We switch to a different coffee shop the same week that we drive the 2013 Honda Accord EX and 2012 Toyota Camry LE.
Our new place serves up double ristretto espressos for the same price as the single shots at our old watering hole, and we swear the foamed milk is denser and more flavorful.
In reality, of course, we're patronizing two coffee chains that are serving up pretty much the same product. Likewise, Honda and Toyota are trying to sell you, me, your dad, your boss's niece and 300,000 other people similar family cars for a similar price.
As in our latte, though, it's the details in these midsize sedans that matter. Subtle things that an ordinary person might overlook are everything to a car guy with a commute.
Honda made dozens of small improvements to the Accord for 2013, and in our full test, we found that they really changed the car for the better. But we already own a 2012 Toyota Camry and enjoy driving it to work. Although we suspect these family sedans may still be the same cup of Folgers, we won't know for sure without a head-to-head taste test.
So You Want To Spend $25,000
Your typical midsize sedan shopper envisions spending $25,000 before tax. That target necessitates a four-cylinder engine rather than a V6, and some self control when optioning the car.
Our 2013 Honda Accord EX has no extras other than a continuously variable transmission (CVT), an $800 option over the standard six-speed manual gearbox, resulting in a total price with destination of $26,195.
That's $320 more than the 2012 Accord EX from our last midsize sedan comparison test ($25,875) and there are more amenities here. Finally, we can make a hands-free call without an aftermarket earpiece, plus we can start the car with the key fob in our pocket (yes, it has a keyless ignition). We don't mind the standard back-up camera, either, even with the Accord's good sight lines, and having another tiny camera on the passenger-side mirror to help us check our blind spot is useful, too.
Tracking down a 2012 Toyota Camry (the 2013 model isn't out yet) that matches the 2013 Accord EX's equipment list proves to be a fool's errand, however. Actually, such a car does exist — it would be an SE model with the optional Convenience package, moonroof, power driver seat and floor mats, and a theoretical price tag of $26,755. Toyota doesn't have such a car to lend us, though, and our own navigation-equipped Camry SE is too expensive ($28,658). Instead, we settle on a Camry LE with the power driver seat ($440) and an as-tested price of $23,925. We would have taken a moonroof ($915) and 17-inch alloy wheels ($799), but it isn't to be.
Apart from its lack of cameras, though, the Camry LE has you covered in the key areas. True, there's no dual-zone climate control like there is in the Accord (as Toyota limits this luxury to the XLE model), but our interpersonal relationship with a significant other perseveres nevertheless, as we are able to negotiate a mutually acceptable fan speed with our better half. We don't have the Honda's trial XM subscription or Pandora integration either, but we can still stream Bluetooth audio or hook up to the Camry's USB port. Poor man's AM radio comes in fine in both cabins, though Dodgers announcer Vin Scully sounds more lifelike through the Accord's speakers.