SAN MARCOS, Calif. – If you have a sharp eye for cars, you’re going to notice the improvements in the 2016 Honda Accord.

If you don’t, well, you still might detect that something’s different about one of the nation’s most popular sedans.

Honda has updated the Accord, giving it new front end styling, a few other nips and tucks, and most important to smartphone addicts, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Normally, they are the kind of updates that are easy to ignore. But there’s no ignoring the Accord. Even as SUVs have come to dominate the new-vehicle market amid low gas prices, the Accord remains a force.

Accord was the nation’s fifth best-selling car in the first half of the year compared to same period in 2014. It was the ninth best-selling vehicle overall. But it’s been a rough year for Accord so far, with sales down 15.9% to 155,746 over the six months, according to Autodata.

Honda hopes the updates will propel Accord back into its traditional position nose-to-nose with the nation’s best-selling car and arch-rival, Toyota Camry, which is on the market with its own significant styling update.

To counter, Honda gets more rakish LED or halogen headlights and LED taillights. The grille has a bright chrome strip across it. There’s also 19-inch wheels for the first time in the deluxe version for the first time.

We last drove the Accord in 2012 when the current generation made its debut. It was slightly shorter than before, back more solidly as midsize car than the large car it had almost become. But we weren’t that impressed.

The Accord didn’t seem like anything special. We liked the LaneWatch feature, which showed the view to the right rear of the car on the navigation screen when you flip the turn signal. But nothing else was terribly sexy, interesting or noteworthy.

Our expectations thus lowered, we were surprised at how nice we found the 2016 Accord as we drove around the rural roads in this suburb north of San Diego. The car was significantly quieter and plusher than we remember. The interior upgrades, including a seven-inch display screen, were nice. We didn’t try it in our test car, but we know what a big improvement, too, that having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are going to make in Accord. It will allow drivers or passengers to seamlessly integrate their phones into the cars. Apple iPhone users, for instance, will be able to query Siri for everything from best breakfast joints in Cincinnati to directions to the Hollywood sign.

Accord’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 185 horsepower, unchanged from last year. Gas mileage is 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The highway figure increases by 1 mpg on the sedan because of lower drag. The combined average is an unchanged 31 mpg.

There’s a lot more pep in Accord’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine, is rated at 278 horsepower.

Another change coming to Accord is the price. While price of the cheapest Accord remains unchanged at $22,105 plus $820 in shipping, prices go up from there.

The Sport starts at $24,165, compared to $23,865 for the outgoing model. The EX will go for $25,480, up from $25,030. The Touring model starts at $34,580, up from $33,630.

What stands out

Looks: Squintier headlights

Tech: Smartphone integratino through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Price: Slightly higher on the upper grades

2016 Honda Accord sedan

What: An update of one of the nation’s more popular four-door midsize sedans

When? Reaching dealers this week

Where? Built in Marysville, Ohio

How much: Starts at $22,105 plus $820 in shipping.

What makes it go: A 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine or 278-horsepower V-6

How big: 16 feet long, unchanged from 2015

How thirsty: The four-cylinder engine gets 27 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined with a CVT. The V-6 is rated at 21 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

Overall: A solid family car made slightly better for 2016

Follow Chris Woodyard on Twitter at @ChrisWoodyard