Buy a Toyota Camry or Buy This: 2020 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T
We’ve seen how the Toyota and Honda hybrids compare. Now, it’s time for more fun.
Godzilla vs. Mothra. Coke vs. Pepsi. Senna vs. Prost. What makes a good rivalry so compelling? As much as the animus and attitude of our chosen heroes, it's us, the fans still rooting for our favorites long past the rivalry's expiration date, that elevates the fight to legendary status. Today, we look into another long-running, classic rivalry: Toyota Camry vs. Honda Accord, 2020 Edition. This time, having dealt with the hybrid face-off, we delve into more exciting territory with the sporty versions of each.
The sportiest version of the 2020 Toyota Camry, the TRD, is no stranger to our pages, as we've driven the TRD quite a lot, and enjoyed it just as much. However, the sportier version of the 2020 Honda Accord, aptly dubbed the Honda Accord Sport, hasn't been as common a character in our daily adventures since it won our All-Star award in 2018—though not for lack of interest. Today, we compare the two.
To the specs!
Despite the commonalities—size, body style, base price—there are also many disparities between the two, including power, configured price, and weight. But more important for the enthusiast is the single biggest difference between these two cars: the transmission.
If you must have a manual transmission, you can stop reading here and just go buy the Honda, because the Camry isn't available with a manual gearbox. The 2020 Accord Sport 2.0T, however, comes standard with one—but only for 2020, as the manual is canceled after this year—though a 10-speed automatic is also available, and will soon be the only option. For the row-your-own set, this one line-item may tell the whole tale. But if you're open to the idea of an automatic in an everyday sporty car, read on.
2020 Toyota Camry TRD Vs. 2020 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T: By The Numbers
Looking at the spec chart, the Camry TRD's 3.5-liter V-6 absolutely stomps the Accord Sport's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in peak horsepower, packing 301 horsepower to the Honda's 252—no surprise, perhaps, given the larger engine. But the advantage flips the other way when it comes to torque, the turbocharger on the Honda Accord Sport 2.0T spooling up its full 273 lb-ft of torque by 1,500 rpm and holding the plateau to 4,000 rpm. The Camry TRD's naturally aspirated engine, on the other hand, makes its peak of 267 lb-ft at a relatively lofty 4,700 rpm.
How does this shake out in the real world? Both cars have been performance tested by our colleagues at MotorTrend, so we have hard numbers. In the 0-60-mph dash, the Camry TRD registers a clear win over the Accord Sport 2.0T with the manual transmission, clocking a rather brisk 5.8-second time. The Honda's 6.2-second 0-60-mph sprint time is still quick, but shifting the gears yourself costs time; opt for Honda's 10-speed automatic and our testing says you'll knock off a full half-second on your way to a 5.7-second 0-60 time. The question you'll have to ask yourself is whether that half-second matters more than the driver engagement you'll get in every other situation.
At nearly 300 pounds heavier, the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD is effectively carrying around two extra passengers at all times compared to the 2020 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T. While that'd be great if it meant two extra seats, in reality, it just means more weight to speed up, slow down, and force around corners. Case in point: even with 49 fewer horsepower, the automatic-equipped Accord Sport 2.0T is a tenth quicker to 60 mph than the Camry TRD, as we just noted. That's pretty much all about weight.
Here we come to what is probably the Camry's single biggest advantage over the Accord. While the Camry TRD comes with appropriately blacked-out trim to make sure it looks the part of the sporty daily driver, the Accord Sport's default configuration is your mom's chrome trim. Want something with a little meaner look? That's where the Fashion Accent package comes in, this time in black, though you could just as easily pick the bronze we chose for the hybrid. While the Fashion Accent package does a great job of sporting up the Accord's looks, you'll pay dearly for it: $3,186, or nearly 10 percent of the car's base price.
In fact, that appearance package is the only extra-cost option tacked onto the Accord Sport 2.0T's build, and it accounts for nearly all of the $3,500 as-configured price difference (the rest comes from the roughly $300 base price differential). Worth it? That's up to you, but to make it a fair fight, it's necessary.
2020 Toyota Camry TRD Vs. 2020 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T: By The Feels
Here's where you get into much more subjective territory; what floats your boat may not float someone else's, but that's alright—it's why we have choices. Here, your choice is between really good and marginally better, with each car swapping back and forth as to which is which. Interior materials? The Honda may have an edge, but only just. Tech features? The Accord Sport's 8.0-inch touchscreen display nearly doubles the Camry TRD's 4.2-incher, though both cars offer similar functionality. Comfort? You can't go wrong with either. Space? The Accord is slightly roomier, with more passenger volume and cargo space than the Camry.
But we're not really here for all of that. We're here for the driving, so how do they compare? They're much more different than you might expect. Where the Camry TRD's V-6 sound, especially at higher revs, is a much sweeter and sportier soundtrack than the Accord Sport's 2.0-liter turbo four, the Honda's low-end turbo torque makes it feel every bit as strong leaving the line or accelerating out of a corner.
Start braking for the next corner, however, and the Camry TRD's extra weight might not be as noticeable as you'd think, thanks to its upgraded 12.9-inch front rotors (0.9-inch larger than a standard Camry's), which are clamped by TRD-only dual-piston calipers. The 2020 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T, on the other hand, gets the same 12.3-inch front rotors and calipers as found on all Accords equipped with the turbo 2.0-liter. That said, the Accord's 300-pound-lighter curb weight means there's less work for the brakes to do. Neither brake package is up to an all-day track session, but both are more than adequate for public roads.
How about handling? Both are surprisingly, even shockingly adept at driving through curvy roads quickly, much more so than very lightly modified family sedans ought to be, which probably says more about the capability of even the base-spec versions than anything—and we'll get to those next week. But here and now, pitting the Camry TRD against the Accord Sport 2.0T, it's the Honda that comes out with just a slight edge, thanks largely to slightly greater feedback through the steering wheel and the transitional quickness that comes from being 300 pounds lighter than the Camry. Otherwise, both exhibit very good traits as far as overall chassis balance, both tending toward essentially neutral in hard cornering, though owing to their front-drive natures and slightly nose-heavy weight balances, both will require most of the driver's attention be placed on front-end traction management, whether accelerating or turning.
2020 Toyota Camry TRD Vs. 2020 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T: The Bottom Line
So, which to buy? Again, this is a tough one, as the two cars are evenly matched despite their spec-sheet differences. Both are great daily drivers, essentially as comfy and as practical as any other Camry and Accord, and both are rather fuel-efficient for non-hybrids of any type, though the Accord Sport 2.0T does eke out 1 mpg more in the highway and combined EPA mpg ratings. Both are also fun to drive when there's no destination in mind.
Despite the price difference as configured here, you could do without the blacked-out trim package on the Accord to put the cars within a few hundred dollars of each other. So for us, the decision comes down to the one thing the Accord Sport 2.0T can do that the Camry TRD simply can't, at least until the end of the 2020 model year: let you handle the gear shifts all by yourself. I'd buy the Accord and never look back—except to check my mirrors for the Camry TRD. Super bull