We drove a $31,000 Honda Accord and a $39,000 Toyota Camry to see which one is the better family car. Here's the verdict.


Toyota Camry V6 XSE 2018

  • The Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord are two of the best-selling and most respected cars in the world.
  • Both the Toyota and the Honda are known for being exquisitely engineered and expertly put together with top-notch reliability.
  • The base 2018 Honda Accord starts at $23,570, and our mid-tier Sport model starts at $25,780. The top-spec Touring starts at $33,800. With fees and the optional 2.0-liter engine, the as-tested price was pushed up to $31,200.
  • The base Camry starts at $23,495, but our top-of-the-line XSE V6 opens at $34,950. With options, our test car left the showroom at $38,730.
  • The Honda Accord’s sportier driving dynamics and superior infotainment edges out the Toyota Camry’s more attractive styling and silky smooth V6 engine. 

Toyota Camry or Honda Accord? Those names are top choices for many car buyers who are in the market for a new family sedan and it has been that way for decades.

For the better part of 30 years, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry have been the cars of choice for American families. Though crossover SUVs have become the dominant force in the marketplace, midsize mass-market sedans like the Accord and the Camry still have a major role to play.

At the end of 2018, Toyota sold nearly 328,000 Camrys in the US alone. The Accord came in with a little more than 291,000 sold.

Both the Camry and Accord were completely redesigned for the 2018 model year, with the Honda now in its 10th generation and the Toyota in its eighth.

Read more: We drove a $42,000 Toyota Highlander and a $46,000 Subaru Ascent to see which is the better family SUV — here’s the verdict.

The newest offerings from Honda and Toyota come just in time to compete with the new sixth-generation Nissan Altima and an updated Mazda 6. There are recently revamped models from Hyundai, Kia, and Chevrolet to contend with as well.

We had the chance to experience both the Marysville, Ohio-built Honda Accord and the Georgetown, Kentucky-made Toyota Camry on the roads in and around Business Insider’s headquarters in New York.

We came away impressed by both vehicles’ comfort, refinement, build quality, tech offerings, and performance.

Here’s a closer look at how the new Honda Accord and the new Toyota Camry match up.

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SEE ALSO: We drove a $39,000 Volkswagen Tiguan and a $35,000 Mazda CX-5 to see which is the better compact crossover SUV — here’s the verdict

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First up is the Honda Accord.

The base 2018 Accord LX starts at $23,570, while the top-of-the-line Touring model starts at $33,800. Our mid-grade, “San Marino Red” Sport model starts at $25,780, but fees and the optional 2.0-liter engine pushed the as-tested price up to $31,200.

In total, the Accord is available in six trim levels with three engines and three transmissions from which a buyer can select.

Aesthetically, the new Accord is not quite pretty — at least not in the traditional sense. However, it is edgy and eye-catching. I do find it sort of good-looking in an offbeat sort of way.

Though the Accord’s hammerhead-shark-esque front grille reminds us a bit too much of the dark days of Acura’s controversial silver beak …

… the Accord’s sweeping fastback roofline and rear end are both rather pleasing to the eye.

In contrast to the edgy exterior, the Accord’s interior doesn’t exactly push the boundaries of styling norms. But there is beauty in its simplicity.

The 10th-generation Accord’s cabin is a return to form for Honda. It’s beautifully engineered and very well laid out. Everything is where it should be and easily within reach.

The Accords of past are renowned for their exquisite cabin ergonomics. However, the company missed with the past two generations. The eighth gen had a couple dozen too many buttons on the front dash, while the ninth generation’s dual-screen setup was far from successful.

But Honda has nailed it with the 10th-generation cabin that offers a healthy balance of buttons versus touchscreen.

The center stack features an 8-inch touchscreen that houses the infotainment system, which Honda has heavily revamped for the 2018 Accord.

The system is quick to respond, crisply rendered, and packed with feature content.

The presence of buttons and knobs makes on-the-fly operation far less tedious. However, the user interface, while improved, isn’t perfect — for instance, I found channel selection using the touchscreen to be a bit cumbersome.

Despite a few small hiccups here and there, Honda has managed to pull off an impressive infotainment system. It’s easily the best of what we’ve encountered in a Japanese car, and it’s competitive with the latest from Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen Group.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard.

Our test car also came with a host of safety tech, such as blind-spot awareness, rear cross-traffic alert, and Honda Sensing, which includes adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigating braking, lane-keep assist, and road-departure mitigation.

The Accord is also available with an optional 6-inch color head-up display.

The Accord’s longer wheelbase lends the cabin an extra 2.4 cubic feet of interior space. It certainly shows up in terms of legroom. But the steeply raked roofline means headroom for taller passengers is a bit tight.

Behind the passenger cabin is a sizable 16.7-cubic-foot trunk.

Under the hood lurks four cylinders and a turbocharger.

The Accord comes standard with a 192-horsepower, 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission.

Our test car came with the top-of-the-line, 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four that replaces the V6. There is also a 212-horsepower hybrid option.

Additionally, there is a 10-speed automatic and a six-speed manual transmission option.

What’s it like to drive?

The Accord proved a joy to drive, especially for a family sedan.

The turbo four is an absolute marvel. It’s torque-y, powerful, and silky smooth, and it revs like there’s no tomorrow.

