The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have been eternal rivals in the mid-size sedan market. And choosing between them has been the debate of many a dinner table.
Where the Camry is known for its stately demeanor and a pliant ride, the Accord strikes the balance between a comfortable ride and spirited driving. But of late Toyota’s focus for the Camry has shifted and the Camry TRD is the prime example of that change. With a V6 engine, bigger brakes, a spoiler and stiffened suspension, it aims to pull at the enthusiast’s heartstrings.
The Accord has ditched its V6 engine altogether and has taken a more sedate approach to the mid-size sedan market. It is now a pliant and comfortable car, but in the right trim, can still reward enthusiasts. So if you now want a Toyota Camry, should you go for a Honda Accord?
Camry: A choice of two powertrains is available with the Camry. All trims except XLE V6, XSE V6, and the TRD come with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It is available in two states of tune. Trims L, LE, XLE and SE get the 203-hp, 184 lb-ft version and the XSE gets the 206-hp, 186 lb-ft tune. The 3.5-liter V6 is available in a single tune only. It produces 301 hp and 267 lb-ft of peak torque. Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is also available—it’s borrowed from the RAV4—but only with the 2.5-liter and in LE, XLE, SE, and XSE trims only. The AWD also reduces the power and torque output by one horsepower and 2 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5-liter V6 is front-drive only.
Accord: The Accord is available with two engine options as well but they are nowhere near as dramatic as its chief rival. You can choose between two turbocharged units: a 1.5-liter four-cylinder from the CR-V or the 2.0-liter four-pot. The 1.5-liter engine makes a not-so-dismal 192 hp and 192 lb-ft and is offered as standard on all trims except Touring. The 2.0-liter turbo is available as an option on Sport and EX-L trims but comes as standard on the top Touring trim. Output for the 2.0 stands at 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Also, there is no AWD on offer either.
The Accord’s transmission lineup is a little more complicated. There are three options: the 1.5-liter comes with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), while the 2.0-liter uses a 10-speed automatic. Meanwhile, the Sport trim offers a class-exclusive six-speed manual as an option on either engine.
Bottom Line: In terms of performance, the Camry seems to outshine the Accord. But take a closer look and the difference isn’t quite black and white. Sure the V6 of the Camry makes much more power but Accord’s 2.0-liter turbo makes more torque and is also lighter. That should result in quicker acceleration. Furthermore, AWD is only available with the 2.5-liter trims on the Camry while the Accord doesn’t offer AWD at all. All things considered, the Camry inches ahead in this criteria simply because if you want AWD, you have to get a Camry.
Camry: Most frugal of the lot is the L trim which returns 29 mpg in the city, a whopping 41 mpg on the highway, and an overall mileage of 34 mpg. The figures drop by one mpg each for each subsequent trim and but two mpg for the overall figure. For example, the LE returns 28 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway, and XLE returns 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Mileage for SE and LE is identical, and so is the mileage for XLE and XSE. All-wheel-drive takes quite a toll on the economy as it drops by three mpg in the city and up to five mpg on the highway.
Accord: The EPA rates the 1.5-liter/CVT combo at 30 mpg in the city, 38 out on the highway, and an overall figure of 33 mpg. Trims with the 2.0-liter engine return the lowest fuel mileage which stands at 23 mpg in the city, 34 on the highway and 27 mpg overall. the 1.5/manual combo returns 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg out on the highway.
Bottom Line: In the frugality wars, the Camry wins on the highway thanks to its higher capacity engines. The larger engines are more relaxed at higher speeds but the smaller turbo engines on the Accord, especially coupled with the CVT gearbox are much more frugal in the city. So this comes down to where you drive more. If you’re a city slicker, it’s the Accord. But if you routinely find yourself on the interstate, the Camry would be a better choice.
Technology and Features
Camry: Camry’s trim lineup is an indecisive individual’s worst nightmare. The executive sedan is available in six core trims not including engine options and one Nightshade edition. Plus, each trim comes with its own set of options and add on packages. See what we mean? We will try to simplify as much as we can.
Before we start with the breakdown, Toyota offers its Safety Sense driver assistance system as standard. It includes pre-collision warning, pedestrian and cyclist detection, radar guided cruise control, and lane-keeping with steering assist.
