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Don Adair's Seat Time

Honda Accord Sport: New trim scores big

Today, I give up my 2013 Honda Accord Sport sedan. In its place, I’ll get an Acura MDX, so life isn’t all bad. Still, I’ll miss the Accord.

The ’13 is the first iteration of the 9th-generation Accord, long one of America’s favorite midsize sedans. It’s a bit smaller and lighter this year, but has a roomier interior and larger trunk.

No one buys an Accord for glam or racetrack cred. It’s your basic car. But basic doesn’t have to be boring. Even equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), my tester was nimble, responsive and light on its feet. The electrically assisted steering system felt natural and had a pleasing heft. The suspension, firm enough to limit body lean during turns, was also sufficiently compliant to laugh off our pocked city streets.

The Sport is a new trim level this year and, other than puzzling packaging choices, I’m impressed. The price is right — $24,180 with the standard 6-speed transmission; $24,980, with the CVT — and the features set makes sense.

The base Accord ($23,270/23,780) is equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, an 8-inch video display, Bluetooth (phone and audio), a rearview camera, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable manual driver seat, a folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB audio interface and Pandora functionality.

One step up from the base, the Sport gets a bit more power from the standard 2.4-liter four (189 hp vs. 185), 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler, eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift paddles for the CVT.

This is one of the better CVTs I’ve driven — its pseudo shifts are clean and sharp and Honda has dialed out all but a hint of the CVT’s traditional rubber-band responses — but I’d take the stick anyway. Fuel efficiency is a hair better with the CVT but I prefer the superior engagement a stick makes possible.

Here’s what puzzles me about the Sport: a host of desirable options — heated seats, up-level audio system, navigation, etc. — are not available. To qualify for those and other options, buyers must move up to the EX-L trim ($28,785).

There’s more to say, most of which I already said back in October.

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