The six-speed manual isn’t Honda’s best effort. The clutch action felt vague and the shifter rubbery.

Though the six-speed isn’t our favorite, it works well with the engine. Being able to rip off shifts while the engine sings at 6,000 RPMs is virtually impossible in any rival.

Our Honda handled confidently while also exhibiting a bit of understeer around corners to keep you from pushing too hard. At high speeds, our test car felt stable and confident in its surroundings.

Overall, we found the Honda Accord to be an eager and capable performer.

Next up is the 2018 Toyota Camry.

The base Camry starts at $23,495, while the XSE V6 opens at $34,950. With options, our 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 test car left the showroom at $38,730.

Like the Accord, the Camry can also be had in a variety of flavors. In total, it comes in 10 trim levels with three engines and two transmissions from which to choose.

In Sport trim, the new Camry looks aggressive. In white and black, our test car looked like a giant Storm Trooper helmet from “Star Wars.” The angular front grille and chiseled spoilers …

… were offset by the sweeping curves and flowing fastback roofline. The Accord may be edgier, but the Camry is certainly more aesthetically pleasing in the traditional sense.

Inside, our tester boasted a stunning blood-red leather interior with black and metallic accents.

The red leather was eye-catching but polarizing. The interior material and build quality are truly Lexus-worthy. The seats were easily adjustable, well bolstered, and comfortable, even on long journeys.

The Camry’s rear cabin features slightly less legroom than the Accord while boasting slightly better headroom.

The Camry has a slightly smaller 15.1-cubic-foot trunk. However, it should be noted that the Camry has a 16-gallon fuel tank, as opposed to the Accord’s 14.8-gallon unit.

The center stack features an 8-inch touchscreen running the latest version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Entune has not been one of our favorite systems in the past.

The image quality is subpar, while the Bluetooth phone pairing produced poor sound quality. The overall experience of the system feels dated, reminding us of a relic left over from a previous decade. However, its menus are logically placed, and it was highly reliable during our week with the Camry.

The Camry’s other tech features impressed. Our top-spec tester came loaded with a collision-warning system, pedestrian detection, intelligent radar cruise control, lane-departure warning, steering assist, Qi wireless charging, and a JBL sound system.

The Camry is also available with a 10-inch color head-up display and a 7-inch TFT information display in the gauge cluster.

The Camry’s four-surround-view camera was impressive as well.

It not only provides an overhead view of the car, but offers a 360-degree panoramic sweep of its surroundings.

Powering our test car is a silky smooth, 301-horsepower, 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated V6.

It’s one of the last of its kind in the segment, as most rivals have gone to turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

Power flows to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic.

The Camry can also be had with a 203-horsepower, 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four-cylinder engine, and a 208-horsepower four-cylinder hybrid drive unit.

So what’s it like to drive?

The ultra-refined, 3.5-liter V6 is Toyota at its finest. Just as the Accord’s turbo four is Honda at the height of its powers. Toyota’s big V6 delivers gobs of power without hesitation and will easily chirp its front wheel under aggressive acceleration.

The dual exhaust will even emit a pleasing, bestial growl — something I never thought I’d say about a Camry.

According to Motor Trend, the V6 Camry will hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.8 seconds, 0.1 seconds slower than the 10-speed automatic-equipped Accord 2.0 the publication tested.

Both cars posted nearly identical 14.3-second quarter-mile runs and identical fuel-economy figures.

Around corners, the Camry also surprised with its grip and rigid chassis.

When not in speed-demon mode, the Camry returns to its normal state as a comfortable, well-mannered family hauler. Its cabin is a quiet, refined, and all-around pleasant place to be.

And the winner is: the 2018 Honda Accord!

This was a close one, but the Honda Accord takes it by a hair.

Both are strong contenders with virtually identical levels of refinement, ride quality, comfort, interior ergonomics, cabin space, and even fuel economy. Interior fit and finish as well as build quality are tied too.

The Camry’s silky smooth V6 and trick camera system impressed us greatly. And while beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, we certainly found the Toyota to be the more aesthetically pleasing of the pair.

For us, the Accord won in two major departments: driving dynamics and infotainment.

Though the Accord’s 2.0-liter turbo four and the Camry’s 3.5-liter V6 return similar performance stats, they go about their business in very different manners.

And the Accord is the more exciting of the two — certainly the case with our six-speed manual-equipped test car.

The 2.0-liter, 252-horsepower turbo four is a pint-sized powerhouse. It’s as gutsy as they come, and it loves to be pushed. The higher the revs, the sweeter the tune it sings.

The Accord simply felt more comfortable and eager to please at high speeds. The Camry was certainly capable of delivering when the driving got spirited, but it never truly felt at home.

And then there’s the Accord’s new touchscreen infotainment system. For the first time, a Japanese automaker has stepped up to the plate with a system capable of going toe to toe with its rivals from Germany and the US.

This is a major letdown for the Camry and other Toyota products we have tested in recent years. In an age when infotainment is growing in prominence, a great, user-friendly system in a must-have these days, and Toyota’s just isn’t good enough.

Which brings us to our verdict.

“It’s fun, yet sensible. It’s a high-tech car, yet approachable. It’s lighter and smaller, yet roomier,” I said in my review of the Accord. “It’s a great car. This is really Honda at its finest.”

And for that, it’s our winner.