Let’s start with the base L trim. It starts at $25,380 and is honestly, quite well equipped. A 7.0-inch touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay, Alexa, and Android Auto as standard. You also get a 4.2-inch MID screen and a six-way manually adjustable driver and passenger seat.
For a little over $500, you can add eight-way power-adjustable driver’s perch, three USB slots, and 17-inch wheels with the LE trim. Plus, the electric moonroof, a convenience package including auto-dimming rearview mirror and Homelink system also becomes available. You also become eligible to opt for the blind-spot detection system, an audio system upgrade, and dual-zone climate control along with the AWD ($1,400 extra) cold weather package which further adds heated front seats and side mirrors.
SEE ALSO: 2018 Toyota Camry Review
The XLE trim starts at $30,410 and is probably one of the best value-for-money trims in the entire Camry lineup. It gets 18-inch wheels as standard, with AWD optional. Other standard features include the blind-spot detection system with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone climate control, and integrated back-up camera.
The XLE trim starts at $30,410 and is probably one of the best value-for-money trims in the entire Camry lineup. It gets 18-inch wheels as standard, with AWD again optional. It includes all of the standard and optional equipment from the afore-mentioned trims, plus rear cross-traffic alert, wireless charging, and a larger, 8.1-inch touchscreen unit. Both seats are eight-way adjustable. Options include a panoramic moonroof and the Navigation Plus package, which adds dynamic nav and a JBL sound system. The Driver Assistance package includes a color head-up display, bird’s-eye camera, rear cross-traffic braking and vented front seats.
The XLE V6 ($35,535), along with the 3.5-liter V6, adds the panoramic moonroof, JBL system and HUD as standard, but the Driver Assist Package remains optional.
If you want a slightly sportier LE trim, that would be the SE. Starting at $27,125, the SE adds blacked-out exterior elements along with a sporty set of seats and a three-spoke steering wheel over the LE. It also comes with climate control as standard. Option packages are identical to the LE. Like the SE, the XSE ($30,960) is the sportier-looking version of the XLE. It gets the blacked-out treatment like the SE and comes with 19-inch wheels compared to 18-inch wheels of the XLE. Equipment levels of the XLE and XSE V6 ($36,085) are identical; the extra dollars you pay are solely for the sportier aesthetics.
Then there is the TRD edition that starts from $32,125. It is essentially the V6 version of the SE trim in terms of convenience equipment. It does however get the visual TRD treatment, with a liberal dose of racy-red aesthetics. It also gets reworked suspension and bigger brakes but comes with FWD only.
Accord: Honda offers the Accord in five core trims and three exterior packages that enhance the aesthetics of the Accord, but cost $3,048 extra over the cost of the car. The LX trim starts at $24,975 and comes with dual-zone climate control as standard along with push-button start, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Unlike the Camry there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on the base trim of the Accord. You do, however, get Honda Sensing as standard across the range which includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, and lane-keeping assist.
The Sport trim is a slightly more complex trim. It starts from $27,785 and comes with the 1.5-liter/CVT combo as standard. But you can opt for the six-speed manual gearbox for no extra cost. You can also opt for the 2.0-liter engine with 10-speed auto for $4,530 extra and if you want the 2.0-liter with the manual, it is only available with the Sport trim. You do miss out on the adaptive cruise control with the manual gearbox. Opting for the 2.0-liter engine also fetches you the moonroof, blind-spot detection with cross-traffic, heated front seats, Sirius XM radio, heated side mirrors and 19-inch wheels. Otherwise, the standard kit includes an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 12-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat.
SEE ALSO: 2018 Honda Accord 2.0 Turbo Touring Review
Features like memory function and auto-dimming rearview mirror are available in the EX-L and Touring trims only. Starting at $31,375, the EX-L gets a premium audio system. You can also upgrade to the 2.0-liter powertrain for $2,000 extra. The 2.0-liter powertrain is standard on the Touring trim ($36,245). Features like wireless charging, HUD, in-car WiFi, NFC and Honda’s satellite-linked navigation system are exclusive to the Touring trim and not even available as an option otherwise.
Bottom Line: The Camry’s trim catalog might require a linguist to decipher but the fact remains that the package combination available on the Camry are endless. Accord’s feature list might be simple but it doesn’t offer features like wireless charging and HUD on the lower trims even as an option. So in terms of the spread of features alone, the Accord doesn’t hold a candle to the Camry’s exhaustive convenience features catalog.
