Consumers looking for a midsize sedan often compare perennial best-sellers Honda Accord vs Toyota Camry. While similar in size and capacities – both are five-passenger sedans – Accord and Camry are quite different when compared to each other. What it all boils down to, of course, is consumer choice.

Honda Accord vs Toyota Camry – here’s a head-to-head comparison:

Honda Accord

The front-wheel drive Accord for 2011 is available in coupe as well as sedan, and in LX, LX-P, SE, EX, and EX-L trim in sedan (and LX-S, EX, and EX-L trim in coupe). There’s also Accord Crosstour, but that’s a separate model. LX and SE trims are powered by a 177-hp 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that achieves an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway fuel economy (automatic, manual is 1 mpg less in city). Five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional. Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) range from $21,180 to $22,980 (sedan) and $22,780 to $31,730 coupe).

EX and EX-L can be equipped with a 271-hp (251 horsepower with manual coupe) 3.5-liter V6 engine, and five-speed automatic is standard on both models. All Accords have six airbags, antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control.

While Accord is updated for 2011, with gains in fuel economy as a particular highlight, some of the visible changes aren’t inspiring. Reviewers remark that Accord’s interior features hard plastics and appears downgraded from past models. Consensus appears to be that newer competitors Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, and Hyundai Sonata have much nicer interiors.

Pros: four-cylinder fuel economy, ample passenger space, excellent visibility, good resale value, and available coupe style

Cons: uncomfortable seats, intrusive road noise, ho-hum interior quality

Edmunds sums it up: “The 2011 Honda Acccord might still be a champ in terms of sales, but we think astute shoppers will find several of its competitors are now more compelling.”

Toyota Camry

The midsize front-wheel drive Toyota Camry has dominated the family sedan segment in America for most of the past quarter century. But newer competitors are giving Camry a run for its money. True, Camry, available as a sedan only, is priced attractively, with the 2011 base model MSRP starting at $19,720 (up to $26,250 for top-line Camry sedan, and $26,575 for Camry Hybrid).

But price isn’t everything. In the Honda Accord vs Toyota Camry comparison, the Camry base engine puts out less horsepower in its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine – 169 horsepower vs Accord’s 177. Both are five-passenger cars, but only Camry offers a Hybrid. In the V6-powered models, Camry’s 268-hp 3.5-liter V6 is bested by Accord’s 271-hp 3.5-liter V6. But some reviewers say Camry’s six-speed manual transmission is smoother than the five-speed in the Accord.

In terms of fuel economy, it’s pretty much a draw. Camry achieves 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway (XLE is 22/32) to Accord’s 23/34 mpg numbers.  Camry Hybrid, however, gets an EPA-estimated 31 mpg city/35 mpg highway.

Camry, unchanged from 2010 when it received a refresh, does feature standard ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, stability control with off-switch and traction control, and six airbags. So, from the safety standpoint, the two cars are comparable.

Pros: roomy cabin, excellent safety scores, comfortable cabin, and smooth V6

Cons: handling, inconsistent fit and finish

Consumer Guide comments: “Camry is no excitement machine – not even the sporty SE version – and most test examples have suffered uncharacteristic lapses in materials and workmanship. Still, Camry is a worthwhile pick for its powertrain refinement and passenger comfort.”

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