Tested: 2021 Accord Sport 2.0T Is Honda's Everyday Masterpiece (2024)

If you repeat a word enough times, it starts to lose its meaning. The phenomenon is called semantic satiation and it has to do with our brains' general intolerance for repetition. Car companies are decades into semantic satiation with the word "sport," which is overused to the point of meaninglessness. Is a sport model something that's genuinely athletic (Audi Sport Quattro), a smaller relative of something else (Ford Bronco Sport and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport), or a total enigma (Acura RLX Sport Hybrid)? In the case of the 2021 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T, the S word means that you get some added performance hardware without a lot of frills for a nice price. So, that puts it somewhere between a Chevrolet Equinox Sport and a Fiat 500 Sport, yet not at all like a Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse. How's that semantic satiation going?

This particular Accord cribs the Touring model's 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 10-speed automatic transmission but does without the luxury equipment—no leather upholstery, no booming sound system, no heated rear seats or head-up display. Honda says the Sport 2.0T weighs 50 fewer pounds than the Touring, and our scales concur. This latest test car weighed in at a trim 3377 pounds, three pounds less than Honda's official number. All that lightweighting paired with the zestiest powertrain results in a 60-mph sprint in 5.4 seconds and a quarter-mile pass in 14.0 seconds at 101 mph.

HIGHS: 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, upscale refinement, capacious interior, strong grip if you're turning left.
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And those are easy enough times to attain. Unlike, say, the Kia K5 GT, you're not fighting wheelspin for the first 200 feet off the line in the Honda. The Accord occasionally issues a tortured moan from one of its front tires, but then it just hooks up and goes. Power builds progressively, with its 273-pound-feet torque peak arriving at 1500 rpm and staying flat to 4000 revs. If it feels like this engine is the foundation for the rip-roaring version in the Civic Type R, that's because it is. Honda says it makes its rated power on regular gas, too.

Honda's 10-speed also is a fine piece, cracking off quick upshifts in its lower gears and letting the 2.0-liter snooze below 2000 rpm at cruising speeds. Pressing the Sport's Sport button—sorry, but that's what it's called—tightens the leash, dropping the transmission down a couple gears and sharpening the engine's throttle response. Sadly, model year 2020 was the last you could get a manual transmission in any Accord, and in retrospect it's amazing there ever was one.

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The Accord Sport's 19-inch 235/40R-19 Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season tires are good for a decent 0.87 g of grip, but that figure doesn't quite tell the whole story. Our skidpad numbers are a two-way average, and most cars do slightly better when turning left because the driver's weight helps in that direction. But the Accord and its undefeatable stability control channeled the NASCAR spirit of Junior Johnson, allowing 0.91 g to the left compared to only 0.84 g to the right. Try not to spit tobacco juice on your boots as you drawl, "She's got some stagger."

LOWS: No more manual transmission, latest updates are almost undetectable, less-great grip turning right.

Despite the 2021 Accord's refresh, which is mild to the point of unnoticeable, its front end also still channels the cop-car mien of a seven-eighths scale Dodge Charger, enough so that cars tend to slide out of its way as you approach them on the highway. There's now a better-integrated radar unit in the lower grille for the adaptive cruise control plus a new color, Sonic Grey Pearl, that our test car was wearing, which is a slightly bluish take on the market's suddenly ubiquitous flat gray. Inside, you'll be more likely to appreciate the wireless charging pad and 8.0-inch touchscreen (with volume and tuning knobs) that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But mostly, Honda stayed pat on this one, including the price, which initially rose by $400 over the 2020 Sport 2.0T. Honda evidently reconsidered that number and tacked on another $240, for a base price of $33,105; settle for the 1.5T Sport model and the entry point drops to $28,425.

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That's still a deal, we say, and one that avoids the sneaky crossover tax that seems to apply to any decent two-box vehicle these days. Sedans, even ones that look as good as this, just aren't as trendy as crossovers, and manufacturers price them accordingly. This large, quick, well-equipped Accord Sport 2.0T costs $1720 less than a front-drive CR-V Touring with 62 fewer horsepower, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and nearly identical passenger volume. Yeah, that particular CR-V is of a fancier trim level, but how badly do you need leather and a subwoofer? The Accord even has a deceptively huge trunk that easily swallows a 54-quart cooler without any Tetris-like arranging. Unless you're towing a trailer or really need all-wheel drive, the Accord seems like a glaringly obvious choice over a compact crossover.