Interior and Cargo Space
Camry: Inside, the Camry offers ample room for adults of all sizes. It offers 38.3 and 37.6 inches of headroom at the front and rear. In trims with the moonroof, the front headroom reduces to 37.5 inches but the rear headroom remains unaltered. It also offers 57.7 inches of shoulder width in the front and 55.7 inches at the rear. Front passengers can expect 42.1 inches of legroom in the front while rear occupants get 38.0 inches worth of knee room. In the trunk you get 15.2 cu-ft worth of cargo volume.
Accord: At 192.2 inches long, the Accord is half an inch shorter than the Toyota and yet offers a wheelbase that is 0.2 inches longer. It is also an inch wider and slightly taller as well. So it does offer more cabin space compared to its chief rival. The headroom at 39.5 inches is an inch more than the Camry. With the moonroof however, it drops down to 37.5 inches which is identical to that of the Camry. The critical difference though is in the legroom. In the Accord you get 42.3 inches of legroom in the front and 40.4 inches at the rear which is two inches more than the Toyota. The cargo space too at 16.7 cu-ft is 1.5 cubes more than its rival.
Bottom Line: The Honda stays true to its man maximum, machine minimum philosophy and offers more cabin and trunk space compared to the Camry despite being slightly shorter in length. Yes, the difference is minimal but a lot of times, an inch here and half-inch there makes a significant difference in the in-cabin experience.
Camry: Even though the overall design of the Camry is uniform the two distinct fasciae of the LE and SE trims set them apart. Yes, the overall design itself is quite edgy and an attempt at youthfulness with the contoured bonnet and prominent shoulder lines. And Toyota has pulled it off. You cannot mistake the Camry for anything else on the road and though styling is subjective, I do find the “sporty” styling rather appealing especially since it also has the performance to boot. Having said that, the design does seem a bit forced as it is a stark departure from the simple and rather laid-back design language of the previous generation of Camry sedans. And that muddles the appeal a fair bit as the Camry appears to be trying too hard.
Accord: The Accord on the other hand looks quite elegant as it features a simple yet timeless design. Yes, the front is quite busy and the nose a tad too prominent. But the smooth lines and the coupe-esque roofline that blends seamlessly into the sportback-like rear quarter of the car balances the design out. The Accord will likely age well and not look dated for quite a few years to come.
Bottom Line: Looks are subjective but the Accord hits the spot more for us.
Camry: The Toyota Camry starts at $25,380 (destination charge included) and offers more kit as standard compared to the Accord. All trims with the 2.5-liter powertrain can be had with AWD for $1,400 extra, something the Accord doesn’t offer at all. The top XSE V6 starts from $36,085 which is less than the Touring trim of the Accord. Plus, the well-equipped XLE starts at $30,410 while the sportier looking XSE starts from $30,960. Upgrading to the V6 engine on the XSE and XLE costs $4,170 over the 2.5-liter versions.
Accord: The Accord starts at $24,975 for the base LX trim while the Sport trim starts from $27,785. It is the only trim that is available with manual transmission for both 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter engines. While opting for the manual carries no extra cost, upgrading to the 2.0-liter power unit costs $4,530 extra. Further up the trim ladder, the EX trim starts at $28,875, the EX-L starts at $31,375 while the top Touring trim with its exclusive features starts at $36,245.
Bottom Line: The Toyota offers more trim levels, but the Accord starts for less. Its top price is also all-inclusive; the Camry XSE V6 still has option packages available. We’re calling it in the Accord’s favor.
Although the Toyota Camry offers a dedicated performance model and has an exhaustive list of features, the Accord wins this comparison. Simply because the Accord offers something for everyone. Yes, it doesn’t offer AWD even as an option and some features are exclusive to the top trim but it is the only car in the segment to offer its top engine with a manual gearbox. It is also more frugal of the two, looks better and offers more space in the cabin and the trunk. Yes, the Sport trim with the manual box breaches the $31,000 mark but it is so worth it. So if you want a fun to drive mid-size sedan or a stately one and are confused due to the innumerable choices, toss a coin and choose the Accord.