highway