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Then again, we like cars and this one especially. The Accord is Honda's everyday masterpiece, as reflected by its presence on our 10Best list for three and a half decades running. There's no car above this in Honda's lineup, and the company makes it as good as it can. It exudes a solidity that's uncommon at this price level, feeling like the kind of car that will be functional and just as sweet to drive when its Carfax report is five owners deep as it is when new.

And if the Accord is one of our favorite cars, the 2.0T Sport is our favorite Accord: quick, smooth, agile, and affordable. It's got the buff engine and not a lot of mass. The Italians have a nice word for this, one that's too specific to be stripped of meaning by decades of lazy marketing. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but if we tell you to check out an Accord 2.0T Superleggera, you'll know which one we mean.

Tested: 2021 Accord Sport 2.0T Is Honda's Everyday Masterpiece (5)



2021 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

$33,500 (base price: $33,105)

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
122 in3, 1996 cm3
252 hp @ 6500 rpm
273 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm

10-speed automatic

Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.3-in vented disc/11.1-in disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy MXM4, 235/40R-19 96V M+S

Wheelbase: 111.4 in
Length: 192.2 in
Width: 73.3 in
Height: 57.1 in
Passenger volume: 103 ft3
Trunk volume: 17 ft3
Curb weight: 3377 lb

60 mph: 5.4 sec
100 mph: 13.5 sec
1/4 mile: 14.0 sec @ 101 mph
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.3 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 126 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 165 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

Observed: 23 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 34 mpg
Highway range: 500 miles

Combined/city/highway: 26/22/32 mpg


Tested: 2021 Accord Sport 2.0T Is Honda's Everyday Masterpiece (6)

Ezra Dyer

Senior Editor

Ezra Dyer is a Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He's now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.

As an automotive enthusiast and expert, my comprehensive understanding of the industry spans from the intricacies of engine performance to the nuances of model distinctions. My hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge empower me to dissect the concepts mentioned in the provided article about the 2021 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T.

The article touches upon the phenomenon of "semantic satiation," highlighting how repetition of a word, in this case, "sport," can lead to a loss of meaning. This linguistic concept is intriguingly applied to car models, specifically the "sport" designation, which has become somewhat diluted across various car brands.

Now, delving into the specifics of the 2021 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T, several key concepts are discussed:

  1. Semantic Satiation in the Automotive Industry:

    • The article introduces the concept of semantic satiation, drawing parallels with the overuse of the term "sport" in the automotive context. It questions the actual meaning behind designations like "sport model" and how they can vary widely across different car manufacturers.
  2. Performance Features:

    • The Accord Sport 2.0T is highlighted for its added performance hardware, featuring a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The article emphasizes the absence of luxury features, such as leather upholstery, a premium sound system, heated rear seats, or a head-up display.
  3. Weight and Acceleration:

    • The Sport 2.0T is noted to be 50 pounds lighter than the Touring model, contributing to a quicker 0-60 mph sprint in 5.4 seconds and a quarter-mile pass in 14.0 seconds at 101 mph. The lightweight design paired with the powerful engine results in a spirited driving experience.
  4. Engine and Transmission Performance:

    • The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, shared with the Civic Type R, delivers power progressively, reaching its torque peak of 273 lb-ft at 1500 rpm and maintaining flat torque up to 4000 revs. The 10-speed automatic transmission is commended for quick upshifts and efficient cruising.
  5. Handling and Grip:

    • The Accord Sport's handling is discussed, emphasizing its stable grip with 19-inch tires that provide a decent 0.87 g of grip on the skidpad. Interestingly, the article notes a slight asymmetry in grip, with better performance when turning left compared to turning right.
  6. Exterior Design:

    • The article briefly touches on the exterior design of the 2021 Accord, noting its cop-car resemblance and the subtle changes, such as a better-integrated radar unit for adaptive cruise control and a new color option.
  7. Interior Features:

    • Interior features include a wireless charging pad, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a mild refresh for the 2021 model year. The article suggests that the Accord Sport maintains its appeal despite the mild updates.
  8. Pricing and Value Proposition:

    • The Accord Sport 2.0T is positioned as a value proposition, offering performance and features at a base price of $33,105. The article compares it favorably to crossover models in terms of price and functionality.
  9. Overall Impression:

    • The Accord, especially the 2.0T Sport variant, is praised as Honda's everyday masterpiece, reflecting the brand's commitment to quality. It is positioned as a large, quick, well-equipped sedan that stands out in a market dominated by crossovers.

By dissecting these concepts, I provide a nuanced understanding of the automotive landscape, showcasing a blend of technical specifications, driving experience, and market dynamics.

Tested: 2021 Accord Sport 2.0T Is Honda's Everyday Masterpiece (2024)
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