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The Daily Drivers: 2013 Honda Accord Touring

Honda has taken its lumps lately, with critics wondering if the automaker had lost its way in styling and interior quality. Still, Honda has chosen to refine rather than reinvent its popular midsize Accord, which had been bypassed by more stylish competitors from Korea and the United States. Is the 2013 a success? Yes.

Appearance: Looking for something flashy? The Accord is not your sedan. Instead, it looks stately and upscale, but don't confuse that for blandness. The creased hood lines blend seamlessly into a bolder new grille, which is now framed with chrome. The slender headlights sweep up from it, and LED "eyeliner" daylight running lights give the car a further luxury look. (From the front, Lyra thinks the design resembles the Under Armour logo.) The Accord's sheet metal gets more flowing character lines, which lessen the slablike look of its predecessor. From the rear, the Accord also is more interesting, getting larger, wrap-around taillights and more trunk chrome. Honda says the Accord has been shortened by 3.5 inches, which also gives it a more fit look than the 2012 model.

Performance: We drove the top-of-the-line Touring model, which has a 278-horsepower V-6 that provides plenty of pickup. Fortunately, the transmission is now a 6-speed automatic, which shifts smoothly. We found the ride stable and comfortable, but not boring. Peter felt it would be a good road-trip car, with its blend of comfort, mpg (21/34, impressive for a V-6) and power. We both liked the new electronic power steering, which was well-balanced: good assist at slower speeds and stable on the highway.

Interior: It's rare that we sit in a car and immediately feel like it fits us. There is ample headroom and legroom, helped by a roof line that isn't as sloped as some of its competitors. The leather seats are some of the most comfortable at any price level: soft, cushy but with good (and adjustable) lumbar support. The Accord has an impressive roster of standard features throughout its trim lines that include rearview camera, Bluetooth, USB audio interface, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor. The cabin is uncluttered and visually appealing, with silver accents and faux dark wood-grain trim that looks classy. The fit and finish are good, with quality materials throughout except for a few bits of flimsy plastic on the dash and cup holders. Our tester had plenty of electronic gadgets (forward collision warning, lane-departure warning), but the most notable is the unique LaneWatch system, which puts a small camera on the right-side mirror that shows on the console's center screen what's to your right when the turn signal is on. It gives expansive blind-spot coverage. There's not one for the driver's side, because we shouldn't be looking right — at the console — when turning left. But how about a standard blind-spot warning?

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

LaneWatch: A welcome blind-spot safety innovation.

Interior: Even though the Accord is smaller, the cabin room has expanded slightly.

Cabin: Honda has its interior mojo back.

Lyra Solochek

Ear saver: When you lock and arm the car with the remote, it chirps (a la Acura) instead of a loud honk of the horn. Thank you!

Couchlike: Plush, comfortable seats

LaneWatch: Call it a cyclist saver.

The bottom line: Even a base model (which has a fuel-sipping 4-cylinder) has plenty of standard features and a good price point. It knocked the Kia Optima off of Lyra's Top Sedan pick. Peter's wife said simply: "Tell Santa to bring me one."