Once a perennial contender for best-selling car in the U.S., Honda's Accord hasn't come close to that status in more than a decade — "slapped down by Toyota's Camry," reports USA TODAY.

Honda is looking to change that with a full makeover for the 2013 Accord that becomes available Sept. 19.

When consumers see the new Accord they should expect major changes. These include a slimming design in the exterior; better mileage that increases by as much as 4 miles per gallon to 36 mpg on the highway; and updated technology. The improvements raise prices for various trim levels up to $300. The new starting price with automatic transmission, is up $200 to $22,470, including shipping.

And this is good news for all of us because competition in the mid-sized sedan category means better options for consumers.

USA TODAY points out that although Camry was just refreshed for 2012, it's not the only competition out there for the new Accord. The midsize sedan segment is the biggest in the U.S. automotive market, accounting for one of every four new vehicles sold.

For 2013, there also are redesigned versions coming from Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and GM's Chevrolet Malibu. And there are recently redone, and still-fresh-looking, versions of the Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. A radically overhauled Mazda6 due in several months may be an influential minor player, potentially able to steal enough buyers to make a difference.

Interestingly enough, the new Accord's sales also will be a key indicator of whether Honda has snapped out of a tendency with some recent models to underestimate the growing sophistication of rivals and the rising demands and tastes of U.S. buyers.

The latest example: Civic. USA TODAY reports that sales of the redesigned compact have been strong, but Honda underestimated new rivals, and accelerated changes are in the works for the Civic, says John Mendel, Honda's U.S. executive vice president.

Tetsuo Iwamura, CEO of American Honda Motor, says Accord avoids the Civic mistake. When he showed the new one to dealers, their reaction was "stronger than the Civic introduction."

American car buyers have plenty to choose from. The Accord may be a much-improved, affordable option, but again, there are many others out there that also warrant your attention.