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Honda V6 Accord

We checked out the new Honda V6 Accord’s advanced safety features.

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Most new cars are fitted with safety features like anti-lock braking, stability control and multiple airbags – but there’s even more in the pipeline. Many of these new features were pioneered on premium European models and are now filtering through the automotive foodchain. We took Honda’s premium V6 Accord for a test drive and were impressed.

Like others in this class the Accord is very well appointed and comfortable – and its 3.5 litre engine gives it considerable performance. But once you look beyond the performance and luxury it’s the raft of advanced features designed to keep you safe that makes the car really interesting.

“Radar” cruise control

Cruise controls are a great way of avoiding speeding tickets. But most lose their usefulness when traffic density increases: if a car in front slows, the driver needs to disengage cruise control manually. However, a car equipped with “radar” cruise control will slow automatically – and will follow the front car at a safe distance. If the front car continues to slow, the following car will slow further. It’ll even brake if necessary and warn the driver. Once the way in front is clear, the car accelerates to the set speed … all without driver input.

Our verdict: It works (and it reduces driver workload).

Lane assist

On the motorway it only takes a moment’s inattention for the car to drift from one lane into another. Lane assist uses a video camera to monitor the car’s position in its lane. If the car drifts to one side or other the system gently tugs on the steering wheel to alert the driver and keep the car on track.

Our verdict: It’s an eerie feeling having the car nudging the steering wheel. But when you’re travelling on a congested motorway, this feature can help avoid an accident.

Left-lane camera

Most cars have blind spots where another vehicle can sit – unseen by the driver. The V6 Accord has a video camera mounted in the left mirror that displays the rearward view along the left side of the car. The camera activates with the left indicator and displays on the centre console screen.

Our verdict: Truly useful – but we thought a right-side version would also be great.

Reversing camera

A reversing camera solves the problem of restricted rearward visibility that so many modern cars have. Its images are displayed on the centre console’s screen whenever you’re in reverse.

Our verdict: Very useful for parking but also could potentially avoid a driveway tragedy.

Proximity warnings

When you get close to another vehicle or other obstruction, a warning beeper sounds and the centre console’s screen shows the location of the obstruction.

Our verdict: Useful for avoiding parking scrapes and bumps.

“Auto” headlamps

The V6 Accord has LED low-beam lights that provide a magnificent curtain of white light; its high-beam lights use halogens. The “auto” function flicks the lights to high-beam when no other traffic is present and dips them automatically when it detects traffic ahead.

Our verdict: The “auto” function maximises your night vision – and it reduces driver workload, especially on busy roads.

Low tyre-pressure warning

Driving on even a partially deflated tyre can seriously affect the safety of a vehicle (and damage an expensive tyre).

Our verdict: Sounds good – but fortunately we didn’t have occasion to try it.

Our view

  • The use of advanced safety systems will filter down to more everyday cars. There seems to be no doubt the widespread introduction of such systems will help reduce accidents – not just directly but also indirectly (by reducing driver workload and fatigue).
  • However, the systems need to become simpler to operate and also be standardised across vehicle makes and models. The controls of our Accord were complex and took time to learn – we counted 18 buttons on the steering wheel alone. Room here for an Apple or Google dashboard?
  • Welcome to the future: Google has already tested a self-driving car …

Acknowledgment: We wish to thank Honda (NZ) for the loan of the car.

Review: Bill Whitley.